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Dealing With Deadlines


Dealing With Deadlines
Hello everyone, Winne Griggs here. 
Right off the bat, let me apologize for the brevity of this post. I’m on deadline right now and for a number of reasons, not all of them under my control, I got behind schedule. So now I’m in catch up mode with a number of ‘burning the midnight oil’ sessions ahead of me between now and my actual deadline.

So what I thought I’d do today, in place of my planned post, was to list a few tips and quotes for dealing with deadlines, something for my benefit as well as yours.


Dealing With Deadlines

First, some things to help keep you from deadline panic mode 

  • Don’t Set Yourself Up To Fail
    Most of us have a say in the deadlines before they are set in stone. Make sure you know your capabilities, whether it be words/day or words/week. And keep in mind this is a number you can maintain consistently. For me that number is fairly low – 750 words/day with an occasional 1200 word day. Then I pull out a calendar and block off holidays, conferences I plan to attend and family events such as vacations. I also bake in time – for me it’s 3 days a month – where I cut my word count in half to allow for research and other unexpected interruptions. After I’ve laid all that out I see how long it will take me to get the first draft done. Then I add 3-4 weeks for polishing and revision.

    By the way, I’m a spreadsheet nerd and have a handy-dandy spreadsheet I’ve developed over the years to track all of this – if any of you are interested in obtaining a copy just let me know.
     
  • Don’t Over Commit
    Whether it be to another writing project that comes up unexpectedly that you hope to squeeze in, or other social or family projects or activities that you’re tempted to participate in, be realistic when you evaluate how they will impact the deadline you’ve already committed to. Learn the power of saying no.
  • Don’t Procrastinate
    This is a biggie for me. I’m especially bad about this when I reach the 40-50% point in my WIP. It’s at that point that I start wondering if this story is any good, if I’ve lost my ability to create a coherent story, if I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. Once I hit this wall it’s easier for me to do just about anything else than to face my writing demons and push through. One solution for this is to have an accountability partner, someone you check in with once a week or so. And hopefully this is a program you can turn to if you need help brainstorming your way past a story wall or imposter syndrome type feelings.


Dealing With Deadlines

Some things to help if you do find yourself in deadline trouble 

  • Eliminate Distractions
    Staying focused at this point is absolutely crucial. As difficult as it may be for many of us, shut down all social media sites, let family members know when you’re writing you aren’t to be disturbed except for emergencies, and put off or delegate whatever chores or errands you have on your plate until your deadline is met.
  • Adjust your work hours
    To the best of your abilities, increase the amount of time you dedicate to your writing each day, even if that means you get fewer hours of sleep on a temporary basis. Of course, this is a strategy of diminishing returns – it’s not something you can maintain for a long stretch of time.
  • Take breaks
    This may be counter-intuitive, but taking (short) breaks is a good way to keep your mind focused and sharp and your creativity flowing. You also need to make sure you eat regularly and keep yourself hydrated. Just make sure you keep the breaks brief and don’t get lost in social media or other distractions that can sabotage your plans. Set a timer if you need to.


Dealing With Deadlines

And what do you do if worse comes to worse and you actually miss a deadline?

It happens. So how do you handle it?

  • Communicate
    It's absolutely critical that as SOON as it becomes obvious you’re not going to make it, inform everyone it’s going to impact – your agent, your editor any freelancers you’ve contracted with. They need to know as soon as possible so they can make the appropriate  adjustments. And if you negotiate an extended deadline, whatever you do make absolutely sure, barring acts of God, that you’re able to hit it
  • Learn From Your Mistakes
    Analyze what went wrong. Were you were optimistic in how much you can produce daily/weekly on average? Did you fail to take interruptions into account - like holidays, travel days, edit & promo activity on previous books? Did unexpected illnesses or family emergencies hit you? Whatever the case, try to figure some way to learn from it and factor that lesson into your next occasion to negotiate a deadline.
Dealing With Deadlines


Dealing With Deadlines


There you have it, my short and sweet list of how to deal with deadlines. And yes, the fact that I'm in catch-up mode right now makes this post a case of do as I say, not as I do!  :)

What about you - do you have any tips or pointers to add? Lessons learned you'd like to share?

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for winner's choice of any book from my backlist.


What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies

Guest Tanya Agler


What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies


Thank you so much to Missy Tippens and Seekerville for allowing me to be today’s guest blogger. I started reading Seekerville in 2013, and I’m so thankful for this community as it has supported me through my writing journey, including the call I received from Harlequin Heartwarming in January of 2019 for my debut novel The Sheriff’s Second Chance. From the beginning, I’ve learned so much about perseverance, plotting, and writing from this great group of authors and their supporters, readers and writers alike. When I sat and contemplated what possible piece of advice I could add, writer’s block crept in and I froze like a doe in headlights. Then, I remembered how open and honest the contributors have been and that gave me my idea. Anyone who’s been around me, even for a short time, knows I love classic movies. I’m talking Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and Jimmy Stewart movies. So here are some lessons I’ve learned from movies about writing.

1.     “Life is a banquet…!” Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame in Auntie Mame

Whenever I write, this is one lesson I think of quite often. When I apply this lesson to the act of writing, it reminds me how fortunate I am and I ask myself whether I’m smiling. Here I am with the time and a story to write. To me, writing is a banquet, and I hope I’m taking time to enjoy the process and enjoy my characters. Plus, I love that this quote has a double meaning. I not only think of my writing process as a banquet, but I also think of the book itself as a banquet of emotions. When I work on the first draft, I remind myself to question whether my character’s lives are a banquet of laughter and tears, of joy and sorrow, of emotions of all kinds.

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies


2.     “That should be in the brief. That’s the most interesting part of the case.” Judge Bryson in My Favorite Wife starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne

When I’m editing, I think about what is in my head versus what is on the page. That’s one reason I now wait for two weeks after completing a first draft to start editing. That way I read what I wrote rather what I thought I wrote. When I read through the manuscript for the first time, this quote often pops into my head as a reminder to make sure the most interesting parts of the story are written on the page. Is there romance? Did I show the attributes of the heroine that made the hero fall in love with her and vice versa? Is the story interesting?

3.     “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh.” Joel McCrea as John L. Sullivan in Sullivan’s Travels

This is another one of my go-to lines during editing. When I’m reading through for the final time before I hit send, did I laugh? Did I cry? I hope that doesn’t sound vain, but if my characters aren’t making me feel something, I might not be able to say the same for my readers either.

4.     “No man is a failure who has friends.” Clarence’s book inscription to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life

As I wrote at the beginning of the blog, I was fortunate to start following Seekerville in 2013, and it was my critique partner who introduced me to Seekerville, My writing friends and supporters have helped me through this journey with its twists and turns of rejection and reviews. Some say writers need thick skins, but I find friends cheering me on from the sidelines and even helping me on the path itself has lifted me up on a number of occasions, and I’m thankful for all of them.

5.     “Worse, I can’t seem to stop saying things. Everything I think and feel.” Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music

In this exchange, Maria is talking to the Mother Abbess about singing and praying as they discuss Maria’s behavior in the abbey. At other times in the movie, Maria offers prayers to God during mealtime, at bedtime, and during thunderstorms. Throughout my writing journey, prayer has played an integral role in reminding me of God’s grace, His mercy, and His love.

Are there any movie quotes that resonate with you in your writing journey?

****
Tanya has generously offered to give away a print copy of The Sheriff’s Second Chance (plus some surprises) to a U.S. winner or an e-book copy to a Canadian winner. Please let us know in the comments if you’d like to be entered!


Broken things can’t be fixed…Or can they?

Officer and single dad Mike Harrison doesn’t believe in second chances. Ever. That is, until he learns that his former best friend—gorgeous green-eyed car mechanic Georgie Bennett—is back in town. Unfortunately, she’s also a suspect in a recent break-in! But it’ll take an old classic car to show Mike and Georgie that almost anything can be restored with a little patience…and a whole lot of love.

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies
An award-winning author, Tanya makes her home in Georgia with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable Basset, who really rules the roost. Her debut novel, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a January 2020 Harlequin Heartwarming release and is available on Amazon and Harlequin.com. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies and a good cup of tea. Visit her at www.tanyaagler.com or email her at tanyaagler@gmail.com.






10 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Write with Guest Jill Kemerer


10 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Write with Guest Jill Kemerer

Your manuscript taunts you. It’s there unfinished on your laptop or in a half-filled notebook. Sure, you want to keep working on it. In fact, you can’t wait for it to be done so you can move on with your life and start developing the new idea calling to you!

Maybe you already have a few unfinished manuscripts tucked away. Maybe this is your first. Either way, the excitement about your current work-in-progress faded long ago, and you’re frustrated that you just can’t seem to motivate yourself to keep working on it.

I have some experience with this. Believe it or not, I just finished writing my 23thnovel. Now before you throw darts at me, I want you to know that of the 23, three are contracted for future release, ten are published and ten aren’t.

Yes, a solid ten unpublished books linger on my laptop. I wrote them with no guarantee they would ever be published, but I finished each and every one of them, and I’m glad I did.

For me the act of writing is a contract with myself. When a story is in my head and I decide to write it, I write a complete draft no matter what. This helps me avoid the distractions of wondering if an editor will like it, if the book is any good, and if I’m going in the right direction career-wise.

If I only wrote when I believed an editor would like it, when I thought the book was good, or if I was convinced it would be good for my career, I would quit every four days! I have little control over those things, and they’re all based on feelings anyhow. Who knows if anyone will like the book or if it’s any good or if it will hurt my career?

That’s not why I write. It’s not why you write either.

The writing merely stalled. Let’s figure out why.

Why isn’t the book already done?
  • The opening scenes came easily. Now you’re not sure where the story is going.
  • You’re in the middle. The saggy, terrible, total-waste of a middle. And you have no idea how to get out of it.
  • You’re closing in on the end of the book—but you don’t want it to end. The characters are part of you. You’ll miss them!
  • You haven’t touched the manuscript in over three days (or three months), and it feels daunting to get back into it.
  • You don’t have time to write.
  • Your loved ones aren’t supportive of your writing.
  • You’ve been trying to get published for a while, and you worry you’ll never get a yes.
  • The day job, laundry, bills, Hallmark movies, children, spouse, hunting season, donuts…

We all have excuses as to why we’re not writing. And some of them are legitimate (like donuts—yum!). The thing is, though, when we’re not working on our stories, we feel guilty and icky and bad.

First, it’s important to remind yourself there’s a reason you’re writing. Not everyone feels compelled to write even if they have ideas for stories. The fact you took the plunge to write a book is a big deal! It doesn’t matter if it’s your first, fourth, or seventy-fifth. Books don’t exist until the writer commits to getting it on the page.

Second, whatever your “why” is that’s been keeping you from writing, pray to move past it. The following verse helps me.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) “May the favor of the Lord rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Third, you’re far from alone. We all have ways to push past the slumps in order to finish our books.

10 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Keep Writing
   
1.  If you don’t have a deadline, make a deadline.
Set it for 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 months from now, but create a firm date when you will have the book completed. Write it down.

2.  “Gold Star” it until it’s done. When I was a kid, teachers sometimes gave us gold stars for reading a certain number of books or getting all the words correct on a spelling test. Create a chart for yourself to put an X (or a gold star) for every thousand words you write.

3.  Track your page count, word count, or both.
Create a simple chart on paper or in a program like OneNote and track your progress. Make a column with the date, page/word count, and total pages/words. It’s motivating to watch your progress add up.

4.  Get out of the house.
If you find a million-and-one excuses not to write when you’re at home, go to a coffee shop, library, or anywhere you can write without distractions. 

5.  Rewards!
Create mini-goals and reward yourself when you meet them. Example: If you write for one hour every weekday, at the end of the week treat yourself to an hour at the bookstore. Or every time you add 10,000 words to your manuscript, buy a small item you’ve been too cheap to get.

6.  Fall in love with the story all over again.
Read through what you’ve written. Spend time thinking about why you initially set out to write the book. My finished books rarely resemble my initial idea, and that’s okay. The story that needs to be told always comes out. Fall in love with it!

7.  Use your creativity to gain insight into your story.
Our local writing group recently had a guest speaker, Alyssa Alexander, who encouraged us to write down any impressions that came to mind when we thought about our works-in-progress. They could be colors, seasons, objects, feelings—anything really. When we went through our lists, things stood out that we hadn’t expected. For instance, I saw wheat fields and blue skies, telling me the book would be set in the summer. I really enjoyed this exercise!

8.  Consider your personality. What motivates me might not motivate you.
Gretchen Rubin wrote a fabulous book, The Four Tendencies, where she groups people into four types. You can take the quiz HERE to find out if you’re an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel. The book gives detailed advice on motivating yourself according to your tendency.

9.  Think about how you’ll feel if the book NEVER gets written.
The thought makes me sad. I’ve spent hours, days, maybe months thinking about these characters. I want to know how it ends for them!

10. Write for ten minutes.
Everyone can squeeze out ten measly minutes to write. I don’t care if you get one sentence down or two paragraphs, writing fuels writing. Stop overthinking it! Open your manuscript and start.

Still not ready? Try these.

“I Almost Quit Yesterday—Again”Excellent blog post by Carol Sparks.

The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win Fascinating book by Jeff Haden. One of my favorite quotes:

“You’ll stay motivated when you find a process you trust and commit to working that process for as little as a week.”

I found this to be true. My trusted process involves creating a schedule for my writing with set dates and times, engaging in a little ritual before I begin and end each session, and tracking my progress. It made a world of difference in my attitude and my writing output.

“The Best Motivation Apps of 2019” via Healthline.com.

Please share YOUR tricks on how to stay motivated! I’d love to hear them!

Thank you, Seekerville, for hosting me today!

My tenth Love Inspired novel releases in a few days! Her Cowboy Till Christmas is the first book in my new series, WYOMING SWEETHEARTS, in stores November 19, 2019! I’m hosting a cozy giveaway on my website. Stop by and enter—click on “Her Cowboy Till Christmas Giveaway”and scroll down for the easy entry options. (US only, 18+)

10 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Write with Guest Jill Kemerer


HER COWBOY TILL CHRISTMAS

Can a Christmastime reunion become forever?

She’s only home for the holidays…Can he convince her to stay?

The last person rancher Mason Fanning ever expects to see again is the girl who once broke his heart. Brittany Green is in town for Christmas and trying to convince her ailing grandmother—the only maternal figure the widower’s little boy has left—to move away. Can Mason show her all she really needs to fulfill her dreams is right here in Wyoming?

For purchase links and more, click HERE!

Seekerville peeps, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of Jill's latest release, Her Cowboy Till Christmas, simply leave a comment for a chance to be entered. Paperback for US, ebook for international readers.  

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



Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  

Today I want to talk a little bit about foreshadowing. It’s a wonderful literary device that, when used effectively, can really make a story resonate with a reader, can lead to a head slapping, “I should have seen that coming” moment.







First, what is foreshadowing and why might you want to use it?
Foreshadowing is the planting of a hint or warning of something to come later in the story. These hints can be overt, used by the author to create tension or anticipation, or subtle if the author wants to plant clues without being obvious.
Foreshadowing


The functions of foreshadowing include:
  • to provide clues or hints about things to come
  • to add an extra richness and dimension to your story for readers, even those who don’t consciously pick up on these hints
  • to provide a reward for those readers who are paying close enough attention to ‘get it’
  • to enhance the tension and/or anticipation in the readers
  • to provide a page turning quality to your story as the reader becomes eager to find out if they’ve interpreted your foreshadowing device correctly
  • to support a future ‘surprise’ occurrence so it doesn’t strike the reader as coming out of left field


So now that we know what it is and why a writer would want to use it, how would one employ it effectively?

First you need to decide what you want to foreshadow.
Of course, not everything needs to be foreshadowed. In fact, some stories don’t lend themselves to foreshadowing at all. Some surprises and twists work better coming out of the blue. And other events are not significant enough to warrant foreshadowing.

You also don’t want to wear out your reader with too much foreshadowing – doing that would mean you are overloading the story with set-up and are not providing enough story. This can make your story seem eye-rollingly melodramatic.

Foreshadowing should relate to something significant to your story - something improbable you want to lay a foundation for or a big event you want to subtly build toward.
However, this requires that you know what these ‘significant’ events are. So that may mean the foreshadowing info doesn’t get woven in until the second or subsequent passes.
Foreshadowing


There are two types of Foreshadowing

  • Direct Foreshadowing
    This is intended to be recognized by the reader as such and points to an impending situation or problem. This future circumstance isn't spelled out in great detail (or it wouldn't be foreshadowing) but there is enough information to lead the reader to author-directed suppositions. You can do this in a number of ways, including:

    Use of dialog – have characters discuss upcoming events, character attributes, or plans.

    Use of objects – show a weapon, letter, mask or other such item that is an obvious portent of something to come.

    Use of character reactions – have a character react to something or someone in such a way as to indicate there is more than meets the eye
  • Subtle or Covert Foreshadowing
    This is foreshadowing that you want the character to miss until the event it was building toward actually occurs. You can accomplish this by

    burying your foreshadowing breadcrumbs amid other details

    by having the information presented as trivial or in an offhand manner,

    by having the hint presented in a context that hides its true meaning or importance. The movie Sixth Sense provides a masterful example of this.
      

Foreshadowing

The mechanics
  • Do your foreshadowing as early in the story as possible.
    The farther the breadcrumb is dropped from the actual event or reveal, the more impact it has. And also make sure you scatter those breadcrumbs throughout, don’t drop them all in one place. But remember to use moderation – use just enough to make certain your reader doesn’t feel cheated by a twist she could never have seen coming, but not so much that your twist loses its punch.
  • Make sure the payoff fits the buildup
    If you’re going to foreshadow something, the readers, especially those who have been doing the work of finding your hidden breadcrumbs, are going to expect those breadcrumbs to not only lead somewhere, but to lead somewhere that wows them. Don’t disappoint.


Check it again - Is it relevant and organic
  • Does this bit of foreshadowing have the intended effect: If you’re trying to build suspense have you been explicit enough? On the other hand if you’re trying to lay groundwork for a plot element down the line, have you been subtle enough not to tip your hand? 
  • Either way, have you woven in your foreshadowing element seamlessly or does it feel forced? You need to make certain you are staging things appropriately for the intended payoff.


  

So that’s a quick overview of the art of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a skill that requires practice and finesse. If not done carefully it can do more harm than good to your story, rendering it melodramatic, overly predictable, lacking believability or too forced.
So what other tips do you have to offer on this topic? Or do you have any fabulous example from either books or film that you’d like to share?

Roll with the Changes

Roll with the Changes
by Mindy Obenhaus

If you’re like me, the title of this post has tunes of REO Speedwagon drifting through your head. I love that song. 

But I digress.

Change is inevitable. Seasons change, times change, our bodies change... Some people welcome change while others avoid it like the plague. Wherever you are on the spectrum, change is certain. Even, or should I say especially, in the world of publishing.

When I started writing, one of the first things I learned was that change was a part of writing. Cutting too much backstory in the first chapter, reworking scenes to show and not tell. And those were okay, but there were still phrases or certain lines I’d hold tightly to because they were just too good to let go. Oh, and that title? It was perfect.

Then I got my first contract. Those lines I loved? My editor wasn’t so crazy about them. And my title? Gone, replaced with something I wouldn’t have considered in a million years. I quickly learned that change is a given in the publishing industry. New houses/lines open, while others slowly fade away. Titles rarely stay the same and revisions/edits are unavoidable. You may be asked to change names, even settings. 

What’s a writer to do?
Roll with the Changes

Be Flexible – This is probably the most important piece of advice writers will ever receive. And one that can easily be forgotten. Especially when you open up your first round of edits and see that your baby has been cut to pieces and is covered in colored lines and comments. You gasp for air and scream, “Nooooooooo…!” At least that’s what I’ve heard. Not that I’ve ever done anything like that.

Once you’ve had time to calm down, open up your manuscript again, read through your editors notes with an open mind and then start making those changes. Don’t ever dig-in your heels and refuse to accept any changes. Industry people talk, and you don’t want to be labeled as someone who is difficult to work with. Is it okay to question the editors on some things? Yes, just be sure you do it in a respectful manner. After all, they’ve published a lot more books than you have. They know what works/sells and what doesn’t, so it’s usually best to heed their advice.

Understand that Change Keeps Us from Growing Stagnant When my editor recently asked me to set my next series somewhere besides Ouray, Colorado, I felt as though a long-time love affair was coming to an end. My first nine books had all been set in this town that I love so much. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized the wisdom of her request. A different setting would keep my stories from becoming stale. I could explore new and unique things to incorporate into, not only, my stories, but their characters as well. Now I have the opportunity to do something fresh. And fresh is always better.
Roll with the Changes

Reach for the Stars – More often than not, change takes us out of our comfort zone. Which is usually why we’re so reluctant to give in. But when we embrace change, it also stretches us, loosening things up, allowing us to reach farther. Change challenges us to accept that it’s God who is in charge, not us. And He has a plan. A plan to prosper and not harm us. Remember, if He calls us, He will equip us. We are never alone, especially when we follow His lead.

How do you feel about change? Do you roll with it or does it take your breath away? Leave a comment to be entered to win an advanced copy of my September release, Reunited in the Rockies.

Roll with the Changes
A fresh start…and an old love reignited?
A Rocky Mountain Heroes romance
For widow Kayla Bradshaw, restoring a historic Colorado hotel means a better life for her and her soon-to-arrive baby. But she needs construction help from Jude Stephens, the love she lost through a misunderstanding. Working with Kayla, the police officer finds himself forgiving her—and longing to rebuild her shattered confidence. But can they trust each other to forge a future together?



Roll with the Changes
Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com





How to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel with Guest Blogger Elaine Stock


Happy Fri-yay, Seekerville!! I am delighted to welcome Elaine Stock to the blog today - I love her heart & her books, and it's always a pleasure to hear from her. 

Before I turn it over to Elaine, let's take a look at her new book, When Love Blossoms... 

How to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel with Guest Blogger Elaine Stock
The journeys in life take you to unexpected destinations. The love of a good person brings you home.

Kierra Madden, proprietor of the Kindred Lake Inn, struggles for stability after her engagement ends, family strife continues, and business slows. When her mom, sister and teenage niece move in with her, life becomes a lot more complicated. There’s certainly spare room…until one guest arrives…on his bicycle. Ryan Delaney is fit and trim…quite the eye candy.

Ryan, a TV news anchor on a leave of absence following a horrific incident, enjoys the peace long-distance biking offers. Only in town to mend his strained relationship with his teen daughter, he never expects to fall for Kierra fast and hard. Despite her policy of separating business and pleasure, mutual attraction pulls them closer until unforeseen consequences threaten to wedge between them.

Surrounded by springtime beauty, will the temptation of desire bloom into a more powerful and lasting love?
 

Won't you join me in giving her a big Seekerville welcome??

 

How to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel
By Elaine Stock

 

Always a forever first: Thank you, Carrie Schmidt, for all things Seekerville related and especially for your utmost patience and confidence in me.

Hello, Seekerville! Thanks for welcoming me back!

Here are a few not necessarily random tidbits about me:

--I love Cole Porter songs
--As a child I paired up my Crayola Crayons in couples (the bright colors were girls, the dark colors boy)
--This July 4th will be my 37th wedding anniversary (I was a child bride—LOL!)
--When seeing a father carrying a child on his shoulders or a mom kneeling on a cement-hard store floor before her little girl to gently calm the child’s sobs—all complete strangers to me—I will break out in tears over the beauty of family love.

Why? Because in addition to uniting couples in my fictional worlds and tossing at them obstacles to challenge their budding love for each other, I’m Passionate about love’s dynamics between family members. And yes, that is a capital P in passionate!

Ah, but it’s a romance you want to read, huh? Maybe that’s where I’m a wee different…or not (I’d love to hear your take on this in the comment section), because I believe that for love to be strong and lasting for Jack and Janelle or Alex and Ariel the love must transcend past the point of immediate attraction and desire and encompass how this growing, heating relationship affects their loved ones, be it family or friends. The couple likely won’t hop into their private plane and fly off to a desert island to forever exclude all others from their lives. Love can only thrive when not in isolation.



Enough with the philosophy of love. You’re writers and readers. Are you wondering how to write/read romances that expand beyond the hero and heroine, yet at the story’s end you will sigh (hopefully) in joy? I could spend hours analyzing the authors who are stars at writing romances, but instead I will offer what works for me:

  1. Keep the hero and heroine in the limelight. This is their story. It helps to limit the Point of View to only his and her perspectives.
  2. Like descriptions of surroundings, sensory perceptions, and many other etceteras, all secondary characters are secondary including their premise, plot, turning points, and conflicts, yet…
  3. The hero and heroine must be seen engaging with these secondary characters (for me, it’s typically family, though you may have another association in mind). For instance, can your heroine ask for advice from an older brother? Will the hero’s aunt, the one who raised him but then disowned him, step back into the picture and wedge between him and this woman he’s falling madly in love with?
  4. If your secondary characters’ sub-story is strong enough to impact the hero and heroine then keep their plot line, descriptions (physical, emotional, likes, dislikes, the way they act) to a minimal. They must not take over the story and take away from the romance. Keep the romance in the reader’s mind at all times.

To paraphrase Cole Porter in his song, Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love): everyone and everything falls in love; love is what keeps us alive.

How to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel with Guest Blogger Elaine Stock



How to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel with Guest Blogger Elaine Stock
Elaine Stock is an award-winning author of Women's & Inspirational Fiction to uplift with hope of better tomorrows. Her novel, Her Good Girl, received the Outstanding Christian/Religious Fiction in the 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards, 2018 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal in Christian Fiction and the 2018 American Fiction Awards in the Christian Inspirational category.

Elaine is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Romance Writers of America. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.




Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1JYAwNy
 

How to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel with Guest Blogger Elaine Stock
 



Elaine is giving away (1) Kindle edition of When Love Blossoms.
This is Book 2 of the Kindred Lake Series, however it is a standalone read.
US ONLY

Comment below for a chance to win! 

Which of Elaine's tips most resonated with you today?

 

 

Tackling the Tough Stuff


Tackling the Tough Stuff
I love reading and writing Christian, romance. However, sometimes reality has a way of creeping into our sweet little stories. Not because we want it to, but because God does. 

As often happens, a writer can be moving happily along, getting to know their characters and then all of a sudden you learn something about that person’s past. Something that has impacted their life. Something terrible that affects how they live and who they are today. Things like abuse, betrayal, drugs, cancer, PTSD, and the list goes on and on.

These subjects have to be handled with sensitivity because we never know what a reader might be going/have been through. Our goal in the face of life’s ugliness is to offer them hope.

How do we do that?

Do your research – Knowledge is power. And as unsavory as some of these topics are, you owe it to yourself and your readers to have a better understanding of whatever it is your character is struggling with and how it could impact their thinking and their day-to-day life. Search the internet or visit your local library for books on that particular subject. If you know someone who’s struggled with that issue, see if they’d be willing to talk with you so you can get a sense for how your character might feel. You don’t need to become an expert, you simply need to be familiar enough with that topic to do your character justice and not insult a reader who might be dealing with the same thing.

Don’t be graphic – This is one of those stretching exercises for writers. Sometimes we think we need to just lay it all out there. But would that be beneficial? Readers have imaginations. We don’t want to plant something in their mind’s-eye that they might not be able to forget.

Here’s an example from Ruthy’s Christy nominated book, Her Secret Daughter.
Tackling the Tough Stuff

“I trusted the wrong man, Jacob. After years of being so careful, and prim and proper in a city where that’s not exactly easy, I believed a man who carried date-rape drugs in his pocket. A foolish mistake from a woman who had promised her family nothing would go wrong in New Orleans. And there I was, hating myself all over again, but pregnant this time.”

As readers, we know what happened and our heart goes out to the heroine without being hit over the head with all the details of that painful event.

Tackling the Tough Stuff
Unfold the journey – Whether physical or emotional, healing is a process. Don’t gyp readers by having a character afraid to trust throughout a story, then suddenly give their heart away in the last chapter. Trust has to be built. Wounds need to be healed. Little by little, one step at a time throughout the book. So by the time we near that final chapter, we know that our character really is strong enough to take that leap of faith.
Tackling the Tough Stuff
Speaking of faith – As Christians, we know that true healing can only come from God. So above all else, pray your way through any story, but especially those that deal with sensitive topics. Because you never know when a reader might contact you to share their experience and tell you that your book gave them hope. And knowing your book has actually reached that one person God called you to write that story for is the most humbling and amazing feeling you’ll ever know. 

What are your thoughts on these difficult topics? Do you shy away from books that have them or do you feel that they make the characters more real? Share your thoughts to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Her Colorado Cowboy.
Tackling the Tough Stuff


Tackling the Tough Stuff
Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com



Interview Do's And Don'ts



Happy Wednesday, dear Seekerville! 

As a blogger, I have the privilege of interviewing authors on a weekly basis. Sometimes the tables are turned and I'm the one being interviewed. Either way, it's always an honor and something I don't want to take for granted. I also want to be respectful of the authors I interview - respectful of their time, their privacy, and their work

Lately, I've been observing some common feedback from authors and some pet peeves of my own and, to help all of our interviews be the best they can be, I thought I'd suggest a list of do's and don'ts for interviewing people in the book biz. 

Interview Do's And Don'ts

DO keep it short and sweet. 


A good rule of thumb is no more than 10 questions the interviewee needs to answer. 

Authors are busy people (I'm sure I'm not telling y'all anything new here. YOU are the busy authors of which I speak), and we need to respect their time as well as the people who will later read that interview. I know, for myself, when I am reading an interview - or answering interview questions - I zone out after about 10 questions/answers. 

DO offer options.


This is a good workaround on the 10 questions thing. If you want to send more than 10 questions, fine, but somehow have the interviewee pick which questions they want to answer.

This can be done in more than one way. For my own standard set of questions, I send 6 numbered questions (another way to look at them would be 'sections') - and all but one of those allows the author to pick the question they prefer to answer from that section. Other bloggers (such as our own Beth Erin) just send one list of several questions and allow the author to pick 10 or so from that list. There's no right way or wrong way to do this, as long as you are keeping the 10 question maximum in mind and somehow allowing the author to choose the questions they prefer.

DO keep it fun & be creative.


You never want to bore people - not the people who are reading the interview nor the people you are interviewing! 

I've found that readers respond best when they can get to know the AUTHOR not just the BOOK. Certainly, asking questions about the book they are promoting is key but so also are questions that really bring out the author's personality and what makes them unique. If readers can find something that they share in common with the author, or at least can identify with, they are more likely to a) buy the books and b) champion the author on social media.  

DO ask at least one question unique to your own brand.


You are of course spotlighting the brand of the author you're interviewing, but that doesn't mean you have to abandon your own brand in the process.

Again, this can be done in many different ways. It could be a specific type of questions you ask or questions along a theme that fits your brand. For instance, on my own blog ReadingIsMySuperPower I have one specific question that I ask every interviewee the first time they are on my blog - and it's related to my blog name. This not only provides consistency in every interview but it also helps people remember who is interviewing them, in case they want to tailor their answers to better relate to your audience, etc. 

DO be a good listener. 


If you are conducting the interview on a podcast or radio program, etc. it's important to not be in so much of a rush that you end up talking over them. 

Melony Teague suggests that you let them talk and wait for them to process the question and the words they want to say. Part of this includes always working to put them at ease, to dispel any anxiety they may be feeling about a 'live' interview. You may even need to rephrase the same question in different ways until you get the information you're looking for. 

Interview Do's And Don'ts

DON'T ask eleventy-bazillion questions. 

I know I mentioned this in the DO section but it's because I want to doubly emphasize it. 

Ain't nobody got time to answer eleventy-bazillion questions, and asking them to do so will only irritate them and make them sooooo less likely to agree to another interview with you. Do all God's children a favor and limit your list to TEN questions (however you choose to do that - whether just a straight set of ten or a longer list from which the author can choose the questions they want to answer.

 

DON'T be an interview snob.


We all want to be unique and have exclusive rights to an interview but .... 

It's also okay on occasion to use an already prepared Q&A from the publisher - I've even seen some authors do this right before a new release. This goes back to the DON'T I mentioned above. As an interviewer you should always strive to make the interview as easy for the interviewee as possible. If that means that they don't have time to do 40 different interviews during the launch of a new book, then graciously accepting the prepared questions & answers is the right thing to do! AND if that means they don't have time to do an interview at all, graciously accept that answer and don't keep asking.

 

DON'T be afraid to be silly or off-topic.


This is related to 'keep it fun' from the DO list, but sometimes we all just need to loosen up!

It's okay to ask completely non-bookish questions, questions that may seem silly (are you more a golden retriever or a chihuahua? ) or have nothing to do with anything (who's your favorite Backstreet Boy?). Maybe do a section pitting classic TV shows against each other. Or a version of the Rip It Or Ship It craze on YouTube (you match a hero from one book or movie with a heroine from another and ask if the interviewee would rip that story up or 'ship it', meaning they can see that relationship working). Ask them for their bookish confessions - have they ever written a report on a book they've never read? do they hate a book or author that everyone else loves? Questions like this (while not suggested for the entire interview) help readers identify with the author you're interviewing and, as I said earlier, help that author find new diehard fans.

 

DON'T ask questions with one-word answers.


Unless this is a specific category of questions where you WANT one-word answers, try to phrase your questions for maximum answer-ability. 

A good tip here is to ask 'Why?' whenever you think a question may lend itself to a very brief answer. This encourages the interviewee to give a deeper, more thoughtful answer to that question instead and may even spark their own creativity to give you an answer that is truly fabulous and insightful. For instance, instead of asking 'Who is your favorite character in the book?' ask this 'Which of your characters in this book most spoke to you and why?' or 'Which character would you most like to hang out with in real life, and what would you most like to tell them?' 

DON'T forget to share it.


Algorithms are not our friends.

Gone are the days when you can publish a post on your blog and get hundreds or thousands of views without doing anything else. You can't even just post it to your FB page and expect anyone to see it. For maximum exposure of the interview post (which most benefits both you and the interviewee) you must share it in as many beneficial places as possible. Use the stats from your blog/website/social media page to determine where your traffic is coming from and then focus on that. DON'T waste time on social media that your audience isn't using. DO tag the author in your social media posts to a) notify them that you've posted and b) engage their audience. Share in various FB groups and join (and post to) group boards on Pinterest. Research the most effective hashtags on Twitter & Instagram. And DON'T forget to include the author's bio and social media/website links in your interview post. 

 

 What about you? 

What do you like most and/or least about being interviewed?
Do you have some fave tips that work for you? 

Let us know in the comments!



Interview Do's And Don'tsCarrie 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. Co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours, Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric. She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can't stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 - ReadingIsMySuperPower.org. You can also connect with Carrie on Facebook @ meezcarriereads and everywhere else social at @meezcarrie.

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives

The Seekerville archives are full of wonderful blog posts. I'm sharing this one from 2016 as a taste of what you can find there.

How do you find the archives? Look at the top of the page...see the button? You've got it!

Now, a trip into the past...

* * * * * *

by Jan Drexler


We all know the feeling.

You wake up early, refreshed and ready to head into the next scene of your Work In Progress. You grab your caffeine of choice (mine happens to be tea) and sit down in front of your computer.

Everything is fine until about an hour later. You read through what you’ve written and you’re ready to tear your hair out! What happened to those beautiful words that flowed through your mind during your shower? Why are your characters so…so…cardboard? Yes, cardboard!

You bang your forehead on your keyboard, sobbing. “I’ll never be a real writer!!!”

Okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic. Or maybe not. First drafts are – yes, we can say it – awful. But that’s okay! Look at that scene again….

I wrote 700 words this morning. It was the beginning of a scene for my next Love Inspired book that I had labeled “action leading to Twist 1.”

The problem?

Here, let me give you a sample:

“blah blah blah pigs blah blah blah mud blah blah blah father blah blah blah money…”

Do you see what I see? No action! No movement – unless you count the pigs wallowing in the mud (and I don’t). It’s just my hero, Samuel, and the pigs. There isn’t even any dialogue.

Seven hundred words of boredom. Blah blah blah.

Unless you like pigs.


But I’m not giving up. The first draft – no matter how horrible it might be – is necessary. I’ve dumped what I want the scene to look like onto my computer screen. I’ve given my ideas shape. There is something there…which is much better than nothing.

I can’t revise words I haven’t written, and revising is what makes the writing sing. 

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives


So how do I fix this scene?

First of all, the biggest problem is that Samuel is alone. The whole scene is introspection, with a few buckets of pig slops thrown in.

When our characters are alone, nothing happens. Think of the last time you had a moment to yourself and write it out as if it’s a scene in your book.

Jan swished the tea bag in the cup of hot water, hoping that would make it brew faster. She flipped the newspaper open with one hand and read the headline. “Mayor Urges More Spending on City Center.”

Exciting, right? Unless someone walks into the kitchen at that moment and starts a conversation. Then we have some spark. Some interest.

There is a time for our characters to be by themselves, deep in introspection, but this scene isn’t it. Remember that this is an action scene. And it’s a lead-in scene.

What is it leading into? The first plot twist. So in order to write the lead-in, I need to know where I’m going.

What is the plot twist? I have that planned already – Samuel tells the heroine, Mary, that she should stop worrying about money. “Find some fellow to marry and let him worry about it.”

Yeah. Right. She responds to that suggestion about as well as you think.

So now I know what I need to do to fix this scene. Since Mary is going to be key in the next scene, I need to bring her in here. Something she says or does will prompt Samuel to make that suggestion in the next scene that sends her off.

So instead of introspection, I need dialogue between Samuel and Mary. They can talk about the pigs, the mud, and his father. But they need to talk to each other.

Okay, I can hear some of you already: “Plot twist?” “Lead-in?” “Action scene?” What is she talking about?

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives


It’s time for a quick lesson in scene building 101. This is not a rabbit trail, I promise! I’ll come back to revisions in a minute.

How to build a scene:

1. Give it a purpose. Scenes aren’t just fluff and filler. Each scene has a role to play to move your story forward from the beginning, through the middle and on to the end. You, as the author, need to know what each scene’s purpose is. That will help you determine how the scene will play out.

2. Give it a beginning, middle and an end. Think of each scene as a mini-story within your book. Start by showing your reader who is in the scene, where they are and what they’re doing. Ramp up some tension that’s appropriate for this scene’s purpose. And then end with a hook…make your reader go on to the next scene with no thought of putting your book down.

3. Give it a main character. Each scene needs to have a main POV character, and your job is to show the scene through the character who is best able to convey the message of the scene to your reader. 

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives


Now back to revising my scene’s first draft. As I revise, I need to keep asking myself those all-important questions.

Another point to consider as I revise this scene is balance.

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives

I tend to write scenes with a word count between 1200 and 1500 words. In my novels for Revell, the scenes tend to be longer, around 2200 words. Why is this an important detail to know? Because I want to build my scenes in proportions the same way I do my novel.

Most novels are in three acts, with Act One in the first 25% of the book, Act Two in the next 50%, and Act Three in the remaining 25%. I want my scenes to have that same kind of proportion.

So my balanced scene would be around 300 words for the beginning, 600 words for the middle, and 300 words for the end. Do you see the symmetry?

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives


Okay. We have our three building blocks and our scene is balanced. How does it look now?

In the first 25%, I describe the physical setting: Samuel is in the barn feeding his pigs, the morning is pleasant, and he is happy to see Mary stop by the farm.

In the middle 50% of the scene, we have the conversation between Samuel and Mary.

They talk about the pigs, his farm, and her idea to raise money to support herself, her sister and their elderly aunt.

Then in the final 25%, we see Samuel’s reaction to the conversation and his lack of understanding of why Mary feels the need to support herself. She should just find a husband, right?

And the groundwork is laid for the next scene.

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives


I have an assignment for you. Don’t worry, it’s a fun one!

Find your favorite book and read it again. This time, pay attention to the scenes as they unfold. Do they have the three building blocks of a good scene? Do they end with a hook?

Now, what can you do to make your writing sing like that?

* * * * * 

Back to the present!

I would apologize for the winter graphics, but we're on the downward side of a late winter storm here in the Black Hills. Lots of wet, wet snow! So I get to share it with you!

Let's discuss scene-building. What is your favorite technique? Or do you "wing-it," working through it until it feels right?




Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives
Jan Drexler’s ancestors were among the first Amish immigrants in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing extended family. She writes historical Amish fiction and is published by Revell and Love Inspired.

 Website: www.JanDrexler.com
Twitter: @JanDrexler

How Writing Is Like A Road Trip


Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  For the past few weeks my 3 sisters and I have been excitedly planning a girl’s trip to Disney World for mid-June.  It’s the first time we’ve done something like this and we’re all very excited about not only going to Disney, but having the opportunity to spend some time together.  My baby sister, who still works a full time job and lives the furthest away is planning to fly, but the other three of us are going to drive together.  So lately I’ve been googling tips for getting the most from a road trip. 

How Writing Is Like A Road Trip


To my surprise I found a lot of these same trips can be tied to writing. So here is my interpretation of 6 ways writing is like a road trip:

1. Spend some time figuring out the best route
Like a road trip, when writing a story you need to know your character’s starting and ending destinations. Once you know these two anchoring points, you can explore the many routes you can take to get you there.  Some of the factors that will play into your decisions – the amount of time you have available to make the trip ( novella, short work, longer work), the various sights you want to see (character milestones), and  the spare time you have for side-trips (subplots).

2. Clean and service your vehicle before you leave.
Just like it’s a good idea to make sure your vehicle is clean and in good working order before you leave on your trip, you also want to make certain you’re starting your new book under the best possible conditions.  Clear your workspace, put away all the research and story notes you accumulated on your last project, and if time allows, take a breather between projects to do something fun and restful to ‘refill the well’ of your energy and creative juices.

3. Entertainment
For some people, playlists and eBooks are an essential part of any road trip. Just so, for some writers, having a writing playlist, sometimes specific for each story, is also essential.

How Writing Is Like A Road Trip


4. Have a plan but be flexible
To get the most from your road trip, you want to have a solid plan for how you’re going to get from start to final destination. But you also want to leave some flexibility in your schedule to accommodate unexpected roadblocks and side trips. So too, as a writer we all know that life happens. Our writing schedules can be detoured by illness, family events, major climate events and any one of a dozen other issues. Make sure you leave some room in your writing schedule to adjust for these life events when they happen. 

5. Choose the right companions
Taking a long road trip can make or break a friendship. After all, you’re going to be trapped in a vehicle for a number of hours with your travel buddies with no way to escape them – make sure they are folks you can get along with.  So too, make certain the characters you’ve developed for your story are ones who can keep your interest (and the reader’s!) for the duration of the ‘journey’.

6. Understand the rules of the road
This may sound basic, but if you’re going cross country, or even into other countries, the ‘rules of the road for these other states/countries can be different than what we are used to.
Relating this to writing, each genre/sub-genre has its own expectations and you need to understand the ones for the book you’re writing.

There you have it - my thoughts on how writing is like a road trip. Do you agree with these? Do you have others to add.  
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for my brand new release, The Unexpected Bride.

How Writing Is Like A Road Trip

THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE

How Writing Is Like A Road Trip
Fleeing an arranged marriage, socialite Elthia Sinclare accepts a governess position halfway across the country. But when she arrives in Texas she finds more than she bargained for - more children, more work and more demands. Because Caleb Tanner wants a bride, not a governess. But marrying this unrefined stranger is better than what awaits her back home, so Elthia strikes a deal for a temporary marriage. She says I do and goes to work—botching the housework, butting heads with her new spouse, loving the children.


Caleb isn’t sure what to make of this woman who isn’t at all what he contracted for—she’s spoiled, unskilled and lavishes her affection on a lap dog that seems to be little more than a useless ball of fluff.  But to his surprise she gets along well with the children, works hard to acquire domestic skills and is able to hold her own with the town matriarchs.

Could the mistake that landed him with this unexpected bride be the best thing that ever happened to him?





Dealing With DeadlinesWhat I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies10 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Write with Guest Jill KemererForeshadowingRoll with the ChangesHow to Keep the Romance in a Romance Novel with Guest Blogger Elaine StockTackling the Tough StuffInterview Do's And Don'tsHaving Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville ArchivesHow Writing Is Like A Road Trip

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