Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Natural Ebb and Flow: What's Your Word Count?

with Seeker Pam Hillman.

Have you discovered the natural ebb and flow to your writing? Your rhythm? Your pacing? I’m not talking about the story you tell and how you tell it, but how long your scenes are. The mechanics, if you will.

Do you tend to write all your scenes the exact same length or do your scene lengths vary, coming in and out, long and short, like the tide?

I realized several years ago that I write 800 words between scene breaks. Don’t confuse a scene with a scene break. A scene break (SB) usually occurs when I change POV, not necessarily when I get to the end of a scene. It’s just how I plot. But that doesn’t mean that all my scenes are anywhere near 800 words. Some of them are far, far from that, ranging from 260 words to a whopping 1888 on my latest manuscript. I wondered if that was normal for all authors or not.

After reviewing several of my own manuscripts and getting feedback from some of my Seeker friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that varying scene length is the norm, and actually, a good thing. (Whew, glad to know I’m normal in at least one way!) But, honestly, I imagine most of you already knew that scenes varied greatly in the stories you write and those you read, yes?

But what I hope to share with you today might help you in the planning stages of your current novel…or the next one.

So, let’s get started!

If you’ve written two or three manuscripts, you probably have discovered your rhythm already. Being a spreadsheet junky, I already had my manuscripts logged in as words per scene and chapter. I knew going into my latest full-length manuscript, The Promise of Breeze Hill, that I write 800 word scene breaks (SBs). I knew the total word count needed to be about 90K. That comes out to about 112 scenes. This kind of information helps me plan where my major turning points will be.

The Promise of Breeze Hill
After I charted the scenes for The Promise, I wondered if my last full-length manuscript had a similar rhythm. So I charted Claiming Mariah, and sure enough, the average words per SBs in Claiming Mariah was 798.22 words. The Promise of Breeze Hill was 799.75 before the rewrite. Hard to believe that the word count between SBs was so close.

Claiming Mariah

So I wondered if other authors have similar rhythms? Even if they don’t chart their word count, if they’ve written very many books, they probably have figured out their rhythm. So, I went to the group I always go to when I have a question like this. My Seeker Sisters, of course.

Tina said that she tends to write two scenes per chapter for her category romance, with those chapters averaging 3500 words. Mary and Missy also said their chapters average about 3500 words. Depending on how many scenes they write per chapter, their SBs could occur every 900-1750 words or so. In spite of my spreadsheet tendencies, even my chapter lengths run the gamut of 1500 to 3500 words. Julie also mentioned that she’s writing shorter chapters these days, trying to keep her chapters to 2000 words.

Having the above information from these ladies was gold, but it didn’t tell me what I wanted to know. This only gave me averages. I wanted to see the ebb and flow of someone else’s work. Was I the only one whose charts looked like the tide rolling in and out? What really made me sit up and take notice was when fellow spreadsheet queen Myra Johnson send me some REAL LIVE DATA from two of her manuscripts. Remember up above that I mentioned that my average words between Scene Breaks (SBs) was 800 words and how knowing that helps me determine from the get-go how many scenes I need to plan on? It also helps during writing if I’m halfway through the manuscript and only have 30% of my words. I’m either not digging deep enough — or — let’s face it…. I’m not digging deep enough.

Well, turns out Myra’s average word count between SBs is right at 1050. (Myra, did you know that?) Myra sent me the word counts per scene for Castles in the Clouds and Rancher for the Holidays. Castles is a much longer book that Rancher, but regardless, Myra’s natural “rhythm” held true.

And, her charts look like a tide rolling in and out. Just like mine!


Castles in the Clouds by Myra Johnson
Rancher for the Holidays by Myra Johnson

Now, if you’ve read this far, and you’re frantically counting and comparing words in your manuscripts, DON’T.

Knowing your natural rhythm might be good for some, and others might not care at all. I like knowing that I need to shoot for 800 word scenes. And since I write in Scrivener, I can see at a glance which scenes are low on the word count. Even though I ended up with several scenes under my goal, I strive to up the word count on those to at least 600, but at some point, some of those scenes just felt done, you know? There wasn’t a single thing I felt I could add to them to make them better. They were short, to the point, and didn’t need “padding” just to make them longer. Sometimes, you just gotta say what you need to say, and get out of there.

And that might be MY cue to wrap this up. So, a few final thoughts and tips.

Don’t force yourself to write like someone else. Don’t take one of my charts or Myra’s charts and try to write scenes to that length. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Don’t force yourself to write long/short/long or short/short/long just because you read a piece about it here. Do what comes naturally to YOU. However, if somewhere along the way in your writing, you find that something isn’t quite right or the pacing seems off, then checking your scenes for ebb and flow might be the ticket to unlocking a tsunami of great writing.

If you’re new to writing, don’t take this as gospel. Don’t even try to grasp this technique or emulate it. Tuck it away and after you’ve organically written three or four manuscripts, then compare your own work against itself to see if you see a pattern starting to emerge. I didn’t have time to chart some of my earlier manuscripts that weren’t written in Scrivener, but I glanced over a few scenes and noticed that my scenes tended to be more uniform in my earlier completed manuscripts. I think that was my way of writing to the market and what I’d analyzed in my own reading more than to my own rhythm.

It’s also important to point out that in the charts above, there is usually one scene that stands out above all the rest. While I can’t speak for Myra’s work, I will tell you that in my own, those scenes are major turning points in the story — watershed moments, if you will. Those tend to write themselves.

And, finally, one other thought. I checked a couple of my novellas and my scenes average about 575 words between SBs. Mary also mentioned that her chapters and scenes tend to be shorter in novellas. So instinctively, our rhythm for novellas is different to our rhythm for book-length fiction. More than likely yours will be too.

Did I leave anything out? Did I confuse anyone? The floor is open for discussion! :)

If you know your natural rhythm for scene length, we’d love to hear it. And, if you know the range of your scenes, even better!

Leave a comment today to get your name entered for an Amazon gift card. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nine (Plus) Tips for Using Dropbox

with guest Carol Moncado.

A few months ago, Tina approached me and asked if I’d like to be a part of Seekerville’s Birthday Party and to talk a bit about Dropbox. The answer, of course, was “duh – yeah!” 

I’ve put together Nine (Plus) Things You Should Know About Dropbox and How Writers Can Use It. There's also a giveaway!

1. Save Your Sanity

I know it might seem a bit trite, but it’s the absolute truth. Have you ever had that heart-stopping moment when your computer goes black or the Windows Blue Screen of Death pops up? Or you get to a conference and realize you forgot your power cord?

Dropbox is your answer. Anything saved to Dropbox is accessible. And the nice thing? Once you get past the initial backup, everything is saved instantly to the Dropbox cloud. Now, you do have to have an internet connection, but as long as you do, you’re unlikely to lose any of your files.

2. Access From Anywhere

So what happens when you get to another computer? Or borrow a friend’s laptop at that conference – or find the hotel’s business center?

You’ve already installed it on your computer. Now you can log in to the Dropbox website and everything you’ve ever backed up is there. If you work outside the home, you can access it from your work computer (I’ve done this many times – but don’t skimp on your actual work!!!! :D). If your computer died and you’re waiting for a new one, but can borrow a laptop from someone else – it’s all there (don’t ask how I know about this one :p).

3. Sync New Computers – and Across Computers

But…once you get that new computer, or if you have multiple computers you use regularly, Dropbox will sync your files immediately – as long as both have an internet connection. So you’re working away on your laptop at Panera, and when you get home, your file is already updated on your desktop. You get your new computer set up, install Dropbox, and your files will immediately start downloading. If you need certain files immediately, you can choose to download those files or folders first. For instance, you can download the folder with All The Stuff for your current WIP first, then download everything else.

4. Not a Substitute for CrashPlan/Carbonite/etc.

That said, Dropbox is NOT a substitute for a whole computer backup plan like CrashPlan or Carbonite. Dropbox has a limit of 2 gigabytes of data, unless you use their paid version, though you can earn up to 32 gigabytes by going through the tutorial, referring friends, and syncing photos. If you have pretty much any pictures or music or programs on your computer, the 2 gigabytes won’t be nearly enough for a whole computer backup. So I strongly recommend one of those programs or one similar to them. Currently, I use CrashPlan which has a family plan and unlimited space for your backups. This is a PC Magazine article comparing several different options with links to their reviews of each.

5. Change How You Save Your Files – Just a Little Bit

To make it work you do have to change how you save your files, just a tiny bit. Once installed, rather than saving in the “My Documents” folder, you need to save in the new “Dropbox” folder. Before I started using Dropbox, I saved all of my writing-related stuff in a “My Books” folder inside the “My Documents” folder. Once Dropbox was installed, I simply dragged “My Books” into the Dropbox folder, and the computer took care of moving everything. When you save something new, save it somewhere in the Dropbox folder. In Windows, this Dropbox folder should show up in two places on your file explorer – as its own entity and as a library (see picture).

Click on picture to enlarge.
Continuous save. If you use Scrivener, this feature is built in. If you use Microsoft Word, you can set it to AutoSave or AutoBackup (or both) however often you’d like. The AutoRecover panel will help you find the files if needed. In theory, this prevents you from ever losing more than a few minutes of work. If you have your AutoSave set for every five minutes, you’ll never lose more than five minutes of work. I won’t say that I’ve never heard of anyone having issues with it, but most of those are likely user error rather than an issue with the program itself (don’t ask me how I know that one :p).

Click on Picture to Enlarge
You can download the Dropbox app from your favorite app store. Once you’ve done so, you can access the files on the go. One big difference is that on your computer, Dropbox downloads everything, but on a phone or tablet, etc., it doesn’t. It basically gives you an index of files saved in your Dropbox, and you can download what you want. As an indie author, I save my cover mock-ups in Dropbox. I can open Dropbox on my phone, save the picture and text it to a friend or beta reader to get their opinions. You can also download documents and work on them while on your tablet/other device. How you do this varies based on the device you’re using and what other apps you have at your disposal to edit them with, etc. (See picture)

7. Send to Kindle/App

Many writers send their WIPs to their Kindles/Kindle apps/Assorted other ereader-ish things from time to time. One common way is to email it to your device. However, if you can’t do that for some reason, you can use an applet called BookDrop to get files from Dropbox to Kindle. Follow the instructions on the website to get it connected. Then any file you’d like on your Kindle, save (or copy) it to the right folder (Dropbox/Apps/book-drop). A few minutes after your Kindle/App connects to the internet, the file will appear on it. I had much more time on my hands than expected at a marching band competition recently, and I was able to transfer a file into that folder via the Dropbox app and have it appear on my Kindle iPad App. This works for Word doc files, PDF files, and .mobi (Kindle) files.

Note: You need to install this from a computer and not a phone or tablet.

8. Share Files

If you’re working with a collaborator, you can share a file. Or it can be an easy way to share with a beta reader. My oldest daughter is a freshman in the marching band. After one of their competitions this fall, we were given a Dropbox link to videos of their preliminary and finals performances. We were able to download them to watch (but asked not to upload them publicly, and they were watermarked). Another friend sent me access to her Dropbox file of another band I wanted to see but missed (Dr. Who show!!!!) – I could move it to my own Dropbox and watch it at my convenience. Documents can be shared as read-only or so they can be edited. I used the app on my phone to share this blog file with a friend while I attended my 6th grader’s first concert (I admit it; I use that term fairly loosely for a group of kids who’ve been playing less than two months). I discovered I have some trumpet skilz while my friend read over the blog and made some comments. By the time I got home, I had an email waiting for me with her notes.

9. Share Folders

You can also share folders. InspyRomance is a reader-oriented blog I’m a part of. There are five of us on the admin team, and all of us have access to the admin folder. We can save documents or other files there so all of us can access them whenever needed. It’s far easier than emailing a document around every time a change is made.

PLUS**Did I Mention Save Your Sanity?

I have lots, and lots, of writer friends on Facebook. I’d say that once a month, on average, I see a post from one of them about “AH! Lightning struck my house! My computer’s fried!” or “Had to evacuate due to flood waters! We lost EVERYTHING! Including the book that’s due NEXT WEEK! IT’S ALL GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!” or “My hard drive crashed, and now what?” or “The power went out, and my computer turned off!”

Yes, you can email yourself drafts every night to some sort of web-based email like Gmail or to a friend who won’t delete them until you say so. But that would only affect anything you’d emailed. Dropbox takes a lot of the guess work out of it – and it will save everything in that folder for you. It’ll be available to work on while you’re without your own computer and will load it all back onto your new computer when you get it set up.

Bonus: If you’re using the new Scrivener App for iPhone/iPad, you can use Dropbox to sync your projects between the app and your computer program.

Double Bonus: When discussing this post, Tina sent me this article from Dropbox about some of the newer features. This article includes more details about collaborating and sharing files, as well as how you can create new documents from your phone and how to scan whiteboards, scribbled napkin notes, or other things to create a digital file you can use at home or share.

Some of these tips only apply to the more tech savvy among you, but if you can create a new file and save it to the destination of your choice, you can use Dropbox. I’m not exaggerating when I say it can save your sanity. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve lost EVERYTHING in a hard drive crash before. Fortunately, it was before I started writing seriously, and I was able to piece almost everything together from emails to friends, etc. I did lose several “first starts” of a few manuscripts I wish I still had. The recreations just weren’t as good as I remember the originals being.

Some of you might be saying, “But wait! Doesn’t Google Drive do basically the same thing?” As I understand it, kind of ;). That’s something I learned while looking up something else for this post. They do have an app you can load on your computer similar to Dropbox and keep everything synced between your computer and your cloud storage. I’ve never used it and am not a big fan of Google Drive in general – at least not for working in it. This CNET article compares Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, and OneDrive – all of which provide similar services.

I go through laptops about every two years (yeah, I know). And it’s super nice to just install Dropbox on the new laptop and overnight or so, everything will just appear on the new one, and I can get back to work without any interruptions. That is the beauty of Dropbox.

Any Dropbox questions you'd like to ask? Any tips you'd like to share?

Wait! Didn’t I say giveaway?! One lucky commenter will receive a Kindle copy of one of my latest releases! Grace to Save was written during the Very First SpeedBo in 2012! Plus – that’s my oldest daughter on the cover! It’s a story very near and dear to my heart for many reasons, and I’m so happy to share it with one of y’all! (Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!)

Grace to Save

Travis Harders has been a single dad since the day he learned he had a daughter with his only one-night stand. Fifteen years later, he and Cassie are getting along just fine and he's even fallen in love. The last thing he expects to find on his doorstep one Tuesday morning is Cassie's mom - the one person he thought he’d never see again - and she's asking the impossible.

Circumstances, including her firefighter brother's death on 9/11, forced Abi Connealy into a decision she's spent years regretting and her daughter grew up without her. But now, a family crisis compels her to do the one thing she swore she never would: find the daughter she’d abandoned just a few days after birth. 

Shocked when Travis doesn’t send her packing, Abi prays to a God she doesn’t believe in that her relationship with her daughter will be restored. Travis plans to propose to his girlfriend, but their relationship hits the rocks as he and Abi both struggle with the long-dormant feelings that never had the chance to develop. 

When Cassie demonstrates incredible grace toward the grandfather who refuses to acknowledge her existence, Abi begins to learn the love of a Savior - a Savior who has more than enough Grace to Save.

When she's not writing about her imaginary friends, USA Today Bestselling Author Carol Moncado is hanging out with her husband, four kids, and a dog who weighs less than most hardcover books. She prefers watching NCIS to just about anything, except maybe watching Castle. She believes peanut butter M&Ms are the perfect food, and Dr. Pepper should come in an IV. When not watching her kids - and the dog - race around her big backyard in Southwest Missouri, she's teaching American Government at a local community college. She's a founding member and President of MozArks ACFW, category coordinator for First Impressions, blogger at InspyRomance, and represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Birthday Weekend Edition Week 4

Welcome to #4 Birthday Weekend Edition in celebration of our 9th Birthday. That means Seekerville is starting year TEN! Every week we have a fabulous giveaway  ($50 Amazon gift card or a Kindle Fire) and on November 5, we'll draw for our Grand Prize, an iPad mini. All commenters, all week get their name in the birthday box for all drawings.

Get Your Copy Here.
This weekend we celebrate the release of 
Ruth Logan Herne's Home on the Range. 
Leave a comment for a chance to win one of THREE copies! 
Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.

We Have Winners

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

This weeks Birthday winner of a Kindle Fire is Evelyn Hill.

From the last Weekend Edition, winner of a surprise package of books is Caryl Kane. Winner of the Descriptive Thesaurus book of choice in print or ecopy is Shanda Miller.

Monday was "Conflict: Roadblocks to Your Character's Happy Ending" with Janet Dean. Chill N (Nancy C) is the winner of a Seekerville ebook of choice. 

Seekerville was thrilled to have Terri Reed join the birthday celebration. Her post was "9 Ways to Develop Story Characters." Terri brought a mega-birthday surprise! Connie Queen is the winner of a prize package that includes her heartwarming holiday release from Howard Books, A Family Under the  Christmas Tree, and her latest Love Inspired Suspense release, Identity Unknown.  Terri W, Heidi, and Sandy Smith are winners of the copies of the Love Inspired Suspense Classic—2 books in 1 volume—Double Cross and Double Threat Christmas.

On Wednesday, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Debby Giusti talked about her writing journey with "9 Tips in 9 Years." Jodi Janz and Suzanne Baginskie won copies of Plain Truth, a journal, The Writer's Prayer and a $9 Starbucks Gift Card! Congrats, ladies!

On Thursday,  Literary agent Amanda Leuck from Spencer Hill Associates was our special guest with her post, "9 Tips for Querying an Agent." Rhonda Starnes is the winner of an Amazon gift card.

Friday: Seekerville is delighted to welcome Misty Beller today. Her post is "9 Steps to Market a New Book Release." Winner of the first three books in her Mountain Dreams Series is Deanna Stevens.

Saturday we shared, "The Real Story: How 13 Writers Left Unpubbed Island." We went back to Unpubbed Island and shared the Seekers' first sale stories. Winners of Seeker E-Book of choice, are Jessica Baughman and Jackie Layton.

Click on the picture to read this RT 4 1/2 Star TOP PICK! Review.

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday: Carol Moncado returns to Seekerville with some techy help for us! "Nine (Plus) Tips for Using Dropbox." And she brought a special giveaway!

Tuesday: Pam Hillman is your Seekerville hostess today!  

Wednesday: Sandra Leesmith will share "Nine Ways To Promote Yourself." She will discuss ways that work for her. She is offering a special treat to a lucky commenter who shares what has worked for them both as a writer and a reader. 

Thursday: Seeker Tina Radcliffe has on her hard hat for "Deconstructing a Romance Novel." And she'll talk a little about the book, "The Bestseller Code," as well. The prize vault is open!

Friday: Melanie Dickerson returns to Seekerville with her post, "Top 9 Reasons to Read the Seekerville Blog Every Day." Melanie is generously giving away a hardcover copy of The Silent Songbird, which releases November 8th, to three select commenters.

Saturday: Time for the November Contest Update! Stop by to meet our monthly Diva/Divo. The prize vault is open!

Sunday: The week 4 winner will be announced today & the Grand Prize winner will be announced on Saturday, November 5.

Seeker Sightings

Order here.

Bundle up and stop by to visit Glynna Kaye on the Love Inspired Authors Website.

A Taste of That Most Wonderful Time of the Year! 

If you aren't enrolled in My Rewards, you can do that here. 

If you need help or want to be walked through the receipt submission process, email us at Seekers@Seekerville.net
Can the brother left behind and a woman without hope
work together for the good of two precious children?
Home on the Range

Random News & Information

Thanks for sending links!

It's that time of year when we ask you to please consider nominating Seekerville for the 18th Annual Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writer’s Award. Send an email to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with “101 Websites” in the subject line. We are an Inspirational Romance Writing Community.

3 Ways Writers Can Instantly Spot Telling (Writers Helping Writers)**

Questions to Ask an Agent (Books & Such Literary Management)

Which Reading Nook is Perfect for You (Bethany House Books)

Synopsizing Your Way to Revision Success (Writer Unboxed)**

9 Tips to Building the Book Cover Design You Always Wanted (Jane Friedman)**

Why I’ve Moved From Scrivener To Vellum For Formatting Ebooks (The Creative Penn)
An Evernote Guide for Writers: 5 Ways to Use it for All Your Projects (The Write Life)

10 Tips to Help You Get More Twitter Followers (Novel Rocket)

Promoting a Sequel in a Book's Back Matter (With Examples!) BookBub**

 Writing a Series: How Much Do We Need to Plan Ahead? (Jami Gold)**

 23 Million Books Sold. How To Have A Successful Long-Term Writing Career (The Creative Penn)

What Kind of Writer are You? (Steven Pressfield)

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That (The Book Designer) ** 

Short on Time? Read ** First and then come back for the rest!

Happy Sunday, readers, and writers!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Real Story: How 13 Writers Left Unpubbed Island

I love a good trip down memory lane, don't you? As we start our tenth year, we'd like to share our original call stories with you along with fun pictures and milestone events.

Seekerville began as a Yahoo Group in 2005. We were divas who kept bumping tiaras on the contest circuit. We came together with the intent to pray each other into publication. The blog itself began in October of 2007. 

A decade ago we sat on Unpublished Island waiting for a chance to sail to the mainland. We had a lot to learn! (and still do!) Besides hanging out in Seekerville, we've been busy writers. Here's a peek at our journey.


Debby Giusti was the FIRST Seeker to leave Unpublished Island. Find Debby Giusti books here.

"In the summer of 2005, I entered and won three contests where the final round judges were Love Inspired editors. Each entry received a request for submission. Wanting to meet the editors in person, I attended my first RWA National Conference, held in Reno at the end of July, where I also met Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, and Julie Lessman. It was there that the idea for what would eventually become Seekerville was first discussed. While at the conference, LI senior editor Krista Stroever shared with me that Joan Marlow Golan, the LI executive editor, was reviewing my manuscript. Needless to say, I flew home, eager and anxious about what might unfold. Three days later on August 3rd, I received “The Call.” Nowhere to Hide, my debut Love Inspired Suspense was published

A short time later, same year, 2005 at the ACFW conference in Nashville, Mary Connealy sold her first manuscript. It was released as Golden Days.  Find Mary Connealy books here.

"Every year at the ACFW conference Barbour Publishing gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I had a book submitted to HP and they’d asked for revisions. I knew there was a chance it could be me. 

Tracie Peterson, the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents at that time, called my name. I get chills saying that! It was a wonderful, thrilling shocking moment. I had to go up and get the contract, in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, great moment in my life."
ACFW 2005

 Audra Harders, Julie Lessman & Ruth Logan Herne Circa 2005, ACFW Conference.

In July of 2005, Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, Julie Lessman, and Tina Radcliffe were the four finalists in the Inspirational category of the RWA Golden Heart. The Golden Girls met for the first time in Reno for RWA. Myra Johnson won with Autumn Rains which would later be published by Barbour.


In 2006 Julie Lessman sold what would become her epic, award-winning, first novel, A Passion Most Pure. Find Julie Lessman books here.

"After receiving the booby prize for the most rejections at an ACFW Conference (19 at that time), I was signed by agent extraordinaire, Natasha Kern, who actually blanched a bit when she first signed me, realizing after the ink was dry just how many times I’d been rejected. I believe the word she used was “daunting.” But apparently not too daunting for her amazing skills as an agent because she landed a contract for me within six months.

The call came—appropriately enough—when I was in the middle of praying with my prayer partners. My heart dropped when I heard Natasha’s voice, but when she said that the editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont, told her she'd never seen a pub board vote unanimously for a book before, I started crying. I repeated everything she said so my prayer partners could hear, and they were screaming and jumping up and down in the background. Lonnie told Natasha it was very unusual for an editor to call on the day of pub board, but that she was too excited not to, and that a number of the editors had stayed up late the night because they couldn’t put the book down! She said they were so excited that they actually started brainstorming taglines for me, one of which was “a Christian Maeve Binchy.” Believe me, after 46 rejections and another publisher giving me a slice-n-dice rejection the very week before, this phone call was a balm to my battered soul."

And that same year, Janet Dean sold to Love Inspired Historical. Find Janet Dean books here.

"On June 29, 2006, my agent called with the news that Melissa Endlich, Senior Editor, Steeple Hill Books, wanted to buy my manuscript Orphaned Hearts for the Love Inspired Historical romance line launching February of 2008. I was home alone and so excited I could barely contain myself. I called family and friends and told my husband the news the minute he walked in the door from work. I could barely choke down dinner before heading out with my published critique partner to her out of town speaking engagement that evening where she told attendees I’d received The Call.  

I had to wait for what felt like forever to see my debut re-titled Courting Miss Adelaide hit the shelves in September of 2008. I will always be grateful to Melissa Endlich and Love Inspired for opening the door to publication, enabling me to sail off Unpubbed Island, to my readers who have blessed me beyond measure, and to God, who gave me the gift to write for Him. "

2006 was a BIG YEAR. Missy Tippens was a Golden Heart finalist! Missy and Janet in this photo. Circa 2006.

ACFW Conference 2006
Front-Audra Harders, Camy Tang, Cheryl Wyatt.
Back, Debby Giusti, Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, Ruth Logan Herne, Sandra Leesmith, Cara Lynn James & Missy Tippens.


In 2007 Missy Tippens sold to Love Inspired. You can find Missy's books here.

 "After doing two sets of revisions for Emily Rodmell, I waited, holding my breath for that first sale I'd dreamed of for over 10 years. On January 30, 2007, I came home from the grocery store and put everything away. I made my lunch, then as I was walking by the phone, I happened to check for missed calls. Most writers memorize the NY area code: 212. LOL But I actually saw "Harlequin Books" on the caller ID!

I listened to the message. 

Then senior editor, Krista Stroever, asked me to call her when I got in. I knew they don’t call for rejections! They only send a letter for that—those letters with which I had become well acquainted. :) When I called Krista, she said they loved my story and wanted to offer a contract. She said she knew I would want time to consider the offer and told me to call her back when I decided. I stifled a maniacal laugh and acted as if I had enough sense at the moment to respond professionally. I was still in shock a couple of hours later after I called back to accept. Only later that evening did I finally gather my wits enough to celebrate! I'll be forever grateful to Emily for making my dreams come true."


Myra Johnson sold to Abingdon Press in 2008. You can find Myra's books here.

"In July of 2008, 25 years and 200+ rejections into my writing career, I learned of a new fiction line at Abingdon Press. Barbara Scott was the editor then, and she had put out the word that she especially welcomed submissions from unpublished but talented writers who had "paid their dues." I figured that described me, so right away I shot Barbara an email describing the novel manuscripts I had available. She requested one of them, and barely a month went by before she called with a contract offer for what would become my first published novel, One Imperfect Christmas. 

Sharing about “the call" on my personal blog, here’s what I wrote: "So I’m calling myself the poster child for publication perseverance. It has been a long, arduous journey, a roller-coaster ride emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I’m smart enough to realize I haven’t arrived' yet. This is just the next leg of the journey, and one I can’t wait to explore! If God has given you the desire, talent, and skill to write--or whatever He may have gifted you with--until He personally tells you otherwise, keep on keeping on. If success seems long in coming, ask God to help you see what you still need to learn, how He still wants to grow you up. Our path through this life is not about what we can achieve, but what God wants to shape us into. He is the Potter, we are the clay. Be moldable!"

In 2008 Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner for Golden Days. She is also a finalist in the Best First Book category with Petticoat Ranch.

In 2008 Debby Giusti was a Carol Award finalist with Nowhere to Hide.

RWA 2008

 L-R Debby Giusti, Lenora Worth, Janet Dean, Missy Tippens, Linda Goodnight (with RITA), Allie Pleiter, Debra Clopton, Pamela Tracy, and Merrillee Wren.

Sandra Leesmith, Missy Tippens, Debby Giusti and Janet Dean.

ACFW 2008
Myra, Julie, Mary, Cara, Janet, Debby & Darlene Bucholtz
Missy Tippens 
 Missy, Janet, Editor Emily Rodmell, Debby

Glynna Kaye sold to Love Inspired in January of 2009. You can find Glynna Kaye books here.

"Although I’d finaled or won quite a few contests with my unpubbed “chick lit flavored” romantic mysteries, in August 2008 I entered The Golden Pen contest with the first book I’d written that was specifically targeted toward Harlequin Love Inspired. By October it finaled and in mid-December, it had not only won first place in the inspy category, but finalist judge/Love Inspired Senior Editor Melissa Endlich wanted to see a full “right away, please!” With my Seeker sisters cheering me on, I frantically finished writing the book (Pam and Sandra even dived in to critique it for me). I sent it “priority” mail on January 13 and 9 days later I got an email from Melissa asking what the best time would be for her to contact me about “some good news.” Believe me, I was bouncing off the walls and thanking God when the NEXT MORNING, Friday, January 23, 2009, at 7:25 a.m. I got the long-awaited “Call!” Unbelievably, in October of that same year my first published book, “Dreaming of Home” was on store shelves!"

Ruth Logan Herne sailed off Unpublished Island in 2009. You can find her books here.

The Call came on June 7, 2009.... But I wasn't home! I was in New Jersey, babysitting a beautiful granddaughter while my daughter and son-in-law flew to Ethiopia to bring home her little brother... Two amazing reasons to celebrate. But this hadn't been an easy year... we'd lost a grandson in utero in January and it broke my heart... It was so hard to write sweet words while my daughter and son-in-law were grief-stricken. They'd moved here in the fall and had been looking for work, and then... the baby we expected in spring was gone. Just like that. In February two wonderful editors contacted me, one from Toronto, one from New York... they made it clear that they wanted to work with me and my daughter grabbed my hands and said "You've been doing this for eight years, waiting for this moment. Get to work. This is your chance. We'll be fine. I promise".  

I went through all the steps. I sent manuscripts, and I waited. Beth and Jon both got jobs that week, and that was a symbol of hope. We rode the roller coaster of emotions daily. They found a house. We got them moved. Spring blossomed all around us, despite our sore hearts. And then June rolled around... and The Call. Melissa Endlich, leaving a voice message on my phone, a voice message I have NEVER ERASED because that call changed everything. She jump-started my career, and I've been pinching myself ever since. And Beth and Jon are now the parents of four little ones here on earth... and baby Joseph, in heaven.  The darkness of that winter blossomed into this beautiful time in our lives, and we are forever grateful.

2009 is a big year! Cara Lynn James was a Golden Heart finalist! 

 Cara Lynn James left the island July 10, 2009!  Here is her call story from the archives. 

You can find Cara Lynn James books here.

Photo: Missy and Cara at the RWA gala in 2009.

Sandra Leesmith literally kayaked off the island on July 23rd, 2009. You can find all of Sandra Leesmith books here.

And here is her call story from the archives! 

In 2009 Julie Lessman was a Carol Award winner in the Best First Book category with A Passion Most Pure.

In 2009 Mary Connealy was a finalist in FOUR categories of the ACFW Carol Awards with Montana Rose, Buffalo Gal, Clueless Cowboy, Of Mice and Murder!

Photo Circa 2009: Mary Connealy & agent Natasha Kern.

Mary was also a Christy Award Finalist in 2009 with Calico Canyon.

In 2009 Janet Dean was a Carol Award finalist with Courting Miss Adelaide.

In 2009 Missy Tippens was a Carol Award finalist with Her Unlikely Family.

In 2009 Debby Giusti was a Carol Award finalist with Countdown to Death.

ACFW 2009


Agent Natasha Kern and Myra Johnson. 

Ruth Logan Herne & Missy Tippens.

Sandra Leesmith & Carla Stewart

January 2010, Tina Radcliffe sold to Love Inspired. You can find Tina Radcliffe books here.

Tina shares her call story in this archived post!

Audra Harders sold to Love Inspired in January of 2010 also! You can find Audra Harders books here.  

Enjoy Audra's archived call story post here.

Mary Connealy won a Carol Award in 2010 for Cowboy Christmas.

In 2010 Julie Lessman was a Carol Award Finalist with A Passion Denied.

In 2010 Myra Johnson was a Carol Award Finalist with Autumn Rains.

Glynna Kaye was an ACFW Carol Finalist in 2010 with Dreaming of Home.

In 2010 Pam Hillman won the Genesis. Here she is with her agent Steve Laube.

ACFW 2010

Cara Lynn James & Glynna Kaye.

Melanie Dickerson & Mary Connealy.

RWA 2010 

                                                                Janet Dean, Missy Tippens, Ruth Logan Herne, & Debby Giusti.

Debby Giusti, Missy Tippens, Michael Hauge, and Janet Dean.

Myra Johnson.


Pam Hillman left Unpublished Island in 2011.You can find Pam Hillman books here.

In 2011  Ruth Logan Herne was a Carol Award finalist with Winter's End.

Photo: Circa 2011 ACFW Gala with Carol Award finalists. Linda Goodnight, Senior Editor Melissa Endlich (back) Irene Hannon and Ruth Logan Herne.

Also in 2011, Mary Connealy was an RWA Rita Award Finalist with Doctor in Petticoats, and an ACFW Carol Award finalist with The Husband Tree.

In 2011 Pam Hillman was a Golden Heart finalist. Not only that but that year she became part of The Golden Network's Hall of Gold - for chapter members who have finaled in the Golden Heart  contest three or more times. She also finaled in the Golden Heart in 2001 and double finaled in 2004, when she took home the award. 

Mary Connealy and Audra Harders

More ACFW 2011

Ruth Logan Herne & Cara Lynn James
Debby, former Executive Editor, Love Inspired, Joan Marlow Golan & Janet Dean

Mary Connealy, Pepper Basham, Myra Johnson, Janet Dean & Cara Lynn James
Ruth Logan Herne, Audra Harders, Cheryl St. John & Sherri Shackelford


Tina Radcliffe was a 2012 Carol Award finalist with Oklahoma Reunion.

ACFW 2012 
Tina, Erica Vetsch, Mary Connealy

Missy, Mary, Tina, Debby, Janet Audra and Myra.

RWA 2012   
Nora Roberts, Debby Giusti, Debbie Kaufman


Myra, Missy, Debby, Melanie Dickerson, Audra Harders, Debby Giusti, & Mary Connealy.

Myra Johnson was a 2013 Carol Award finalist with A Horseman's Hope.

ACFW 2013

Myra, Debby, James Scott Bell, Missy and Janet.

Back row, Mary, Myra, Missy, Janet, Debby. Front row, Pam & Julie.

Missy Tippens was a 2013 RITA Award finalist with A House Full of Hope.

2013 RITA Finalist Missy Tippens and LI author Janet Dean all glamed up at the HQ pre-party for RITA finalists.

Find more RWA 2013 pictures here and here.


Tina Radcliffe was a 2014 Carol Award winner with Mending the Doctor's Heart.

Tina Radcliffe, Associate Editor Shana Asaro, Editor Emily Rodmell.

ACFW 2014       

 Genre Dinner with Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, and Debbie Giusti.   

Genre Dinner with Glynna Kaye & Tina Radcliffe.


Glynna Kaye, Janet Dean, Mary Connealy, Pam Hillman, Debby Giusti & Julie Lessman. 

Find ACFW 2015 Pictures here.

Find RWA 2015 Pictures here & here.


Missy Tippens was a 2016 Carol Award finalist with The Doctor's Second Chance.

Find RWA 2016 photos here.

Find ACFW 2016 photos here.

Once a year we allow ourselves a little pat on the back for a job well done. This is that once a year. We have been privileged -thanks to God- to leave the island, to help others off the island, to kick a few off the island, and to be here with you. And we'll keep doing what we do as long as He says so.

Thank you, Seekerville for celebrating with us! 

Leave a comment today and we'll pick two winners for a Seekerville author E-book of choice as available on Amazon. Winners announced tomorrow in the Weekend Edition.

We're giving away a Kindle Fire or Amazon $50 Gift Card every Sunday in October, and at the end of the party, all names go in the birthday hat for an Apple iPad mini.