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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



Journey to Churchill

By guest Laurie Wood
Journey to Churchill



           People have asked me if Northern Deception is the “book of my heart” and it is in the sense that since I began writing for the CBA market, I’ve felt a calling to write books set in Canada. This was the hardest book I’ve ever written up till now. It’s also the first book I’ve written for the CBA market, and I’m sure that's why it was so hard to write.


            The idea for Northern Deception came in stages. I didn’t want to make my first hero the “standard” Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer–or “Mountie”–even if the red-serge uniform is a Canadian icon. I kept joking to my husband that when people think of Canadian men, they think of RCMP officers on horseback or lumberjacks in red flannel shirts!

Journey to Churchill

             One weekend we took our kids to the local Zoo and their favorite part is the extensive polar bear exhibit. We have six rescued polar bears from Churchill, Manitoba which is 1000 kilometers north of Winnipeg. These bears were orphaned, or they came into a human/bear interaction and then didn’t stay away from town after being flown further up north by helicopter, so our Zoo brought them down. And as we were enjoying watching the bears, it hit me: what’s another famous Canadian icon? Our frozen Arctic with our polar bears! And my hero who owns a wilderness guiding tour company in Churchill, Manitoba stepped into my mind, full blown and ready to tell his story. 

Journey to Churchill

            So, I had a hero who owned a wilderness touring company and a heroine who was a polar bear scientist - now the problem was what to do with them? Churchill is home to an international science center where scientists come from around the world, along with university and high school students, to study the arctic ecosystem, and do various research projects. It took a while for me to figure out what to do with this rich location because science is NOT my strong suit! Eventually with research I developed a suspense story based on what could go wrong with a pristine environment that’s already under stress from climate change.
             Churchill, Manitoba is just on the edge of the parallel where the sub-arctic turns into the arctic in Canada so I’m hoping people will enjoy learning about Canada. It sits on the same parallel as Juneau, Alaska and Inverness, Scotland, and yet we still have another 2,794 kilometres of partially inhabited Arctic north of it that reaches to the North Pole.

Journey to Churchill

            For my love story, I did a reunion storyline because it’s one of my favorite romance tropes.I think people with some baggage deserve a second chance at working things out! I also wanted to cover a serious issue in a Christian book in a way that a non-Christian might pick it up and read it and say, “I didn’t think Christians thought that way”, or “I didn’t realize things like that happened to Christians”. And I was fortunate that Anaiah Press agreed with my take on the issue and let me run with it. 
            And the hero also has an adorable three-year-old toddler who has special needs. She’s based on my own daughter at that age. So, if you know of anyone who’s got family or friends with someone with special needs, you’ll love little Sophie. It was a joy to include a character with a disability.
            Weaving all the romance, suspense, back story, and faith threads together was challenging because my other novels were secular. They flowed out of me with ease, and yet none of them sold. I felt as though every word had to be ground out of granite with this book. And yet, I’m humbled by the positive response it’s gotten. The hard work and heartaches have paid off and I hope people will enjoy the suspense and love story and the takeaway of forgiveness for yourself and others. And I hope readers will gain an appreciation for my home country of Canada!
*****
Laurie will be giving away a PDF copy of her book today! In the comments, please let us know you'd like to be entered. Now let's celebrate Laurie's debut!
Journey to Churchill


Reunions can be deadly.

After a savage attack in university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again.

Lukas Tanner, a widowed single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they must win if they have any hope of a future together.

Journey to Churchill
About the Author:

Laurie Wood is a military wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood, and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were bigger, no doubt they’d have more.



The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek

The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek
Order Here!

by Jan Drexler

My next book releases tomorrow, September 18, and I’m busy working on the second book in the series, so I thought we’d talk a bit about how this series came about.

This post isn’t a lesson on how to write a series – it’s a narrative about how your series could be written.

We’ll start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!)

Two years ago this week, I was at ACFW 2016 in Nashville. Maybe I met some of you there! One of the things I enjoyed was a breakfast meeting with my editor from Revell, Vicki Crumpton, and Michelle Misiak and Hannah Brinks from Baker’s marketing department (Revell and Bethany House are both part of Baker Publishing.) We discussed my current series at the time (The Journey to Pleasant Prairie) and bounced around some ideas of what my next series might be.

From that meeting, I had an inkling of what this next series should be…but that was just the beginning of my work. I had a lot of research to do before I could think about submitting a proposal.

I knew this series would be about the Amish, and I knew it would be historical, so I started reading through my research materials. I found a book called “Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War” by Lehman and Nolt, and I knew I had my time period. As I continued my research, I discovered that there were Amish who fought in the war – very few – but that fact was the nugget. The series was born.


The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek


I created a place – Weaver’s Creek in southern Holmes County, Ohio. Then I created a family – the Weavers. I gave the family members names. Abraham and Lydia are the parents, and they have six children (four of them married) and nine grandchildren. Then I started thinking about which family members would be the main characters for the three books in the series.

Wait a minute…back up. At the same time as I was creating this family and their neighbors, I was thinking about the scope of the war, the setting (central Ohio), the political climate of the time, and the coming schism in the Amish church. All of those things also needed to be included in this series. 


The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek


Let’s think about what a series is:

It’s a group of books, each telling an individual story within a larger story arc. The series might consist of many books (like the House of Winslow series by Gilbert Morris which has forty titles!), or only a few. Most series published now are three or four books long, although with indy publishing, a series can be as long as an author and readers wish it to be.

The larger story arc for The Amish of Weaver’s Creek is the Civil War. The first book starts in the spring of 1862, when the war is a year old, and I think the third book will end around 1866, a year after the surrender at Appomattox. 

Once I had developed my time line, I found three major historical events that would serve as the background for each of the three books in the series. Then I determined who the lead characters would be. Finally, I created a brief synopsis for each of the books. 



The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek



My proposal was ready. I submitted it through my agent. My editor liked it (yay!), and she took it to the publication committee. They approved it (yay again!) and offered me a contract (big yay!)

Now I really had to get to work. The first book is done and ready for readers, but the second book in the series is due October 1st, and the third book is due in October 2019. It is work, and it gets pretty hairy sometimes (especially this close to a deadline!) but it is always wonderfully rewarding.

This is my dream job, and I am always, always, grateful. I am enjoying an embarrassment of riches!


The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek

Now, let's talk!

Do you read series? 

Do you like series that revolve around one character and one story, or a series that has a distinct story for each book but are related through the setting and characters?

Have you ever attempted to write a series? Do you think you ever will?


One commenter will win a copy of “The Sound of Distant Thunder,” the first in The Amish of Weaver’s Creek series. 



The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek
Order Here!
Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents' insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother's name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother's place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation?

From the talented pen of Jan Drexler comes this brand new Amish series set against the backdrop of the Civil War. She puts her characters to the test as they struggle to reconcile their convictions and desires while the national conflict threatens to undermine and engulf their community.
How 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!Journey to Churchill The Birth of a Series: The Amish of Weaver's Creek

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