Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3 Sisters on Writing: 7 Simple Strategies for Making the Dream a Reality

with guests Shirlee McCoy, Sara K. Parker and Mary Ellen Porter

Thanks so much for inviting us to help celebrate Seekerville’s seventh year!

In case you’re wondering—yes, we are actual, honest to goodness, raised together in the same home sisters!  Sisters who, coincidentally, all shared a common dream: to see our stories in print.

And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you’re probably wondering – How did you do it?  Has your family discovered a magic pill for writing success? A secret recipe to getting published?

If only there were magic pills or secret family recipes! Like all writers, we have hectic lives with demands outside of our writing careers. Each of us has had to carve out time from very full schedules to make our dream a reality. But time is only part of the equation. We’ve each adopted a few simple strategies that have helped us achieve our writing dreams, and today we’d like to share some of those with you.

Shirlee celebrating with Mom at RWA 2014.

Upcoming Release:  

Her Christmas Guardian, December 2014, Love Inspired Suspense 

1. Learn to Say Yes. 

It may seem that if we want to have vibrant writing careers, we should be willing say no to things that pull us away from our stories. While that is true, I’ve discovered that ‘yes’ is also a powerful tool for success. A hermit by nature, I would happily spend every minute of my time at home. If given a choice of dinner out or a night in front of my computer, I’d take the computer every time.  It’s relationships, though, that build the kind of stories we write, and it’s strong characterization that makes those stories come to life. The key to developing those strong characters? For me, that lies in understanding the people around me, hearing their life stories, learning their heartaches and their joys. Over the years, I’ve discovered that my stories become stagnant, my characters dull if I don’t say yes to the little things that build healthy relationships. Whether it’s saying yes to a cup of coffee or a walk through a field at dusk, time away from the computer clears the mind and allows the words to flow. So, practice your ‘no’ but practice ‘yes,’ too, and use those moments, those sweet minutes of time that you look into another person’s eyes and see her heart, to write something beautiful. 

2. Adapt to Your Circumstances. 

As a busy homeschool mom, I’ve found that a rigid writing schedule doesn’t always work for me. Creativity, after all, doesn’t wait for a scheduled time. I’m driven by a daily word count goal, rather than a daily designated time and place in which to write. I almost always meet my word count because my laptop is my nearly constant companion. Several of my friends joke that they have difficulty recognizing me when I suddenly appear in their midst without my trusty computer! I’ve written while on planes, in hotel lobbies, on the bus, in the basement of a creepy old building. I wrote while in China adopting our youngest daughter. Circumstances of our lives will not change to suit our writing schedules. We must adapt our thought processes, allow ourselves to embrace the circumstances and seasons we’re in, and write wherever and whenever we have a few moments to do so. 

Sara hiking at Inks Lake with her kids and dogs. 
Hubby's taking the pic!

Debut: Undercurrent, January 2015, Love Inspired Suspense

3. Toughen Up.

If I’d learned this lesson sooner, it may have saved me, oh, about twelve years of lost writing time. Being a writer is exciting, but it’s also tough, and truthfully, you need pretty thick skin. I received my first rejection on a manuscript in 2003. I really hope the editor burned that manuscript, but at the time, I was crushed and decided that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for fiction writing after all. For a while, I enjoyed writing for a couple of local newspapers and a few magazines, but six years later, I tried fiction again. An editor with Love Inspired Suspense requested my manuscript, and again – rejection. Another five years passed before my sister Shirlee was able to convince me to try again, and this time, instead of a rejection letter, I got an offer! Every rejection brings you closer to your dream, but only if you learn from it and move on. Take a day, a week even, to regroup. Then, sit yourself down, open up that dauntingly empty first page, and try again.

4. Simplify Your Routine.

I love to cook. I especially love to try new recipes. But cooking creative meals for the family takes a lot of time that I don’t seem to have lately. At my husband’s suggestion, I have built a couple easy-meal days into our weekly menu. My kids’ favorite is Mystery Night.  It’s fun for them because they get to choose and make their own meals, and it’s a mystery for me, because I’m never sure what strange concoction will end up on their plates. But mealtime isn’t the only part of my life I’ve simplified. Several months ago, my husband and I took a hard look at extracurricular activities, volunteer positions, and recurring obligations, and we prayerfully made some big changes. I’ve always loved to have my hands in many pots, so to step back from several activities was a humbling experience for me. I had to admit I could not possibly continue to do it all and still give this writing thing a solid shot. If you can’t find anything to cut from your schedule, I suggest asking someone you trust to look at your life on paper and offer some suggestions. Then, consider their points, pray about your decision, and be brave! 

Mary Ellen with Tank. 
He's no longer a puppy and now weighs 120 pounds.

Debut: Into Thin Air, May 2015, Love Inspired Suspense

5. Make Your Dream Your Priority.

Over the past decade I’ve had numerous ‘great ideas’ that have never come to fruition. Characters that sit silent in my filing cabinet because I never made the time to give them a voice. Why is that? The answer is simple: Because I never made writing a top priority. In fact, I never made it a priority at all. Writing was always the “dream,” the thing I would do for fun, in my spare time. But who really has spare time? I personally work full time, have two very active teenagers, and spend numerous hours each week training with a volunteer search and rescue team. My sister Shirlee told me on numerous occasions that if I just wrote a little every day, eventually my book would be written. Her incessant ‘encouragement’ finally paid off; I established a weekly word-count goal, and then I made that goal my top priority. Sometimes that meant the house was a little messy, the dog got a shorter walk, or we ate leftovers a little more than I’d like. But surprisingly the family survived—even the dog. And the first book got written. Make your dream a reality by making your dream your priority. Nothing less will bring your stories to life.

6. Forget Perfection.

I have a problem. I am a perfectionist. While this trait has helped me gain a measure of success in several areas of my life, writing wasn’t one of them. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that my propensity toward perfection held me back. The first sentence, the first page, the first chapter were never quite good enough for me. My stories were destined to languish, unfinished because I just knew each attempt was not my best work. For my own good, I had to accept that perfection is not attainable. To finish my book I had to train myself not to re-read and re-work what I had written the previous day or week. Instead, I allowed myself to read only the last three or four sentences before delving into a new day of writing. I finally accepted that there are many ways to write the same story, and write it well. A story can always be improved, but it can’t be submitted to a publisher—or sold¬—if it hasn’t been written.  


7. Build a Strong Support System. 

Some people say that the genes for writing must run through our family. We say it is the support and love we’ve received from one another, from our parents, our two other siblings, from our spouses, our kids and our friends that has allowed us the freedom to achieve our dreams. If you’re struggling to find your place in this crazy writing world, seek out people who share your goals and who are as excited and happy for your successes as they are for their own. Don’t look for the most successful, the most prolific, or the most talented. Look for those who are like-minded and who care about you deeply. People who support your dreams and will hound you incessantly until the word count is met, the characters are well-written and the story flows. Plug into a local writer’s group, meet up with other aspiring writers over tea, and start building your support system—it will be invaluable as you navigate your writing career.

We’d love to hear from you. What do you struggle with most when it comes to achieving your writing goals?

Comment below to win a box of writer’s goodies, including: a Starbucks gift card ($15), a Barnes & Noble gift card ($25), a dry-erase calendar with markers, a crockpot cookbook, and the most important of all—chocolate. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Shirlee’s December release, Her Christmas Guardian, and IOUs for Sara’s January release, Undercurrent, and Mary Ellen’s May release, Into Thin Air. Winner announced in the weekend edition!
Follow us on Twitter: @3SistersWrite

 Her Christmas Guardian


Former army ranger Boone Anderson immediately senses danger when he spots Scout Cramer and her precious little girl while holiday shopping. Then two cars suddenly give chase in the parking lot—kidnapping the child. His worst suspicions are confirmed, and professional instincts propel him into action. Having lost his own infant daughter years before, Boone is determined to reunite the beautiful single mother and her missing child. But when a secret from Scout's past finally catches up to her, she must work with her self-appointed guardian to save her daughter. Before the kidnappers cancel Christmas for all of them…permanently.

Mission: Rescue—No job is too dangerous for these fearless heroes



In an instant Kathryn Brooks's idyllic transatlantic cruise turns to terror. It's hard to believe someone has it out for her, yet chandeliers don't explode on their own—and her best friend has gone missing. But Secret Service agent Sam West vows to protect her as every corridor poses a threat and any stranger may be an assailant. With the ship's security providing little assistance, Kathryn puts her trust in Sam. Yet losing her own life is no longer her only fear. As she and Sam strive to stay a step ahead of the enemy, Kathryn worries that by caring for Sam…she's put a target on his back, as well.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Editor's Top 7 Revision Notes by Harlequin Senior Editor Victoria Curran

Happy seventh birthday, Seekervillians (if I may call you that)! I’m delighted to be here to help celebrate the occasion. I was pleased to see one of our Harlequin Heartwarming authors, Roz Denny Fox, here a month or two ago, and she discussed a lot of the specifics about our series. Me, I’m thinking in sevens, so I’ve decided to share my top seven recurring revision notes, which are the same whether I’m editing sweet romances, inspirational or something a little hotter.

Disclaimer: I’m deeply aware that I have never written a novel and I have a huge respect for those of you who can create a story that’s thousands of words long and has a beginning, a middle and an end…let alone obstacle and romantic tension and self-motivated characters who take an unpredictable journey to that predictable happy ending!

Heartwarming Romance, October Release
In my 11-plus years at Harlequin, I have some advice I seem to repeat and it relies heavily on seven resources (see how I worked that in again?):

     Robert McKee, STORY
     Renni Browne and Dave King, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
     Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style (which one of my copy editing colleagues tells me is out of date but I refuse to believe her)
     Donald Maas, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
     Stephen King, On Writing
     Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey
     EL James, Fifty Shades of Gray

#1 Resist the Urge to Explain (RUE).

Thank you Renni Browne and Dave King for this invaluable acronym. Trust readers to get the point faster and say what you’re trying to say in much less. It’s more satisfying to get from A to Z without hitting the entire alphabet.

However, I think this is probably a case of not having the time to go back over the books and pare the words and ideas…or to gain objectivity from the work…enough to see the instances where you’ve shown something well and don’t need the accompanying internalization that explains it, or when a scene seems to be active, opening in the middle of something, but then stops to provide the backstory that led to this moment. (I’m big on need-to-know only, please.)

Credenza Pete, one of Victoria's cats...  How much do you love this picture????  How cute is it?
Stinkin' cute!
Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that it wasn’t until he was finished writing a story that he knew what it was about and then he rewrote it based on the discovery he made by the end of his first draft. At the pace of romance publishing, I’d love to meet the author who has that kind of time!

#2 Never use tummy when stomach will do.

In this Strunk & White rule, the idea is cute word choice can call attention to itself. I am a huge advocate of using words that serve the story rather than pull us out of it to think about the words. (A little brogue goes a long way, as they say in Historicals!) And while we’re at it, I confess I don’t even know what a cliché is anymore. As long as the words and ideas don’t pull me out of the story, they work well.

Heartwarming Romance October release 
#3: Let’s rough your characters up more.

From tracking research our readers have told us: “If you know from the first page the lovers will end up together it spoils the story. There has to be conflict, not too much sweetness…. I hate predictable reads that are flat, lacking in highs and lows.”

Rules #2 and #3 seem to go arm and arm. My authors know I don’t like the term “sweet romance” since, even though it’s recognized in the industry as meaning a romance without sex, in practice it propels writers toward kitten and puppy dog plotting, flowers and sunshine: a polite journey to a predictable happy ending…when we’re looking for stories that make readers wonder how on earth the pair will ever get together. Clean stories need to be as exciting as edgier sexy ones.

I am one of the biggest animal lovers out there, proud caregiver to four cats, but as an editor, I like to see stray kittens or puppies when they have a reason to be in the story beyond their sweet factor.

Will Feral 
A former Superromance author of mine also wrote for Love Inspired and they were some of the darkest, redemptive romances I’ve ever had the pleasure to edit. Yes, please: go there!

#4 Let’s find ways to eliminate the coincidence.

Find the misunderstandings and coincidences and imposed plotting and turn them around so they’re driven by the leads. For instance:

*What if, instead of the ex-boyfriend entering the story near the end to ratchet up the tension (predictable external device usually because inner obstacle is gone), why not let the heroine call him in? Instead of imposing plot on characters, motivate them to provoke the action.

*Currently the hero’s faced with falling off the wagon, thinks about the heroine and how good she is and how much she has changed him…and doesn’t drink. But the heroine sees him in the bar and thinks he drank. This leads to hero not confronting her but leaving town in a petulant reaction to her misunderstanding.  Well, what if the hero did take the drink, and then we cut to the heroine finding him over the empty bottle and him seeing the disappointment in her eyes before she walks out. Then her concerns are real, and the hero must redeem himself in her eyes. Motivation that was surface becomes deeper.

#5 Motivate your characters and then let them act based on those motivations.

Most writers create fresh, interesting characters and an intriguing premise to launch a story…but too often the characters soon cast off the constraints of their motivation and act in ways that are mysterious to them based on their “unexpected” attraction to the other. Well, it may be unexpected to them, but it’s clichéd and predictable to the reader. If a story stays true to the rich characterization, the characters will drive the action and I probably won’t be able to predict each step, which is fantastic!

From our tracking research: “Characters with strong identities/personalities save a story from cliché every time… I prefer it when characters grow through action and reaction rather than too much deep soul searching… “

#6 Is this scene really about what it appears to be about or is there something else going on here?

As McKee tells us, “‘If the scene is about what the scene is about, you’re in deep [trouble].’"…

Writing this, for example: Two attractive people sit opposite each other at the candlelit table, the light glinting off the crystal wineglasses and the dewy eyes of the lovers. Soft breezes billow the curtain. A Chopin nocturne plays in the background. The lovers reach across the table, touch hands, look longingly in each others’ eyes, say, ‘I love you, I love you,”…and actually mean it. This scene…will die like a rat in the road.”

There’s a section in Donald Maas’s book about the tea scene and how, if it’s only there for BFF support and for the heroine to rehash the romance, cut it. But if there’s something else going on between the two characters in that scene, really flesh out what each wants from the other. Because even the BFF needs to want something.

#7 How can we raise the stakes in the romance?

The highest stakes, according to McKee is that by choosing love the hero and heroine stand to lose that one thing they want more than life itself.

I can usually tell what the hero and heroine have to gain in choosing love. It’s much less often I see a strong obstacle to love that takes the entire book to get past. And that’s sometimes when the villain steps in to mess with the hero and heroine, providing the tension and stakes. That’s traditional storytelling. But contemporary romance readers want the tension and stakes to come from between the hero and heroine as much as from the external plotting. They want love to cost the leads and for them to have to struggle to earn the happy ending.

I can’t resist quoting McKee: “Pressure is essential. Choices made when nothing is at risk mean little. If a character chooses to tell the truth in a situation where telling a lie would gain him nothing, the choice is trivial, the moment expresses nothing. But if the same character insists on telling the truth when a lie would save his life, then we sense that honesty is at the core of his nature.”

We all know this, right? But that’s where Fifty Shades of Grey taught me a lesson in stakes. In choosing love, the heroine risked death at the hands of a man who warned her he would hurt her, and she has no idea how far he’ll carry that threat. How much harder is it for a contemporary clean romance writer to achieve that level of high stakes!

I’d love to find out from the authors on this blog if you have any advice on how to ratchet up the romantic tension when sex is not an option. And to readers checking in, please tell me if you agree with my editing advice or whether I should read some more how-to-edit books because you want those kitten and puppy dog tummies!

Best wishes,


Ruthy here! 

Victoria, thank you for this gold mine of straightforward information... I love it! 

Folks, feel free to pepper Victoria with questions and/or toss your ideas out there! She's cute, funny and very approachable! This is your chance to explore a fun, different, fresh form of fiction for today's reader... and even though I'm excising KITTENS from all stories, (that's totally untrue, I just wrote some barn kittens into a book... SIGH...) 

I think you'd love working with this woman! 

Coffee's inside, maple cakes and apple fritters, too, and we've got BOOKS
to tempt you into examining Heartwarming more closely! 

Victoria has brought 2 4-packs of Heartwarming Romance's October releases....

and we're offering SEVEN FREE HEARTWARMING E-BOOKS of your choice! Leave a comment (and yes, ask questions!) to have your name thrown into the very clean cat dish!!!  :)

And Victoria, thanks so much for being with us today, and giving us a great look at "Heartwarming" and one of the wonderful editors behind it!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Seven + Villager Success Stories

Janet  here. Since Seekerville's inception seven years ago, one by one all the Seekers set sail from Unpubbed Island to the Mainland of Published Fiction. Our goal for Seekerville was to help others do the same by emphasizing the value of contests and sharing craft and inspiring posts. In those early days, 30 comments delighted us, and most of those were ours. LOL Now the blog has over 11,000 followers and almost a million and a half page reviews. God has grown Seekerville and all of us as we share the ups and downs of the writers’ journey. 
To celebrate Seekerville’s 7th Birthday, I asked seven + Villagers, if they'd like to share how Seekerville helped them achieve their dream of publication. I got a resounding yes! So grab a cup of Helen's coffee and let's party with these lovely ladies!  

Keli Gwyn, Family of her Dreams, Love Inspired Historical, June 2015. A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California

Keli Gwyn and Janet
When I dusted off my four-decade-long dream of being a writer, I had no idea what I was doing. I sat holed up in my office cranking out five lackluster stories in two years. Although my joy was abundant, my knowledge of craft was abysmal. All that changed when I finaled in the 2008 Golden Heart®. A wonderful woman named Tina Radcliffe found me and asked me to be a blog guest at Seekerville. Because I was a florescent green newbie writer and a technophobe, I had several questions for Tina. The first was, "what is a blog?" She answered that question and has answered many more since. I was warmly welcomed by all the Seekers and Seekervillagers and have learned oodles from you talented people. Ruthy was my Lighten Up 101 instructor and taught me how to make this writing gig a lot more fun. Missy, one of my contest judges, gave me a great idea on how to improve the story that became my debut novel. I won a critique from Julie, and she gave me awesome pointers on that same story's opening. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Seekerville rocks! Happy seventh birthday! Here's to another great year to come.

Virginia Carmichael, A Home for her Family. Love Inspired, October 2014

I've always loved Seekerville for introducing me to great new authors, but as someone who just started writing, every day seems like an intensive writing course. I've learned so much in Seekerville! As for tangible help, I won a fancy printer during The New Year’s party one year. This was back when it seemed like most agents still wanted paper submissions. I had a terrible old printer that mostly ate paper and never printed anything legibly, so I was THRILLED to win. I sent out hundreds of queries and lots of partials with that printer! Then, I finaled in the Seekerville Query Contest with Melissa Endlich, and she requested full manuscripts from all of us winners. She called to say they wanted to acquire it in Nov 2011. I signed my first contract through Seekerville!

Sue Mason, Healing the Widower’s Heart, Love Inspired, February 2015

Ruth Tredway, Helen Gray, Sue Mason, Janet
I most definitely credit the fabulous ladies of Seekerville with my success as a writer! It all started when I became a Golden Heart finalist in 2008. Tina Radcliffe tracked me down and invited me to share a little about my story on her blog. I had no idea who she was or even what a blog was, but I jumped on board. From then on, I became a faithful follower of Seekerville. Not only do they provide fantastic information about the craft of writing, they often feature agents and editors, and host contests. This was the case back in October 2012 when Love Inspired editor, Elizabeth Mazer, was featured in a post which included a First Page contest. I didn't plan to participate since my contemporary trilogy was on submission at White Rose Publishing, and my other stand-alone romance, Wyndermere House, (ironically my 2008 GH entry) had already been rejected by a different LI editor. Then Tina sent me an email pretty much ordering me to get something in to the contest! So I took another look at Wyndermere House, made a few adjustments, and sent it in! To make a long story short, I received a request from Elizabeth, and now 2 years later, my manuscript is being released as Healing the Widower’s Heart (February 2015). Without Tina (as well as all the encouragement and prayers from the wonderful women at Seekerville), I wouldn't be able to call myself a Love Inspired author! Thank you SO MUCH Seekerville!

Jessica Nelson, Family on the Range, Love Inspired Historical, June 2014

In 2007 I started my first manuscript with the intent of publication. As soon as I waded into the cyberworld of writers, I discovered Seekerville. A blog dedicated to helping writers on the path and a home for those who didn't know what they were doing (me!), the Seekers' posts on craft, contests, submission etiquette and encouragement soon had me hooked! Many of the Seekers still resided on Unpubbed Island. Thanks to their intelligent posts and loving personalities, I gained confidence in my ability to seek publication and to actually achieve it. They made traditional publication seem possible when many others said it was impossible.

I am so thankful I stumbled across the Seekerville years ago. Long Live the Seekers!

Jan Drexler, A Mother for His Children, Love Inspired Historical, August 2014

What can I say about Seekerville? Four years ago, my journey to publication started with a vague idea of a story, a thirty-year-old bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, and twenty-some years of homeschooling and raising children under my belt. Then I stumbled upon Seekerville while looking for tips on how to write. Well, I say I “stumbled upon” this blog, but I know God led me here. From the beginning I knew I was facing a huge learning curve, but the gracious ladies on Unpubbed Island made gentle suggestions and offered enthusiastic encouragement. I entered contests, developed writing goals and discipline, and watched my word count grow. I entered more contests – including the great ones here on Seekerville that led to my first book landing on a Love Inspired editor’s desk and led to signing with an agent. And the Seekers cheered every step of the way. I listened to their advice, learned from their blog posts, and kept working. I signed my first contract with Love Inspired in April, 2012, and this summer signed a three book contract with Revell. My publication journey may have been possible without the Seekers, but I can’t imagine how long I would have struggled in my writing cave without their wisdom and encouragement opening doors I didn’t even know existed. I look forward to many, many more years of being a Seekervillager. Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Helen Gray, OzarkWedding, Heartsong Presents, September, 2014

My profile says I've been hanging around Seekerville since November, 2009, but I was “Anonymous” for a few months before that, until I learned how to set up an account. During those years I have printed and utilized a lot of How-To craft tips, and I've never been allowed to feel lonely at ACFW conferences. I've also benefited from Seeker critiques. Of the series I had release this year, Mary critiqued the first chapter of book one, Tina critiqued the first chapter of book two, and Grammar Queen edited the first chapter of book three. And I lived to tell about it! In addition to all that, they drink my virtual coffee, even though I have no idea how to make the stuff in reality.

Christina Rich, The Warrior's Vow, Love Inspired Historical, July 2014

SEEKERVILLE, first, happy birthday!

Second, I wouldn't be where I am today without you. It was during your birthday in 2011 I received a request from Emily Rodmell at Love Inspired. In 2012 I received the call! I can't say thank you enough for the continued support and encouragement as I travel beyond the island.

Mary Curry, writing as Cate Nolan, will debut her Christmas book in October, 2015,
identified seven reasons she’s thankful for having the Seekers in my life.

Friends - Some of my dearest writing friends are people I've met through Seekerville. We all know how lonely a writer's life can be, but the Seekers bring a light of friendship into that loneliness. I thank them for their friendship.

Faith - Through word, deed and prayer, the Seekers live their faith and inspire us to be the best we can be. Through prayers I've requested and prayers I didn't know about until afterward, I've been lifted so often by these lovely women. I thank them for their shared faith.

Craft - Seekerville is like one endless graduate course on how to write a book. It's the university from which we never want to graduate. The shared wisdom of the Seekers and their friends helps us strive and never settle for average. I thank them for sharing their knowledge.

Fun - It's not all serious! The one thing you know you can count on is that a day spent in Seekerville will be a day of happiness. From the New Year's Eve bash to the month long birthday party, Seekerville is a cheerful refuge. I thank the Seekers for the joy they bring each day.

Lynette Eason, Patty Smith Hall, Debby, Missy, Jessica Nelson
Family or Community -  I remember the first time I visited Seekerville. I feared it was some "in club" that I would forever watch from the outskirts. Little did I know that Seekerville is chock full of warmth and legendary hospitality. There are no strangers in Seekerville, only the friends we haven't gotten to know yet. I thank the Seekers for inviting us in and making us feel welcome.

Prizes - Not to seem mercenary, ;) but seriously! The Seekers are so generous with prizes offering so many free books, gift cards, and treats. I still drink my tea from the mug Tina sent as my very first newbie villager prize. I thank you for your generosity.

Hope and Support - "And the greatest of these is love."  Through their love for God, each other, and the villagers, the Seekers show by example how to be a love-driven, faith-based community. They never stint on time or effort, advice or prizes ;) Whether it's brandishing a whip or offering candy, the Seekers have our backs and I hope they know we have theirs. They make this journey seem possible and when you reach your goal, there's no better place to celebrate than Seekerville!  I thank the Seekers for years of support and celebration and for being the best kind of community a writer could yearn for.

Years ago, before all the Seekers had made it off unpubbed island, I'd written this "book" and had no idea what I was supposed to do next. Praise the Lord for Google and Seekerville. From the first post I read there, I felt like I'd come home to a place I'd never been before. I jumped in right away and soaked up information like a Persian rug does spilled wine. There was so much to learn but when I began commenting, these "real authors" took an interest in the "new person" and were so welcoming. Encouraging. That sense of home and belonging deepened as I continued to make my daily Seekerville stop for the next two years. I say with honesty Seekerville is where I learned about half of what I know about the craft of fiction and marketing. I made so many friends there and am blessed to have maintained those friendships even though life as a published author no longer affords me the time to spend in Seekerville I once did. I will always be grateful for the Seekers, and their continuing mission to support and encourage the up and coming author as much as the multi-published. I am published today with a very successful Indie debut, and mentoring an up-and-coming author, thanks largely to that early learning and shared community here in Seekerville. Thank you Seekers, for seven years and counting.

Patty Smith Hall, "Christmas Lessons," Christmas Traditions, October, 2014.     
Many will talk about how Seekerville has helped them to realize their dream of being a published writer, and they'd be correct. Cheryl Wyatt's post on scene development back in 2008 changed the way I wrote, and gave me the push I needed to finish my first published novel, Hearts in Flight. 

But it is the kindness of the Seekers that has touched my heart and made Seekerville feel like a second home. In early 2012, the doctors told me my spine could no longer support me and I would need surgery. The recovery period was anywhere from six months to a year, most which would be spent in a brace and on my back. Within days of my hospital release, I received my first card from one of the Seekers, then another and another. Every couple of days for the next few months, there would be a card or two waiting in my mailbox, encouraging me, letting know they were praying for my recovery. Those cards, and the notes written within, helped me through those first hard days of my recovery, and encouraged me to lean on God and to keep writing. A small kindness that still touches me today.

Thank you, ladies--and Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Janet again. Thanks, ladies! Your sweet words bless and encourage us. Your success is such fun to celebrate! And offers hope to those working hard, who haven't yet received The Call. 

For breakfast I brought orange juice, crisp bacon and crunchy French toast dusted with powdered sugar and warm maple syrup. And of course there's birthday cakes with layers of chocolate, strawberry and yellow to nibble on all day. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of these author's books in either eBook or hard copy, author’s choice (we'll discuss your options) and a $10 Amazon gift card. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Weekend Edition-Birthday Week 3

Welcome to the start of week FOUR of our 7th Birthday Celebration. During the month of October we blog every single day. We will be giving away a $50 gift card from various online retailers each Sunday in October. We will also be collecting names (not numbers of comments) for the drawing for our grand prize-an iPad mini. Winner announced on Saturday, November 1st. 

This week's $50 gift card will come from

We Have Winners

  Be sure to contact us if you are a winner (send an email to with your snail mail address unless email is specified). We don't have time to track you down. Do let us know if you don't receive your prize in 6-8 weeks. Rules are located on our legal page. 

Did you claim your prizes from Week One & Week Two?

The Week Three $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card goes to Mary Hicks! Congratulations!

On Monday,Love Inspired author Missy Tippens shared "7 Things I've Learned Over the Last 7 Years." Jackie Layton is the winner of either a phone or email chat (winner's choice) to one entrant--which goes hand-in-hand with the #1 thing she's learned!

 Tuesday, Seeker and award-winning author Myra Johnson shared her top seven writing resources and why they made it to her favorites list. Winner of a hot-off-the-press copy of Myra's latest release, Every Tear a Memory, book 3 in her Till We Meet Again historical romance series from Abingdon Press is Janet Ferguson. Winner of free enrollment in Myra and Dora Heir's November Night Class, Creating Characters That Come Alive, is Stephanie Ludwig.

 In celebration of Seekerville's Seventh BirthdayDebby Giusti invited fellow authors Susan Sleeman and Jodie Bailey to join her on Wednesday Each author shared writing "secrets" in the blog, "Seven Secrets of Success from Three Successful Authors!" Be sure to stop by and see what each of them has to say. Leave a comment to be entered in three drawings for Holiday Defenders, a Love Inspired Suspense Christmas anthology, which features "Mission: Christmas Rescue," by Debby Giusti, "Special Ops Christmas," by Susan Sleeman, and "Homefront Holiday Hero," by Jodie Bailey. Along with the book, each winner also receives a $7 gift card from Starbucks! Congrats to Debby, Susan and Jodie’s winners: Jana Vanderslice, bonton (, and Mark Abel.

 Bethany House Fiction Publicist Amy Green stopped by on Thursday and shared "Four Tips for Marketing Like a Storyteller." Amy, who also runs the blog Bethany Fiction, is giving away  all four historical releases from Bethany House this month. The winners of the Bethany books, to be sent randomly... Tried and True by Mary Connealy, The River by Beverly Lewis, Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer, & A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears are: Caryl Kane, Rose Ross Zediker, Tyrean Martiinson  and Eva Marie Hamilton.

Friday we were excited to welcome Love Inspired, Assistant Editor, Emily Krupin with "Submit these Seven Themes to the Love Inspired Lines."  Thanks to Emily and Seekerville, we have a birthday box filled with books to give away.  The following commenters won two-pack book prizes: Mary Curry,  Cindy W, CathyAnn40, Tracey Hagwood, Wilani Wahl, Hope Toler Doughtery, Debbie H, Karen K, Dawn Leonard, Deb H, Edwina, Kelly Bridgewater &Terri Weldon.

For those of you who missed it, Emily Krupin said in the comments: "By the way, I’m very eager to acquire my first brand new author, so please feel free to submit directly to me!"

Seekerville was happy to welcome Love Inspired, White Rose Publishing and Bethany House Publishing authorSusan Anne Mason to Seekerville on Saturday, with her inspiring post, "Persistence and Those Little ‘God Nudges’ — The Key to Success!" Winner of a digital copy of Betrayed Hearts is Kav!

Next Week In Seekerville

Monday:Today Love Inspired Historical author Janet Dean will share "Seven + Villager Success Stories." Leave a comment for a chance to win a book in either eBook or hard copy, author’s choice (we'll discuss your options), and a $10 Amazon gift card.

Tuesday: Let's give a huge, happy, no holds barred Seekerville welcome to Heartwarming Senior Editor Victoria Curran! Harlequin's move into these 70-75K sweeter stories follows today's reader trends, providing another option for Seekerville authors and readers!  Victoria will be talking about the line, what they're looking for and what she likes... and we'll have a host of fun book options as giveaways to celebrate our time with her!

Wednesday: Oh my goodness! We have the Suspense Sisters with us today!  Stop by for "3 Sisters on Writing: 7 Simple Strategies for Making the Dream a Reality,"with Love Inspired Suspense writers (and sisters) Shirlee McCoy, Sara K. Parker and Mary Ellen Porter. They have an amazing prize giveaway too!

Thursday: Another treat today as we welcome back Virginia Carmichael, (aka Mary Jane Hathaway )with her post, "The Joy of Rejection."  She has a HUGE prize package for today's visitors. Don't miss it!

Friday: Seekerville is delighted to welcome back our pal, Erica Vetsch with her post "Seven Things That Will Make Your Editor Happy." Stop by. Chat. You could win a copy of Sagebrush Knights.

Saturday: Today we welcome Worthy Publishing author Brandy Vallance with her post, "Seven Essentials For Powerful Fiction." Stop by to meet Brandy and you could win a copy of her debut release, The Covered Deep. Two winners!

Seeker Sightings

More from The 12 Brides of Christmas! Pam Hillman's ebook novella THE EVERGREEN BRIDE releases Monday, October 20th and is available for pre-order. 

Amazon | B&N | CBD 

#3: The Evergreen Bride

Mississippian Annabelle Denson dreams of visiting cousins in Illinois and seeing a white Christmas. In the face of her excitement, Samuel Frazier hides his growing affection for her behind a quiet smile and a carpenter’s lathe. Samuel starts to worry that if she goes, Annabelle won’t return. Can he convince her to stay?

Free this weekend! Spread the word and grab your e-copy if you haven't already done so because Ruth Logan Herne's highly rated, top-selling indie novel "Running on Empty" is FREE this weekend, and we all know how much we love free stuff! Follow THIS LINK to Amazon and download your free copy and yes... tell your friends! The more the merrier!

Debby Giusti will sign copies of HOLIDAY DEFENDERS, which features her novella, “Mission: Christmas Rescue,” on Wed, OCT 22, from 4-6:30 PM, at Omega Book Center, 100 North Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree City. Proceeds from the signing will benefit Wounded Warriors at Atlanta’s Shepherd Spinal Center, in conjunction with their SHARE Military Initiative. The event is open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. Orders can also be phoned in at 770-487-3977, and autographed copies can be held for pickup or mailed. 

Congratulations to Debby Giusti,  Holiday Defenders:  Mission: Christmas came in at  #38 on the 
Nielsen Bookscan Top 100 Bestselling Romances List for the week ending 10/12/14!!

On Monday, October 20, Seeker Myra Johnson celebrates the release of her newest novel, Every Tear a Memory, as she visits with Dorothy Adamek on the Ink Dots blog. Stop in for some never-before-revealed glimpses into Myra's life! (Don't let your imagination run wild. This is Myra we're talking about here!)

Then hop over to author Sarah Sundin's blog on Wednesday, October 22, for more about Myra's latest release!

Please hop over and join Missy Tippens at Trish Perry's blog, Reading, Writing, and The Stuff In-Between on Monday! There will be an interview as well as a giveaway of Missy's new release from Love Inspired, The Guy Next Door.  

October SALES!!
In honor of Julie Lessman’s latest release, Surprised by Love, her publisher has put the two prior books in the "Heart of San Francisco" series on sale as well, at savings of 66% for Dare to Love Again to 80% for Love at Any Cost, so take advantage!! Here are the links:


Join Julie Lessman on the following blogs for an interview and giveaway of winner's choice of any of her books, including her latest release, Surprised by Love!

October 20 - NOVEMBER 8, 2014:  Creative Madness Mama Blog at

October 20-23, 2014:  Novel Crossing Blog at

October, 2014 (actual date TBA): Relz Reviews Blog at

Several of the Seekers are singing holiday songs already and are sharing their Christmas Novella's!

Hope for the Holidays: Contemporary and Historical Collections. Now available for pre-order!

Pre-order here.

Pre-order here.

Contemporary, featuring Mary Connealy, Audra Harders, Ruth Logan Herne, Sandra Leesmith, Tina Radcliffe and Missy Tippens. 

Historical, featuring Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Myra Johnson and Julie Lessman.

Random News & Information

If you haven't, please consider nominating Seekerville for the 17th Annual Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writer’s Award. Send an email to with “101 Websites” in the subject line. We are an Inspirational Romance Writing Community. 

 Many thanks. 

Your friends at Seekervill

Are Publisher Advances Truly Critical? (Digitial Reader)

Waiting for the pundits to vote on Amazon's new 'Kindle Scout' (Future Book)

How To Be Successful In Self-Publishing (the creative PENN)

Eavesdropping for story ideas and other tips from a veteran novelist (The Book Deal)

Engagement ring prices linked to divorce rates (Fox News)

Book Marketing the Old Way Versus the Way That Works Today—Part 1: Book Reviews (DBW)

Mystery Writers of America and Minotaur Books have teamed up once again to sponsor their 2015 Best First Crime Novel Competition. Writers over the age of 18 who have never had a novel published (in any genre) may enter the contest. Manuscripts must be 65,000 words or longer and must feature murder or another serious crime at the heart of the story.The winner will receive a publishing contract from Minotaur books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) and a $10,000 advance against royalties. The deadline to enter is December 15, 2014. For more details, go here.(Cindi Myers Market News's Blog)

Anatomy of a Cowboy Hero (

More Info Here.

That's it! Have a great reading and writing day!