Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Writing a Romance Series

Writing a Romance Series

Book series are really popular in most genres. Mystery stories, thrillers and even romance novels are often written in serial form. If we love our series characters, they’re fun to write and they sell well, too. That’s enough to give it a try!

The same is true for readers. Memorable primary characters stick in the readers’ minds and they want to read more about them beyond just the first book. Of course, not all romances lend themselves to a series but many do.

In a series, especially in mysteries, the main character is featured in each novel. However, every book can stand alone. Very often, the plot and the romance (if there is one) develop from book to book so it’s clearer if you start reading from the beginning of the series. The author tries to weave in some backstory so the reader understands what’s happened before. This can be a little awkward and might seem like an information dump if we’re not careful.

In a series that may encompass several years, we can see the characters change as they get on with their lives. This draws us in, hooks us and leaves us wanting more stories. One just isn’t enough.

Some readers want to go back and read the first books in the series and that’s great but others would rather read the newer stories. They shouldn’t have to read every book in the series to catch up.

The author must make each book really stand alone so the reader enjoys the story without feeling she needs to read all the previous books in the series in order to make sense of the present story.

This can be tricky and challenging for the writer.

Romantic mysteries
In the romance thread of a mystery, the main characters get to know each other better as they grow closer emotionally and romantically. They often work together or sometimes against each other. The amateur sleuth tends to annoy the professional police detective, although they eventually come to appreciate one another’s abilities and common goals.

Sometimes their romance progresses slowly through book after book which can frustrate the reader. We’re anxious for the hero and heroine to marry and live happily ever after!

In some serials the hero and heroine actually do marry (Molly Murphy and Daniel Sullivan in Rhys Bowen’s series called A Molly Murphy Mystery) and the series continues. However, the conflicts between them don’t stop at the altar.

A little history

Serials became popular during the Victorian era with writers such as Dickens and Dumas. They were published in newspapers and magazines as installments.

Sometimes the writers had finished the stories before they were published but often the author wrote one installment at a time just ahead of publication. These stories were structured like our modern day TV episodes. Each installment or episode has a completed story although the characters and story world are connected. A larger story arc carries through the book, similar to a TV season.

Downton Abbey is a good example. It has romance plots, conflict among the classes, war, conflict among the family and among the servants etc. But the overarching arc is the changing world of the early twentieth century and how people coped with it.

Advantages to writing serials
Every episode can veer off in a new direction. You can write the same events from different viewpoints and you can change character arcs.

As an author you know your world already and you don’t have to change it in every book. The same goes for the leading characters. If you want to alter their character arc you can but you don’t have to. You can develop them slowly or quickly. It’s up to you. You can keep them fresh and interesting by changing their circumstances, physically or emotionally. Or both. There’s a lot of flexibility for the author.

Disadvantages to writing serials
The pressure to write an amazing opening is enormous. You have to create unforgettable characters and a fascinating setting right from the start. It needs to be so memorable the reader automatically picks up the next book in the series.

You must write tight and make sure the hook comes early in the story.

Deadlines come rapidly so you need to write fast.

You resolve the current problem in a series but you leave something unresolved so the reader will look forward to the next story. Obviously, you can’t make her wait too long or she’ll move onto to another series.

When you’re developing a series, plan ahead.
Don’t write by the seat of your pants. Be organized and write down everything you’ll need to remember — the story arc, the character arcs, story world details etc. Create good biographies because you’ll need to refer to them again and again.
Know where your series begins, how it progresses and how you’ll tie up loose ends when it finally concludes. A series may go on and on for several books or you or your readers or your editor may decide it’s time to move to something else.

In a romance series the love story between the hero and heroine normally concludes in a happily ever after ending but it can continue to a new book. A word of caution — keep the release of the novels close together.

Sometimes authors write two books before they publish the first one. Then they’re scrambling to write the second one while readers wait impatiently. It’s a very good idea if you’re a slow writer like me.

If the romance is concluded in book one, then bring forward secondary characters from the first story and make them the new hero and heroine. Readers love to see what’s going to happen to the characters they met at the beginning of the series.

Maybe the best friends of the hero and heroine get together in book two and the former hero and heroine become the new secondary characters and sounding boards. At least give the important characters cameo appearances in subsequent books.

Or maybe each son or daughter in a story about a particular family finds a love interest. Make them active, interesting people and readers will think they all deserve books of their own.

To make a series cohesive, know your theme.

The same theme throughout each story will help you develop your plots and tie each book together. From the first book onward, you make a promise to your readers. In a romance, it’s a central love story that ends with happily ever after.

Even if a romance continues into the second book, the first story should broadly hint that in the end the hero and heroine will come together and marry.
Stick to the genre you begin with. Don’t stray from romance to thriller to fantasy or you’ll confuse and disappoint your readers.

Romance novels have emotionally satisfying endings which reinforces the idea that good people are rewarded and bad people are punished.

Popular romance themes (in addition to the love theme) include adventure, forbidden love, betrayal, faith, forgiveness, family, temptation, good and evil, pursuit and rescue.

Along with the romance, start with one overarching main theme and allow less important subthemes to develop in each book. If you start to go astray, return to your main theme and it’ll help you to get back on track.

What are your favorite romance series and authors? We’re always ready for new books.

If you’d like a chance to receive a $15.00 Starbucks card, please mention it in your comments and leave your e-mail address.

Monday, January 23, 2017

How Not to Get Caught Up in the Past

with guest Rachelle Dekker. 

Memories are a tricky thing. You will be going about your day normally when a smell, or song, or image, or thought will drop from out of nowhere and draw you back to a place you’ve been before. A recollection of a moment lived, either filled with joy or filled with dread. And if the memory is strong enough, it can be hard not to get stuck there. 

People say, “Our pasts are part of what defines us.” The choices we’ve made, the reactions we’ve had, and the roads we’ve traveled. And I would say those people are right, that where we come from is important to where we are currently. But what if your past is haunting you? Can you actually be free of those memories? 

The last couple of years I have been on a journey to really understanding forgiveness. 

Deeper still, how forgiveness relates to identity. How it relates to me. Because one thing has become very clear to me: we are all really good at holding on to the past. 

I am the oldest of four, which means I have three younger siblings with the uncanny ability to remember all the terrible things I did to them when we were young. And trust me, I was a terror. I was the oldest! It was my way or the highway! You know, typical firstborn syndrome. And even though we four are all adults now, and they have grown with me and seen me change and relax, there are still moments when one of them will react to me as if I’m the same bossy 12-year-old sister who threatened to lock them in a closet if they didn’t do what I demanded. 

It’s funny and playful now. They are just teasing me—getting back at me, so to speak—for all the torture, and I know that. But that doesn’t stop the tiny voice inside my head from reciting the familiar lies of shame. You should have done better. Gosh, you really failed at that. You should be ashamed and embarrassed. They’ll never really forgive you for that. You probably know the lies I’m talking about. I’m willing to bet you have a stash of your own.  

Now, let me just say, this isn’t my siblings’ faults. Actually, it has nothing to do with them at all. The problem isn’t with how others view me; the problem is with how I view myself. The issues are within my own mind, within my own perspective of who I am. Because—and I’ll say it again—we are really good at holding on to the past. 

Of course, you probably have relationships with people where a bridge has been burned and regardless of how you’ve tried, they refuse to let the past die. And unfortunately, I have yet to discover a way to make other people forgive you. So let’s set that piece aside and instead focus on what I believe is much stronger: forgiving yourself. 

Forgiving yourself is actually pretty simple. It’s just letting go. Letting go of the past, of the fear, the shame, the lies of doubt. Letting go of the idea that you can be less than, or inadequate. Letting go and returning to the truth of who you are.

I don’t know each of you personally, but I know what follows is true of you all. You are enough, you are capable, you are strong and fearless, you are beautiful and smart and kind, and you are worth more than you believe. I know that’s true of each of you because it is true of me, and we are the same. 

It is surprisingly hard to remember that truth when our minds are clouded with the memories of the past. Because just like I’m sure you are more awesome than you think, I’m also sure that you have the hardest time letting yourself off the hook. And that shapes the way we view ourselves. And the way we view ourselves shapes the way we view the world, but that is probably an idea for another article at a different time.

Today let’s just keep it simple. How do we let go of the past? Of the lies and the memories that haunt us? We practice forgiving ourselves. We practice giving ourselves grace. We practice remembering our worth and value. We practice remembering our truth. If you want to be free, then set yourself free! Let go of the lies of inadequacy and embrace where you are now. In this moment. 

I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason.” So all those moments from before got you here, but you don’t have to live in the past. And those moments that got you here don’t have to define where you are going. We’re in a new year, people! The past is behind us, so leave it behind. 

Imagine if you could embrace each new moment without the baggage of the ones in the past. If you gave yourself grace and forgiveness to step into the new memories free of the lies that held you before. Wouldn’t that be something? 

I believe you can. I believe I can. I’m working on it, at least. Spending a couple moments at the beginning of each day remembering who I am and letting go of the past. The transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and I still get stuck often, but I can feel a change coming! 

What about you? Maybe you’ve been traveling a similar road and have found a way to give yourself grace. I’d love to hear about it. Or maybe you just need somewhere to say, “Yep, that’s me, needing to learn to let it go.” I believe this is a safe place for that too. Speak out! I’ll stand with you wherever you are, because we are all the same.

We’re just learning to let it go and forgive ourselves. Learning to let the past be the past, learning to give ourselves grace, learning to love ourselves. And doing that—well, that might change the world.  

Rachelle Dekker

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Her latest book and the final installment in the Seer series, The Returning, released on January 17, 2017 from Tyndale House Publishers.

Please join Seekerville, as we welcome Rachelle back to celebrate the release of the final book in the Seer series. Leave a comment for an opportunity to win a print copy. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

The Returning

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”—one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned—a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Weekend Edition

Welcome to the Weekend Edition
and our tenth year!
"Look How Far We've Come!"

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

Winner of a $25 Amazon gift card is Wilani.

Monday: Janet Dean chatted about story openings in her post "Hook Readers with Strong Inciting Incident Openings." Vince Mooney won the eBook How to Charm a Beekeeper's Heart and Sandy Smith won the eBook The Substitute Bride. 

Wednesday: Guest blogger Mary Alford talked about "A Never Ending Story – The Sequel." Mary's winner for an ebook copy of Valentine Matchmaker, a collection of nine romantic novellas that includes Mary's book, Marry Me, is Beth F. 

Thursday: Josee Telfer was our special guest with "I am a Writer. Now What?" Kathy Bailey and Barbara Scott are winners of their choice of either Proverbs 31 or "The Lords Prayer," done in pointed pen calligraphy. Printed on thick cardstock, they are ready for framing.

Monday: Rachelle Dekker returns to Seekerville with her post,"How Not to Get Caught Up in the Past." Stop by for a chance to win her latest release, The Returning (The Seer  Series Finale)

Tuesday: Cara Lynn James will talk about Writing A Romance Series.

Wednesday: Tina Radcliffe brings you Asked & Answered Part 4." What is Christian Inspirational Romance?" Stop by and give your opinion and you might win a fantastic giveaway!

Thursday: Sandra Leesmith will join us and show us how to "Show Don't Tell." Writers -comment and show us an example from your WIP(work-in-progress) of a show instead of tell and be eligible for a ten-page critique of your current WIP. Readers can comment and give an example of something they've read that shows instead of tells and win an available Seeker ebook. 

Friday: Best of the Archives by Tina Radcliffe: "Overcoming Goldilocks Syndrome." Comments are closed on Fridays so we all can focus on writing and reading!

Tina Radcliffe is visiting Just Commonly's blog to talk about humor in her post, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Becoming a Writer." Stop by for a double giveaway and a good joke or two! January 25th! 

2-BOOK GIVEAWAY! Win two signed paperback books in a Facebook Flash Giveaway on Tuesday, January 24 at Julie’s FB Author Page. 

Have you read any of Becky Wade's award-winning Porter Family series?  Here's your chance to grab one for free ALONG WITH your choice of a paperback or e-book of any of Julie's Isle of Hope series.  To enter, simply leave a comment on Julie’s FB author page under the Becky/Julie pic. Sorry, U.S residents only.

Debby Giusti invites her Seekerville friends to join her at two delightful reader events.

Romancing the Smokies 
March 17 - 18. Knoxville, TN
A getaway weekend filled with authors, readers, books, yummy food and lots of fun! 

Love Our Readers' Luncheon

Atlanta Metro Area, February 11, 2017.

A delightful luncheon with your favorite authors! Reserve your seat at Debby's table!

Thanks for the link love!

Using a Calendar to Storyboard Your Novel (The Write Conversation)

Have You Seen Kinder Guides? - Early Learning Guides to Culture Classics (Kinder Guides)

How to describe: Writing clear places and characters (Now Novel)

The Most Common Manuscript Malfunctions (and How to Avoid Them) (Helping Writers Become Authors)

Ditch the Pitch (Books & Such Literary Management)

Coming in February, get a peek at the Seekers’ writing spaces! Are we neatniks, messies, or somewhere in between? Do we write at a desk, in a recliner, on the porch, or on the road? Computer or longhand? Mac or PC? 

And if you’re really brave, you’re invited to share photos of your own writing spaces! Submit your pix to seekers@seekerville.net no later than January 31. As space permits, we may include a few of them on the blog. Others will be posted on the Seekerville Facebook page—yes, for all the world to see!!! 

No fair sprucing up your writing space just for the photo—this is strictly “come as you are”!

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

Best of the Archives: Eroticism & Evocatism: Two "E's" at Odds

A version of this post was originally published on March 11, 2010


HAH! Got your attention, didn’t I???

Oh my stars, the very thought of Ruthy doing a column on eroticism vs. evocatism should have drawn hordes to the port harbor buyin’ tickets for the fast ferry, all fired up wonderin’ what Seekerville’s got going on today!!!

Two “E’s” at odds, that’s what I’m talkin’ about, baby.

Let’s talk evocative first. Come on, humor me. Save the hotsy-totsy stuff for last,  a typical bait and switch tactic.

Evoking emotion…

I love doing this, or attempting to do this. When you read great novels, very few must detail explicit scenes of war, brutality, sex, deprivation or torture to make you ‘feel’ the protagonist’s experience. Why is that?

Because the author is skilled at evoking the feelings tweaking the five senses. By doing that, the author builds the image in your mind like a well-made tiramisu. On its own, each layer is good but not great. Used together to form a multi-layered dessert, the result is oh-my-goodness-gracious-sakes-to-Betsy wonderful. Too delicious for words. Crème brulee is another example. If anyone told you that burnt caramel covered custard would be to-die-for wonderful, would you have believed them?


But one taste of those melded flavors slipping over the lips, awakening a sleepy palate, teasing a tired tongue and you understand the subtleties of evoking an inborn feeling.

Link to Home on the Range on Amazon

Sex is great. What an amazingly wonderful, totally human gift from God and I’m going out on a limb here and thanking him for it right now because (as my friend Jules examples and believes) passion for love, romance and God are not at odds. God designed us, created us, and gifted us with a wonderful means of loving procreation that we refer to as sex.

Only it’s so much more than that and that’s where the difference lies between the two “E’s”.

Sex just is. And in that simplistic meaning, it’s everywhere, a virtual explosion of sexuality and sensuality that hit mid-sixties and hasn’t abated.

Can you say: BORING!!!!

For the most part.

But romance….


I love it. Breathe it. Drink it in. And when you’ve experienced true romance, true love, true communion of spirits, that “Aw….” moment is magnified beyond belief.

Now lots of people can’t buy into this readily. I get that. I also get that different strokes for different folks is real. One author does not a library make, it takes a village and all that.

But if we flip to the word erotic, the images that come to mind are not the warm, romantic, sensitive and sensual things I look for in a romance. Regardless of how good the author is, if they get too graphic or make sex too common, I’m disillusioned because a good plot line doesn’t need that much gratuity.

The more a writer needs to explain, the less important the explanation and that goes for sex, war, violence, etc. Now I know not everyone will agree with this, and that’s okay. But when I look at the feelings evoked by Harper Lee, I see, taste and feel that Southern community, the bonds of family, the scourge of racism, the heat of the moment, the time, the place.


When I re-read Christy, I see a young woman’s quest for maturity and love grow hand-in-hand without a naked body in sight. Catherine Marshall embraces me with her story, her characters, her grace and hope, totally investing me in Christy and Fairlight, the good doctor and Miss Alice…

I don’t get those same warm fuzzies when I see a billboard for Debbie Does Dallas. Just doesn’t cut it.

Julie wondered out loud if I’d be comparing her work to mine today. Good gracious, no. Love, desire and passion are part of romance, they’re intricately interwoven, they’re a package deal. Without that internal desire to create an external bond, we ladies might never catch us a man…

Menfolk are tricky creatures and when you finally get a moth to hang around your flame, it’s important that the moth be really, truly fired up and fireproof. Julie takes her characters and readers by the heart and throat and invests the reader in their lives by having her heroes and heroines jump off the page with emotion. Ah, to be loved like that! Desired like that! Doesn’t every woman want a man who is strong enough to stand by her but entrenched enough to be that moth to her flame?

Have you seen Lord of the Dance? (Take a moment for a silent, communal "YUM" here for Michael Flatley in a leotard... I'm just sayin'...) The dance where Michael is tempted by the gorgeous strumpet in black as she does her come hither dance for him, wanting to woo him away from the gal in… (of course!!!) white…

And as the raven-haired tart struts her stuff, he realizes that while her moves tempt, his heart is bonded to another, a woman whose pure grace shows from within, the kind that bears the light of his children in her eyes. If Flatley can wordlessly impart that story in three short minutes using nothing but body language, how much easier it should be for us to weave those words into an embracing, evocative story of love and grace.

And as always, I talk too much!!!! Coffee’s on! I nipped some of Sandra’s chocolate velvet yesterday while she was hiking some old prospector’s trail with the dog and I have Tim Horton’s manning the cappuccino bar and supplying us with donuts, tarts, bagels, cream cheese, eggs and ham. The guys and gals at Tim’s totally rock the big Kahuna.

This excerpt is from one of my first Love Inspireds, a great story titled "Waiting Out the Storm"... it got 4 1/2 Stars from Romantic Times (I miss their reviews!) and it's still a reader favorite...

Waiting Out the Storm, a Hatfield/McCoy type romance set in the North Country… There's a criminal history between the two families and that only gets magnified in small towns...

They reached the gate. Craig watched as Sarah maneuvered the hooked handle to allow their exit, then affixed the closures to reconnect the circuit. Free of the fence, Skeeter launched herself at him. He swept her up and planted a kiss on her soft cheek. “You smell good.”

“Aunt Sarah let me use her special lotion. We smell just the same,” the child bragged.

Craig leaned forward until his face brushed Sarah’s hair. He drew a long, slow breath. Stepping back, he smiled at her nonplussed expression. “You both smell wonderful.”

“Thank you.” The child dimpled and squirmed at the compliment. Sarah didn’t, but she didn’t look combative, either. An improvement, perhaps?

“It has a pretty name, too,” Skeeter prattled on. “What was it, Aunt Sarah?” Turning, the child offered her question with no trace of guile.

Sarah blushed. He smiled to see it, watching deeper tones canvas her tawny cheeks once more. Her discomfort made her seem younger. Less secure. Watching her, he decided it wasn’t a feeling she’d had much experience with. “Spill it, Sarah. What’s it called?”

She bit her lip and glanced away, then drew an exasperated breath. Turning back, she met his gaze, reluctant. “Meadow Romance.”

He grinned and softened his expression. “Really?” Surveying her, he stayed silent, allowing the seconds to mount. Her hands tugged the side seams of her jeans as he bent, inhaling deeply. “Perfect.”

“Well.” She stepped back, clasping her hands. “I’ve got work.”

He nodded, still holding Skeeter. “I’ll walk you to the door.”

“It’s right there.” Her look indicated the short distance between them and the house. Her tone said she wanted to be rid of him.

“We can’t let it be said that the prince left the princesses unprotected with dragons about, can we?”

“Oh, no.” Skeeter’s pigtails danced. “The ground could be,” she paused, searching for words. “Fraught with danger. Hidden traps, destined to foil the bravest knight.”

“Arthurian?” He hiked a brow to Sarah, indicating he was pretty certain the first grader hadn’t come up with that line on her own. “I would have expected Three Sisters. Brother Eagle.”

“Legends and fairy tales cross cultural boundaries,” Sarah informed him, her gaze flicking up to his. When it did, he felt a surge of warmth. Delicious. Delightful. Wonderfully surprising.

“Tell me more.”

She made it up the first step, putting her almost at eye level. Looking startled by his sudden proximity, she advanced another stair, lengthening the distance. “I have to go.”

“Of course.” Still smiling, he set Skeeter down. “Thanks for walking with me, girls.”

“We didn’t,” Sarah protested, her brow knit. “We—”

“Yes?” He angled his head, holding her gaze, keeping his look aimed at her.

She was bothered, that was plain enough. Frustrated, maybe? Aggravated, annoyed, perturbed? Absolutely.


A good possibility. But wishing she weren’t. Stepping back, he knew he’d hit the nail on the head but hadn’t a clue what to do about it. Slocums and Macklins were fire and water, oil and vinegar. Not a good mix.

I've been blessed to write a lot of books... and I'm amazed at how the market jumps and dives, but I find there is no big secret to this job... there's just good old-fashioned hard work... Write a great book. Then keep on doing it. With so many options available to today's author, the only thing standing between you and success is... you.

Go get 'em.

Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne loves her job, she's having the time of her life, and if she's not creating a delightfully fun and poignant new story, she's thinking about doing it... because she loves her job! Find her on facebook at Ruth Logan Herne, visit her website and check her out @Twitter as @RuthLoganHerne.... She loves God, her family, coffee, chocolate, cute kids, puppies and kittens and writing sweet stories that make people laugh... and cry.

As a reminder, comments are closed today so we can focus on writing... and it's mid-January, my friends! ONLY TWO MORE MONTHS OF WINTER!!!! :)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Am a Writer! Now What?

with guest Josee Telfer.

This past May, I turned to my husband as he drove our family to Costco and said, very matter-of-factly, “I’m going to write a book.” He nodded and replied, “Sounds good. Should we get cheese?”

My husband’s response was appropriate, given my history. You see, the dreamer in me thinks up new businesses to start every month. I’ve held job titles ranging from “high school Spanish teacher,” and “Realtor,” to “Interior Designer,” and “Calligrapher.” I’ve blogged, owned an Etsy shop, and written for a bridal magazine. I enjoyed every job, though some more than others. Still, I knew…I hadn’t found “the one.”

Sure, I sometimes declared, “One day, I’m going to write a book!” But who hasn’t said that? Reading was always a favorite pastime, but after having kids, books became reserved for vacations. When I was pregnant with my third baby, I didn’t sleep well and read to combat the insomnia. Then my husband bought me a Kindle. 

I read voraciously, typically three to four novels per week. Especially appealing were inspirational romance, historical romance, and women’s fiction with a heavy dose of romance. The more I read, the more I discerned what I enjoyed in a novel. I found myself often thinking “I wish there was a book like this…” and would imagine a story. I’d pick up a new book, hoping it would match what was in my head, but couldn’t find it anywhere. That was my first clue, though I didn’t know it at the time.
It wasn’t long before I had a unique cast of characters living in my head. I knew what they looked like, what their quirks were, even the sounds of their voices. I had detailed scenes, and dialogue for days. The voices were getting louder and were demanding something…but what? Clue number two, but still, I was clueless.

It was like a bolt of lightning hit me that day in the car with my husband. My “Aha!” moment, to quote Oprah. After we came home and unloaded the groceries, I sat down at my desk and started typing. I worked right through dinner while my family feasted on rotisserie chicken and continued writing late into the night. The next morning, I woke up before dawn and began again. Every spare minute I had, I wrote. It felt SO GOOD to get the story down on paper.

A few days later, after I had written a particularly moving scene, I stared at my laptop and whispered, “I’m a writer.” I looked around the room to see if anyone had heard me. Could it be true? If it was, then what was my next step? I prayed, asking God for direction.  The next day I stumbled upon Seekerville and met some amazing women who mentored and guided me.

By Labor Day, I had finished my first novel, Grasping Hope, coming in around 60,000 words. I entered a few contests, became a finalist in two of them, and as of today, won first place in one. 

People hear you’re a writer and the first thing they ask is “Ooooh, where can I buy your book?” Funny you should ask, I’m working on that. 

There is just so much to say on this topic but my advice can be summed up in five words: Write, Read, Educate, Engage, Pray. W.R.E.E.P. You WREEP what you sow. These aren’t listed in any particular order of importance, though I found that extensive reading and prayer were the catalysts for my writing to flourish.

*Write. In order to be a writer, you must write. Your writing time is sacred. Set a goal for a number of words to write per day and stick to it at least five, if not six days a week. Get a room with a door. Close the door. Write. Repeat.

*Read. Just as I wouldn’t trust a chef who didn’t enjoy food, I’m wary of a writer who never reads. Read all kinds of books, especially in your genre. We typically write what we love to read so what’s on your bookshelf?

*Educate yourself. Study books on the writing craft, analyze best-selling and award-winning books, read blogs, enter contests for feedback, study the publishing market. There’s so much to learn and always room to improve.

*Engage. No one is an island. Connect with writers, authors, bloggers, editors, and agents. Leave a comment. Say “Hi.” Introduce yourself. It’s never been easier. Social media may have its downside, but it’s an incredible resource for putting your name out there and seeking advice. You also need to start building your audience, even if you’re not yet published. Put up a website, pick one or two social media outlets that you enjoy and use them. 

*Pray. I no longer say “God, how am I going to do this?” Now, I tell him “I can’t wait to see how you’re going to do this!” Seek his guidance and praise him with a humble and grateful heart. 

I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. But, I decided, I don’t need to. Who knows what they’re doing when they’re starting something brand new? We all learn as we go. We stumble, fall, get back up and try again. 

There is much I need to learn but this I know: I am a writer. There’s a fire burning in my belly and at the risk of sounding cliché, I feel like a butterfly popped out of her cocoon. It’s humbling and exciting to be doing what I know I was born to do. I’m pounding the pavement toward publication and with determination and God’s grace, I’ll get there.

I’d LOVE to know, what was your “aha” moment, when you knew you were a writer? 

Josee Telfer is an award-winning, contemporary romance author. Those words still feel surreal to her but she loves them! She hails from Québec, Canada and immigrated to the United States where she grew up in southern Connecticut. Today, Josee makes her home in Vermont with her husband and their three children. She spends her time at hockey rinks cheering on her boys, feeding her teenager and playing Barbies with her daughter. Admittedly, she doesn’t know much except this: God is good. All the time. You can find her at her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Josee has a very special giveaway! Two winners will get their choice of either Proverbs 31 or "The Lords Prayer," done in pointed pen calligraphy. Printed on thick cardstock and ready for framing. Leave a comment to get entered in this giveaway. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.