Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Payoff of Perseverance

with guest Jill Weatherholt. 

Greetings! 

In 2008, when I started stalking reading Seekerville, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be contacted by Tina, to write a blog post. But that’s our God—always full of surprises.



Recently, after reading my old journals, I realized 2008 was the year I began to study posts written by the Seekers. I printed articles and created notebooks. I currently have three, but I’m adding on each day. 

Also during that year, I became obsessed with author websites. I read about their road to publication, books they recommended for writers, anything I could get my hands on…I devoured it all.

It was in 2010 that I’d heard about the National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. The contest required participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Turn off your inner editor, get the words on the page and in the end, you’d have a start to a rough draft. At that time, I’d written a few short stories, but had yet to attempt writing a novel. Fifty thousand words in thirty days….how hard could that be. Sign me up!

Committing to 1667 words per day when you have a day job, family responsibilities, keeping up with housework, health issues and other minor disasters that can spring up any day of the week, was no easy feat. But my stubborn Type-A personality was not going to be defeated.  

These were just a few of the thoughts that swirled through my head during that first NaNoWriMo.

Day 1: “I exceeded my daily word goal of 1667. I love November!”
Day 2: “Why am I torturing myself?”
Day 3: “Who needs an outline, I’m a born panster!”
Day 4: “It’s Sunday, isn’t this the day of rest?”
Day 5: “Ugh, Monday…this story stinks!”
Day 6: “I’m a writing machine. I might finish by November 15th!”
Day 7: “This is so hard, I’ll never finish.”
Day 8: “I’m still on track.”
Day 9: “I’m stuck. Should I have my heroine get hit by a bus?”
Day 10: “What’s the point? This will never get published.”

Well, guess what? That story—the very first book I’d ever written was published by Harlequin Love Inspired, this year. 


Second Chance Romance
So, had I worked on that book for seven years? Heck no!

I tinkered with it off and on. Even a few of the Seekers were kind enough to critique some pages. Then in 2011, an unexpected job loss along with health issues, forced me to put my writing aside. Although that story stayed hidden on my hard drive, Jackson, Melanie, and the Shenandoah Valley lingered in my mind.

In 2015, here on Seekerville, I read about the Blurb to Book Contest sponsored by Harlequin. Initially, I hadn’t planned on entering. What was the point? I’d never advance. But a last minute decision had me writing a blurb and submitting the first page of that old NaNoWriMo project. My only expectation was the opportunity to have a professional editor, provide feedback.

On May 15, 2015, when I got home from work, I checked the contest announcement. I had advanced. With disbelief, I scanned the list again. From that day forward, I wrote like a crazy person to rewrite the entire book by the July 15th deadline.

A month later, on a rainy Monday morning at the day job, I got the call from my lovely editor. She asked if I knew why she was calling. “I think so.” I squeaked. That’s it. That’s all I remembered about the call. Thankfully, everything she’d said after my response was typed in an email, for my review.

I’ll never forget that day. Never—ever!  When I participated in NaNoWriMo, I just wanted to write a book, but God had bigger plans for me. And that’s what I’ve learned during this journey, GOD HONORS PERSEVERANCE.


So, are you ready for your payday? Share in your comment a time when persistence paid off. Today, I’m giving away two copies of Second Chance Romance. Let me know if you’d like your name in the dish. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.



Second Chance Romance

Small-Town Daddy 


Jackson Daughtry's jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him busy—but the single dad's number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner's hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie's pretty brown eyes. Now it'll take all his faith—and a hopeful five-year-old—to show the city gal that she's already home.



By day, Jill Weatherholt works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, but her heart belongs to Virginia. She holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University. She shares her life with her real-life hero and number one supporter. Their relationship grew on the golf course, and now they have one in their backyard. Jill believes in enjoying every moment of this journey because God has everything under control.


Day 23 of Speedbo!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Long Highway Home



My Long Highway Home

by Elizabeth Musser


I’m home now. After almost twenty-five years on this writing journey, I’ve finally found my way home.

I certainly don’t mean I’ve found my permanent publishing house. I’ve had four different American publishers and four different international publishers along the way, and the book I just launched was my first indy novel.

I don’t mean I’ve finally settled into the perfect routine, finding the way to balance my 30+ year career in missions with my calling as a writer. I still juggle, after all these years.

Nor do I mean that I’ve become a savvy marketing-social-media-writing genius.


What I mean is simply I’ve come home to accept that my writing life will always be on a roller-coaster. And I’ve come home to embrace the simple truth of receiving what has been given me to do each day, John-the-Baptist-style. He said it first. “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3: 27)

He made his home in the desert and refused to play the comparison game with his godly God-like cousin.  He did his job, and he let Jesus do His. John the Baptist lost his head along the way, doing his job. But he didn’t lose his heart. His heart was Christ’s. All along.

I hope it doesn’t sound heretical to use John the B as an example, but he’s helped me so very much these last months as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into all the craziness of launching a book in this slot of space during the 21st century.

He’s led me home, back to Jesus. Not just back to “Hey, Jesus, help me write this next scene,” but a desperate, “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”

It’s embracing every aspect of the life I’ve been called to live and living it moment by moment with Jesus.

Oh, I know I was supposed to be doing this all along, from that Sunday morning when, at nine years old, I walked down the red-carpeted aisle to the front of the big Baptist church and gave my life to Jesus.

And admittedly, this 40+ year journey has brought me further and further along the road to total dependence on Him. But it’s brought lots of brokenness too.

Love, love, love this Persian Proverb:

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? He keeps shining His truth into all the dark places of our heart until we break, we confess, we repent and we cling again to Him. He tears off the layers of pride, one-by-excruciatingly-painful-(at times) one.

Ever since I was six years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. When at nine, I grabbed onto Jesus, my prayers to Him were often, “If you’ve given me this gift of writing, show me how to use it for You.”

Always, always, Jesus put others in my life to keep the dream alive: my grandmother, my teachers and professors, my husband, our prayer partners who received my quarterly letters from France and wrote, “You have a gift; you should write a book.”

And then, at my first writers’ conference, I re-met a friend and former fellow missionary who was now an editor at a publishing house. He believed in my first story. So after almost thirty years of praying that prayer, from little-girl dreams to young-adult ministry, I received my first contract to write a novel. The year was 1994, and sitting down at my computer to write felt like getting a hug from the Lord. Every day.

I got to do what I had longed for and dreamed about ever since I was a small child.


But I was also living my other dream as a missions’ worker, helping to start a French evangelical church. And that job was not all croissants and cathedrals, wine and cheese. It was so, so very heart-breakingly hard, pouring ourselves out in a land filled with fascinating culture and breath-taking beauty and deep, deep disappointment with God.

I had a husband, two young sons, a missionary team, hundreds of prayer partners to correspond with, a fledgling church and my first contract. Perfectionist that I was (am?), I determined that I should be a full-time wife, mother, missionary and novelist. I literally almost worked myself to death. I got sick. For three long and extremely painful years.

I was broken.

When people used to ask my advice for getting published, I’d say write, write, write and pray, pray, pray.

I still give this advice. But I add, Cling. To Jesus. Like those grapes on a vine. Tenaciously. Please don’t let your dreams outsmart you, so that you think it’s being done for the Lord but it’s really just a lot of stuff being done.

That only leads to me and you being DONE.

I had to choose to be true to my callings, day after day after day, which meant some days were spent writing, some days spent with a struggling young believer, some days were spent in bed, recovering from illness. Some days were so dark that I could only thank Jesus that so many others were interceding for me.

But I held on. Tight. To Jesus.


Finally, after I had clung (clinged??) to that Vine long enough, well, I began to bend, bend, bend.

My most recent part of breaking, bending, clinging and coming home was admitting that, in this slice of life on earth, I had to accept the blood, sweat and tears of the business side of writing as simply a part of the job. Everyone who works has parts of the job that are enjoyable and other parts that aren’t. Did I think I could somehow skip (or at least skimp) on the parts I disliked?

Coming home has meant embracing social media, little by pulling-my-teeth-out little, realizing that although it is crazy time-consuming, it does give even more interaction with my wonderful readers. On my long journey home, I don’t think I would have persevered if it hadn’t been for my readers. “Your books have drawn me closer to Jesus.” “I had strayed far from Christ. Your novel helped bring me back.” “Thank you for writing stories with a soul.”

And in this season of writing, coming home has meant being inspired by true stories of our colleagues pouring out their lives for refugees, and of refugees finding Jesus at a ministry center near Vienna called The Oasis that serves up coffee and Christ.

So I penned The Long Highway Home.

Right before the novel went to print, I found the perfect verse to start with (you know, after the title page). “A highway will be there. It will be called the Way of Holiness.” Isaiah 35: 8.


I also came across another quote from the Persian poet Rumi that seemed absolutely PERFECT to add under the Isaiah verse:


Except.

I googled the quote again, just to make sure
Sigh. (And you can go ahead and google the quote to find out his name, but please finish reading this post and commenting first.)
Rumi had actually written it. He didn’t. A really weird (living) guy who believes in a lot of weird stuff said it. I couldn’t start the book off with him.

But it’s true, isn’t it? In the body of Christ, we are all just walking each other home.

So today, I want to ask you this: How has Jesus broken your heart and helped you bend thankfully to Him in praise? Are you clinging to Him? Who on this journey of life in Christ has helped walk you home? Anything you need to give up to Him during this Lenten season?


“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5










GIVEAWAY:
Leave a comment answering one of Elizabeth's questions above or just to welcome her, and you will be entered to win a copy of her latest novel, The Long Highway Home.


BIO:
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years.  All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.


Back Cover Copy for The Long Highway Home:

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.


When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier.  Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger.  Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time?  And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Power of a Family Tree

with guest blogger - Amanda Cabot




With the current interest in genealogy and tracing ancestors, you may have created a personal family tree or at least considered doing so, but have you developed one for one of your books?  While I’ll be the first to admit that you don’t need a family tree for many stories, I’m here to tell you that they can be extremely helpful and – yes – powerful for some books.

It’s confession time.  I grew up reading sagas.  You know what I mean, those long, multi-generational stories that were popular more years ago than I’m going to admit.  One of the things that fascinated me about them was that they almost always had a family tree in the front of the book.  Those were designed to help readers keep track of who’s who and who’s related to whom in what way.  I was hooked!  But as much as I liked the idea of a family tree, I didn’t have a need for one until I started plotting the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

From the beginning, I knew that my fictional Texas town would be founded by two families from the North and that there would be multiple generations involved in each story.  While I wasn’t writing a saga, there were enough characters involved that I had the excuse I needed to create a family tree.

And so, I did.  Here’s a simple version of the first tree.



The Process

How do you start to create a family tree?  In real life, you collect information about people.  It’s a similar process with fiction, only you get to decide what the facts are.  As I thought about Cimarron Creek, I began asking questions.

Who were these founding families?  Although I could have had the founders be from unrelated families, more interesting dynamics were possible if they had a common ancestor.
When did they emigrate to Texas?  That helped determine their ages as well as critical events in the backstory.  After all, a town founded well after the War Between the States would have had different challenges than one where the residents had experienced the war and Reconstruction.
How many children did the founders have?  While not all of the children play roles in each book, it was important for me to know how many cousins my hero (Travis Whitfield) had and what ages they were.
What were their professions?  Although that’s not something you see on the family tree or any of the related reports, it was a key piece of information, so I added it to one of the reports I’d printed.


You can see that I changed a number of things as I actually wrote the book, including some characters’ names and ages.  Like the manuscript itself, the family tree was a work in progress.

The Advantages

Why go to this much trouble?  There are a number of reasons.

It forced me to think about each person as an individual.  While I didn’t include birth and death dates on the chart, they’re part of the underlying database. (More about that later.)
Because I knew a fair amount about each of the people on the family tree, I was able to include “insider” details about some of them in the book.  The result, I believe, was a more authentic-feeling town.
Seeing the chart helped me avoid repetition of names or creating too many characters whose names began with the same letter.  While the character chart I always create for my books is useful for that, because of its graphic nature, the family tree made it easier to see duplication.
The reports I generated provided me with information about each secondary character’s relationship to the protagonist.



Yes, I could have made notes about which people were cousins vs. aunts and uncles, but having the software do the work for me made my life a bit easier, not to mention that I knew it was accurate.  I’ve never claimed to know what second cousins twice removed means.

To Automate or Not

While you can always create a family tree manually by drawing squares on a piece of paper, I chose to use Family Tree Maker software.  (And, no, I don’t own stock in Family Tree Maker, Ancestry.com, or anyone else who’s sold this particular package.)  I’ve used FTM since the days of Windows 95 and have found it relatively easy to learn.  I also like the reports it generates.  While the Outline Descendant report is the one I use on a daily basis simply because it’s so concise, the Descendant report provides an easy-to-understand explanation of who’s who.




One of the advantages of the software is that whether you prefer to start with the current generation and work backward or with the first generation and move forward, you can do it.  You can also start in the middle and work both ways.  Those of you who know me won’t be surprised that I started with the first generation and worked forward, but I’ve used the flexibility of adding descendants on numerous occasions.  And, of course, I like the fact that I can change names, birthdates, and other key pieces of information as my story evolves.

For me, building a family tree was an essential part of outlining this trilogy.  Using automated software made that process easier and resulted in a tree that Revell could (and did) include in the book itself.

Have I convinced you to at least consider creating a family tree for stories that include multiple generations?  If not, here’s one last advantage I found: it allowed Revell to create an interesting graphic for social media.




Don’t you love the different hairstyles for the various generations?




Author Bio:
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroad trilogy, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a full-time writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.  




A Stolen Heart – Amanda Cabot

Blurb
The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . . 

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé. 

But when she discovers he has disappeared—and that he left behind a pregnant wife—Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites you into Texas’s storied past to experience adventure, mystery—and love.

Join the conversation on creating a family tree! One lucky commentor will get a copy of A Stolen Heart of their very own! Remember to stop by and check out the Weekend Edition on Saturday!!

Social Media Links
www.amandacabot.com
https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot
https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/
http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

Buying Links
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors




Monday, March 20, 2017

Speedbo Got You Down? Give Yourself the Gift of Kindness

                        
Janet here. The Seekerville Speedbo challenge is to write as many words as you can during the month of March without revising. How are you doing with that? If you’re doing great, making or exceeding your daily goals, congratulations! Take a bow! You’re knocking it out of the park. We’re proud of you!!

But what if you’re not? 

What if you’re failing to meet your goal? What if the large number of words other Speedboers report writing each day is slipping your self-confidence to the soles of your shoes? What if the words you’ve written seems like drivel? Are you beating yourself up? Furious at yourself for not knocking that chirpy little editor off your shoulder? Are you certain you’re not a writer and never will be? If you’re experiencing discouragement during Speedbo, this post is for you.

When we fail to meet the expectations we set for ourselves, some of us think or speak negative, hateful words to ourselves. I’m a_____! Fill in the blanks. Perhaps words like loser, idiot, phony come to mind. Words we would not say to another human being. The worst part is that self-condemnation is counterproductive and has a negative impact on our health and happiness. Use negative self-talk often enough and it will become a pattern.




So what will help us be kinder to ourselves?
  • Recognize we're human. We are never going to be perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. Failure is part of life. Take comfort from the fact that when we fail, we're not alone.  
    Replace negative thoughts with positives
  • Recognize that failure today does not mean we'll fail tomorrow. In fact, failure can push us to work harder next time. When we give ourselves grace after failing, we're more apt to try again. 
  • Recognize that the way we think is our reality. Positive thoughts breed a positive life. If caught in a rut of negative thought patterns, memorize Scripture that focuses on our thoughts and on gratitude. Read Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. Go here and read about the failures of successful people. 
  • Recognize how we react to failure is a choice. We are not helpless. It may take practice to rid ourselves of negative self-talk but it can be done. Refuse to voice negative thoughts. Change the subject if a conversation turns negative. Choose to give yourself the gift of kindness.
  • Recognize that destructive words fed to children can have a far-reaching impact in adulthood. If that's been your sad reality, perhaps talking with someone, a trusted friend or professional, can help you achieve a healthier perspective.
  • Recognize we have a loving God who wants to help us in every area of our lives. Talk things over with Him. Ask for His guidance.


Refuse to let setbacks defeat you. Failure isn't an excuse to give up. Instead, dust yourself off and try again. If you keep positive thoughts in your head and God at your side, you are equipped to take actions that will get words on the page.  

Speedbo on!

Feel free to share how Speedbo is treating you.

Do you have tips to share that help you fight self-criticism? 

For a chance to win a critique of your first five pages or for a chance to read an eCopy of one of my books, leave a comment.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Weekend Edition


Welcome to the Weekend Edition!
As we launch into week 4 of SPEEDBO!
Do let us know how you are doing in the comments!












If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes. Send to Seekers@Seekerville.net

This week's Speedbo prize winners can be found here.

Monday: "A Foot in Two Worlds: Writing in Two Different Genres" with guest Dana Mentink.  Jessica Ferguson gets to have her cake and eat it too! She won both, Dangerous Testimony and Sit, Stay, Love.
 

Tuesday: The 3 winners of Myra Johnson's upcoming release, A Rose So Fair, are Jackie Smith, Patti Jo, and Marcia!


Wednesday: Debby Giusti encouraged us to "Dream Big!" The winner of the very first Seekerville giveaway of an advanced copy of her May release, AMISH REFUGE, is Wendy Newcomb. Congrats, Wendy!


Thursday: Debut Harlequin Heartwarming author, LeAnne Bristow is our guest with her post, "Pressing on When Life Pushes You Back." Jessica Baughman is the winner of  Her Texas Rebel.


Monday: Janet Dean's post "Speedbo Got You Down? Give Yourself the Gift of Kindness." Leave a comment for a chance to win a five page critique or an eCopy of one of Janet's novels.

Tuesday: Amanda Cabot joins us today to discuss "The Power Of A Family Tree." Having trouble keeping family members straight as you write a trilogy or saga? Amanda shares with us the advantages of giving your characters a lineage and how organizing your character's history from the very beginning can save you major headaches as you continue to create. A copy of A Stolen Heart, Book 1 in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy, will be the prize of the day! 

Wednesday: Bestselling author Elizabeth Musser will be in the house to offer a glimpse into her very unusual writing life and how she's managed to remain relatively (but certainly not totally) sane! Stop by for a chance to win her most recent release, The Long Highway Home.

Thursday: Jill Weatherholt is our special guest with her post, "The Payoff of Perseverance." She's celebrating her debut release from Love Inspired. Stop by and comment for a chance to win one of two copies of  Second Chance Romance!

Friday: Seekerville brings you another Best of the Archives to inspire your Speedbo week. Comments are closed on Friday so we can catch up on our reading and writing.














Tina Radcliffe will be speaking to the Christian Writers of the West (ACFW) on "The Romantic Arc," on Saturday, April 22 (the weekend AFTER Easter). This date has been updated from April 15.

Details on the  CWOW webpage.












Thanks for the link love!

 The Love Inspired Newsletter is coming in April 2017!

Sign up here to get the latest updates from Love Inspired and 3 free eBook downloads.
 






RITA & Golden Heart finalist calls go out on March 21. Answer your phone!

5 Sneaky Ways to Steal Time to Write (The Write Practice)

Second Chance at Love—Get it Right the First Time (Romance University)

 Five Bad Habits of Good Writers -Free Download (Alicia Rasley)

3 Golden Rules for Your Amazon Author Page (SPR) 

Publishers Plan for Future Without Family Christian (PW) 

Critiquing an Agent's Pitch Letter (Janet Reid) 

Why Write a Synopsis (Steve Laube Literary Agency) 

Three Things to Consider Before Talking with an Agent (MacGregor Literary)

What Kind of Advance Can I Expect ? (Books & Such Literary Management) 

 Advice from Kurt Vonnegut that Every Writer Needs to Read (ProWriting Aid Blog)

All Day to Write, But Where Did the Time Go? (Live, Write, Breathe)

April 1 Deadline! Enter and send proof of entry to us. Details here.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Best of the Archives: Show Don't Tell Part 2

Sandra here wondering how you are all doing with your writing and Speedbo. March is always a tough month for me so I don't do Speedbo, but I think it is a really great tool to practice writing that first draft. I use the concept at other time. So best wishes and hang in there.

Below I come with some more samples of show don't tell that I found in my own writing. Earlier I wrote Show Don't Tell Part 1 and gave you examples to see the difference.


In the post “Show Don’t Tell” that I wrote earlier, I used examples from Love’s Miracles that was published by Warner in 1989. In this post, I’m going to use examples from Dream Song published by Warner in 1990.




In Love’s Miracles I ended up not making that many changes. The passive voice seemed to work. But in Dream Song it definitely does NOT work and besides that it is extremely annoying.  I was planning to self-publish Dream Song this month, but when reading it, I became so annoyed at the passive redundancy that I decided I definitely need to revise first.

So all this month, I’ve been pondering about why passive voice worked in Love’s Miracles, but not in Dream Song. Here is what I came up with and whether its on target or not is only my guess, but it makes sense to me.

Love’s Miracles is a character driven psychological drama. The characters are so deep and you become so involved in their emotions, that you don’t notice what voice you are reading. There isn’t really much happening physically, but the emotional drama is deep and draws you in.

Dream Song is a romantic suspense. The characters have depth, but a suspense involves a lot of action and screams for active voice. The passive thoughts upon the characters emotions drag down the action and in my opinion became annoying. I truly wanted to throw the book against the wall, but I was reading it on the flight to Atlanta so refrained.  smile



I love the characters in Dream Song so you would think that there would be the same depth as in Love’s Miracles.  I grew up in the Southwest and was very interested in the Native American tribes. I romanticized their culture and admired the godly premises of the Beautyway. Hubby and I have explored every museum and crawled through every ruin we can find. I used to sit in moqui caves and picture the villages full of action and emotion. I always knew I wanted Native American characters in at least one of my books.




Not being Native American, I did not presume to think I could write as one as their way of viewing their world is so different than mine. So I created characters who were half Native America.  Autumn was given up for adoption at birth by her Navajo mother. Autumn was adopted and raised by the O’Niell family. They are a loving family and support her attempt to find her roots with the Navajo. Autumn gets a job on the reservation in hopes of getting to know her estranged family.

While the inner conflict is powerful, too much retrospection as was done in Love’s Miracles slows down the action. Action scenes are easier to deal with when revising. But the emotional elements are more subtle when changing them from passive to active. Let me show you some examples. (Red=old version,  purple=revised)

“I say something profound like that, yet here I am fighting to win a place in the hearts of the clan. Strange that I need that identity.”
His brow furrowed slightly. “Why do you need them? You have a family who cares for you. It’s not like you were deprived. In fact, you probably were much better off where you were. The infant mortality rate is high on the reservation.”
“I think every child who is adopted wants to know his or her real family—why she was given away.”
“It isn’t always because you weren’t wanted.”
“Isn’t it?” She searched his expression, trying to determine if he really cared or was just caught by pity.
“There are many reasons people do what they do.”
Several thoughts came to mind, but now was not the time to reflect on them. Some required digging in musty corners that she wasn’t prepared to touch, and she wasn’t about to expose them to the ridicule of a man who could hurt her. She shrugged. “Who knows? I’m sure you don’t care.”
“Try me.”
Sincerity sounded in the gravelly tones, but she had the feeling he was as surprised by it as she. For a moment she was tempted to ask him why. That answer would lead to more questions, such as, why did he treat her with such disdain when they’d had a beautiful relationship growing between them? She wasn’t in the mood to discuss it. Nor was it the time or place.
“Look, I need to check on a few things for Dr. Davidson,” she told him. “I have to get back to work.”


In this example there are several subtle uses of passive voice as well as a couple of obvious uses that I mentioned in the April post.

Obvious uses are the adverbs and the use of the verbs to be, could, and ing verbs.  (I hope Grammar Queen doesn’t catch my use of slang here. LOL)

His brow furrowed slightly.
He frowned.

Some required digging in musty corners that she wasn’t prepared to touch, and she wasn’t about to expose them to the ridicule of a man who could hurt her.

Not prepared to dig in musty corners nor expose them to hurtful ridicule.

The subtle uses of passive voice are more difficult to ferret out. Too much verbiage slows down the action and is especially notable in suspense.


“I say something profound, yet I fight to win a place in the hearts of the clan. Strange that I need that identity.”
He frowned. “Why do you need them? Your family cares for you. You were better off where you were because the infant mortality rate is high on the reservation.”
“I think every child who is adopted wants to know his or her real family—why she was given away.”
“It isn’t always because you weren’t wanted.”
“Isn’t it?” She searched his expression, trying to determine if he really cared or was just caught by pity.
“There are many reasons people do what they do.”
Several thoughts came to mind, but not prepared to dig in musty corners nor expose them to hurtful ridicule, she shrugged them aside. “Who knows? I’m sure you don’t care.”
“Try me.”
Did he care? The man who treated her with disdain after they’d had a beautiful relationship? Not in the mood to pursue these questions, she straightened,  “I have to get back to work, check on a few things for Dr. Davidson.”


Did you notice how I trimmed the word count in the revised passage above? Doesn’t it read smoother and at a faster pace?

Did you notice the repetition of the same idea?  It wasn’t the time or place was mentioned twice.

The last paragraph has a plenty of subtle passivity.
Sincerity sounded in his gravelly voice--   This is telling what his voice is like.
But she had the feeling--  This is telling the reader she has a feeling –
For a moment she was tempted…-- There is that verb to be again.
She wasn’t in the mood – ditto



Let’s look at some other examples:

“Whoever was here more than likely followed us to make sure we were clear of the blast. They’ll know.”
His words didn’t ease her apprehension. She grasped the turquoise nugget as the possible dangers played around in her head. One thing she felt certain of—they had to get the remaining artifacts to safety. The thought quickened her pace as she hurried the half-mile down the canyon to the kiva and Dr. Davidson. 

This scene is telling us there is apprehension and need for action. So instead of telling, this is a classic example of the need to show. Don’t tell the reader Autumn is apprehensive.  Don’t tell the reader Autumn has possible dangers playing around in her head.  Don’t tell the reader Autumn needs to get the artifacts to safety.  Show don’t tell.

“Whoever was here more than likely followed us to make sure we were clear of the blast. They’ll know.”
Autumn quickened her pace down the canyon. “We have to get the remaining artifacts to safety.” She grasped her turquoise nugget. “Only a half mile to go.”

Hopefully these few samples help to clarify the difficult concept of show don’t tell.  Please feel free to comment or share examples from your own writing.


If you ever travel through “Color Country” you must try the Indian fry bread. You won’t be sorry. Since we are on the Navajo reservation, the women at the roadside rest are serving your choice of fry bread with honey or fry bread with beans.  Yum  And if you have time you might want to look at their jewelry and blankets.





Okay, I have had this sign I've wanted to post since I saw it in Palm Springs last winter.  I guess this post fits as well as any.  I mean it is active and to the point.





Remember there are no comments this Friday so we can get on with Speedbo. Go Speedbo.


Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.







15 more days to Speedbo