Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Ruth Logan Herne | (page 5 of 9)


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

 Darlings, this is a "Back to Basics" post that works for new and not-so-new authors alike! How to write the kind of heroine you want to read, one you can love, admire and embrace.

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

There is no simple way to say this. No simple words to address it. And no long-winded advice on methods, manners and modes.

Writers need to find "their" readers. The readers who love their voice, their mindset, their characters. The readers who identify with that author's point of view, with the settings, with the slant. And the best way to do this is to write books.

Some readers love the long-suffering type heroines who finally find some level of peace and satisfaction in life.

Other readers gravitate toward kick-butt heroines, the Kate Becketts (Castle: CBS) or the Elizabeth Bennets or the Princess Leias... the women who stand charge and don't stand down.

And an author can combine the two to make their characters sympathetic to Reading Group 1... and beloved by Reading Group 2 by having the long-suffering person stand up for herself and fly in the face of fear and transgression with a sense of overcoming.

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

I used that combination in two of my bestselling indie books "Running on Empty" and "Refuge of the Heart", using women who had to overcome a tragic, traumatic past to grab a firm hold on the future they wanted. But they couldn't have that future without the growth it took to get from point A (fear, self-doubt and guilt) to point B (realizing that their strength comes from faith in God and faith in themselves.)

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

Some readers identify with overcomers. So many of us have had to overcome a multitude of things in life from poverty, abuse, loneliness, death, divorce, loss of a child, addiction, mental illness, loss of job, loss of income and those are only a few of the things that can tip us into mental overdrive.

My Wishing Bridge series deals with three women who met in a foster care group home and their gripping and beautiful stories have put them on the bestseller list for the past two years... These are small town/rural setting stories of three overcomers and God's perfect timing.... and folks relate to it because almost all of us, if not all, have had to overcome something.

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

Some readers want complete relaxation and only buy books that are funny or funny/poignant.

They want the humor to soften the curves of life, and there's nothing wrong with that! Those curves could use bumper guards, for certain! 

But other readers want what my buddy Vince refers to as "Romance Realism": stories of victory over adversity, like what happens in real life.

Each author tackles into his/her heroines differently, so here are ideas from some of the marvelous Seekers:

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

Missy Tippens says she particularly loves reading heroines who are funny--not necessarily on the page interacting with other characters, but more in their thoughts. She can really relate to heroines who sometimes think or say the things Missy wishes she had the nerve to say in real life! She also relates well to heroines who are flawed, who don't have their act together, yet who fight through, grow, and come out a better human being by the end of the story.

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

From Jan Drexler:

But favorite heroines? I can weigh in on that. My favorite heroine is someone who impacts someone else's life for the better. So she's the daughter who cares for her aging parents, or the young professional who puts friendship above advancement, or the high school senior who puts her dreams on hold to raise her younger siblings when their parents are killed (that's Jackie Layton's heroine in her cozy mystery series.) Give me the woman who can put someone else's interests ahead of her own, and you have a heroine I can root for.

From Erica Vetsch:

As for relatable heroines, I try to give my heroines a quirk, like a gesture or a phrase or a tendency. In The Lost Lieutenant, my heroine Diana is a list-maker. She has little control in her life, so the areas in which she can exert control, she's all in. Lists, organization, plans.

I also like to give them a special gift. For Diana, it is design. She has a flair for creating beautiful spaces.

I also like to give my heroines a bit of a moral dilemma where they have to choose between two hard things. In this case, Diana wonders if it is every okay to lie to someone, if your motives are good.

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader

Wishing you-- and all heroines, fictional and real!!!!-- the very best of health and happiness: Keep Writing! 

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your Reader
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves writing great stories, working with kids, baking amazing goodies and working in gardens, but mostly she loves God... and her family... and thanks God for the graces she's known throughout her life. Visit her at or visit her here on Seekerville or Yankee Belle Cafe on Thursdays, or friend Ruthy on Facebook! 




Hey, if you know the drill, then you're prepared to have some fun today...

If you don't, here's the skinny:

Once in a while we have an Open Critique Day. It's a day for you to share a blurb of your story with us and we will descend en masse and tear it to shreds.

It's what we do.


But we'll do it NICELY, so you have to look beyond the "nice" and get to the nitty gritty of the advice, then pick what you want to use... and scrap the rest.

At least temporarily scrap it, you may find yourself coming right back to that bit of advice in a month or six months on 2021...

And a light bulb clicks on and you say OH MY STARS!!!! (or an equivalent thereof) and all of a sudden you remember that criticism and/or advice and you realize this...


Is what that author meant about organic roots or root canals or dangling modifiers or gerunds (listen, I don't know what half this stuff is, either, it's why I don't read craft books... I just write. And I read. And I copy smart people. Then I write some more.)

But that light bulb moment is huge.

So leave your opening or smidge or tagline below, whatever you'd like us to look at. Keep it to about a page... no whole chapters, please, darlings.

And let's chat how we polish, preen and persevere!


NOTE: The Seekers formed a group fifteen years ago, a group of fifteen authors who devoted themselves to writing and praying each other into publication and the current Seekers want to do the same for you... Publishing can be a rough business, but with love and support we can build one another into the writers we want to be!

How Much Conflict is Too Much? You Need to Be the Judge

You know, if you put all of this into a book...

Everything that's happened since New Year's Day....

And submitted it to an editor, they'd politely refuse to publish and remind you that your conflict was over-the-top and advise you to focus your story on a more realistic situation unless you're writing a dystopian novel, in which case, they're the wrong publisher anyway.


When life throws more at you than a book allows, how do you pick and choose what goes into the book?


If you've ever read a book that just hammers a protagonist repeatedly and wanted to throw it across the room because the conflicts were conflicts-of-convenience rather than organic, that's kind of 2020 to a "T", isn't it? Enough already!

And Mother Nature can keep her stupid Murder Hornets to herself, thank you very much.

Picking and choosing what chaos, problems you're going to include in a contemporary or historical is clutch. You can have a classic family or town problem and all of its internal and external effect... crime, infidelity, divorce, death, illness, etc and show the ripple effect as it progresses outward, and then throw in a storm (pick one that fits the time of year) or a medical emergency (a train derailment, all hands on deck, a major crash on an interstate, food poisoning at a local wedding venue) or something major, and then the spillover of your major problem.... But if you pile it all on, creating a full-on quagmire of 2020 style problems, it borders on disbelief, even though we're living it.


Because it's so far beyond the norm that it might not connect with the reader.

Writing a novel is a lot like planning a wedding dinner, beginning with the appetizer:

Pick two:  Stuffed mushrooms, Shrimp-and-artichoke spread on Bagel Crisps, meat and cheese tray with crackers, lobster puffs, mini-quiches

Two many appetizers and the meal is wasted.

When you begin your novel, you don't necessarily have to have it all plotted out. But you do need to Aim For The End.

As you weave your story blanket, all threads need to progress across the grain and end up at the same place.

And that's the tangle of adding in too many conflicts. How can you do justice to the ongoing cause-and-effect if everything's in a knot?

I've seen good authors miss the boat on this and I see lots of new authors go both ways... way too much unrelated conflict and too little conflict, tied together with a loose structure of words/scenes bare of emotion.

Give yourself the fun of writing but don't be afraid to tackle into the deep subjects and then the willingness to edit like crazy to make it work, to tie those threads, and if 2020 pushes you to add too many toppings, either resist the urge...

Or possibly write the Next Big Thing. :)

Just be willing to do the work to make it shine from beginning to end.

How Much Conflict is Too Much? You Need to Be the Judge
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne lives on a pumpkin farm in WNY that welcomes fairies and/or faeries to her gardens and trees so that children can look up-- or down-- and smile. :) With almost sixty published books to her credit, she's loving the opportunities she's been given and loves to encourage others to keep forging ahead. Don't give up! You can friend her on Facebook, email her at or visit her website

Creating a Cover Letter That Creates Interest: A Back to Basics Post

Good morning, Seekerville! Ruthy here. I initiated this post, but read it through because at the end I've got additional ideas from several other Seekers.... and these are women who get the job done. Every aspect of writing is important. Sure.... your manuscript is clutch. But that's only the first step, my friends. So here's another "bead" in the intricately woven necklace of publishing.

Creating a Cover Letter That Creates Interest: A Back to Basics Post

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is your letter of introduction to the editor/agent/publisher you're approaching, a missive whose purpose is to capture enough of their interest that they pause to read your manuscript.

When I began writing, everything was done by snail mail. EVERYTHING. And editors would have months of big envelopes in their offices, piled high, waiting for their turn in the queue.  And am I the only person on the planet that sees this wretched word "queue" and wonders first:

Whose idea was it to invent a word like this???? (Britain)

And why isn't it pronounced "quay" like so many French words because it looks French, right? Parquet? Croquet? 

But that's a different day's convo. Today we're talking cover letters and I'll enjoy having other Seekers and authors offer their opinions.

Assuming you've done your homework and researched who is looking for what... and honestly on Facebook and Twitter they're often having Looking For The Next Big Thing-type parties to see who "hearts" this and that... So that gives you an idea.  Assuming that, now you want your letter to reflect the professional's needs/desires/wishes.... if she or he wants thriller fiction and you send them sweet romance, you are dead in the water, so let's make this first part a checklist:

1. The publisher publishes things similar to what you write
2. The editor doesn't hate you
3. The editor works with authors you really like
4. The agent is accepting new clients or avidly looking
5. The agent actually works for the clients, not simply lip service
6. You've actually worked & re-worked and edited and done your best on your manuscript.
7. You've checked the website for guidelines and followed them

Okay, now you're ready to move on to your cover letter via email, snail mail, etc.

Here's how I wrote killer cover letters, and I'm not bragging to say that nearly 60 books later, I'm not afraid to grab an editor's/agent's/publisher's attention because I want that foot in the door.

Ms. Senior Editor
My Most Wanted Publisher
Nashville, TN  37207

Dear Ms. Editor,  (Romantic suspense version)

He spent a decade fighting for a truth that turned out to be a lie, a lie so deeply entrenched that he may never see daylight again, a lie that not only means his life-- but hers.

(Notice I didn't introduce myself.... if she loves this/me/the concept, she'll find out the rest later. It will matter then. It's of little consequence right now)

Dear Ms. Editor,  (Romance version)

He'd promised her father he'd die for her and that might be exactly what happens, so why did he have to fall in love with her first?

Dear Ms. Editor,  (Young Adult/Futuristic/Must Kill the World Version)

His actions didn't just send a message. They catapulted a realm of destruction into being, a destruction so final that he couldn't possibly save his life... but he was determined to save hers.

Opening with a killer/wonderful/gripping tagline is a great way to gain attention.

Then your job is to keep it.

If your agent/editor/publisher has a certain way they like cover letters and says so, then follow their lead... but most don't do that anymore. I think. It's not like I'm out there looking, guys, so it's always good to check their blogs, posts, etc.

But aside from that, here's what I'd go with.

1. Tagline and make it count. Practice by writing taglines for hit movies/books. Then if you can't write one for your story, it might mean the story lacks depth, so you should address that first.

2. Brief synopsis, back-cover blurb style.  If you have two versions (I usually do) use the shorter one. You want this to be a one page wonder, resist the urge to drone on about how he really was misunderstood as a child and wanted to help his mother (Michael Westen, Burn Notice) because that backstory will come out in a well-written book & synopsis. (Link to Writing a synopsis, read blog & very useful comments)

3. Appreciation for author/agent/publisher (keep it specific to the person you're approaching) showing why you're approaching them, why you're impressed by them, why it's a good fit. Here's an example:

"As a woman who was originally inspired by Catherine Marshall's "Christy", I was drawn to your recent release of Jan Drexler's "Roll of the Drums" and Mary Connealy's "Aiming for Love". Set in 1874 Nebraska, "Risking Her Heart" pits a spinster school teacher against rugged conditions as she keeps six orphaned children alive through a season of raging blizzards. When a drunken hero wanders along, Marie can either shoot him or help him, and that's only one of a series of tough decisions she's going to make that season."

4. Who is your competition for shelf space in bookstores, Walmart, or on mass market paperback shelves? You don't want to compete with the publisher's authors or eat into their market share, so pick authors from other publishers to show where your story will harvest likely readers. Editors and marketing want to visualize how your work is going to gain ground for the publisher's sales figures. Don't fool yourself that heart outranks numbers. That's generally an industry fiction. Publishers need to make money. So do you. Show them why your story will stand its ground vs. other publishers' historical offerings.

5. Close with a brief author bio.  "MIT graduate Aspiring Author abandons the geekiness of her "Big Bang Theory" real life to immerse herself in her first love, historical fiction, as often as she can. Her work has won or finaled in multiple romance contests including (list wins/finals here), she has an interactive blog with over a thousand followers and a Facebook presence with over two thousand friends, offering her a great launch spot for her beautiful Western fiction series."

I'm going to leave this here and invite other authors to add whatever advice they'd like to in the comments.

Remember that you often get ONE PARAGRAPH (according to an agent panel at a major conference) to catch the target's interest.

Make it count.

And here are some thoughts from bestselling Bethany House author Mary Connealy:

Cover letter advice.

If at all possible, find out the name of the acquiring editor and target that person specifically. Better to say, "Dear Dave Long," Than Dear Bethany House Acquiring editor.

This is a whole lot easier now than it was before the internet when I started. Oh, there was internet, I just didn't have it. 
I started writing BEFORE GOOGLE.

Targeted cover letters: This also applies to sending the letter to the right publisher.  Market research can be done online, find the right publisher for YOUR BOOK. No matter how great your book, Love Inspired is not going to publish your 100,000 word cozy mystery. You can also do this by going to a book store, finding similar books and finding out who published those books.

Sound familiar? And here are Erica Vetsch's thoughts on cover letters:

I think of them as a four paragraph essay. 

1. Opening greeting that says what you are doing: My name is ______ and I am the author of ____________ that I am submitting for your consideration.

2. Describe the project. __________ is a ___________ word novel that tells the story of _______ who wants ________ but __________ is preventing her from getting it.

3. Your bona fides. Tell why you're qualified to write this story. List writing credentials, professional organizations, awards, etc. I am a ______ Best selling author of _________ books, a member of ________ and winner of ___________. Or, if you don't have any books published yet, I am an active member of __________ writing organization, and have finished _________ manuscripts.

4. The wrap up that tells your expectations. I hope you enjoy ______________, and I look forward to hearing from you. The full manuscript of ___________ is available upon request.

Then thank them again and sign off. :) 

And there you have it, authors. Once you have an agent, or a group of editors, you don't have to write many of these.... maybe none. But you'll always have to have the chutzpah to put yourself out there via your synopsis and/or bio so writing this letter, presenting yourself is huge.

And a momentary but wonderful commercial announcement!!!!

The first book of my North Country Romance series releases as an indie on Friday! Preorder is available, this whole series will be released this summer for $1.99 each and I'm so excited to give them this new exposure! PREORDER LINK HERE!!!!

Creating a Cover Letter That Creates Interest: A Back to Basics Post

Creating a Cover Letter That Creates Interest: A Back to Basics Post
Multi-published, USA Today bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne has nearly sixty published novels and novellas and admittedly loves to write about as much as she loves coffee and chocolate. Her unforgettable characters touch hearts and souls because Ruthy loves to write real people... the kind you live near, the kind you pass on the street or sit next to in church (when you're not socially distant, of course!!), people that embrace the race that knows Joseph. Email Ruthy at, visit her website or friend her on Facebook where she loves to talk to readers and writers. You can also see the other side of Ruthy and four other Seekers at the Yankee Belle Cafe where five delightful authors share their time, homes, thoughts, ideas and recipes with readers weekly!

A New Season, Authors....

Well winter ended about four days ago, and I can't say I miss it one teensy little bit!

But with the end of the threat of snow (I am not even kidding, people!!!) and the abundance of possible sunshine, comes a lot of change for us here on the farm and for most folks who try to cram a year of family get togethers and gatherings and fun times into the 16 mostly nice weekends coming up, weekends filled with First Communions, graduations, weddings, baby showers, wedding showers, family reunions, family weekends at the beach or in the mountains or gosh... anywhere.

But maybe not this year.

Maybe not this season.

A New Season, Authors....

The recent scourge of a pandemic has changed our mental, emotional and physical landscapes. It's put a hard stop on getting together, having parties, meeting for lunch, even gathering for picnics because here in New York the state has tipped all picnic tables on end so that there's no place to sit.

Playgrounds have been roped off in many areas.

Kids have been distance learning and threats of a changed future seem like a chapter out of a futuristic novel but it's not a novel... it's today's reality.

There are no sports. No baseball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse. No MLB, NBA, PGA... and Nascar just held its first races of the season, allowing no fans.

A New Season, Authors....

But for all of this, there is a growing unrest among the people, a growing surge of re-taking control of our choices, our lives, our freedoms, and for you writers, these are the emotions that spur plots, that build characters. You are living in a story-rich moment... but it is several months long already, and that's why people are beginning to rise up to grab hold of the freedoms we hold dear... while mourning the tens of thousands whose lives have been lost to a new virus, an insidious illness that's been unleashed on the world, a world caught maybe in a state of complacence? And the virus became a wake-up call for so many, but also a launch pad for story ideas at every level.

In a stirring quote to the Second  Continental Congress as they debated waging war against Great Britain to create the country we now know as the United States of America, Ben Franklin said: "Those who would give up essential freedom for temporary safety deserve neither freedom nor safety."

A New Season, Authors....

This is an important time in history, we're living in the pages of a history book, and no one knows the ending or even the next chapter, but we've all heard the life-coach advisory: Anything you do for 30 days becomes a habit.

A New Season, Authors....

And that's the warning knell for freedom lovers, because the erosion of freedoms rarely comes like a swift hammer, but more as a creekside erosion.

A New Season, Authors....

Here at the farm we're working hard to create new things, to get our fall crops planted and I'm busily writing new stories and taking care of business... with a mask in public! Because no one wants to make other people sick or get sick themselves, but I'm blessed to live in the country, surrounded by wide open spaces and the ability to re-design how we do our fall displays to spread folks out because none of us know what autumn will bring, but I promise you one thing:

On our farm it will bring pumpkins and gourds and sunflowers and mums and a couple of acres of beautiful things produced by hard-working hands, produced with love and affection for our customers, our neighbors and our community and our country.

A New Season, Authors....

A country that should never take freedom for granted, but on this week, the day after Memorial Day, to realize that we are part of the greatest country in the world, and are so blessed to be here.

May God continue to bless America.

A New Season, Authors....

A New Season, Authors....
Multi-published, USA Today bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, her family, her country and she unabashedly bleeds red, white and blue as she writes beautiful stories with unforgettable characters on her farm in Western New York. She loves chatting with readers and writers. Friend Ruthy on Facebook, visit her website, email her at or swing by Seekerville or visit Ruthy and other delightful Seekers at the Yankee Belle Cafe, a lifestyle fun, cooking blog!

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith

It's been two months now. Over two months since I first started researching what was going on in China... and having watched "One Child Nation", a documentary released in 2019 about China's one-child policy, the emotional distancing, the choices, the  lack of choices and the long and short-term effects.  I was watching it from an adoption angle, but then whispers of a new virus kept invading my research. As I watched the news releases from China, and the more surreptitious talk, it became more clear that this could be another SARS-like breakout... of course we know now that this one is worse for several reasons.

It infects people more readily.
It lurks in the throat and nose without causing symptoms for days, widening the spread.
It has "sneak attack" features that allow a person to carry it, unknown to them.
It loves crowded rooms, funerals and gatherings inside.
It targets the elderly, but isn't afraid to take its share of other folks, too... but to a far less degree.
It really likes people with co-morbidities, immune-suppressed, diabetic, lung problems, heart problems and obesity are particular favorites.
It's persistent. And it is particularly happy in overcrowded conditions, spreading quickly which made NYC a prime target.

As these things became known, the world hit "PAUSE":

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith
And it hasn't been able to hit "RESET" as yet.

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith

We're slowly creeping toward Reset in Western New York. Because NYC became an epicenter, things in New York will move slowly. Others are able to move more quickly, and that's good because a world can't pause forever, can it? But this isn't a debate about opening/not opening.

Not my job, not my pay grade.

My job is to help writers figure out how to conquer the spinning brain, the out-of-body experiences that say you should be writing (those are correct, by the way) but you can't get your brain to cooperate. (Brains are funny things.)

This has become difficult for contracted authors. That means it might even be harder for people striving for that goal because there's no money riding on it. That's not said to be mean, it's the common sense of the situation: If your paycheck demands you write, then you write. Eventually.

So how do we conquer this? How do we set fear aside and focus on moving forward?

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith

Faith in God and faith in ourselves. The Novel Corona Virus didn't take our talent. Nor has it taken our brains. What it's done is capture our attention, so our current task is to change the visual and contextual and get back to work.


Use it as a basis for getting back to work because not since WW2 has there been such a target-rich environment for story building from every direction, mindset, demographic, setting available.

Those choices are up to you, the author, the writer. The news abounds: pick a story and flesh it out fictionally.

And here are ten ways to re-set your personal brain:

1. Stop watching ubiquitous news coverage. Allow yourself twenty minutes/day to check news, local and/or national, then walk away until your brain is no longer mush. Mushy brains do not write good books. Heck, they don't even write good lists.

2. Do something nice for others. The busier you are being good to others, the less inclined you are to sit and think about yourself or the world condition. The world has been around for a very long time. It will continue to spin, and good things and bad things will continue to happen. Focus on others. Make things to donate, write letters of encouragement to people, bake things and drop them on doorsteps, order things to be delivered to folks who are in need. Give gift cards to cashiers and delivery people. Be kind. Be noble. Be faith-filled.

3. Go outside. Get out of the house, even on the bad weather days (tornadoes and hurricanes excepting) and walk. Ride a bike if you have one, but if you don't, take walks. It will be good for your body, cleansing for your soul, help your lungs and give you more stamina if you do get sick.

4. Avoid social media. If your brain is spinning, social media is the last place you should be with the constant arguments about this, that and the other thing. One thing about crises that's held true through millennia: There are bad people who will take advantage to their own ends/power/finances and good people who will keep things going. Today is no different, it's just your new normal. Use it as a history lesson.

5. The Serenity Prayer. A beautiful, simplistic way of re-organizing your brain to focus on what can be helped, changed, and your opportunity to do it... or to bide your time, pray and know that God is listening.

6. Write.  Make yourself sit down, get that butt into a chair and those hands on the keyboard and let your brain immerse in something fun... or in something earth-shattering if that's the way your brain works. Some authors do well in the crush of the moment, bringing tragedy to the page as it whirls around them. Others want rainbows and Kermit-the-Frog and reassurance of sweet romance or fairy tales. BOTH ARE WONDERFUL.  And both can be blessedly therapeutic.

7. Make a decision about what is ruling your life: Fear or Focus. No matter what kind of person you are, introvert or extrovert, fussy or calm, Type A, B or whatever... your personal choice has a huge effect on your actions. Choose to move forward. Standing still gets us nowhere. This doesn't mean you have to rejoin the dance in the public square. It means you're actively engaging your brain to allocate a "And This Too Shall Pass" mindset to the current situation and letting it play out while you get things done. They don't have to be big things: But they do have to be something.

8. How badly do you want to be a writer?  Sometimes the test isn't in the circumstances, but in the person. Another decision to make, because writing is a job like any other, and there's only so much leeway. Publishers don't make money if they don't produce books, and sometimes we write under great pressure, internal and external. There are only so many "Get Out of Jail (Deadline) Free" cards issued. Something to consider because self-discipline is key to a successful career, or even a shot at a career at all.

9. Breathe deeply. That sounds silly, right? It's not. Taking that deep, cleansing breath through your nose... holding it to expand your lungs... then doing a slow, controlled release helps us to feel in charge and it helps strengthen our lungs, two important factors in fighting this virus and the blues. Take those deep breaths... hold 'em a bit... and then let them go slowly. It's a metaphor for taking charge of your life by taking charge of your lungs, your air, your breathing patterns.

10. Pray. Give your life, your fear, your joy, your anxiety, your acceptance, your praise over to God. If you're not a believer, this is the best time to change that status, darlings! And if you are, then remember that God is here, with us, Emmanuel. The blessing of the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We are not abandoned. We are never alone. We are His... and as His creations we were formed in an image and likeness that offers us the strength to tackle whatever comes our way. Pray... and use His shoulder to lean on. Let Him carry you, but that doesn't mean you should slack off because then the spin starts all over again and darlings... no one has time for that.

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith

Be well. Be kind. Be safe. And remember that while we may embrace different opinions as things move forward, your normal isn't someone else's normal and that's an important distinction.

I've got a $20.20 Amazon gift card to give away today, but not for you... if you win it, I want you to give it to someone in need, okay? I'm not going to check up on you... If you really need it, well, go ahead and use it, my friend!


THIS JUST IN!!! An anonymous author has just donated a second $20.20 gift card for a second winner to share! You guys are the best! Now we'll be giving away two gift cards for folks to share with others, just a little way to share the love....

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith
But I'm a firm believer that the more we care for others, the less we sit around worrying about ourselves. And that's a lesson I think we've all learned at one time or another!

10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & Faith
USA Today Bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is blessed to be living her dream of writing sweet books with unforgettable characters while she's tucked in her very cold corner of New York State (which really should give it up on winter, for pity's sake, right???) She has been known to rescue tulips from the cold, loves puppies and dogs, her mini-donkeys, the occasional cat and does not like mice or snakes. She refuses to apologize for that. With over 50 books published, Ruthy has been touching the hearts and souls of readers for ten years... and hopes for many more, God willing! Email her at, visit her website, friend her on Facebook where she loves to chat the antics of family, kids, critters and life on a pumpkin farm.

BACK TO BASICS: The Synopsis

 The Seekers are thrilled to see so many new aspiring authors stopping by, chatting about their work and emailing us with questions. They've also requested some guidance on things, so we're going to be offering some BACK TO BASICS posts that help new authors, but can also help those authors on the brink of traditional publication because it's a very competitive business. Anything that gives you the needed polish on your work is a wonderful thing! So below, here's a fresh new look at how to write a synopsis:

I don't know anyone who loves writing a synopsis.
There's a reason for this.

BACK TO BASICS: The Synopsis

Creative writers tend to abhor technical writing. It's not our groove, our wheelhouse, our thing. So when a proposal requires a synopsis, our palms sweat. Heart rate ramps up. And suddenly the refrigerator needs cleaning, the dog needs walking, and surely the car needs washing. Doesn't it?

We'll do pretty much anything to avoid the synopsis, so today, in the midst of turbulent times, let's do a back-to-basics post about something we may dread but are required to have as part of our arsenal.

What is a synopsis?

It's basically a summation of the story. It must include all pertinent points that the author knows about the story.

How do you start a synopsis?

This may vary from author to author. Here are the opening paragraphs of my synopsis for "A Hopeful Harvest" my January Love Inspired release. Note that I started it with a mini-summation of why this story will work between these protagonists, and absolutely why it shouldn't work. This draws the editor's interest if the plot idea works, and that's your first goal is to draw the editor's or agent's interest.


Jax McClaren excels at helping people while keeping his distance, but when he stumbles onto Libby Creighton’s life, a perfect storm of opportunities erupts. There was her grandfather, a sick fruit farmer caught in the throes of growing dementia. Jax had seen his Grandma Molly through Alzheimer’s years before. His compassion then guides his moves now.

Libby and her daughter live on a Central Washington orchard, in need of skilled hands and a full harvest. As the heir to a major Washington apple and fruit producer, Jax has that one nailed, too. But most of all there was Libby and her daughter CeeCee. He read the pain of the past in their faces, but he wasn’t planning on fixing that.

He could fix the blown-down barns. And the apple crisis. He had connections she knew nothing about.

But her broken heart was something else again so he was determined to come to their farm, put in a day’s work and go back to his lonely cabin in the hills. In the cabin his bad dreams and sorrowed thoughts did no harm. But as time went on he found it impossible to maintain his distance, and maybe that was the best possibility of all.

BACK TO BASICS: The Synopsis

So now you have the intro done. Seriously, that's the crucial thing in my thoughts. You don't have much time to snag an editor's or agent's interest, sometimes a page is all you get before they set the work aside. Make the most of that opening page (and your cover letter, but that's a different lesson.)

From the intro I go into a brief backstory for hero and heroine to set up their characterization in the story, then a brief summation of the opening chapters, and then... I make stuff up. 

I kind of have to do this because I don't plan scene by scene ahead of time, and 53 books in, I'm okay with that... now if you DO plan scene by scene, then give a brief summation of those scenes. Those scenes should show the action/reaction of hero and heroine, or hero to events. What's moving the story forward? What outside influences (an angry mother, a caustic neighbor, a church that's falling apart, a town on the skids, a storm, a natural disaster, a death, a lost child.... Show a hint of what outside/external conflicts are going to try and wreak havoc with your character's lives. 

This is important, even if it's not 100% accurate to what the final story will be, because you need to show the power thrusts that keep the story moving forward. You may have some leeway here as you actually write the story, but the editor or agent needs to see that the story has good bones. Like a house, with a solid frame, a good book needs good bones because the emotions flow through and around those bones.

Then you want the black moment, as best you know it.  Why does it all fall apart? Secrets, lies, misunderstandings, outside influences, etc. If this is a suspense or thriller, explain the resolution. Don't hold back. Give spoilers because this isn't a casual reader, this is the person offering the contract or representation.

If there is a faith thread, show how that changes or grows as the story moves forward. You don't have to go into big detail, but this is an important thread for Christian fiction, and can also be a major part of the story's moral.

And then the ending. If it's a happy ending, that's pretty simple. If it's a more literary-style ending with vague resolution, you need to show the character's internal growth, even though you're not necessarily wrapping things up in a neat bow.

Add idea for an epilogue if applicable.

BACK TO BASICS: The Synopsis

If you're self-pubbing, you don't need to worry about a synopsis, right? 

(Ruthy frowns here, because here's the skinny on that...) Honestly, learning to write a solid synopsis helps you to see holes in the story. Editors see that, too, and offer advice on those possible weak spots so you can fix them as you write. 

It's like the basics of writing in junior high. There is a difference between the gradients of all right, good, very good and excellent. Seeing the holes in your story is very hard for new writers. It comes with experience, and the only way to gain experience is to keep writing. And that's exactly what the Seekers want you to do. Keep writing.

And keep learning!

And Ruthy has two copies of "A Hopeful Harvest" to give away today, so leave a comment below and she'll toss your name into the Easter candy bowl...  Then check our Holy Saturday Weekend Edition to see who won!

BACK TO BASICS: The Synopsis
USA TODAY bestselling author and somewhat bossy but fun person, Ruth Logan Herne is sequestered like everyone else. Only she's on a pumpkin farm in Western New York where mud is currently ruling the day. Fortunately she knows that warmth is coming and she'll be growing all kinds of things and writing sweet books in the wee smalls of the morning when there is no one to bother her... although that's not a problem at the moment, is it? :) Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, stop by her website or email Ruthy at She loves to hear from writers and readers. And she actually answers her own mail!



How to Pull the Perfect Story from Imperfect Headlines

A politician once declared "Never let a good crisis go to waste."

That means in times of trouble, or in emergencies, you may have more leverage and opportunity to do things you want to do or to enact things you think are either important or will benefit your constituency.... or your own pocket. :)

Writers are different. Writers see or hear a story and the questions that run through their minds are the "What if?" of a situation... 

What if he doesn't check that rearview mirror as he drives away?

What if she decides to keep the baby and raise her as her own?

What if the house doesn't land on the witch's sister when it sails to Oz?

I've asked several amazing authors to give us ideas for how they winnow stories from headlines. Here's New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight's thoughts:

Many of my books are sparked by everyday news stories or a human interest story within a crisis (not the actual crisis). For me, there is no method. I'm sorry. I wish I had ten easy steps, but alas, I am a touchy-feely writer. it's all about how the event or someone in that event makes me feel. Does some portion of the story move me? Will my readers also relate to it on an emotional level? Can I create characters and a book around that kernel of an idea? I am a born fixer, so my desire to create a happy ending for the real people in those news reports gets me searching for a plot that will "fix" the situation (if only in a fictional sense).
The Honey Ridge Novels, for example, all started from one tragic news story of a child missing for many years.  Another time, I heard a news report of a young single mother seeking a family for her children because she was dying. Oh! Can you imagine? I could, at least a little, because that's what writers do. We imagine. I cried for her and those babies, and from that emotion and her unthinkable situation, came the basic premise for the Last Bridge Home. Everything, for me, hinges on the emotion in an event, and then my "what if" mind starts spinning. 

Socially distant hugs from the Okie!

How to Pull the Perfect Story from Imperfect Headlines

And here is the question posed to award-winning, USA Today Bestselling multi-published author Margaret Daley:

But as an author, how do you pull stories from headlines or crises? Is there a method? Or is it simply inspiration? 

It is inspiration and what I'm passionate about. I've written about human trafficking before but last fall I felt I needed to write another book about what is going on in the US and the world. Missing is about child (sex) trafficking and was one of the hardest books I wrote. There is a lot of it going on, and we need to do something about stopping it.
Take care and stay safe,

How to Pull the Perfect Story from Imperfect Headlines

And USA TODAY Bestselling author Debby Giusti agreed to come on board with her thoughts on this, too.

When I wrote my second book for Love Inspired Suspense, I wove the plot around a nefarious doctor who was harvesting organs and selling them on the black market. Unbeknownst to me, my editor’s father was the head of US organ transplants in the Northeast, and he insisted no such activity could or would take place in the US. As you may have guessed, I had to rework the story. Thankfully, just days earlier, I had watched a news report about folks in the US who traveled to foreign locations where they could not only procure organs more quickly—and cheaply—but they could also have their surgeries done within a few days of their arrival in the country. The travelers were called “transplant tourists” because they often went sightseeing until their organs were available. Soon after surgery, the tourists returned to the US, but without the patients being under a doctor’s care, what seemed like a lifesaver to many often resulted in life-threatening complications. I rewrote my story and included the transplant tourist racket. SCARED TO DEATH released in 2007 and won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense the following year.

How to Pull the Perfect Story from Imperfect Headlines

And then there's my take on this, to wrap it up.

We're not politicians. We don't look at a crisis or a tragedy or a disaster and wonder how we can tip the boat our way...

We look at that situation and think "How can I make this better? How can I fix this?" In my bestselling, award-winning Wishing Bridge series,  I wanted three women with tragic pasts, three old friends, to have to reconvene a dozen years later just in time to re-examine their choices... and I used an unwed mother to do it. It's a tale as old as time, a woman alone, in her hour of need.

People relate to people. We feel for them, and when authors look at a crisis, they don't see dollar signs.

They see hearts and souls.

How to Pull the Perfect Story from Imperfect Headlines

What are some of your favorite books or series, things that really touched you or stayed with you? Leave a comment below to win a surprise pack of books! 


Okay, darlings, some of you know the drill.

Some don't.

We keep it simple.

You have bestselling, award-winning inspirational authors here, but we don't limit our critiques to just inspy works.... as long as it's G-rated, you're welcome to post below!

Here are the rules:

Keep it fairly short, this forum doesn't allow for chapters... but a few paragraphs to share the idea  is great.

If you have to hunt through your work to find a few good paragraphs, then it probably needs polish OR you need stronger coffee because you're scared to death. Both are normal.

We are not critics... we are authors and bloggers and we love great work, but our opinions are just that: Opinions. Although every one of us will tell you that we wouldn't be where we are today without paying attention to early critiques and contest judges who helped us see what worked... and what didn't.

So today it's a drive-by critique.... Any Seeker may stop in and tell you what they think, and they/we don't always agree... and YOU know your story... so take that into consideration.

But it is also advised to leave wounded egos and overly-sensitive hearts at the door because we might tell you that your work needs work... and that should always be okay. 

And we have a prize today of a one chapter critique for some brave soul, but you have to tell us you want it.... you have to mention that you want to be put in that drawing...

Don't be too scared, darlings.

No one's died from one of our critiques.


Coffee is here. Doughnuts/donuts, too, including the amazing cannoli cheese-filled donuts I get at Ridge Donut Cafe.... Because it's nice to share.

USA TODAY bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of more than 50 published novels and novellas and while she can be a meany-pants from time to time, her tough persona hides a really soft heart but she doesn't like folks to know that, so she hides it well. Very well, some say. You can friend her on facebook, follow her on the most unfriendly social media in the world, AKA: Twitter and stop by her webpage She also actually answers email (and it's really her, not "her people", so be careful what you say, lovies!!!!) at and she may brag about how her bestselling Wishing Bridge series has been on the Amazon bestseller lists for weeks, but gosh, a girl's got to be able to share good news, right??? Even bossy girls! 



Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times

Fellow authors, writers and readers, we don't want to belabor the current situation, but The Seekers are a group of Christian authors and bloggers.

Key word: CHRISTIAN.  That comes first, before the word author or blogger.

From Love Inspired author Mindy Obenhaus:

Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times

We are believers.

We are women of God, believers in Christ, sisters of the Spirit, bound together not just because we love good books and great stories and romance...

We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord... and they'll know we are Christians by our love...

So that's what today is about.

Everyone reading this has a story right now. We are living in the pages of a coming history book, the Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020, and students will look at graphs and curves and numbers and they'll see that we were willing to risk one of the best economic booms we've had in decades to save lives.

A verse that brings solace to Missy Tippens:

Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times

But that doesn't come without pain and sacrifice and worry as millions of people are told to stay home from work and millions of others lose their jobs as schools and businesses face a mandatory closing order.

So here are some beautiful sayings that help us keep it in perspective because that's what God expects us to do.

From Debby Giusti....

Dear Friends, I select a new scripture verse each day and write it on a 3x5 card that I place on my kitchen counter. I also open my Bible to that verse and keep both close at hand to pray throughout the day. The verses are from the daily readings. 

My verse today is Psalm 34:7
When the just cry out, the Lord hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.

Nature is nature. Nature will change things. Nature is not always predictable, and sometimes awful things just plain happen.

And we learn to take up the yoke and walk with it.

Here's a beautiful verse from Carrie: (meme by Beth Jamison)

Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times

And here is a favorite from Winnie Griggs, one that I think we all love and embrace: 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
Someone once said that there were 365 exortations to "not be afraid" in the Bible. This gal checked that out and found 145... And that's still a lot, my friends! And you know why? Because we're human. We get nervous. We don't like change. We're normal. Simply put, we are not God. And so we get anxious and we fear and the Lord, our God says "Fear not!"

Annie shared these three verses that bring her comfort when life and the world get out of hand: 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
- Romans 15:13

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 
And Mary Connealy said offered up one of my favorite verses, too:
Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times
 And Mary sent this along with the meme.... 

This makes a wonderful prayer. Isaiah 40:30b-31

And I try and remember when  you pray for someone using this prayer that, when someone doesn't survive whatever this life hands out, then God lifts them up, as if on eagle's wings. He takes them to himself to a place and renews their strength. A place where they can run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.

That is what we believe.
We believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, his son, our Lord. We believe in the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In this time of anxiety, nerves and reflection, when it seems like our world has been put on pause, or flipped upside down, we are blessed to have God.

And blessed to have each other.

I'm pretty sure I have one more copy of Sarah Young's  "Jesus Calling" and let us know if you'd like it... it's absolutely lovely and I'd be happy to put your name into the candy dish.

No cat dish today.

We're going full tilt on candy, and we are happy to share with all of you.  Leave a comment or tell us your favorite verse in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

And may God bless you, all of you, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.


And a beautiful way to draw this to a close is with this verdant reminder from Jan Drexler:

Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times

The Seekers are a great bunch of gals who love great books, who write great books and who are blessed to call one another friends... and who enjoy welcoming people into their lives. 

Thank you for being here with us today.

Back to Basics: Relatable Heroines To Draw Your ReaderOPEN CRITIQUE DAY for BLUE MOON MONDAY!!!!!!!How Much Conflict is Too Much? You Need to Be the JudgeCreating a Cover Letter That Creates Interest: A Back to Basics PostA New Season, Authors....10 Ways to Conquer Fear with Focus & FaithBACK TO BASICS: The SynopsisHow to Pull the Perfect Story from Imperfect HeadlinesOPEN CRITIQUE FOR BLUE MOON MONDAY!!!!Fear Not: The Seekers Share Verses That Help Them Through Tough Times

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