Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Perfect Place to Write

Sandra here with a steaming pot of chocolate velvet coffee and some lovely hot chocolate with whipped cream. Come chat and let’s talk about the best place to write.

Bigstock photo

Years ago, when I took a sabbatical from teaching and wrote some novels, I arranged my life to what I thought was the perfect set up for writing. My office was pristine, quiet and I had all day to myself. I had cleared all responsibilities, hubby was at work all day and I had no interruptions.

Guess what?  It was horrible. All of a sudden I had nothing to write about. I wasted an incredible amount of time. With no structure and responsibilities, time can just dwindle away. You know the old adage: "If you want something to get done, ask a busy person." Well in my case that is true.

Right now, hubby and I are taking advantage of our good health and our freedom and are living in our RV.  The kicker is, we are staying in an RV Resort for 55 plus and it is only 17 miles from our house.  Is that hysterical?  We get the strangest looks when all the other residents from Canada, The Pacific Northwest, the Northern Midwest, etc. ask us where we are from.   (btw we call them snowbirds)

A Tower Point snowbird dressed for Halloween party

Well our response is “We don’t go home because there are chores.” There is yard work at home and none in the RV resort. (Okay, I might have to sweep off the patio once in awhile) It takes four to six hours to clean the house. And something about the motorhome being a vehicle, hubby helps clean it. Once a week, we invite someone over and then he pitches in and we have a clean motorhome in less than half an hour.

Goldfish pond in the entrance way to Tower Point RV Resort

And the other response is, “This place is like Disneyland for adults.”  And it is.  There are hundreds of activities here. We could participate in one every hour 24/7 and still not do everything.  But Tower Point RV Resort is really a fun place to be. Check it out. Click on the webpage and see the list. Now doesn’t that sound like a hoot?

So you might ask, “How on earth do you get any writing done?” Surely if you live there, you aren’t going to have time to write.

Well, actually, living here stimulates my writing.

For one thing, I save hours a day by not having to drive to places. I bicycle to the pickleball courts, which saves me forty five minutes every day. (Forty five minutes to write)

Pickleball courts, Bocce ball and horse shoes in the back.

I bicycle to the pool and spa every day, which is only a block away. From my house it is a two-mile bicycle ride one way to the YMCA. So that saves me an hour.

I have my choice of three or four Bible studies and I can pick a time I don’t like to write, like the evening. And I don’t have to drive there either.

With all this free time, residents get involved in a lot of philanthropic activities. There are drives for all kinds of charities. One of my favorites is Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan Purse. You fill shoeboxes with gifts for children and Samaritan Purse sends them all over the world. I have been doing this for years. One of the residents here collects the boxes so that saves me the time that I used to take to find a drop off center and the long trip there to deliver the shoe boxes.

I go to crafts workshops and make my Christmas presents instead of having to go out and spend hours shopping. (I really dislike shopping btw). Right now I’m taking stain glass workshops and am making some lovely stained glass window hangings for Christmas.  (Sure hope my family doesn’t read this blog. LOL)

I still can't believe I made this - smile

And there are always happy hours, social activities, programs, plays, and just visiting with the people around here.

They have live bands and dancing by the pool every evening

So guess what?  I have more time to write.  And I have tons to write about because all of these people from so many different places have really interesting life stories and do they ever love to talk about them. Every time there is an event, we meet more people.

Living in an RV resort is not only great for writing but it also is great for reading. The time savers I use for writing, are great times to read. One of our Seeker friends, Marianne Barkman and her mother are snowbirds from Canada and they fly south to stay in a Senior Resort similar to the one we are in. In fact, hubby and I stayed at her resort, Pueblo El Mirage  for a short visit last spring.

Here is what Marianne told me:  I would have to say that many of the things Sandra has pointed out about the RV community being a great place to write also holds true for me as a reader. Although I don't get inspired in quite the same way as a writer does, in a close community of active seniors, mostly, I get lots of book recommendations from my friends and since where I am, we have an extensive library, as well as access to more, I have found many new authors. Having less responsibilities in the way of housework and yard work helps. There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting in the sun with a good book and a cup of coffee, chatting with friends as they walk by.

Marianne reading in her lovely park model home.

So what is the perfect set-up for you to write?  What is the perfect set-up for you to read?

In reality, we all have to make it work where we are at, don’t we?  Hubby wants to be in an RV resort, so I look for the good side and I found it.

An Arizona sunsset at Tower Point RV Resort

When I was working, I used to write in the morning before work and then take the bus to work and edit what I wrote while riding the bus. That saved time and it made the commute into the city much more interesting.

Hubby is a night owl and likes to stay up late at night. Because of that, he loves to nap in the afternoon. This is the perfect time for me to write. It is quiet. I have been stimulated with good exercise and fellowship. And I get right to it. (no pun intended - smile)

So let’s talk about other ways to set up the perfect writing situation.

What works for you?

What doesn’t work?

Those who comment and share will have their names put in the cat dish to win a surprise package from Arizona.

This surprise package is to celebrate my latest release: Love's Dream Song which is available on Amazon and is set in Arizona's amazing color country. A second winner will receive an ebook or print copy of Love's Dream Song.

Before you go, Sandra wants to jump up on her soapbox for a minute. Christmas is coming and I want to remind you that autographed books make delightful gifts. We are writers. We need to support our industry. Go to your local author groups and get signed books to give as gifts. If you see an author's book in the store that you know, buy it for a friend. Support the authors in your community and buy their books as gifts. A book is a priceless gift. It not only is a lovely present to unwrap, but it opens up a whole new world for your family members and friends. Happy shopping.

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.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tigger, The Muffin Man, and Me

By Pam Hillman

Tigger bounced into the front office, hand outstretched, an infectious grin on his face. “How are you today, Ms. Johnnie?”

The receptionist couldn’t help but respond to his energetic step, his jovial manner, and his wide grin. He even kind of looked like a Tigger. He was tall and lanky and middle-aged, and just bouncy. But the similarity ended there. He was a cardboard box salesman.

But he acted like a Tigger, and he brought a smile to the entire office as he peddled his wares. And over the years it became apparent that he wasn’t friendly and bouncy and interested in us just to sell boxes. No-siree!

He genuinely cared about people.

These two adorable babies aren't Tigger, but goodness, if anything reminds me of Tigger, they do!

One time my husband had a life-threatening injury that kept him in the hospital for ten days. Tigger dropped by the office while I was out. He was so concerned for my husband (whom he had never met), that he got the number to the hospital and called to check on us. You don’t forget Tiggers like that. I haven’t seen Tigger in several years, but I will never forget him, and I’ll always think of him as Tigger, and when I do, I will smile.

The Muffin Man was another one of our favorite salesmen. I dubbed him The Muffin Man because he brought us to-die-for muffins from The Beagle Bagel Café.


They were the size of dinner plates and so moist, they just melted in your mouth. One would hold you all day…if you could manage to stop at just one. If The Muffin Man visited in the morning, forget about lunch. I just skipped the healthy stuff altogether and ate a Beagle Bagel Café blueberry muffin with a fresh-brewed cup of coffee. Yum!

The Muffin Man shared pictures of his beautiful daughters, his latest hunting escapades, and his turkey calls and always asked about my boys. Eventually we got around the purpose of his visit, talking about stainless steel.

Good men, good salesmen who took the time to get to know their customers, who sometimes came bearing gifts, and always came bearing smiles, the gift that keeps on giving.

I’ve met more Tiggers, Muffin Men, and friendly Winnie the Pooh types over the years, but I’ve met a few Eeyore types as well. Don’t get me wrong, Eeyore is so cute and cuddly, and we want to fix him, and make him feel better about life.

But in real life, having an Eeyore around who never, ever has a good thing to say about anything would put a damper on things for sure. I don’t know about you, but I like to be encouraged. A bit of encouragement goes a long way. But on the flip side, discouragement and a toxic attitude does as well.

The very un-remarkable un-memorable salesman who replaced Tigger was the exact opposite of Tigger. He talked slow, he walked slow, and he acted like he was selling something as bland and unappetizing as a cardboard box. Well, he was selling boxes, but still, he was the closest thing to an Eeyore salesman that I’ve ever seen. I literally dreaded to see him coming. No personality, no excitement about anything. Just ho-hum, do ya wanna-buy-a-box boring.

Now, I’ll be honest. Having a hard-core Tigger bouncing around me all the time would drive me insane, but on the flip side, I’d go bonkers and have to be in a strait-jacket with Eeyore as a side-kick as well. In the words of Goldilocks, I relate more to someone with a “just right” personality. Maybe someone more like Pooh Bear.

If our attitude is so easily swayed in one direction or another by someone else, then it stands to reason that others react to our attitude the same way. One character can be swayed by another. Our readers can be swayed by our characters. A good story has a well-rounded cast of characters, some Tiggers, Eeyores, Pooh Bears, Piglets, and even a few Muffin Men. Are the Tiggers in your story that way simply because it’s his personality? Is there an underlying reason Eeyore seems depressed all the time?

Those characters need concrete reasons for being that way. So give ‘em reasons. And your readers will love your stories just as much as they love Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Weekend Edition

This weekend we're going back into the archives for some of our favorite inspirational writerly quotes to make you smile. There's also two bags of reads to give away to a reader and/or writer-two winners. Leave a comment with your favorite inspirational quote this weekend.

We Have Winners

Giveaway rules can be found here. Please drop us a line to claim your giveaway at seekers@seekerville.net. All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books! And P.S. - if we forget to send  your prize DO let us know after 8 weeks per our rules.

Weekend Edition celebrating the release of Myra Johnson's new Love Inspired contemporary romance, Rancher for the Holidays. Winner is Heidi Robbins. 

On Monday  Janet Dean talked about alpha heroes, those hard-nosed, strong-minded, dangerous men that are fun to write. But when they threaten the heroine, readers are likely to be upset. And the heroine can't fall in love with a jerk. Janet shared some tips for softening the alpha hero in her post “Tips for Making the Alpha Hero Lovable.” Marianne Barkman is the winner of The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption, LIH, January 2016.

  USA TODAY bestselling author, Rachel Hauck returned to Seekerville Tuesday, with her post, "The Beauty of the Reader." This was release day for The Wedding Chapel!   To celebrate the release of this RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 Star Top Pick there are copies to give away! Breeze Henke is the winner of a print copy and Rachel McDaniel is the winner of an ecopy!

  Debby Giusti promised something intriguing with her  Wednesday blog post "Mission Impossible."  KC Frantzen is the winner of her latest release, Person of Interest, along with a surprise gift.

Thursday we we're delighted to welcome back New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell to Seekerville. She shared a thoughtful post, "Imperfect People. Imperfect Christians." The two winners of their choice of an ecopy of When Mountains Move or Into the Free are Vince and Terrie Coleman.

Next Week In Seekerville

Monday: When people see you coming, do they already wish you were going? Pam Hillman talks about the Tiggers and Eeyores in our lives and how to be an encourager in spite of our Eeyore tendencies.

Tuesday: Sandra Leesmith will talk about the "Perfect Place to Write."  Join her and discuss what works for you. Commenters will receive a surprise box of Arizona goodies in honor of her latest release, Love's Dream Song.

Wednesday: Helen Gray is back in Seekerville today, with her post,"Row, Row, Row Your Boat." The keeper of the coffee urn has been busy and she's got a new series out. One commenter can win a copy of Bootheel Bride, the first book in that series.

Thursday: Seekerville is Closed to Give Thanks

Friday: Best of the Archives: Featuring Myra Johnson and a reprise of her December 2009 post on staying motivated during the busy holiday season. Comments are closed so you can enjoy a day of reading, writing, or whatever is on your agenda.

Seeker Sightings

"Come on, Jack, I dare you ..." And Julie Lessman dares YOU to check out the website page for her new contemporary, Isle of Hope, where you will find celebrity pix for her hero and heroine, Jack O'Bryen and Lacey Carmichael, reviewer's quotes, book quotes, excerpts, the first chapter of Isle of Hope, AND a contest to have a character named after you in her next book, along with a signed copy. So here's the ISLE OF HOPE link, and GOOD LUCK!!


Random News & Information

Congratulations to the 2015 ACFW First Impressions Finalists (with a special shout out to Seekerville friends Janet Ferguson, Susan Hollaway, Jennifer Smith & Tanya Agler).

Business Musings: Getting in Touch (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)

10 Top Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Book Publicist (BookBub Partners)

A Visit to the Amazon Bookstore (Bookriot)

20 Powerful Marketing Words & Phrases That Sell or Repel (Vertical Response Blog)

The Fatal Flaw in Weak Descriptions (Jane Friedman)

 NaNoWriMo: 5 Steps to building the right SCENE FOUNDATION (MyBookTherapy)

 How to Go #BeyondMarketing on Twitter (PR By the Book)

 How to Write Through Trout Syndrome and Electric Shocks (Writer Unboxed)

 Understanding Copyrights for Anthologies (Writers in the Storm)

Writing And Editing Fiction: 7 Things To Fix In Your First Self-Edit (The Creative Penn)

10 Online Writing Tools to Make Your Experience Nice and Smooth (Where Writers Win)

Romance Writers of America is proud to announce the special speakers for RWA2016 in San Diego, California, July 13–16, 2016. Click here.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Best of the Archives: Handling the Letdowns

Myra Johnson
Myra here, welcoming you to another "Best of the Archives" Friday. Today's post originally appeared on August 12, 2008, but dealing with rejections, harsh critiques, and other writing disappointments is a fact of this life that isn't going away.

If you're struggling with how to handle your latest disappointment, I hope you'll find some encouragement in this post, along with helpful advice about facing those negative feelings and doing something positive instead.


A few weeks ago the local newspaper ran a feature describing do’s and don’ts for dealing with the breakup of a relationship. It struck me that some of these (or variations thereof) could also apply when we get a rejection, bad review, or painful contest critique. Here are Myra’s suggestions for handling the inevitable writing disappointments:
  • Do not, under any circumstances, make any life-altering decisions (such as throwing out your computer or burning all your manuscripts) until at least two weeks have passed. If you still don’t have any perspective, wait another two weeks. Or a month. Or a year.
  • Stay away from sharp objects. (Ask my kids about this one if you dare!)
  • Don’t post a YouTube video of you dissing the editor/agent/judge/reviewer.
  • Don’t send a hate e-mail or text message. Even anonymously. Tech experts have ways of finding out who you are. Just watch CSI or NCIS if you don’t believe me.
  • If you must blog about your disappointment, thoroughly disguise the details and certainly don’t name names! The Internet has a long, l-o-o-o-o-n-g memory. Better yet, avoid any kind of Internet-related commentary. Eat chocolate until the urge passes.
  • Don’t badmouth editors, agents, or fellow writers to your writers group. You will be the one who ends up looking like Miss (or Mr.) Whiny-Pants.
  • Vent only to someone you are absolutely 310% positive would never, ever reveal a confidence, even if tortured with chocolate deprivation or offered a three-book contract if only she will reveal your secrets. And then think twice about it.
  • Mailing anthrax will get you 20 years to life. Mailing chocolate makes friends. Unless it melts.
  • Don’t try to change your detractor’s mind with pleading, wheedling, begging, or threats. See chocolate advice above.
  • If you run into this person at a writers conference, be polite, friendly, and professional. Your reputation is on the line at this point, not theirs. You never know who may be watching. Like maybe the agent who was seconds away from signing you.
  • Send a gracious thank-you note, no matter how badly you’re hurting. As the Bible says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you” (Prov. 25:21-22). If not with a six-figure contract offer, at least with enough $$ to buy yourself a grande mocha latte.
Okay, readers, anything you’d add to the list? Any blunders you’d like to confess? Any public apologies you feel compelled to make, anonymously or otherwise?

While you’re thinking about it, I’ll pass around this mega-sized box of Godiva chocolates I just opened. Help yourselves . . . especially anyone I may have inadvertently whined about at some point in my career.


Comments are closed today! 
Enjoy the post and spend the day writing and reading.
- See more at: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2015-11-07T00:00:00-05:00#sthash.zj38DUK4.dpuf
Comments are closed today.
Enjoy the post and spend the day writing and reading!

(And if you happen to pick up one of my latest releases, 
I would be very, very happy!)


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Imperfect People. Imperfect Christians.

with guest blogger Julie Cantrell.

When I was younger, I looked at the members of my church as fine, upstanding Christian folks. They were the morally upright. The light in the darkness. The clean, sober, freshly-pressed, Rated-G version of humanity. And that was the way we were all supposed to behave. Christ-like. Holy. Sinless. 

But then I grew up, and I realized that all those shiny, perfect people were not so perfect after all. Some were closet drinkers and backyard swearers. Others were wife beaters and porn addicts. A few were substance abusers. A lot were cheaters, liars, and cons. None were without sin.

Some had no more love in their hearts than the devil himself. And this realization left a sour taste in my mouth for the church. Were Christians a bunch of hypocrites? Shouting Amen on Sunday morning after all commandments had been broken the other six days of the week? If so, I wanted nothing to do with such falsities and bigotry. I turned away from the church for many years, and my stomach churned each time I’d hear a Hallelujah!

But then I grew up some more. And I came full circle. I came to realize that, yes, our pews are filled with imperfect people. We are sinners, all of us. Some drinkers, some cheaters, some liars, some abusers, but what a wonderful thing that the church opens its doors to such messy, broken, lost souls every week!

We are, in fact, broken and lost. The whole bunch of us. Even those of us who think we have it all figured out. We are seekers. We are all still searching for answers, truth, hope. For love.

As I’ve matured beyond the age during which I judged those well-intentioned hypocrites in the pews, I’ve come to accept a hard truth about myself. I’m not perfect either. I’m a sinner too. 

I may not have a porn addiction. I may not abuse drugs. I may not steal or cheat or beat my loved ones. But I fail daily to live as Christ intended us to live. I make mistakes and missteps, and for that I need a daily dose of Grace.

I do sometimes hurt people with my words, even if I don’t mean my sentences to be interpreted that way. I sometimes exaggerate, even when I intend to be completely honest. And I have been known to raise my voice when I get pushed too far. I always feel like a horrible human being when I yell at someone I love. It is horrible. It’s beyond horrible. I know better. I want to do better. But sometimes,  I yell. 

Maybe this means I have no right to sit in that pew on Sunday mornings at the Oxford University United Methodist Church. Maybe that bad word I let slip last week is enough to have me banned. Maybe that comment I made to my best friend tilted just a little too much into the realm of gossip, and for that, I have no right to call myself a Christian. Maybe that second scoop of ice cream made me a glutton. Yes, I’m sure. It did.

Where do we draw the line? 

I want and I NEED to be in that pew not because I am perfect. But because I am IMPERFECT. I am flawed and flailing and I need all the help I can get as I carry this little soul through this great big world. 

Life is hard, and if it hasn’t swept the floor out from under you yet, just wait. It will. Why?
Because that’s what this journey is about. We suffer. And in the suffering, we discover our true selves. We ache and we lose and we grieve and we struggle, and it is in that horrifically painful crucifixion of our souls that we get to choose. We can choose God (love), and therefore be redeemed. Renewed. Reborn. Or we can chose hate (evil), in which case we stay lost. Dead. Empty.

To every lying, cheating, stealing, drinking, drugging, gambling, back-talking, foul-mouthed, hateful-hardened soul, I hope to see you in church this Sunday. And I hope you’ll choose love. 

And to all you perfect people who never have sinned, I hope you’ll welcome us there with a great, big soulful Hallelujah. And I hope you’ll chose love, too.


Let’s chat: How has your view of the church changed throughout your life? Have you ever been discouraged by the church community? Encouraged? Do you view organized religion in a positive or negative light? Why?

Today Seekerville is honored to give two readers the chance to read their choice of an ecopy of Into the Free or When Mountains Move. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

In January, The Feathered Bone releases. You can preorder it today!

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They're soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She has contributed to more than a dozen books in addition to her two children’s books and award-winning novels.

Her debut novel, Into the Free, received the Christy Award for Book of the Year (2013) as well as the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. It earned a rare starred review by Publishers Weekly and was selected as one of five finalists for the University of Mississippi Common Reading Experience 2014. It also was selected as a Best Read of the year by LifeWay, USA TODAY, and many bookclubs. 

Cantrell’s sophomore novel, When Mountains Move, is the sequel to her debut. Since its release in September 2013, it has been named a 2013 Best Read by LifeWay, was shortlisted for several awards, and won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will release January 2016.

Learn more:
Website: www.juliecantrell.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliecantrellauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieCantrell

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mission Impossible…or Quality vs Quantity

By Debby Giusti

If you’re like me, you’ve probably grappled with the Quality vs Quantity question. At first, my focus was on improving the quality of my writing. I studied craft and worked to ensure my stories had all the key facets that would make them shine. After writing a number of books, my pace increased, although quality was still more important to me than my rate of production.

Some of you may remember a study on the quantity/quality issue (ART & FEAR, David Bayles and Ted Orland, Image Continuum, 1993) I referenced in a previous blog. An art instructor divided her students into two groups. One group was told to work on only one piece of art during the entire semester. That piece of art would be submitted at the end of class for a grade. In the other section, the students were told to produce as much art as they could in the same time period. Those who created numerous works of art ended up with higher grades, and their work was far superior to the group that spent all semester on one project. From the study, it’s easy to deduce that increasing production, or quantity, also improves quality.

One of my writing goals this year has been to increase my production. In keeping with that goal, I wrote two novellas for the Seeker collections, in addition to my contracted Love Inspired Suspense stories. The deadlines kept me focused and on track, and the novellas provided a refreshing change of pace between the longer stories. The only setback came when the story line for my September 2016 book took longer than usual to develop. For whatever reason, the characters wouldn’t cooperate and getting the first three chapters and synopsis into a final form ate up precious time that I needed to complete the rest of the story.

That's when I attended the Georgia Romance Writers’ Moonlight and Magnolias Conference and knew God was in charge when I stumbled into Candace Havens’ Fast Draft workshop on how to write a book in a month. Candace provides lots of motivation for those who sign up for her online program, and I’ll only touch on a few of the strategies she provided in her workshop. Basically, she said to write twenty pages a day for two weeks without editing or revising to produce a Fast Draft. During the second two weeks, edit thirty pages a day. Accountability is important, and she suggests tackling the month with other writers and sharing daily page counts.

Thankfully, I had completed the synopsis and first three chapters, which for me are always the most difficult to write, but with a deadline looming—only a month away—I took what I needed from her workshop and quickly started working. To write fast, I used my AlphaSmart, a portable word processor. Each of its eight files holds 25 pages of text when downloaded to my computer and formatted into Courier New, 12 font, double-spaced pages, with one inch margins. My 55,000-word Love Inspired Suspense manuscripts run about 325 pages, or 13 AlphaSmart files. That meant I needed to fill an AlphaSmart file--or write 25 pages—every day.

To speed me along, I set my kitchen timer for 30 minute intervals and wrote non-stop until I heard it ding. Then I’d break for water, a quick stretch, and start writing again. The days passed quickly, and my Fast Draft was completed rather easily by the end of the first two weeks.

The second two weeks were much more intensive. I edited a minimum of six hours a day. Some sections of the story required more work than others, and I soon found that I couldn’t use Candace’s 30 page/day editing formula. Rather, I worked back and forth through the pages, approximating my progress and praying that I could complete the revisions on time.  What seemed, at the beginning of the process, to be a Mission Impossible turned into a success.  By the end of the month, I had a completed manuscript that was submitted on time.

Towards the end of my Fast Draft month, I saw a quote on Facebook attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi that intrigued me:

As you probably know, Francis was a 13th Century Italian who gave away his family wealth to follow Christ. His quote probably refers to living the Gospel message and performing Christian acts of mercy and compassion, but it applies to the writing life as well.

Oldest known portrait of St. Francis, dating to 1223,
located in St. Benedict's Cave in Subiaco. (PD-US)
We start by doing what is necessary. For me that was creating the story line and writing the synopsis that I used as a guide. Then I did what was possible. I wrote 25 pages a day. Turning the rough draft into a polished story was the hardest step in the process. At first, the task seemed almost impossible, but by working through the pages, day after day, the story came to life.

My goal was to write faster so I could be become more productive. In the future, I plan to use Fast Draft to write the bulk of the story, but I’ll allot more time for edits and revisions.

To unleash creativity, give yourself permission to write without editing. Don’t think of the impossible, think of what’s necessary. That’s the key. Ask yourself, “What can I do today?” Accomplish that first task and then move on to the next goal. Repetition/quantity improves ability/quality. Soon we’re achieving tasks we never imagined possible … and eventually, we’ll be doing the impossible and doing it well.

What’s your impossible? How can you break it down into steps to make it achievable? Remember #NOLIMITS!

Have you thought about your writing goals for 2016? Are you focused on quantity or quality? Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you tried Speedbo or any other book-in-a-month program, and if so, what worked for you and what didn’t? Share a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of PERSON OF INTEREST. I’ll also include a writing journal and kitchen timer!

In this season of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of you. You’ve touched my life and made it richer in so many ways. May the Lord bless you abundantly and may all your writing dreams come true!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Debby Giusti
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By Debby Giusti

While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Also available:
A HEARTFUL OF CHRISTMAS, a Christmas collection found everywhere you buy digital stories.

“A Miracle for Christmas,”
By Debby Giusti
Nurse Brigid O’Grady refuses to open her heart to NYPD Officer Tony Calabrese, knowing she could lose him to the gang violence that killed her dad. But, while working to save a patient on Christmas Eve night, Brigid is confronted by the very danger she most fears. Can Tony save Brigid…or do they both need a miracle to make the darkness turn merry and bright?

Order your copies in digital or print format: Amazon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Beauty of the Reader

with guest blogger Rachel Hauck.

Hey Seekervillians! I’m so thrilled to be here again. Thanks to Tina and the amazing bloggers here for welcoming me in.

And to all you readers! 

I blog a lot about craft and the writer’s life, but I’ve never focused much on the most important part of books—the readers! The life-blood of the writer’s life! 

I mean, where would we be without readers? Readers are the reason books exist.

Or maybe it’s a catch twenty-two: readers exist because there are writers.

I love readers. I love being a reader. Reading inspires our hearts in a way television, movies and music can’t because books allow us to imagine ourselves right into the story.

When I’m writing, I try to “leave space” for the reader to become a part of the story. I don’t have to fill in every little detail, overwrite, over tell, even over show because the reader’s imagination can take the smallest description and turn it into what ever he or she wants.

I imagine if the Holy Spirit is writing through me, helping me tell the story then maybe He’s helping the readers. 

Reading is the only sport in which the “consumer” can become a participant. Where elements of their own heart or experience can become part of the story.

Now that can be good or bad… It might inspire the reader to something good, giving them hope. Or it might stir up old memories, pain or fear. 

When writing How To Catch A Prince, I encountered an unexpected physical issue. 

I write pretty close to deadline but this time, the book wasn’t working and six weeks before the book was due, I found myself starting over. 

Then wham! An expected physical set back. I felt very cracked and broken as I stumbled up to my office every day after a sleepless night to hammer out 5000 words. 

By the grace of God, the book came together. But it always felt kind of incomplete to me. Like it had cracks. A few months later I was preparing for worship one Sunday morning and had an impression that God would fill the cracks in my story with His own message for the reader.

That moment expanded my understanding of what a book could be.

Sometimes readers don’t know why they really love, or really hate, a book. That’s the beauty of reading, and of being readers.

Sometimes God speaks to or hearts through fictional characters. All we have to do is pause and ask.

As a writer, my reading is hampered by my own ideas of what makes up good fiction, by my understanding of craft, by spending the last 11 years writing full time, swimming in a world of words, plot lines and craft lanes.

But readers… ah beautiful readers… have the ability to see beyond the craft and words and
love the story.

I learned early on that books readers love stories that ring true. Stories that connected with their hearts. 

I love that readers read. I love their embracing, forgiving hearts. I love that they read for the pure enjoyment without being overly critical of well… everything. 

Last year, I discovered a book that completely swept me away.

From the opening line to the last, I was enthralled. I loved everything about this story. The 1930s time line which alternated between 1931 and 1938. The Rhode Island and New York setting. The story line of a young woman in college falling in love. Seeing her life in 1931 and again in 1938. 

There were secrets. Twists. Surprises. A spunky aunt. A handsome hero.

For once I wasn’t a writer reading but a reader reading! 

I loved the story and writing so much I wrote to my editor and said, “I want to write like this!” She, oh sweet Becky Philpott, read the book to see what stirred me so much. She also loved it. 

Now that’s a good sign for a writer—that her editor “gets her.” 

Having that experience made me a reader again. When I need inspiration as a writer, I pick up that book and return to being a reader. 

If I could create the experience I had with A Hundred Summers for my readers, I’d be the happiest writer on earth.

It’s funny how when starting out, most writers are so scared to show their work to anyone. Will anyone like it? Can they take the criticism? What if they're horrible? What if they don’t know how to fix what’s wrong? 

I can’t wait for readers to read my stories. I want to them to join me on the journey. I hope they love the characters, setting and experience as much as I did. 

Then I hope they write to me and remind me why I loved the story in the beginning. 

By the end of the book, most writers are sick of a story. “What kind of mess is this?” Ha! I call it “the weeds.” We’re so bogged down with details like word choice and phrasing we can’t see the beautiful forest of the story. 

I love hearing from readers. I love when they tell me how God spoke to them, or how they felt His presence. Or how the story reminded them of something or someone they love. 

I am so honored to share the world of words with people all over the world. 

Last year I heard from a woman in Poland who thought the Gospels didn’t have anything for her anymore until she read The Wedding Dress. 

A few weeks later I received an email from a teenage girl in Brazil who was so excited Christian romances existed. She wrote, “Tonight I’m going to pray for you.” Had me in tears.

Those moments remind me this writing thing is bigger than me. So thank you readers! You are all beautiful! 

Now let's talk about you.  Share when a line from a book that impacted you as a reader. If you're a writer, what particular line or scene impacted you AS a reader while you were writing. 

Today is release day for The Wedding Chapel. To celebrate, Rachel is giving away a print copy to a commenter. Seekerville wants to join the fun by giving away an ecopy. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition!

A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.

For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.

Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee to make a new life for herself in New York. Taylor had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement – and then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.

When Taylor takes a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, she is thrown back into her own past and encounters family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. And when Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth waiting for.

Download a sample chapter here.

Rachel Hauck is a USA Today Best Selling, and award-winning author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince.

She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.

She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.

Photo by Rachel Savage
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.