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Seekerville: The Journey Continues

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Talulla

 

Talulla

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I’m so excited - the release day for Talulla, the ninth book in the multi-author Love Train series, is almost here - it releases on August 1st.

As I posted last month, multi-author projects are always fun. The chance to bounce ideas off of each other and do some collective worldbuilding, even when the books are standalone, brings an extra layer of excitement to a project. One of my contributions to the worldbuilding aspect was to speak to a curator at a railroad museum and get a copy of a timetable that showed travel times and stops along the Union Pacific route in the 1870s. Others dug out information on Pullman cars, dining options, how sleeper berths were set-up and stored away and many other little details that went into making the train travel portion of our stories as realistic as possible.

As for the stories themselves, other than details about wordcount and other administrative issues, each of the ten participating authors were given the following set-up for the books:    

  • The books will all be standalone
  • Each story will have the hero and heroine encountering each other while traveling on a Union Pacific train, engine number 1216. The train travel will happen on page for at least part of the story.
  • The time frame will be 1869 or later.
  • A matchmaking conductor will be featured in each book. (character sketch provided).

Given these identical parameters, it was really interesting to see how VERY differently each story turned out. 

When I started brainstorming the story for my book, Talulla, I started by reading through my idea file.  You know, that place where an author stores those ‘someday’ ideas, snippets of character sketches, plot points, what-ifs that are intriguing enough to grab your attention, but not fully formed enough to earn a story just yet. And the one that tugged at me was an idea I had pitched to my editor in my early days of writing for LIH. It was rejected, and rightly so, it wasn’t developed enough at the time. But that was over a dozen years ago and with the advantage of a little more experience under my belt I could see the weak spots and figure out how best to rework it.

I was very excited to be able to finally breathe new life into this story and get it ‘out there’ in the world at large. I know this may sound silly, but whenever I develop a story to the point of having a proposal pulled together, I get invested in the characters and feel I’m letting them down if I don’t get the story written.

 

Here’s an excerpt. For context, Tally and Max were childhood friends but a tragic accident that resulted in the death of her brother changed all that. She went away to boarding school and it’s been twelve years since they’ve seen each other. Max is now a widowed father and he and his seven-year-old daughter Bonnie are traveling home on a train in the crowded coach car when Bonnie falls prey to travel sickness. The conductor finds a passenger with extra seating in her Pullman section who agrees to share her space with the sick child. Here is how the first meeting goes.

 

A split second before Henry made the introductions, recognition kicked Max in the gut. Tally!

Henry waved to the woman. “Mr. Maxwell Wallace, this is Miss Talulla Alden. Miss Alden, this is Mr. Maxwell Wallace and his daughter Bonnie.”

Max saw her stiffen, as he was certain he had. He gave a short nod. “Tally.”

“Max?” Her tone conveyed shock, as if she’d just bitten into something that was unexpectedly sour.

Henry looked from one to the other of them in obvious delight. “So you two know each other?”

Max nodded. “We do. Or at least we did, many years ago.” Tally Alden—the flesh and blood reminder of one of the lowest moments and biggest regrets of his life. No wonder she’d seemed familiar out there on the platform and that he’d thought of her earlier.

The conductor rocked back on his heels looking very pleased with himself. “Well this is excellent. You can get reacquainted and there won’t be any of that awkwardness strangers experience when meeting each other for the first time.”

Max barely managed to keep from rolling his eyes. If Henry only knew.

Then Max shifted, settling Bonnie more comfortably in his arms. Tally seemed to collect herself at that. She waved to the upholstered seat across from her. “Please, lay your little girl down. And have a seat as well.”

She glanced from his daughter to the conductor. Anywhere but at him it seemed. “I know you’re not a porter, but would it be possible to get a blanket for Bonnie?”

The conductor touched the brim of his hat. “I’ll see to it right away. And if there is anything else I can do to make this new seating arrangement more comfortable for the three of you please let me know.”

Max hesitated, not sure he was truly welcome. But another fretful movement from Bonnie settled the matter. He took the seat across from Tally, laying Bonnie gently down with her head in his lap. “I know you and I didn’t leave things on the best of terms when we were last together.” A definite understatement. That eyes-blazing declaration that she hated him had been the last words she’d spoken directly to him before today. “But I’m very grateful that you’re doing this for Bonnie.”

She folded her hands in her lap. “Your daughter is an innocent and she’s suffering. I wouldn’t be so cruel as to turn her away.”

Her tone and cold look said that the characterization of innocent didn’t extend to him. It seemed she still hadn’t forgiven him.

“You look good Tally, all grown up. I wouldn’t have recognized you as that gangly, freckle faced girl I remember.” This poised, graceful, fashionable woman was nothing like the little tomboy who used to follow him and her older brother around with sometimes annoying persistence, wanting to be included even when her presence wasn’t welcome.

She smiled, though it didn’t extend to her eyes. “No one’s called me Tally since I left Windflower.” A shadow crossed her face. She was no doubt remembering Jamie, the one who’d given her the nickname.

“Would you prefer Talulla?” he asked quickly. “Or Miss Alden perhaps?”

She waved a hand. “Tally’s fine.”

He leaned back, careful not to jostle Bonnie, and studied her a moment as she fiddled with a chain at her neck, her gaze once more focused elsewhere. Max finally decided it was up to him to carry the conversation. “So what takes you home after all these years?”

She tucked a tendril behind her ear, her expression closed off, just short of hostile. “There’s an heirloom I’m supposed to inherit on my twenty second birthday, which happened this week. My father is holding it hostage until I come to personally collect it.”

Good for Rupert. “Then let me offer you a belated happy birthday. And I’m sure your father will be happy for the opportunity to see you again, whatever the reason.” He couldn’t resist adding “It’s been some time since you were last home, hasn’t it?”

Tally’s eyes narrowed at that.


I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into
Talulla. Leave a comment with your thoughts to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Talulla, to be delivered once it goes live.

 

Talulla

TALULLA

Talulla

Will returning home bring Talulla the peace that’s eluded her for half her life?

Ten-year-old Talulla watched in horror as her beloved brother fell through the ice while trying to save her. Thanks to the quick actions of Max, her brother’s closest friend, she survived. Her brother didn’t. 

When she overhears Max and her father discussing that she’s to blame, Talulla feels betrayed by those she thought she could most trust. A boarding school becomes her refuge, and she never looked back. Until now.

Widowed father Max is traveling home with his young daughter. Unfortunately, a bad case of travel sickness overtakes the little girl, and Max turns to the conductor for help. When the man finds a passenger willing to share her Pullman section, Max is relieved—until he discovers their benefactor is Talulla, a woman whose last words to Max were an impassioned I hate you.

Can these two find a way to push past their mutual distrust to regain the friendship they once shared. And perhaps something more…

To pre-order, click HERE



New Release and a Giveaway!

 

New Release and a Giveaway!

by Mindy Obenhaus

It’s here! It’s finally here! The third installment of my Bliss, Texas series, A Future to Fight For, released last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I love this story. It’s a tale of love, loss and overcoming tragedy to discover new dreams.

You know, life is full of ups and downs but there’s one thing—one person—that remains faithful. God. Whether we’re in the valley or on the highest mountain top, He is there, willing to walk with us, even carry us.

Paisley, the heroine in A Future to Fight For, woke up one morning to a horrific tragedy. One that would have done many of us in. And threatened to do so with her. But God. His mercies are new every day.

Here’s a snippet from the story:

“Cute kid.” Crockett pointed to the photograph as Paisley lifted her head. “His hair’s the same color as yours.”

Her movements stilled as she looked away. “That’s my son. Logan.”

Son? He wasn’t aware she had a son.

She reached for a towel, wiping her hands as she approached him. “He died in the same car accident that took my husband.” Stopping beside him, she continued. “He was ten.”

Speechless, Crockett simply stood there, feeling as though he’d been punched in the gut. How does one overcome something like that? Losing a spouse to death would be hard enough, but to lose a child at the same time? He couldn’t even begin to fathom the amount of strength it must take for her to get up every morning knowing that they weren’t there.

Looking down at her, he could see the sorrow in her eyes. Yet, there were no tears.

He felt like a heel. “I—I’m sorry, Paisley. I had no idea.”

“I know you didn’t.” She tilted her head to meet his gaze, her smile tremulous. “That’s why I told you.”

Could that be why she’d needed a change of scenery? “How long ago?”

“It’ll be five years next month.” Making her son a few years older than Mackenzie, had he lived.

Reminding himself to give his kids extra big hugs this morning, he searched Paisley’s face, her peaceful expression, realizing just how wrong he’d been about her. She had an inner strength and determination he wasn’t even sure he possessed.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

She nodded. “Me, too. But God is good, and I firmly believe that He has a plan and a purpose for everything, good or bad.” Her tone left no room for argument.

How was that possible? She’d lost her entire family, not to mention all of the hopes and dreams that went along with it. Something he could relate to, though on a different level. Yet, there wasn’t a hint of anger or self-pity in Paisley’s words.

New Release and a Giveaway!

I don’t know about you, but I need to be a little more like Paisley. It’s easy to trust God when things are going good, but when life deals us a hard blow…

Now don’t let this excerpt leave you thinking this is a sad story. I mean, it has a castle. In Texas, no less! How cool is that? There are also a couple of cute kids and lots of banter between the hero and heroine who are anything but friends when the story opens.

How has God proven Himself faithful in your life? Leave a comment—you don’t have to go into detail—to be entered to win a copy of A Future to Fight For (US mailing addresses will receive a print or digital copy, digital only for international).

New Release and a Giveaway!

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

NEW MYSTERY FROM RUTHY!!!!!

 From the gal who said "I'll never write a mystery... my brain just doesn't work that way..." comes a new mystery for a new Guideposts mystery series "Miracles and Mysteries of Mercy Hospital"!


Prescription for Mystery

NEW MYSTERY FROM RUTHY!!!!!

I LOVE THIS COVER.... 
#perfect
#historical
#timeslip
#contemporary
#oldandnew

I've always felt that the past trods on the heels of the present in so many ways, so writing time-slip mysteries... with a past story and a current story... is right up my alley. Who knew that it would be a natural fit for me? 

And this story grabs the heart and feeds the soul. A story of self-sacrifice and putting children first marks the historical.... and then we find out how that old story feeds into the present day narrative.

And writing these mysteries has inspired me to a few other stories because the past truly does cast its joys and shadows on the present. But it also gives us the chance for forgiveness... restitution... remembrance.

"While digging through dusty hospital archives, Anne Mabry discovers a box tucked away in the darkest recesses of the windowless room. The contents of the box compel Anne, Shirley, Evelyn, and Joy to join forces and find out whatever happened to the promising young ER doctor who went missing thirty years before—a young doctor whose family had long roots in Charleston society, roots that pre-dated the Civil War.

When Dr. Byron Wellington disappeared without a trace, no one knew what to think. Was he forced to leave without saying goodbye? Or was it something worse? Something even more sinister? As the ladies search out tidbits of information, they discover much more than they were looking for.
In this lingering mystery of the past, the women realize that all is not what it seems on the surface and that, in the end, the truth does indeed set you free."


That's the official description of the story, and as the four women work together to figure things out, they uncover an unknown past that helped build Charleston's future. 


And that's the fun of time-slip. We can look back and see how our present hasn't just happened. It's evolved based on the actions of the past. That can be sacrificial... or greed. Honor... or crime. Good and bad combine to build the cornerstones of today with the actions of the past. 


I hope you love this book and the whole series! I've been working with a great group of authors and we've had a ball! 


I've got two copies of Prescription for Mystery to give away... leave a comment or question below. If you're a writer and want to talk mysteries, I'm in. If you're a reader and want to talk mysteries, well... I'm in there, too! 


Because I love, love, love a good mystery!


And here's a link to an article about... you guessed it!.. ME! :) Guideposts Magazine interviewed me for this month's issue and it was so much fun to be part of it. I love the magazine, the stories of hope and expectation.


LINK TO GUIDEPOSTS ARTICLE ABOUT OUR VERY OWN RUTHY! 


NEW MYSTERY FROM RUTHY!!!!!

Award-winning, bestselling inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne has over 60 novels and novellas in print and has sold over 2,000,000 books in the last ten years... and she loves doing what she's doing! Visit her website ruthloganherne.com, email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com or friend her on Facebook. 

Special Guest Renee Ryan

 

Special Guest Renee Ryan
Thank you, Winnie, for inviting me to join you and your fellow authors at Seekerville. I always enjoy spending time with readers and the incredibly talented women who inspire me daily.

 I’m especially excited to talk about for upcoming release, a Love Inspired short contemporary romance coming out next month. I wrote The Sheriff’s Promise during the first six weeks of COVID quarantine. It was a wild ride. A story that began as a huge stressor due to its extremely tight deadline turned into a wonderful distraction during some very dark days. To be honest, there is no way I wrote this one on my own. God’s Hand was on this book from the first word I typed to the final sentence.

When I started writing the story, I tried to think of all the things I loved most. I adore animals. They have a way of softening hearts and teaching us unconditional love. I’ve learned a lot about God’s unmatchable grace from my pets. For that reason, and many others, I never grow tired of adding four-legged, furry characters to my books, often in the form of dogs and puppies.

Special Guest Renee Ryan

It wasn’t until a sassy alpaca sashayed onto the page (and past my hero’s office window) that I found myself writing entire scenes with an animal actually stealing the show. As creative as Prissy was at finding ways out of her pen, she was even better at wrestling the spotlight from the other characters. I truly fell in love with her. She is one of my favorite secondary characters. I mean, look at that sweet perma-grin.

I’m also a fan of home renovation shows. There’s something about watching an ordinary room transform into a spectacular space that makes me feel both happy and creatively inspired. How easy it would have been to give my heroine the same passion. But, wait. Just like her alpaca, Remy proved difficult. The veterinarian had little interest in remodeling her home, discussing backsplashes or looking at paint swatches. My hero’s nephew, Samson, came through for me. The little boy couldn’t stop redesigning his dream daycare. Well, when he wasn’t playing with puppies or riding his bike. Kid after my own heart.

 

Want to know more about The Sheriff’s Promise? Here’s the blurb: 

Special Guest Renee Ryan

He’s looking for help. And she has the perfect arrangement… 



Overworked and overwhelmed, all Sheriff Wyatt Holcomb wants is to be the best guardian to his seven-year-old nephew—and dealing with a runaway alpaca and the animal’s frustrating owner isn’t helping. 

Then veterinarian Remy Evans offers a solution for them both. She’ll watch his rambunctious nephew, Samson, this summer if he’ll fast-track her permit application for a petting zoo. But this temporary solution might just be their chance at forever…

 



I also love giving away free books. Let’s talk favorite things. I love puppies, alpacas and renovation shows. What’s guaranteed to make you smile? Leave a comment with your answer and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a print copy of The Sheriff’s Promise. 

While you’re online, feel free to stop by my website www.reneeryan.com. You can also contact me by email at reneeryanbooks@gmail.com or visit me on my Renee Ryan Facebook page.

Special Guest Renee Ryan

Two-time winner of the published Daphne Award for her WWII romantic thrillers, Renee Ryan grew up in a Florida beach town. She received an undergraduate degree in Economics and continued her education on the graduate level at Florida State University, focusing on Religious Studies. She went on to teach high school AP Economics, Political Science, and Latin. 

Renee left teaching to pursue her dream of writing romance fiction. She sold her first book to Dorchester Publishing by winning the inaugural New Historical Voice Contest. She’s since written for several publishers in several sub-genres, including historical fiction, historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and a fat cat many have mistaken for a small bear.



Weaving the Spiritual Thread into Your Story

 

Weaving the Spiritual Thread into Your Story

It’s time for a book release! 

Softly Blows the Bugle is the third installment in my Amish of Weaver’s Creek series, stories that are set in an Amish community in Ohio during the American Civil War. 

Weaving the Spiritual Thread into Your Story


Since this book is the third in the series, there is a lot going on! Not only do the series-long threads need to be wrapped up, but Elizabeth’s and Aaron’s stories need to be told in full.

How many story threads are there?

First of all, there’s the romance. Boy meets girl, there are problems and fun times, they fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Then there’s the external plot – Boy meets girl, things go wrong, things are fixed, we come to a resolution.

We also have a few secondary plot lines, a secondary romance (or two,) and an antagonist.

By the way, you’re really going to hate this antagonist!

But when you write inspirational romance, there is another thread that can not be forgotten: the spiritual thread.

I like to think of this thread as the foundation fabric that all the other threads are woven upon. Like a piece of even weave fabric in a cross-stitch project or a tapestry, the finished piece – the story – would fall apart without this thread.

Weaving the Spiritual Thread into Your Story

 
What does the spiritual thread look like? Well, it depends on your characters!

1) Option one is when both the hero and the heroine are believers. In this case, the spiritual thread could be when your characters’ faith is tested, or when they are called to put their faith into action. There are many other ways to keep this type of spiritual thread moving through your story.

2) The second option is when one main character is a believer and the other one isn’t. Many successful books start with this premise. The unbelieving character comes to a saving faith part way through the book and the hero and heroine move on to their Happy Ending.

3) The third option is when neither character is a believer. Each of the characters come to faith separately. You can decide if that happens before or after the romance turns to love.

In “Softly Blows the Bugle,” neither Aaron nor Elizabeth are believers at the beginning of the book, but neither one is a stranger to the gospel

Elizabeth grew up in the Amish church but left it to marry a non-Amish man when she was in her teens. After she became a widow, she joined the church. However, it wasn’t because of her faith, but an effort to erase the years she had been married and return to the ways she had been taught as a child. It is only when she realizes that she can’t relieve the burden of her guilt on her own that she understands the gospel and comes to a saving faith.

Aaron, on the other hand, was never Amish. His mother, who had passed away when he was a young boy, had taken him to church, but he had never attended church since her death. What draws him to faith in Christ? It is the hymns he remembers his mother singing in their home. Hymns like “Rock of Ages” and “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” Hymns that he rediscovered during the war, in the evenings when men would gather to worship. In the smoky campgrounds lit by dozens of campfires, the fragrance of wood smoke drifting in the night air, he would listen to the familiar hymns before the bugle would softly blow taps.

In this story, the spiritual thread is ever-present – guiding, tugging, and calling the characters to a belief in God and His work in their lives. Most of the time it is in the background, like the fabric in a tapestry.

That, I think, is where the spiritual thread is the most effective for the readers. Instead of “preaching” (which is really just telling,) a powerful spiritual element in the story is subtle. Shown, not told.


What do you think about the spiritual thread in inspirational romance stories? Do you have an example of a book where the author handled that thread particularly well?

Share your thoughts with us, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a copy of “Softly Blows the Bugle!”




Weaving the Spiritual Thread into Your Story
Jan Drexler has captivated readers with her heartfelt tales centered around the Civil War. In the final installment of The Amish of Weaver's Creek series, Drexler offers another tender story full of hope, renewal, and love in Softly Blows the Bugle.

When Elizabeth Kaufman received the news of her husband’s death at the Battle of Vicksburg in 1863, she felt only relief. After a disastrous marriage, she is determined that she will never marry again, even if it means she will have to give up her dream of having a family of her own.

Two years later the Civil War has ended and her brother returns home with a visitor. Aaron Zook has lost both his home and his leg during the war. He is ready to put the past behind him and find a new future out West. But, he never imagined that the Amish way of life would be so enticing—especially a certain widow he can’t get out of his mind.

Yet, life has a way of getting complicated even in the simple Amish community of Weaver Creek. Aaron soon finds that he must put Elizabeth’s welfare before his own and risk sacrificing everything if he wants to win her heart.

Conference Fun and Transitions

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last weekend I attended the Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend in Dallas and wanted to share just a little bit of the fun we had with a few quick photos:

The weekend kicked off with a reader scavenger hunt on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of my table, but here is a photo of the spinner I used at my table to award the various little prizes I handed out.
Conference Fun and Transitions


Next was an author bingo sponsored by me and four other author friends - Julia London, Angi Morgan, Sasha Summers and C.A.Szarek. These are always so fun, for both the authors and the readers. Here's a pic of the author team (some of us took the PJ party aspect more serious than others :) )
Conference Fun and Transitions



On Saturday I hosted a table for lunch. This year I chose Cool Chicks Read as my theme and I had a great time collecting and creating items that would fit.
Conference Fun and Transitions


Then Saturday afternoon I was part of a panel titled I'm Holding Out For A Hero along with authors Bethany Turner, D B Reynolds and Tif Marcelo. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a competition with me and Tif paired off against D.B. and Bethany. We were given questions that required us to answer with either lists or drawings and then the attendees voted on whose responses they liked best. Suffice it to say there was a LOT of laughter at our responses. The session actually ended in a tie (or maybe the moderators just decided to cut it off there :)  )

Conference Fun and Transitions



Then there was a booksigning where I got to sit next to my panel-mate, Tif Marceello.
Conference Fun and Transitions

The day ended with supper where I got to sit at the table hosted by the always fun and fabulous C.A Szarek
Conference Fun and Transitions

A wonderful end to a wonderful event!

Conference Fun and Transitions

And now for the writing portion of this post, I thought I'd dust off a post I did here ten years ago on Transitions:

Transitions: Getting From Here To There

When writing your story, you don’t want to include a detailed account of every action taken by every character in your story, nor do you always want to tell the story linearly. Instead, a good writer will select those scenes that are not only of interest but that also progress the plot in some way. Which means, by necessity, gaps will occur: gaps in time, in movement from one location to another, in point of view, in scene focus.

Transitions are those small but oh-so-important words or phrases that help guide your reader across these story gaps smoothly and while still remaining grounded in your story. There are several techniques or devices that you can utilize to do this effectively. Some of them are:

The Direct Method or ‘Clean Break’- Simply tell the reader what change has taken place:

  • Early the following Monday, Michael.... (Time change)
  • Once he reached the parking garage.... (Location change)

Mood - Use feelings, emotions, atmosphere to help convey the change:

  • As Stan pulled out of the company garage onto the congested highway, his hands clutched the wheel in a death grip and the cords in his neck tightened. It would take forever to get out of this tangle of traffic...
  • Once the city was behind him, however, the tension drained away and he breezed down the open road that led to his summer cabin. (Time and Location change)

The Five Senses - Use sound, sight, touch, taste and smell to bridge a story gap:

  • Margie hummed as she applied an extra spray of her favorite cologne, enjoying the light floral scent.

    Andy’s nose started to twitch before Margie even entered the room. Why did she insist on using that nasty flowery perfume that always made him sneeze? (POV change)
  • Cassie heard a distant grumble of thunder off to the east as she closed her book. Maybe Allan was finally getting some of that rain he’d been hoping for.

    Allan squinted through the windshield, looking for a safe place to pull over and wait out the violent storm. This wasn’t what he’d had in mind when he’d prayed for a ‘bit of rain’. (POV and location change)

An Event - Use an ongoing, recent or anticipated event to unify your scenes:

  • Hesitating for only a heartbeat, Lynda dropped the letter into the mail slot, determined to make the first move toward reconciliation.
    When a week passed without a response, however, she began to wonder if contacting her grandfather had been such a wise move after all. (Time change)
  • The near-crash triggered a memory, one she’d rather not dwell on. But there it was, full blown and swooshing in like an avalanche. That other crash had happened six years ago. Her mom was driving her and her friends to the airport... (Time change - flashback)

A Character (whether human or otherwise) - Use the mention of a character to guide us through a story shift:

  • Stacey pulled into her driveway on Friday afternoon, wondering how she’d let her sister talk her into dog-sitting their troublesome mutt for the weekend. She really wasn’t big into the whole pet scene.
    But by Sunday evening,, Rufus had wormed his shaggy way right into her heart. (Time change)

An Object - Use an object or activity to move from one scene to another without jarring the reader:

  • Roger halted mid-sentence as a baseball came crashing through the window. Blast it all, he’d told Jimmy not to play ball in the yard.
    He picked up the ball and marched to the door . Jimmy was going to pay to fix this, even if it meant he had to mow every yard in town to do it. (Change in focus)

The Environment- Use weather, terrain, scenery, seasons to depict change:
  • The autumn seemed long that year. Perhaps it was because she was so homesick for the Ozarks, where nature painted the mountainsides with magnificent blazes of color. Winter was easier, and by spring, the Texas gulf coast was beginning to feel, if not like home, at least less alien to her.   (Time change - extended period)


These are just a sampling. There are, of course, other ways to handle transitions. Just keep in mind - your main goal in using transitions is to keep your reader grounded and oriented in the who, what, where, and when of your story without their having to reread passages to figure it out.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

And now for some fun news. Just in time for Thanksgiving, my publisher has re-released my novella Home For Thanksgiving as part of their Love Inspired Classics program.  Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy


Conference Fun and Transitions

All that stands between Ruby Anne Tuggle and a fresh start is an escort to Tyler, Texas.

Rancher Griff Lassiter is too kind to refuse, but too wary of being hurt again to offer anything but protection on the journey. 

Then a fever forces an unexpected detour and a chance to find the place they both belong...


To learn more or get your copy, check HERE

Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods Fisher


With guest Suzanne Woods Fisher

As I was gathering information to begin the writing of On a Summer Tide, I spent time roaming through remote islands along coastal Maine. Original research enhances a book in innumerable ways—from how the terrain looks, to the effects of weather, to unique and credible details gathered that only come from on-the-ground visits.


Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods Fisher



The effort and expense to travel across the country to Maine was well worth it. In fact, I would say it changed the story I had in mind and took it down a different path. I learned a few things about year-round island living, how seasons affect locals, how time is marked, and wove them in to make this story believable.

Here’s six things I learned from an island in Maine:

  • Ferry time is the only clock that matters. A ferry is a lifeline to a remote island. These ferries probably aren’t coming from the mainland but from yet another island, and are dependent on good weather conditions. These ferries are small, passenger (and bikes) only. Lugging cars back and forth means a wait for a larger vessel, and it’s costly. Locals develop a sense for the arrival of the ferry, even before they hear its horn blast. One local woman described it as sensing a change in the wind. She can feel the ferry’s arrival before she sees it.
  • Time shouldn’t be a dictator. Island time is a real thing. While traipsing through these islands, my watch came off, my phone got forgotten more than a few times. Unhooking was nice, it was relaxing. It made me realize that there’s more margin than we think in our day…or maybe there should be.
  • We can live without a lot. Come winter, when the ferry stops running, a pantry should be well stocked…or locals do without. They have a clever skill at making do with whatever is on hand and can get pretty creative in the process. Did you know that duct tape, an island necessity, is better than tweezers to pull a splinter out of a finger?
  • It’s a very good thing to discover the difference between needs and wants. You might not find everything you want on an island, but most likely, you’ll find everything you need. Most problems, I noticed on this research excursion, had been solved with duct tape. Broken vacuum hoses, cracks in windshields, leaky pipes, missing shoelaces. ;)
  • On an island where shipments can be a little hit and miss, eating seasonally and locally is healthier, cheaper, and tastes so much better: just-picked blueberries, the day’s catch of lobsters, clams or scallops. (Nothing beats fresh lobster tail caught by local fisherman, soaked in melted butter.)
  • There is strength in community. Americans make independence a cardinal virtue, but when you’re on an island that gets cut off from the mainland for a few months every year, there’s incredible value in developing and relying on community. Bottom line: People need people.

Yes, people need people. And authors need readers. On a Summer Tide is the first in a new series—a
Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Order your copy here!
new genre!—for me, called ‘Three Sisters Island’. It’s a story about a dad who realizes his young adult daughters are growing increasingly estranged. In a desperate attempt to keep the family together, he buys a bankrupt island off the coast of Maine. His daughters think dear old Dad is ready for the looney bin, but don’t count him out too quickly. This clever dad seems to know that there’s just something about an island…







Jan here: Thank you, Suzanne, for a wonderful post and a glimpse into Island Life. I'm looking forward to reading this series!

And for the Seekervillagers, Suzanne is graciously offering a copy of "On a Summer Tide" to one commenter! Your choice of paperback or e-book! Just let us know in your comment if you want to be entered in the drawing.





Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Christy award nominee Suzanne Woods Fisher writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels and lives with her very big family in northern California. 



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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?





Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis


Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis

Welcome to Villager Pat Jeanne Davis as she encourages us today in Seekerville!

It’s been ten years since I connected with Seekerville as an aspiring author. This month my debut historical novel When Valleys Bloom Again launched. Today as a new novelist, I’m delighted and honored to be here and to see another dream come true. Over the years, I’ve learned much from the teaching, sisterly encouragement and your steadfast examples. Truth be told, there were days I wanted to finally abandon my dream of being a published author. Then I’d check in with the Seekers and the topic under discussion spoke to my need in that moment. All this to say “thank you” for the instruction and encouragement you’ve given.

What I’ve  learned while on the path to publication?

All aspects of my life are to be placed before a loving Heavenly Father who holds me and His promises are sure. He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I remind myself that I’m a work in progress. This writing experience is also part of my walk of faith and that, too, requires patience, perseverance and prayer. That with God’s help and guidance it’s never too late to follow your dream.

Do you, too, yearn to obtain a heartfelt goal? Do you cherish a life-long dream—one that you’re convinced God placed in your heart—that seems impossible?

Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis

Be Patient.

If that dream is to be an author, the journey toward publication may take a long time. I know first hand the disappointment when a positive answer you hoped to get on your work is not the one you receive. When the goal you’ve set for yourself seems unobtainable. Remember our chief goal is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We’re in sync with God’s perfect timing when we ask Him to direct our path.

Be Persistent

I’ve been listening to a book on Louis Pasteur, a believing scientist and the founder of modern medicine. He never gave up in his quest to discover what caused food and wine to spoil. If he had, we would not be benefiting from his discovery of what has come to be called pasteurization. How many lives have been spared and other lives made more bearable through the dogged persistence of scientists and inventors. Is there an author whose words have impacted your life? As a writer, your words can broaden your reader’s horizons or they may touch your reader’s heart and mind and greatly impact their life for good.

Be Purposeful

In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine, Abby, speaks with a stammer. She loves children and dreams of becoming a teacher. She does exercises to overcome her speech impediment and attends college to receive the instruction necessary to qualify as a teacher. Whether we want to be a scientist, a teacher or a writer, we need training. A new writer must learn the craft through taking courses, studying the work of other writers, attending conferences, getting feedback from writing contests, having her work critiqued and through critiquing the work of others. While waiting for “the call” from an agent or editor, work on another novel, or write an article or short stories.

Be Prepared

When an opportunity to submit your writing comes your way, be ready. And be prepared to face rejection of your work and not become discouraged and continue to submit elsewhere. I’ve come to appreciate even more the wisdom in not having high expectations but to keep the feeling of anticipation nonetheless.

Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis


Be Participating

Work with an editor and take direction when given. You may cringe when told to rework a paragraph or get rid of a sentence or scene. Your editor is only helping your work to shine and you to become a better writer. I’m thankful for the numerous critiques from editors and other writers. Wherever possible try to reciprocate.

Be Praying

When your dreams are yet unrealized and you’re tempted to despair, pray for patient perseverance while you wait on His perfect timing. Share you dream with close family and friends and let them cheer you on. In my novel, Abby confides in her beloved Uncle Will when she begins to doubt. He reassures her, “You’ll make a fine teacher. Remember that determination is half the battle.” He patted her hand. “The other half is jolly hard work.”

Be Praising

We should praise Him for His unfailing promises. When we believe in God we have the certainty that what He has promised is true, has occurred, and will happen in accordance with His Word. We also can praise God for His plan, purpose, protection, power and His peace.

My prayer is that after you have done all that is required to achieve your dream, you may experience a renewed perspective and that you keep anticipation alive.

Do you have a dream that you’re pursuing? What are you doing to realize that dream?


Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?


Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?



Giveaway! Pat is giving away one print copy of When Valleys Bloom Again to one US resident. Please comment for a chance to win.


Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis
PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. She is a volunteer in the nursery at the church she attends and at the local chapter of MOP’s. 


Pat published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in mid-twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter here www.patjeannedavis.com





Now let's give Pat some love and celebrate the release of her debut novel:

When Valleys Bloom Again

Congratulations, Pat!

I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!

The Unexpected Champion releases March 5th

I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!
I want to talk today about developing interesting characters.


I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!
There are those that say I myself am an interesting character, (or maybe they just "she's a character?") But that's a different blog post!


Sometimes it's a struggle to get characters to come to life.


And it's hard to explain what I mean about that, but I'll try.

I smile when I think about The Unexpected Champion.

I like writing tough, feisty heroines. I do it so much that sometimes I FORCE myself to not make my heroines tough, just to try and not be boring.

I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!
Click to Pre-Order
In The Accidental Guardian and The Reluctant Warrior, Deb and Gwen, the heroines, weren't necessarily tough.

They were strong, hardworking women, but they weren't frontier women. They had a lot to learn. Their toughness was inside, mental toughness. A knack for taking what life threw at them and dealing with it as best they could. And learning everything they could.

In book #3 The Unexpected Champion, my heroine is TOUGH.

Penny Scott has been living on the frontier for two years, working in a series of western forts, following her brother from post to post.

She knows the wilderness. She knows tracking. She can live off the land and, what's more, she likes it.

Give her a gun, a skinning knife and a little time and she'll take care of everything. She'll build you a house, clothe you, feed you and protect you.

And then she got lost. She has the knife, gun and time. So they stay alive. But where in the world are they? Where is a town? The mountainous wilderness is an endless series of hills and mountains, cliffs and valleys, all leading nowhere.

The fact that she gets kidnapped, is blindfolded, tossed in a wagon under a tarp, then is driven deep into the wilderness using twisting trails...and sometimes no trails, then, while escaping, gets chased over a cliff, down a river and through endless forests, capped off with a gully washer, lightning and thunder storm.

She is hopelessly lost. That's bad enough. But why'd she have to get kidnapped with a guy from the city who gets upset when he can't take a bath and put on clean clothes each morning?

I like my heroes to be tough guys, too.

I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!
Click to Buy
In The Unexpected Champion I tried to create a character in the hero, John McCall, who was a fish out of water. When he's lost with a bossy female in the wilderness, he's no help, in fact, he's slowing her down.

And then he gets into his own world. Now who doesn't know how to swim?

Penny can't read tracks on the streets of the wide-open boomtown of Virginia City.

But John can. He turns out to be really tough once he gets into his own world.

Now Penny's the one who has to let someone else take charge. It doesn't come to her naturally, but she's smart enough to know John had to lead 'cuz she has no idea where she's going.

And, when they finally came staggering out of the wilderness after a week, it turns out Penny's brother mistakenly thought John had kidnapped her.

That's a little mix-up that almost gets John hung and, due to the twisted logic of a fire-and-brimstone...sheriff's WIFE, Penny has to choose between letting them hang him, or marrying him.

It's not a decision she makes all that easily.

So mostly, I tried to make each character ignorant--and I used that to build respect and finally LOVE between them.

John just shuts up and lets Penny give orders in the wilderness.

Penny becomes (outwardly) the sweet submissive little wife in Virginia City.

And neither of them are that happy about the wedding.

John still has a job to do, which is take Penny's nephew Ronnie home to his grandparents in the east.

If he tries that, Penny's gonna have to kill him. Which is a quick and easy way to get a divorce, if you don't end up being hung.

And Penny claimed a homestead and has a cabin to build and a herd of cattle to manage. John says, if she wants to live with her husband, he's a Pinkerton agent from Philadelphia.

I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!
Click to Buy
And there's a mysterious killer on their trail who thinks they know too much about him to be allowed to live.

Except now, they're on his trail, too.

He's going to be sorry he didn't just let them go when they escaped him.

He's going to be sorry he kidnapped them to begin with.

Today I want to talk about YOUR current character. YOUR work in progress.

How do you make your characters come alive? Is it physical descriptions? Dialogue? Back story?

Tell me about your character. The one you're creating right now. And if you'd like to brainstorm ways to make them come to life, we'll talk about it.

Or if you're a  reader, then tell me about a character you're reading about right now. And tell me what brings a character to life for you.

The Unexpected Champion arrived...Bethany always sends me a copy hot off the presses and IT. IS HERE!!!

I'll be getting more copies in the next week or two.

Today, I'm giving away a signed copy of The Unexpected Champion.

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

http://www.maryconnealy.com



TalullaNew Release and a Giveaway!NEW MYSTERY FROM RUTHY!!!!!Special Guest Renee RyanWeaving the Spiritual Thread into Your StoryConference Fun and TransitionsSix Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods FisherHow Writing Is Like A Road TripKeep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne DavisI've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!

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