Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Publishing


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers


Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers

Happy Friday, Seekerville!

I'm delighted to be back with y'all today. I've taken a break for the last few months as we dealt with some family changes. My father died in December, so I've of course been working through my grief and figuring out how to do life without his hugs or his steadiness. Then my father-in-law moved here to Georgia from Kansas after some significant medical challenges, and the tentative new normal we'd established after my dad's death was altered again. So needless to say this year has been one of adjustment, but I'm happy to say that I finally feel able to breathe again 💜

When I first started blogging here at Seekerville (gosh, that feels like just yesterday and forever ago, all at once) I had ZERO intentions of ever publishing a book. There were several reasons for this, but the main reason is that I am almost exclusively a fiction reader and I don't have any stories clamoring to be written. I'm content reading the ones that authors like my Seekerville sisters write - and then talking about them to whoever will listen haha

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
But in the middle of this crazy year of hard changes, I was invited to participate in a special project - a non-fiction book written by four authors - each a 'gatekeeper' of the industry - to help aspiring AND multi-published authors learn how to win the hearts of agents, publishers, editors, and readers. (That last part is where I come in.) Did I have time to write a book - even a fourth of a book? Nope. LOL. Did I decide I had crossed the line into 'insanity' more than once during the process? Yep. But ultimately I agreed to write my section of Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers because I knew it was one more way for me to do what I love most - help authors get their words read! 

And thus a book was born. 

What can you find in Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers

1. Candid conversations from an agent (Hope Bolinger), a publisher (Linda Fulkerson), an editor (Rowena Kuo), and a reader/influencer (me) on how to align yourself, your platform, and your writing in ways that will make you an appealing author to each of these gatekeepers. 

2. Among other practical tips you'll learn how to work with your agent as a team, how to polish your manuscript before submitting it, and how to build a platform that publishers AND readers will gravitate toward.

3. Behind-the-scenes insight to make you more aware of what it's like on the other side of the aisle, such as the work that goes into your manuscript from agents, publishers, and editors ... and how to find and approach influencers.

What can you find specifically in my section of the book? 

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
I love that Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers doesn't only address issues and questions that aspiring authors might have - I get to continue the conversation for published authors with topics such as:

  • where to find readers of your type of book
  • prioritizing your focus instead of trying to promote in all the places
  • how to determine which influencers truly want to help & which influencers are only in it for the free books
  • how (and how not) to approach influencers
  • what makes readers try a new-to-them author
  • the importance of cover, blurb, and author website must-haves in making a good first impression on readers
  • how to make word-of-mouth work for you
  • the importance of community in reader engagement
  • why your story matters

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
I am so grateful for the sweet endorsements I've received from authors, including these from some of the Seekers!

Carrie Schmidt is someone I've learned knows more about Christian fiction and how to promote it, than anyone I've ever known...certainly more than me. For Carrie to gather her knowledge together in one place and share it with the world is a true gift. I can't wait to get my hands on this book and keep it close. – Mary Connealy, author of The Lumber Baron’s Daughters series

What author hasn’t wondered how to reach readers? Carrie Schmidt speaks to writers – not only the successful and accomplished author, but the introverted and overwhelmed author – giving them tools to engage readers in authentic and personal ways. From tips on participating in a successful blog tour to finding and retaining enthusiastic readers, Carrie gives the author the tools they need to reach those most important of all people – the readers they long to share their stories with. You will be putting this book on your “keeper shelf” and referring to it often! - Jan Drexler, author of The Sign of the Calico Quartz 

Carrie Schmidt not only draws from her years of involvement in the bookish world and her love of books, but also her heart of readers and authors alike. As she’s done so well in her blogging and social media outlets, Carrie continues to use her encouragement, knowledge, and passion in helping build a bridge of understanding between readers and authors so that we can all tell one big and beautiful story together. ~ Pepper Basham, author of The Mistletoe Countess and Authentically, Izzy

Want a copy for yourself? 

Getting Past the Gatekeepers is available for preorder (releasing October 11th) in ebook & paperback, with hardcover & audiobook versions coming soon!

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
Remember when Dorothy finally reached the Emerald City only to be halted by the Gatekeeper, blocking her hopes of seeing the Great and Powerful Wizard? 

The path to publication is like that. Agents, and Editors, and Publishers, oh, my! Each one is a barrier between you and a publishing contract. 

But what if you understood what agents, editors, publishers, and readers really want? 

If you’re struggling to get past the publishing gatekeepers, this book will give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how to win the heart of each type of publishing professional. In fact, Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers won’t just give you a peek—it will give you a guided tour. In this book, four publishing professionals—an agent, a publisher, an editor, and an influencer—share what it takes to unlock each “gate” within the publishing industry. 

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers is a must-have resource for all aspiring authors, and it offers insights to help multi-published authors as well.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository

Subscribe to the Publishing Gatekeepers newsletter and receive a tip sheet on 12 ways for getting past the gatekeepers.

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers

Starting today, you can read the introduction to each section (a new one releases each day) in the four (!!!) days leading up to release day! You can click the preview graphic above or go to

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers is also on tour with JustRead Tours this week, and by leaving a comment on this post you can gain an entry when you fill out the Gleam entry form!

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers 
Leave a comment & then enter the giveaway here
Which section of Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
do you think will be most helpful for you - agents, editors, publishers, or readers? 

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Carrie started the popular blog in 2015 and since then has had the honor of co-founding the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours. In addition to these endeavors, she is a regular contributor to Seekerville and has written for magazines such as RT Book Reviews and Christian Market. Carrie now lives in Georgia with her husband, though her roots range from East Tennessee to Central Kentucky and northern Illinois. 
Connect with Carrie by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email updates.

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author


While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

by Mindy Obenhaus

The road to publication can be daunting, to say the least. There’s so much to learn. I wrote my first manuscript before I ever attended any sort of writers’ group. When I finally did, I promptly learned what I had written was a really bad first draft.

I knew nothing about writing. Not even proper formatting. And POV? What was that all about? Deep POV? Ay, ay, ay.

I started buying books on writing, attended every meeting and conference I could. I wrote and rewrote. Joined a critique group and rewrote some more until, finally, after years of learning and implementing, I had something worthy of submitting.

[Insert weird, Psycho-like music]

Yep, sending our babies out into the world is always scary, whether it’s to kindergarten or an agent or editor. Yet while kindergarteners are usually home by mid-afternoon, it could be months before you hear anything about your manuscript. What’s a writer to do?

Well, if your goal is to build a career as a writer, you only have one option. Keep writing.

“But, but,” I hear you say. “What if…?”

Don’t allow fear to stifle you

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but somewhere along the way an agent or editor might tell you your work isn’t quite there yet. An editor might respond that your project isn’t right for their house. Or they love the concept but want you to rewrite two thirds of the book. You crumble and whine. How could they possibly think your baby is anything but perfect? They don’t know what they’re talking about. You drown yourself in chocolate or something else that’s normally off limits. Then, once the Seekerville allotted 24-hour mourning period is over, you go back and reread the agent/editor’s comments again.

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

Rejection vs Redirection

If their response states that your project isn’t right for them and they’re going to pass, that’s a rejection. But things like, “your work isn’t quite there yet,” or “I love the story concept, but I’d like the hero to learn he has a child in chapter one instead of chapter nine,” puts the ball back in your court. That’s not a rejection, my friend, that’s redirection and you can do one of two things with it. You can choose to dig your heels in and lament about how the story will have to change and that’s not how you envisioned it, or you can make changes and resubmit. If your work isn’t quite there, keep working. And above all…

Never stop learning

In my years of attending writer’s conferences there’s one thing I’ve observed. Bestselling, multi-published authors are always learning. The first time I saw Terri Blackstock sitting in the same workshop I was attending, I was flabbergasted. She was even taking notes! What an example that was for an aspiring author. Of course, the simple fact that you’re here at Seekerville tells me you’re eager to learn. And now with so many online classes, it’s easier than ever to learn right at home.

Publication may be a writer’s goal, but it’s not the finish line. Fear will still try to ensnare us. Rejection and/or redirection still lurks around the corner. But as it says in Hebrews 12, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

If you’re a published author, what words of wisdom do you have for those still chasing that dream? If you’re still waiting on that seemingly elusive contract, what keeps you pressing on? And readers, what do you think when you hear how much is involved in the writing process?

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

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

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers

Today’s topic covers a wide range of ways to generate passive income, especially with the home-based writer in mind. Let’s just dive in, shall we?

First, what is passive income? I like this description from Wiki…

Passive income is income that requires little to no effort to earn and maintain. [notice MY emphasis on maintain] It is called progressive [again, my emphasis] passive income when the earner expends little effort to grow the income.

That sounds simple enough, but let’s go ahead and admit that there will be some kind of effort to set up a stream of passive income. This effort comes in the forms of time and/or money. Some ideas I saw to make “passive income” aren’t that passive, so I’m going to focus mostly to true forms of passive income where once your “investment” is finalized, it continues to work for you for a long, long time.

Let’s start with time. One person’s idea of using their time to set up a stream of passive income might be another person’s worst nightmare. For instance, while researching for this blog post, blogging (for money via ads, product placement, and affiliations), designing book covers, and copyediting were listed as ways to make passive income. Unless each blog post can be used over and over forever, that’s not truly passive income. Copyediting is work… since you have to contribute your time for each project. IMO, that’s not fully passive. So, for a venture to be truly passive time wise, it needs a bit of time to set up, then it churns out money for years to come. Examples: writing/publishing books, becoming an affiliate, creating podcasts or videos in your area of expertise.

Money. Some passive income strategies take more money to set up than they do time, although there is a learning curve for everything, of course. We’ll come back to this, but a couple of good examples are dividend investing and rental property. While these aren’t specific to writers, this post is about using your time and money to create passive income, and I’m all about that, as long as it’s legal.

One other thing before we jump in. Whether you are working a public job, working from home, retired, or a combination of all three, working out a steady stream of passive income to pay you a bit of “pocket change” can be done. Applied month after month, project after project, and year after year, and eventually, that pocket change can add up to enough to live on… and then some.

The College Investor website gave a really nice breakdown of all kinds of passive income strategies, with links and how-to’s. I combed through this list and found what looked to be the best of the best for true “set it up and forget about it” streams of income.

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers

I highlighted the ones on this list that were most interesting to me personally and I’ll discuss them in order that the article above lists them.

Dividend Stocks

Dividend paying stocks is what got me to thinking about passive income and led to this post. There’s a reason this article and many, many others list dividend stocks as the #1 source of passive income.

Dividend investing is so much easier and accessible to the average person these days due to commission free accounts and mobile apps so that an investor can buy and sell stocks right from their phone. That’s pretty cool. So if you like spending your free time crunching numbers, then this might be a way to add to your passive income “portfolio”.

This strategy will take a lot (a LOT) more money than time. I recommend reading Dividend Growth Machine by Nathan Winklepleck and The Snowball Effect by Timothy McIntosh if dividend investing interests you.

Check out the Dividend Aristocrats and the Dividend Kings. These blue chip stocks have consistently increased their dividend payout for (a gazillion) years. Okay, I’m stretching that a bit, but they are consistent.

Mind-Blowing Thought: AT&T, a Dividend Aristocrat, is currently paying 6.96% dividend yield per share. Shares of this writing were $29.92. Reinvest your dividends and your money continues to grow quarter after quarter, year after year. If you invested $10K into AT&T stock, at the end of 10 years, your stock should be worth almost $20 grand even if the stock price remained the same and the dividend payout continued to grow yearly. (This is not a recommendation to buy AT&T or advice on investing. It’s simply an example.) But who has $10K to invest? Not me, but the principal remains the same. Invest and continue to reinvest for your future and that of your heirs.

Final Mind-Blowing Thought: Marry a Dividend Investment plan to a Roth IRA. It’s a wonderful thing.

$$$ My Current Monthly Dividend Income on a small portfolio: $9.44 $$$

Write/Sell Books

Okay, so now we’re getting to a passive income strategy that we, as writers, understand. Mostly.

As we all know, writing books is hard work. It takes a lot of effort on the front end. But the good news is that once your book is published and remains published, it has the potential to continually make you (and your heirs) money for many, many years.

Maybe it seems like it’s not passive if you are continually writing new books and adding new content to your backlist.

But it is. Passive income means that one book (print, ebook, audio, foreign, etc.) is creating passive income month and after month, year after year. If you have ten published books, then all of them have the potential to create passive income.

Final Mind-Blowing Thought: I know writers who make $10 a month and those who make $10,000 a month. (Or so I’ve heard.) Write that book and get it published.

Then do it again. The first is in the bag, so that income, even if it’s just $5 a month, is now passive income. Much like reinvesting your dividends in stock prices, the second book shines a spotlight on the first book and spikes its income threshold… if you do your job right. Then the third book spotlights the first two, and so on.

I already have several traditional novels and novellas  published with Tyndale and Barbour, and I’m taking steps to Independently publish some novellas that have already been written and edited. All of this work feeds off of each other.

I'm working on a cover and will be formatting my first independent novella soon. As Seekerville is my witness, I will publish these novellas! All these other projects to generate income are nice, but it makes sense for a writer to write and get her stuff out there.

$$$ Let’s be real conservative and estimate that an author can make $10 a month off of a stable of 10 published novels and novels. $$$

Stock Photos

If you have a knack for taking pictures, consider uploading them to a stock photo site. This seems like work to me, but for some who enjoy the process and is knowledgeable about photos, it could be fun and bring in a few dollars extra cash. Passive income from a hobby. What’s not to love? The College Investor has links to whet your appetite for this.

Online Writing Related Content, Reviewers, Influencers, and Affiliate Marketing

I lumped all of these together because they kind of go hand in hand. Are you an expert in some field that you could create audio (podcasts) and/or video (youtube, etc.) content? If you are, or you blog or maintain a website, or have a huge presence on social media, then you have the potential to monetize that experience. You might receive a free book to review, then also include the link to buy back through your Amazon affiliate account. Amazon Affiliates is a good way to share all your favorite products, including BOOKS.

Food bloggers do the same when they share a recipe and include affiliate links to purchase specialty items. Mommy bloggers blog about all things related to their kiddos. On a vacation a few years ago, my husband and I met a couple and their two kids from Germany who were bicycling across Canada and the US and blogging about it. They were influencers for a three-wheel tandem bike and kiddie trailer and blogged about their travels. It was a win-win for them and for the company they were promoting.

Also called Influencers, these bloggers receive free products to review all across social media. But a weight of responsibility comes with this. Just as publishers and authors vet the list of influencers they provide with free books, retailers vet their list of influencers. Only pursue this avenue if you truly believe in a company and their products.

Lumping advertising here. I have NOT gone down this rabbit trail with social media, but if you already have a platform, then why not? Search for things like, “five ways to monetize social media” or “monetize _________” (fill in the blank with Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc.). Watch a few videos and develop a strategy. If you are already reading and reviewing, you might be missing out on some lucrative areas of passive income.

Done well and with a mutual respect between the retailer, the influencer and the consumer, this is a two-fer for influencers: Free product plus being an affiliate for whatever product they’re promoting. Pretty cool.

Okay, I could go on and on, but you get the drift, and I need to wrap this up and let you guys share your thoughts on passive income. 

Some bullet points to leave with you …

1) Do NOT think of passive income as a get-rich-quick scheme. We’re talking a dollar here, a dollar there.

2) Pick one or two (three at most) doable passive income strategies that appeal to you and only pursue those. Don’t get sidetracked with big $$$ signs. We’re talking PENNIES a week/month sometimes. After a while, you can re-think your strategy, add and/or take away an income stream if it’s not working in your favor.

3) Cash Back and Awards Points Opportunities. My mom is a huge believer in her Choice Privileges card which rewards points for travel. Do your due diligence and use cards that give you the awards you prefer. Since I rarely travel, this hasn’t been a good fit for me. Cashback Rewards Cards (#27 on the College Investor site) links to lots of cash back credit cards, so you might find one that meets your needs if this is appealing to you.

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers

Did you get on the ebates wave a few years ago? I did (I think it was a Seeker who recommended it!) and made $64 back in 2018, mostly Christmas shopping that year. It fell by the wayside and I totally forgot to use it. Rakuten bought ebates, so I updated my account using my handy-dandy mobile app, and started intentionally buying things using Rakuten for cash back as of this writing. I’ve made a whopping $1.16 cash back this week on a Walgreens order for my mom … on an order I was going to place anyway. Plus, I got a discount of $10.80 for creating a new Walgreens account. (If you don’t have an old ebates account, you’ll get $10 for creating a new Rakuten account.)

Unfortunately, Walmart and Amazon have a zero cash back policy with Rakuten at the moment. Just so you know.

$$$ Savings last week using Rakuten and Walgreens: $11.96 $$$

Sign up for Rakuten and get cash back, plus if you use this link, I get cash back. 

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers

4) TRIM THE FAT - Cancel subscriptions you aren’t using. I just cancelled two that I thought I really needed in my life, but that I never use.

$$$ Monthly savings on those two subscriptions: $12.00 $$$

Bottom line. There are really NO real sources of passive income that I’ve found. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in life requires SOME investment of some sort. The only thing I can think of that even comes close (other than manna from Heaven!) is a bunch of free-range chickens like my son has, but even then you have to pick up the eggs. 

$$$ 2 dozen free range hen eggs, plus 2 dozen quail eggs: about $2.65  $$$

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers

So, let’s add up the passive income I’ve intentionally generated over the last few weeks. Granted, some of these won’t be every month (like cancelling subscriptions you’re no longer using), but every so often (maybe at tax time), look at those recurring fees and see if you really want to spend $120 or $240 on something every year. If not, cut it.

$$$ $46.05 a month, including the eggs. Pretty cool, huh? $$$

(The eggs were a freebie, but kind of a fun aside this week)

Well, there you have it. Passive Income with just a handful of strategies. I wanted to touch base on SO many more of these, but this blog post has already gone on way too long. Did you come up with any ideas for passive income while reading this? Has this whetted your appetite to get that novel finished and published? Or maybe you’re ready to start that Youtube channel? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Passive Income With an Emphasis on Writers
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Introducing Scrivenings Press!

By Guest Shannon Vannatter

Introducing Scrivenings Press!

Back before I was published, I longed for an author to help me know what I was doing wrong. I joined a couple of local writing groups, but none of the other members were published either. I did learn some things from the groups since there were members who’d been writing longer than I had.

After a few years, I joined a national group and signed up for a mentor in conjunction with attending my first national conference. I thought she’d help me write. It turned out, she was just a friendly face, so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed at my first HUGE conference. I was overwhelmed anyway and spent the first evening crying on my husband’s shoulder because I was certain everyone there was published or at least knew more than I did about writing.

Through my years of attending every conference, writers group meeting, and workshop I could, I approached countless authors who didn’t have time to help me. I got paid chapter critiques from multi-published authors and entered countless contests with published author judges who gave feedback. I vowed that when I got published, I’d make time to help unpublished writers. It took me 9 1/2 years of writing, reading craft books on writing, submitting to publishers, and getting over 200 rejections, before I finally got a
contract. Working with editors taught me a busload of lessons.

I quickly learned why those authors didn’t have time to help me. But in the last several years, I’ve stuck to my vow. I’ve taught for free and done critiques when I have time for my local writing group, taught classes to middle school, high school, and college students, taught classes at conferences in several different states, judged unpublished contests where I’ve given feedback, and done paid critiques at several conferences. When I critique, I try to be very thorough, helpful, and encouraging. My goal is to help writers improve their stories and give them the tools they need to catch the eye of an editor.

Several times, I’ve thought I’d enjoy being an editor. But traditional publishers pretty much expect you to have a college degree. Even when you’ve learned from four different editors through sixteen published books. Once kindergarten was over, I hated school. From the time I learned that one day I’d graduate and wouldn’t have to go anymore, that was my goal. Once I finished high school, if someone had offered to pay me to attend college, I wouldn’t have.
And then Scrivenings Press happened. I met Linda Fulkerson back in 2008 or so at a writer’s group meeting. A year later, she asked if I wanted to go to the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Minneapolis. At that fateful conference in 2009, I pitched to an editor and ended up getting my first contract. Since then, we’ve been travel buddies and roomies at dozens of conferences and retreats. We’ve taught classes, plotted books, and shared life experiences. And had lots of pie. When either of is achieve something writer related, we meet for pie.

As different as day and night, Linda is an ex-marine, I’m an ex-hairdresser. I’m technology challenged, she’s a computer geek. I love to write, Linda loves to plot. She’s great with graphics and photography, I’m better with words. She knows her way around business and contracts, my eyes glaze over about such things. She’s an ex-newspaper editor and has written nonfiction, I’d rather make stuff up.

In May, she called to tell me that Kathy and Jerry Cretsinger, the owners of Mantle Rock Publishing, a small press, wanted to retire and sell their business. Linda wanted to buy it. But she needed a partner, someone with skills opposite of hers. I was the first person she thought of since I’ve done so much critiquing and contest judging. Honored, I thought it sounded fun. After discussing it with my husband and God, I accepted. Since then, I’ve taken an online course and am now a certified content editor.

Introducing Scrivenings Press!

In May, we traveled to the Cretsinger’s home, signed the papers, and spent three days learning the ropes. I spent the rest of May and most of June taking my class and wrapping up my writing commitments. It’s been great timing, since I just finished a contract with Love Inspired for a three-book series. I had time to send my agent a new proposal and by the time I hear back about that, if it sells, I’ll have gotten caught up on my editing commitments.

Scrivenings Press officially launched July 1st. We bought most of Mantle Rock’s back list along with several already contracted books, but we’re open for submissions. I’m currently editing the third manuscript on my schedule. I’ll serve as acquisitions/content editor and author development while Linda will take care of copy editing, book covers, contracts, and the business stuff I consider un-fun. Our skill sets complement each other and we make a great team.

We plan to host a writing contest that will begin August 15th. The grand prize will be a contract for publication. Watch for details at:


Shannon will be giving away a print copy of the Love Inspired Western Collection, Counting on the Cowboy / Her Texas Cowboy (U.S. and international included). Please let us know in the comments if you'd like to be entered.


Linda Fulkerson is the owner of DLF Digital Services LLC (founded in 2013) and has nearly 20 years of experience in digital marketing. She comes from a newspaper background and has been a copyeditor, sportswriter, and online editor. Linda has been an indie publisher for several years and is the author of two novels and several nonfiction books. Her role in the new company will be business management, graphic designer, and line editor.

Introducing Scrivenings Press!
Shannon Vannatter is an award-winning, traditionally multi-published author. She is known for giving thorough manuscript critiques at conferences and is highly sought-after. Throughout Shannon’s writing career, she has worked with multiple editors, publishing companies, and agents. Her role in the new company will be acquisitions/content editor and author career development. She is currently undergoing the process of becoming a credentialed editor through the Christian PEN Institute. Both Linda and Shannon will work with authors on marketing their books.

Introducing Scrivenings Press!

Counting on the Cowboy by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Texas cowboy Brock McBride knows better than to fall for a city girl. She’ll leave and break his heart—just like his ex-fiancée did. But his job at Chasing Eden Dude Ranch requires working alongside Dallas wedding planner Devree Malone. And despite fierce resistance, he’s falling hard. Yet with Devree’s business back in the city, can he convince her she’s found her home…with him?


Her Texas Cowboy by Jill Lynn

When Rachel Maddox returns to her hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas, avoiding her ex is much easier said than done. Still nursing the broken heart Rachel caused years earlier, rancher Hunter McDermott figures he can be cordial for the brief time she’s in town—maybe they can even be friends. But how do you forge just a friendship with someone you’ve always pictured as your bride?


Get your copy now!

Counting on the Cowboy & Her Texas Cowboy Western Collection - ChristianBook


Counting on the Cowboy & Her Texas Cowboy Western Collection - Amazon

What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You

by Pam Hillman

There’s an old proverb that goes something like this, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.”

Basically, the idea is if you don’t know about a problem or a misdeed, you won’t be able to make yourself unhappy by worrying about it. 

Hmmm, okay. 

But I suppose there is some merit to the saying, because up until three years ago, my husband and I didn’t have a television in our home. We pretty much missed all the insanity going on in the world for the last thirty years. Not that we weren’t aware and plugged in, but we just didn’t hear the news 24/7 like we do now. Now, we get a play-by-play of everything that’s going wrong in our world. I think I liked not knowing so much!

And, in the writing world, how can not knowing really be detrimental to a career? There are so many ways…

1) If you don’t know how to plot a compelling story, or how to build up tension or layer in details, keep writing, and keep learning the craft. But, first, just keep writing. You don’t get to the next step if you don’t write.

2) If you don’t know that Editor Erin loves stories featuring a love triangle, but Agent Angela isn’t fond of them at all, it might be a good idea to study up on their likes and dislikes.

3) If you don’t know the latest way the wind is blowing regarding ebooks vs. print books, why not?

4) If you don’t know if you’re writing Christian fiction or general fiction, keep writing until you do.

5) If you don’t know your story’s genre, then keep writing until you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to self-publish or go the traditional route, your novel will eventually fit into some sub genre, and you’ll need to verbalize that.

6) If you don’t know about contracts/agreements and the traps to look for, it can certainly come back to haunt you. This applies to traditional publishing as well as self-publishing.

7) If you don’t know that a publishing house has closed its doors or discontinued a line, you’re really spinning your wheels by writing to the line. You’d be better off writing to your heart.

8) If you don’t know how to take your novel from your computer file to the reader (if you plan to self-publish), there’s a lot to learn. But you can do it. You have the tools at your disposal. Just keep writing.

9) If you don’t know about Seekerville, then you’re missing out on a ton of great teaching and blog posts that can answer all of the unknowns I’ve covered above and more.

10) If you don’t know about American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), then there’s even more knowledge to be gained within its ranks.

11) If you don’t know that you and only you can write the story that’s burning on your heart, then I’m here to tell you that you can. Start with #1. Write your story. Make it compelling. Write a story that you know backwards and forwards. And along the way, all the other points will come into play.

What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

When God Closes a Door

By Guest Miralee Ferrell, Publisher, Mountain Brook Ink

When God Closes a Door

I wear a lot of hats, and it keeps me juggling to remember which one I should be wearing and where I laid it down, LOL! At my age, I should think of retiring, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I love what I do too much to quit.
When God Closes a Door

So what do I do? I’m a wife of over 40 years, mom to two awesome grown and married kids, grandmother, horse lover/rider, gardener, writer, publisher, and very recently, an author with a made-for-TV movie. That doesn’t sound like much, does it? 
First, my writing: I started in 2005 when the Lord dropped a word into my heart via a visiting pastor who prayed and told me he believed I should be writing and it needed to be published. The idea had never occurred to me before that, even though I was a prolific reader and enjoyed letter writing. Fiction was the furthest thing from my mind. Fast forward a few months (after praying), and I had several magazine articles written and accepted for publication, and an 80,000-word book written. That book released October of 2007 and was the first of 25 in the 11 years since then—historical romance, contemporary, and middle-grade horse novels. 
When God Closes a Door

In 2013 I discovered that things were changing at David C Cook. I’d had 6 books release with them, and one more yet to release, when they made the decision to discontinue fiction. They published my final book, but that was it. I was without a home, and a bit shocked, as I loved my time there and had hoped to continue. 
But when the Lord closes a door, He often opens a window. We don’t have a lot of time here, but that closed door led to starting a publishing company for other disenfranchised authors who’d lost their home. That was my first thought, then I started realizing many houses were closing their fiction doors. There was excellent fiction being written by debut authors that might never find a home. I expanded my vision, and Mountain Brook Ink (MBI) was born. 
A close personal friend, Kimberly Rose Johnson, lost her publishing home a couple of months prior to my starting MBI, when Heartsong closed their doors. She graciously decided to take a chance with me. Now, 4 years later, she has 7 books with MBI and a new contract for three more. We have several authors who took a chance on us that first year, and they’re still with us. We’re so grateful and thankful for God’s blessings along the way.

When God Closes a Door

One thing that stood me in good stead was already having my foot in the publishing door. Romantic Times knew my name from reviewing my books, so we were able to have our authors’ books reviewed. Christian Book Distributors (CBD) carried all my books, so after working with their sales rep for a couple of years, they decided to carry all of MBI’s books. We put our books into Ingram, meaning our books can be purchased at any book store that uses Ingram/Spring Arbor as their distributor, including brick-and-mortar stores and online. 
I also have a strong sales background, as that’s what I did in my ‘former’ life “BW”—before writing. I understood the need for a publicist, but I couldn’t afford to hire someone with the know-how to get the books out there. I decided I needed to put out feelers and see if I could find a young, ambitious, go-getter who wanted part-time work and was willing to be trained. The Lord sent me Nikki. I spent the first year training her to understand all things publishing—thankfully, she had already worked promoting authors via social media and building websites and blogs. That was a huge step up. I added the rest, and it’s been fantastic.
Nikki works closely with our authors, adding them to our website, rotating the new releases on our home page, sending out a large number of press releases, sending the books to Romantic Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library Journal for possible review. She sets up Facebook release parties, blog tours, guest appearances on a number of blogs, as well as writing training articles, helping authors understand how to set up an author page on Amazon and Bookbub, and emphasizing the importance of a newsletter. We purchase ads on a variety of spots when a new book releases, help our authors build reviews, and so much more. It’s a never-ending journey to discover what works, and we do our best to put those tools in our authors’ hands.
When God Closes a Door

One of our accomplishments that’s brought us a number of new authors and agents is the Lord’s work in connecting me with a Hollywood producer. That was a miracle—the producer had read three of my Love Finds You books. They were making the Love Finds You movies at the time and wanted to expand. That didn’t end up happening, but because she loved my work, she asked me to work on a made-for-TV project where I’d write the book and they’d make the movie. I was given a three-sentence synopsis and Runaway Romance grew from that. She and I brainstormed on the phone a couple of times, and I added an additional thread to the book that didn’t make it into the movie.
As we built a trust relationship over the past three years, she allowed me to pitch an occasional book. So far, they’ve optioned three of my other books (one is in development and should be filming this summer) and two by my authors, Kimberly Rose Johnson and Angela Ruth Strong. We’re praying those come to the screen, as well. 
Yes, I wear many hats—we hire a graphic designer, but I give input on covers. I work directly with our authors—training/coaching, answering questions. I do a lot of editing and proofreading, troubleshoot, go to conferences, acquire new fiction, upload books to online vendors...and so much more. It’s a lot of work, but we’re putting out exceptional fiction, which is a reward all its own.
We’ve had several of our books final or win awards, and our little company has been represented at four different west coast writer’s conferences, as well as gaining visibility with several agencies. One agent made the comment that we’re the best small press available to authors today. I honestly don’t know if that’s true, but it was a kind thing to say—I’m guessing there are other small presses that are just as good or better, and possibly this agent hasn’t come in contact with them yet. 
So, I’d love to know—have you ever wanted to write a novel? Are you writing one now? Do you have one finished—or maybe two or three, and don’t know what to do with them? Do you have a plan worked out, or are you hoping something will ‘just happen?’ Trust me, that’s not likely. 
The best advice I can give you is educate yourself. Go to writer’s conferences. Get involved in a strong critique group. Don’t simply hope. Work. Study. Show yourself a workman who need not be ashamed. Hone your craft. Find ways to make it shine. Purchase a Christian Writer’s Market Guide if you’re writing for the Christian market, and study it. Start small. Submit to magazines or online publications first and grow your resume. Get a social media presence going, especially a newsletter, as that’s critical to landing a contract. And most of all, write a good story—one that makes your heart sing, and one you know the Lord has given you to write, and you won’t go wrong. 

Miralee is offering a signed print copy of Runaway Romance to one winner today! Please let us know in the comments if you'd like to be entered (U.S. entrants only for this giveaway).

Author Bio: Miralee Ferrell is a best-selling, award-winning author of Christian fiction with 21 books in both historical and contemporary in print. She’s a certified lay counselor as well as the publisher at Mountain Brook Ink. She loves country living in the Pacific NW with her husband Allen, her two dogs, two cats, and eleven chickens. 
You can find out more about Miralee at
Follow her on Bookbub (this really helps authors!)
Follow her on Amazon:
Getting Past the Publishing GatekeepersWhile We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published AuthorPassive Income With an Emphasis on WritersIntroducing Scrivenings Press!What You Don't Know CAN Hurt YouWhen God Closes a Door

Report "Seekerville: The Journey Continues"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?