Friday, October 31, 2014

Seven Words of Writing Wisdom

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Words of writing wisdom...they were everywhere at the September 2014 American Christian Writers Conference in Saint Louis!
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Wherever I turned—from the opening address, to the keynote speaker, to workshops, to chats with fellow writers, all the way to the closing remarks—I found “writerly” wisdom to gather and tuck away for later contemplation.
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Since this is Seekerville’s SEVENTH birthday (!), I’ve chosen seven “words" of writing wisdom gleaned from various ACFW 2014 venues to share with you today.
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1 - DON’T BE BORING. This “word” was heard repeatedly throughout the conference. Keep your reader engaged. Escalate the stakes. Ditch drawn-out, ho-hum narratives. Pump up the dialogue, remembering that “white space” on a page lures a reader in more quickly than a solid page of unbroken text.
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2 - Deliver on reader expectations. Readers read fiction for how it makes them FEEL. They want to live vicariously through your protagonist. If you’re writing romance, they want to relate to the heroine, fall in love with your hero, and find a happily ever after. If you’re writing suspense or Amish or Biblical or speculative—whatever—deliver on the expectations that a reader holds for those genres.
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3 - The core of your story is about change—the protagonist’s journey. Plot is the externalization of the inner journey of character growth—what makes the journey happen. Keep this element in mind by establishing a simple moral premise for the story that will undergird the scenes throughout and guide character growth.
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4 - Goal, Motivation and Conflict drive your story. GMC keeps it on track, it’s the glue that holds it together. Make the GMC strong and clearly defined so a reader can buy into it, embrace it, and eagerly turn the pages to see what happens next.
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5 - Don’t let anything stop you from writing. If you believe God has asked you to write for Him or if you’re testing the waters to see if that’s something He wants you to do, find a way. Commit to regular writing (even if only minutes a day). Learn the essentials of the craft and apply them. Get words on the page so you can grow as a writer. Make writing a priority.
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6 - Don’t forget WHY you wanted to write your story in the first place. What initially sparked the need, the sense of excitement, the passion, to tell it? Write that “spark” down and post it by your desk. Stick it on the bathroom mirror. Place it on your nightstand or fridge--wherever you’ll see it on a daily basis as a reminder. When you’re slogging through that muddled middle, you will all too easily forget what originally inspired you. So make a point of regularly reminding yourself of what first lured you to want to write the story.
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7 - Don’t compare yourself to other writers. This is hard for me. I want to write fast like so-and-so. I want to come up with full-blown story ideas while I sleep like my friend over there. I want to be a social media sweetheart like that other guy. But God has made us all unique, with different strengths, energy levels, responsibilities, time constraints. Each of us has a part in God’s plan—only YOU can write the story God has given you to tell in the way He wants YOU to tell it. You aren’t accountable to be a clone of “that guy over there,” but you ARE accountable for how you use the gift and the calling God’s placed on you.
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BONUS WORD OF WISDOM. If you believe God called you to write, stick close to Him. Daily pray. Listen. Obey.
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For those of you who were also in Saint Louis, what other words of writing wisdom did you come home with? And for those of who were unable to attend, which of these “insights” catches your attention as most applicable to your own situation and why?
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If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my November release “High Country Holiday” (in stores now!), mention it in the comments section, then check the Weekend Edition to see if you’re a winner of one of SEVEN copies!
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Glynna
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A Holiday Reunion... When Cody Hawk returns to Canyon Springs, Arizona, to make peace with his ailing father, his bad-boy reputation is still intact. So is his love for the woman he was forced to leave behind.  But the privileged Paris Perslow is still off limits.
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When Paris needs his help with the annual holiday gala, Cody braves the town’s disapproving glances for a second chance with his first love. Years ago Cody promised he’d return for her. But with everyone and everything against them, what will it take to prove to Paris that his love is the perfect gift?
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Glynna Kaye’s debut book “Dreaming of Home” was a finalist in the ACFW Carol and Maggie awards, as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her 4 1/2 star “At Home In His Heart” was chosen as a Reviewers Choice finalist by national magazine RT Book Reviews. “High Country Holiday,” her eight Love Inspired and the seventh set in the mountain country of Arizona, is on the shelves now!
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Day in the Life of Literary Agent Natasha Kern

  
First, I want to wish all of Seekerville a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  What an awesome blog and group this is and what a change in those seven years in both the industry and the growing success for each of the writers. J  

I said I would write this blog to celebrate your birthday quite a while ago, months ago.  I did ask that my blog come at the end of October because I know what an intense month that always is for me:  ACFW is closely followed by the Frankfurt Bookfair (meaning sales packets to all foreign agents) combined with the need to get all fall submissions out in time for editors to read and respond by Thanksgiving.  Plus stacks of fall royalties arrive in early October.  Plus, plans for Christmas releases and promotions for our e-pubbed books.   Gulp!  And meanwhile, all the other agency work continues with offers, contracts and even more, unexpected problems of all kinds. 

So it wasn’t a surprise to hear from Ruthy and Mary that my blog was due now which, of course, I had not even thought about let alone written.  I started to explain to Ruthy what I was doing that might prevent me from being able to write the blog and that my #1 priority had to be my clients.  I wrote an off-the-top of my head list quickly because it was what was on my most urgent "TO-DO" list for that very day (not long-term projects or secondary TO-DOs like revamp the website or send group emails to clients about what is happening in the industry and market, particularly with Amazon Unlimited, which I try to do regularly).   I dashed this off and sent it to Ruthy and she said:  DO THIS!  

I think a lot of writers are really vague on what exactly agents do every day and why they seem to be so busy.  I said, “It isn’t on the theme of sevens”.   She said, “We don’t care so much about that as we do about your insider perspective.”   So you can blame Ruthy if you wanted something else!  Here it is—the day in my life which was last Wednesday.  Of course, some of these things like negotiations flow over several days or even weeks while a few are taken care of immediately.  One thing you can discern is that my workday is highly interrupt-driven because I really don’t know what will happen next whether a book will hit bestseller list (and film folks start calling) or submissions are rejected or an auction is suddenly brewing.  There really is no routine day and, of course, I love that! J

  1.        I developed an offer from an editor/publisher for a client who had previously been dropped by the house because her sales were not strong enough. She IS a good writer so I talked with her editor about her writing in a different genre under a pseudonym so her numbers would not follow her to a new contract.   Today, we worked out how that would happen in a three book deal (at same advance as before
  2. An author is being dropped by an ABA publisher precisely for lack of enough sales.  Her books were published in hardcover and sold more to libraries than through bookstores so they didn’t want to publish a TP edition for her second book or acquire the third.  I worked out a delay in making this decision until mid-January because there are a lot of promotions and efforts on the part of the writer that have not yet borne fruit and could pull her numbers way up. AND she has developed a new proposal in a different genre I am sending out immediately before other publishers know where she stands with her mystery series.
  3. A client had very serious problems with an outside editor who over-edited and even rewrote sentences and paragraphs in her book with disastrous results. I read several chapters of the edits and was appalled.  After discussing this with her in-house editor and the publisher it was resolved a) the publisher will never use this outside editor again  b) the in-house editor will re-edit this book from scratch and c) I am reading the revised manuscript myself to ensure that we are all on the same page and it can go to copyediting.  It turned out that further substantive edits were needed first and happily we all agreed on what they were.
  4.  A client is late on turning in a book.  I read the manuscript and sent my notes to the outside editor so we could discuss how best to approach some major revisions and make a firm deadline. I needed to understand the scope of the work before I could assure the in-house editor that the schedule could be met.  After an in-depth conversation, our combined notes were sent to the author in a lengthy revision letter, she was given an additional two weeks to execute them and we talked through some approaches.   This is MUCH better than postponing the book to a new fiscal year and harming her chances at getting a new contract in a few months and possibly losing some terrific advance orders.  This is not uncommon and, in fact, other clients were in the same situation for various reasons with hard deadlines and needed revisions.
  5.       Three clients have books out with subagents worldwide for foreign rights.  They each had reviews, endorsements and updates on PR that needed to be sent to all of my subagents that have expressed interest after these books were presented at Frankfurt recently based on pitches/proposals that I wrote. Two of these authors have had six figure incomes from foreign sales in the past and the third has sold in four languages.
  6.      I help clients to get their backlist books published and two books needed covers this week and two were published in the past week.  One has already sold over 1,500 copies—our Amazon person was Wowed!  The other has gone into KDP Unlimited to help promote and sell the author’s entire list.  I provided information including charts and graphs of information on what is happening with Unlimited because we first put books into the program in August and Amazon has a 60 day delay period so our first results in sales figures and KOLL borrows came in yesterday.
  7. A deal I have been working on with Amazon’s new Waterfall list for about six months finally came through this week.  So now the writer has to decide whether she really wants to write in three genres and for two publishers.  Is getting a series of her heart published as part of a launch list worth it – or will her sanity be at risk?  A second offer yesterday from a small publisher that is launching the first EVER Catholic fiction list.  This is an offer on the table for a client who would love to do this.  Can we come to terms?  This outcome is still unknown as I write this but it is clear some major concessions are going to be made.
  8.    Editors requested a proposal from a client at ACFW.  She went on a two week trip outside the country and then had to meet a deadline.  So her new proposal arrived yesterday.  I read it.  It had problems.  I told her what to do about revisions and she sent it back today—and it will go out tonight or early tomorrow because there are only 4-5 more weeks to generate offers in the fall sales season since acquisitions shut down after Thanksgiving.  Further, she had received a revision letter from an editor and had only two weeks before her due date.  I called the editor immediately to get a reasonable time period for her to write this novel.
  9.  Talked today with an editor of a client about her IDEAS for a new book/new contract.  I wanted to be sure that the editor liked the locale, the hooks, the story underpinnings before my client wrote a proposal to submit.  Happily a green light on this project.   A second concept presented to an editor received a red light.  I told my client and talked through how she could keep her general idea, the period and locale but work with the board’s objections.
  10. A client was late turning in a book to her publisher because of personal problems.  Her book is being dropped and the contract cancelled.  How can I help her get back on track?  First, a contract with a different publisher.  Should I repay my portion of the advance when I did do all the work on this contract.  Client said no.  But we will do that.
  11. Client needs to know urgently whether the promo, a free promo of one of her books is a good idea.  Should she agree?  My answer: No.  first, the previous book that was promoted needed to be pushed more.  Second, their suggesting was a book mid-series that won’t help that series.  Three, I am running a promotion for an indie novel connected to her series and we want to see how that will work plus Unlimited before giving away more books.  Some to and from with the marketing manager at the publisher to resolve how this will be handled.
  12.  A client wants to sell a book to ABA—thinks her new books are more suited to a broader readership and I think she is right.  What do we do about her option with her current publisher?  If we fulfill it, will they make an offer?  If they do make an offer will the non-compete be extended so she cannot write for another publisher?  Can she handle two publishers and the due dates?  These issues were resolved, her proposal is out and I think there could well be an auction developing from the reactions of the ABA editors
  13. Two clients want to terminate their contracts to go indie.  Is this a good idea for them or not?  For one it is a good idea, but not for the other. They need to understand why.  For the first writer, I’ll be letting her editor know we are terminating and she will repay the advance.  For the second, I am renegotiating the contract with different due dates and even a different genre so it will work well with her indie books and produce more income.
  14. An editor tells me a proposal is going to their board next week.  I had to contact all of the other editors who have this proposal and let them know that I have an offer pending so they will read it asap. Several requests arrived for more info about the author’s sales, her current obligations, her future plans.  Needed to send all of that out immediately so everyone has a level playing field.
  15.  An author emailed me that she has interest from Russia in one of her indie published books.  Is it legit?  What should she do about it?  I know this publisher and have sold to them before and I’ll involve my subagent who can then also contact publishers in all Eastern European countries to generate offers.
  16.  Meanwhile a publisher is making an offer for 3 books and a strong advance for completely unknown books, deciding the proposed books are not what they want to do next but they LOVE this author.  YAY!
  17. Meanwhile I’m sending out emails to all the editors who have submissions to check and make sure they are being read.  I discover one editor is expecting and will be on maternity leave soon—should a different editor be reading this submission?  She says no, she loves the concept.  I’m letting clients know about rejections the same day they come in to keep them up to date and also make sure they have a list of all the submissions that are currently out for their books and what is happening.
  18.  All of the above were things I needed to do on the same day—but it wasn’t everything.  I also got to check in with Sue who was at the Surrey Writer’s conference about some great opportunities that came up suddenly for her clients, read more proposals and reviewed manuscripts, wrote up Deal Memos for the offers, checked with accounting on all the payments that had arrived to make sure they were correct, reviewed two marketing plans for client’s books, updated spreadsheets with due date changes and submissions.  And twice in the past week I got to eat a combined breakfast and lunch before 2:30PM.
  19.   So when I was reminded I needed to also write a blog for Seekerville, I was not wild about it. Considering the events of my week, I thought of writing one titled Seven Ways to Leave Your Publisher ;-)  I’ll save that for next time.



Ruthy here!!!  Natasha, thank you for that overview of "A Day in the Life"! It always amazes me what you're able to pack into twenty-four hours. And Seven Ways to Leave Your Publisher... Oy vey, I can't wait to see those, LOL! I'm going to guess that there are some very big "DON'TS" on that list! 

Hey, we've got punch and coffee, I've set out fruit trays and veggie trays and a dessert table laden with fresh pastries! Try those meringues, oh my stars, they're amazing!

AND HAVE WE GOT PRIZES FOR YOU!!!! We opened the Natasha client prize vault and today we are giving away these lovely gifts:

$20 Amazon Gift Card!


2 e-copies of "Hope for the Holidays" Historical Collection!!




2 e-copies of "Hope for the Holidays" Contemporary Collection!!




2 copies of Missy Tippens' "The Guy Next Door"!!




This amazing box of chocolates!!!! 



2 copies of Julie Lessman's "Surprised by Love"!!




From Glynna Kaye:  "A Canyon Springs Courtship",  "Pine Country Cowboy" and "High Country Holiday"!!




And one copy each of Myra Johnson's: "When Clouds Roll By", "Whisper Goodbye" and
"Every Tear a Memory"!!



Stop by, ask questions, leave a comment and we'll throw your name in the meticulously clean cat dish in honor of our wonderful guest!!!

(I really scrubbed it good this time!)  :)


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

7 Things I’m Glad No One Told Me about the Writing Life (Or I Would Have Quit)

with guest Melanie Dickerson.
 
How awesome to be in Seekerville to celebrate the 7th birthday of this blog, which is so helpful and informative and friendly and just plain THE BEST. But when Tina invited me to write a post, I warned her that I was on a tight deadline, I’d been doing some really tough editing, which always makes me emotional, and not in a good way, and in the mood I was in, my post could be classified as “dark humor.” But she said she was game anyway. So, here it is. Read at your own risk. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

7 Things I’m Glad No One Told Me about the Writing Life (Or I Would Have Quit)

1. Some days the words just will not flow, no matter how much you want them to.

When I first started writing, I thought that after a certain period of time, I would really know what I was doing. I would have perfected my techniques, and I would be able to churn books out like Barbara Cartland or Nora Roberts. But alas, as I write my 10th book, I don’t think I’ll ever be a Nora Roberts. I still have days when the words don’t flow. I still, quite often, feel like I have no clue what I’m doing.

2. I would get 1- and 2-star reviews that would make me feel icky inside for days.

This was in the days after my first two books were out. Since then, I’ve pretty much gotten over that icky feeling. Now I usually either don’t read them, or I shrug and say, “Oh well. Can’t please everyone.” But it took me a couple of years at least to get over it.
 


3. I would have 3 different agents in 5 years.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that, so don’t ask me.

4. Once you get that first contract, or that second or third or fourth, you aren’t guaranteed you’ll ever get another one.

I’ve had a contract canceled because the publisher decided to stop publishing fiction, and I’ve spent time wondering if my career was over and if anyone would ever buy another book from me again. It’s a tough business. There are no guarantees.

5. How much money I would make.



 I recently saw an Amazon review on one of my books with the heading “You make too much money.” So I absolutely couldn’t resist reading the rest of the review to find out if they really know how much money I make. Nope. Turns out, this reviewer is under the mistaken notion that I make a lot of money. Me. Little me, with my four books released in four years. All I can say is, Ms. Reviewer, you are grossly misinformed. Or should I say, uninformed?

6. That I would still have to clean the toilets and cook the meals and clean the house (and heaven knows there’s not much cleaning going on).

I used to think that if I could just make enough money by writing to hire a housekeeper to come in one day a week, I would be happy with that. Well, I still don’t have a housekeeper, but that subject is too depressing, so don’t ask me about that either.

 


7. Most of my early writer friends would quit writing and I’d have to make new writer friends.

They’re still my friends, but they’re no longer writing. They’re pursuing other important things, and that’s great, but it was very sad when we stopped communicating as much. I guess the bottom line is, Writing is a permanent sickness for some, and others get over it pretty quickly.

And the #8 Bonus is my favorite: It’s not really about me at all.

I used to think I was doing this writing gig for myself, to make money, to do what I loved, to get that housekeeper I desperately needed, for personal fulfillment. After I got published, I realized I was totally wrong. It’s not about me at all.
It’s about the girl who just wrote to me and said, “I am a Christian and struggling with my faith but these books have inspired me to be a better person and to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Thanks to you I have witnessed to 3 people at my school. I really appreciate the difference you have made in my life.”

It’s about the mother who wrote to me and said, “Your books have been such a Godsend for [my daughter], as it is difficult to find books that are morally pure for a 13 year old.”

It’s about Debbie, who said, “Your books have offered me a wonderful escape from a very painful chronic illness.”

It’s about the teen girl who said, “I love how I was able to find a Christian book series I could read and that would give me strength through my first year of high school. I believe that I needed Jesus more than ever this year, and I believe He helped me find these books to keep me going and to pursue my goals.”

It’s about another teen who said, “I love to read your books because they help to push myself to not be ashamed of my faith in Jesus Christ.”

It’s about the girl with the Muslim-sounding name who wrote and said, “I'm a huge fan of your books! Not only are they packed with adventure, but they convey wonderful messages of love, goodness, piety and faith in God Almighty that even non-Christians such as myself can relate to.”

So even though there have been a lot of tough things about being a writer, and even though I might have quit if I’d known just how tough it would be, I’m glad I didn’t know. Because I’m glad I didn’t quit.

And now I’d like to hear your biggest gripe about the writing life. Go ahead, vent. Get it off your chest. And then tell me the reasons why it’s worth it to you. And if you leave a comment, you’ll be in the drawing to win one of 3 copies of my newest book,
The Princess Spy.

The Princess Spy

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.


Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot
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 And exciting news today in Seekerville!



Leading up to the release of The Princess Spy, my publisher is putting all my previous books on sale for $1.99. So if you are missing any of the books, now is a great time to get them! Also, you can pre-order The Princess Spy for $5.99. Thanks! 



Melanie with Mary Connealy
Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist, a Carol Award winner, and the author of five Medieval fairy tale retellings, from Sleeping Beauty to The Frog Prince. When she’s not experiencing the emotional extremes of being a published author – from the euphoria of a plot breakthrough to the despair of believing her current manuscript is the worst book she’s ever written – she is spending time with her two daughters, two female guinea pigs, and the lone male in the house, her husband.




Photo via Crestock.com
More fun today with Melanie! Seekerville is hosting fairy tale day TODAY! Change your profile picture to your favorite fairy tale. Think Disney, Mother Goose, or the Brothers Grimm. Or make up your own. All fairy tale profile picture guests will have their name put into the princesses crown for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.  Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

7 Random Writerly Things That Make Me Go Wow!


Happy Birthday, Seekerville!! Hasn't this month been amazing? So many wonderful topics, all based on the number 7. When I decided on my topic, I had just arrived back from St. Louis and had something very special with me. And with that in mind, I found my topic for today.

I started my list and wrote that one thing down. Then I waited. I wanted each thing to be very special. Something that makes me smile, something that gives me the warm fuzzies, or just something that really, really makes me go WOW!

It took me several weeks to complete my list, but I did it just in time for this blog post. I know that during our discussion, I'll think of many more random things that make me go wow, but because we're celebrating 7 years here in Seekerville, I'll be good and stick to the 7 on my list.

1. The St. Louis Arch, but not just because it's the ARCH...


While in St. Louis, the Seekers got together and enjoyed dinner. Just being with my Seeker sisters and a few brother-in-laws :) was wonderful. Talking, laughing, enjoying the evening together. Just thinking about it makes me smile. Julie gave each of us a small framed photo of the St. Louis Arch to remember the occasion. It sits on my desk, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I look at it!

2. Phone call from Kim...

A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from a young wife and mother who's been been going through a tough time. Her husband was in a car wreck over a year ago, and he's still having a lot of healthy problems from his injuries. Our community rallied around Kim and her husband and raised money to help with their medical expenses. I donated some bundles of Christian fiction to be auctioned off, but sent a copy of my book to Kim herself and encouraged her to take a few minutes for herself, to read and relax for a bit. When she called, she was bubbling over with excitement about how much she'd enjoyed the book and wanted to know where to find my next one. Sure, I was glad she wanted to read more of my work, but I was MORE blessed and WOWED that my fictional story took her away from the overwhelming stress that she and her family are facing right now. Keep my friend Kim and her husband in your prayers.

3. New Book Covers


Seeing a new book cover for the first time is just an amazing experience. When that cover lands in my inbox and I get my first peek at it, I get that giddy feeling that makes me want to run outside and shout, "Look, I have a new BOOK COVER!" ... Never mind that I live half a mile from my nearest neighbor and the the cows and the dogs are my only audience.

4. Typing "The End!"

I'm at the point in my current wip that typing THE END seems like a pipe dream, but it will happen. I know it will. And I'm not just talking about THE END after I've hammered out a rough draft, but THE END when I know that I know that I KNOW I've nailed that story to the wall. That makes me go wow. We won't think about edits... not today!

5. Emails like this one from Deborah...
"Just finished reading"Claiming Mariah" and wanted to let you know what an awesome read!! I thoroughly enjoyed the book, couldn't put it down, and read it in one day (in between household chores)! I really enjoyed the authentic details and the conversations between characters was so real, just like people really talk! Looking forward to your future works...God bless you as you proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ!" Deborah 
6. Satisfied readers. Client bought Claiming Mariah at a craft fair on Saturday morning. He wasn't too sure if he'd like it...was afraid it might be too heavy on the romance, but I assured him that several male readers had read it and sent word that they enjoyed it. Client decided to bite the bullet and buy the book. He finished reading it in less than 48 hours and sent me the following email:
 
"I finished CLAIMING MARIAH yesterday afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and now I'm waiting on STEALING JAKE." Client


7. Group pictures of Seekers and Friends of Seekerville!


Well, I started with the Seekers and I ended with the Seekers. Honestly, it doesn't get any better than that. :) So, what about you.... Quick, give us 7 random writerly things that make you go wow!

And if you can't think of any, here's something to get you excited. I'm giving away 7 copies of The Evergreen Bride today. Ebook only, for Nook or Kindle. Just let me know in the comments if you'd like to be in the drawing for THE EVERGREEN BRIDE!

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

The Evergreen Bride is also available in the White Christmas Brides Collection, exclusively at Walmart. Keep your eyes peeled and give me a shout-out on Facebook if you spot it. Copies are scarce as hen's teeth!

Monday, October 27, 2014

SEVEN REASONS TO KEEP WRITING


HAPPY BIRTHDAY again Seekerville.  Sandra here, and I just can’t say it enough. One of the best things in my writing career is Seekerville and all the friends I have met here. Thank you all for making this 7th year so special.


 As you’ve guessed by now, we’re talking in sevens. And I have a list of seven that is really written more for me than for you. But since Seekerville is all about sharing the experience, there might be someone out there who can relate.





And speaking of birthdays, I have a big one coming up—you know one of those big zero numbers.  And we’re talking sevens here so does that explain why I shudder to even say it? LOL

Because of that and because of the “senior condition” of my abilities to micro manage, I have been considering retiring from writing. In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to on my next birthday. Then someone, I think it was Ruthy, came up with the bright idea to write a Christmas novella. I had so much fun with that, I have been reconsidering my decision. Hence this post.


Hope For the Holidays-Contemporary 


1. MOTIVATION
Why write?  Good question. I know I’ve heard people say  “its God’s plan for me. “ Well to be perfectly honest, I used to say the same thing. Notice I said used to.  One thing my relationship with God does do is make me examine my inner self.  And like the peeling of an onion, those little inner thoughts become exposed.
My purpose was escape. Pure and simple.  In the eighties when I started writing, I was in an extremely stressful job. I was involved in a program of teaching through a project with Arizona State University that turned out to be quite successful. Because of that, we had people trouping in and out of the classroom every day including the governor, educators from other countries, etc. This is very stressful because you have to be perfect every minute.  (Stop laughing, you folks who know how perfect I am NOT).   I ended up taking a sabbatical and started writing and became published. Miracle of miracles.

God’s plan?  Nope. Just a merciful reprieve. Because when the sabbatical was over, I lost all three editors and no sales. Back to teaching I went and looking back, I do know THAT was God’s plan for me.

Then when I retired in 2000, I thought. “Oh boy, I get to write now.” And I started writing again. But then, as those of you who have been in Seekerville all these seven years know, I had another stressful job: caregiver of elder parents, family members and a dear friend.  Again, I wanted to write to escape. And again, writing got set aside. And looking back, , I do know THAT was God’s plan for me.

But I have nothing to escape now. My life is pretty nice. I have been super blessed. And I thank my Lord for that every moment of the day.  So I can’t write to escape.

I need to find a strong motivation. Writing as you know takes a lot of dedication, perseverance and hard work. It is not going to get done if you aren’t strongly motivated.

So what is your motivation to write?


Christmas lights in Seville, Spain


2. ABILITY

A strong imagination, love of romance, love of people and a love of daydreaming gives me a gift for writing. I can write.  Although, I have my doubts after critique partners red line my first draft so much it looks like it is bleeding. And I do have doubts. It seems like every novel requires so much assistance from critique partners, editors and copy editors. I often wonder if I should be doing this when I need so much help.

However, whenever I am writing, the people I need suddenly appear in my life. Now there are psychological studies that attest to why this happens. There are those who say “God provides.”  Well, I say, “If I am supposed to write, why can’t I do it by myself?” I mean, really? Shouldn’t I be able to?

But that is just an excuse. All I have to do is read the reviews of my books and I know that I have the ability to write. At least some people think so. Smile So if I have a gift, shouldn’t I use it? I mean, isn’t that why we have gifts?

Do you write because you have the gift to write?


Tree of lights in the plaza



3. INCOME
Now when I was teaching, and wanted to escape that job, the motivation to write and become wealthy beyond my dreams did inspire me to write. Of course there were all those articles of sage advice not to quit your day job, but one can ignore any advice they don’t want to hear.  LOL

But I have to say, when I wanted or needed the money to write, I was writing a lot more than I am now when I’m sitting here with all of my financial needs met.

So even though money is a worldly reward, it certainly will motivate you. So perhaps I can channel that motivation in thinking of ways to use the money I do earn. Hmmm.  Good point.

Are any of you writing because you want the extra income?


Street in Seville during Christmas


4.  PURPOSE   
Writing does give me a sense of purpose. I have goals I set each day. I get up every morning and engage in productive activity. When I accomplish my goals, I feel good about myself.

Now there have been several studies on aging and it has been determined by several that all those elderly who do well with the aging process have one thing in common. They have a sense of purpose. It doesn’t matter really what the purpose is, but they feel they need to do something and they do it.  It keeps them energetic and young.

So there is a good reason to continue to write. I will have a sense of purpose which will help me age with dignity and will keep me out of mischief. Smile My hubby claims he loves when I write novels because then I’m not writing him a honey-do list. My family tells me I write because I’m so bossy and my characters are the only ones who listen and do what I tell them. So they see my writing as a reprieve. I’m too busy bossing my characters instead of them.  Chuckle.   Little do they know that those strong-willed characters often do what they please instead of what they are told.

Does writing give you a sense of purpose?


More city streets decorated for Christmas in Seville


5. DESIRES AND PASSION
When I started writing the novella, it reawakened the desire and the passion I’ve always felt for a good story. I was always an avid reader as far back as I can remember. I skipped Nancy Drew and went straight to my mother’s novels. I’ve always loved a good romance and spent all my spare time reading.

When I started writing, I discovered writing a novel was even more fun than reading a novel. My passion easily transferred to writing and creating a romance novel.

Personally, I think you need that passion and desire to muddle through all the disappointments, editing and rejections that come along with the writing process. It is a relief to know I still have that passion.

Do you have a passionate desire to write?



Beach at Matalascanas. Remains of a moorish tower


6. SATISFACTION AND GOAL ACCOMPLISHMENT
If you have the desire, passion, ability, motivation and determination to write a novel, then the actually accomplishment of writing one is extremely satisfying. There is nothing quite satisfying as completing a project or accomplishing a goal that you set for yourself. This builds your sense of purpose and your self-esteem.

Many of us work in jobs that are not very satisfying. Writing is one way to build that sense of purpose. Writing and completing something as difficult and seemingly impossible as a whole novel, is a great pat on the back. At least you feel that way until the rejections sail in. But then a determined writer eventually gets published and that really cements that feeling of self worth.

Do you write for satisfaction and the sense of accomplishing a goal?

7. PRODUCT
When you do actually accomplish your goal and fulfill your sense of purpose, you have a product that shows the result of all your efforts.  This product provides satisfaction, fulfills a sense of purpose and hopefully produces income. It proves you have ability and were motivated. Having the product in hand, in my case anyway, stimulates the passion and desire to write again.

Have you produced a product or finished work with your writing? How did it make you feel?


View from hunting lodge of the King in Parque Natural de Donana


So there you have it folks. Seven reasons to keep on writing. Like I said, this article was written for me and it has helped me see the reason I must keep on writing. Smile

And I must say, the product in hand, the novella that we are publishing this fall definitely convinced me that I have made the right decision.

And guess what?  This novella is my seventh novel that will be listed on Amazon under my pen name, Sandra Leesmith.  It totally amazed me to realize that I have seven books out there.

In case you are wondering about the photos I have within this post, they are shots taken in Spain where my novella is set. The name of my novella is A HEART FULL OF HOPE and it takes place in a small town in Southwestern Spain called Matalascañas.  It is about an hour drive from Seville. Part of the story is set in the beautiful Parque Natural de Doñana. One of the tour guides we hired while in Seville gave me his email address and when I told him about this story, he sent photos of Christmas in Seville. One thing about Spain, they do Christmas up big.  They have no qualms about statues of Jesus appearing everywhere and tour guides speak openly about the Christian influences. I loved it.



The video is called Mapping and it is like a huge slide show on the walls of city hall that depicts scenes for the celebration of Christmas. Thousands of people flock to Seville to see it. I will try and attach it, but I’ve never attached a video so hope it works. It’s quite amazing. That of course, is in my novella also. Smile




In Spain they delight in tons of Christmas pastries. And most of them drink coffee European style in thick lattés. So I have prepared a table full of delightful pastries and there are plenty of lattés.

My prize giveaway is a handmade kindle bag that my friend makes and sells in the craft fairs in our RV parks. It will fit a kindle or any tablet actually. I’m also including a gift card for Staples, a leather notebook, and some surprise print Seeker novels. I will also pre-order one of the contemporary novellas for the winner.



Also a pen and the ebook makes 7 items for our 7th birthday bash


So grab your latté and comment today for a chance to win. Remember to check in the weekend edition for the winner and to respond to the Seeker address.


If you are in the Phoenix area, checkout my author page, Sandra Leesmith,  in Amazon Central for upcoming events. November 8, Scottsdale Civic Library is offering free writing workshops. I will be there giving a workshop on Motivation and Focus



Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Weekend Edition-Birthday Week 4



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


Our final birthday week $50 gift card will come from CBD.com

We Have Winners

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

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



The Week Three $50 Amazon Gift Card goes to Helen Gray! Congratulations!






 

Monday Love Inspired Historical author Janet Dean shared "Seven + Villager Success Stories." Thanks to our generous authors, Jeanne T won two hard copies—one for her and one for a friend—of Patty Smith Hall’s Christmas novella, Christmas Lessons. LeAnne Bristow won a hard copy of Keli Gwyn’s novel A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. Patsy won a hard copy of Jan Drexler’s A Mother for His Children. Marianne won Nancy Kimball’s eBook Chasing the Lion. Eileen Barnes won a hard copy of Jessica Nelson’s Family on the Range. Liz Flaherty won a hard copy of Virginia Carmichael’s Austen Takes the South. Amy C won a hard copy of Helen Gray’s Ozark Wedding. Grace Dickerson won a hard copy of Christina Rich’s The Warrior’s Vow. The winner for the $10 Amazon gift card is Patti Jo.


Tuesday we gave huge, happy, no holds barred Seekerville welcome to Heartwarming Senior Editor Victoria Curran! Victoria shared "One Editor's Top 7 Revision Notes." Winners of a Heartwarming e-book (7 books/7winners) are: Karen Kirst, Jill Kemerer, Rhonda Starnes, Calisa Rhose, Cynthia Herron, Sally Shupe, and Carolyn Chambers Clark. Two winners of four packs of print copies of Heartwarming books courtesy of Harlequin are Tanya Agler and Robin Wilson.

We hope you didn't miss Wednesday and the Suspense Sister with their post, "3 Sisters on Writing: 7 Simple Strategies for Making the Dream a Reality," with Love Inspired Suspense writers (and sisters) Shirlee McCoy, Sara K. Parker and Mary Ellen Porter. Winner of a box of writer’s goodies, including: a Starbucks gift card ($15), a Barnes & Noble gift card ($25), a dry-erase calendar with markers, a crockpot cookbook, and the most important of all—chocolate. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Shirlee’s December release, Her Christmas Guardian, and IOUs for Sara’s January release, Undercurrent, and Mary Ellen’s May release, Into Thin Air is Suzanne Baginskie.



 
Thursday Virginia Carmichael, (aka Mary Jane Hathaway ) joined us with her post, "The Joy of Rejection."  We have winners:THREE paper copies of Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili Slaw Dogs to Sara Ella, Donna L.H. Smith, and Deanna Stevens. THREE paper copies of her latest Love Inspired release A Home For Her Family (October 1st) to Meghan Carver, Cindy W and Donna Phillips. Also, THREE digital copies of her latest Mary Jane Hathaway book The Pepper in the Gumbo, releasing October 28th to Nancy C (Chill N), Susan Mason and Sherida Stewart.
THREE paper copies of Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili Slaw Dogs and THREE paper copies of my latest Love Inspired release A Home For Her Family (October 1st). Also, THREE digital copies of my latest Mary Jane Hathaway book The Pepper in the Gumbo, releasing October 28th!

- See more at: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-joy-of-rejection.html#sthash.bLgTvpD9.dpuf


 
Seekerville was delighted to welcome back our pal, Erica Vetsch on Friday, with her post "Seven Things That Will Make Your Editor Happy." (She also shared some great news!) Becky Dempsey is the winner of a copy of Sagebrush Knights.


 
Saturday we welcomed Worthy Publishing author Brandy Vallance with her post, "Seven Essentials For Powerful Fiction." Victoria and Melissa Jagears  are the winners of her debut release, The Covered Deep. 

Next Week in Seekerville


Monday:Sandra Leesmith will talk about the "Seven Reasons to Keep Writing." She will be giving away a hand crafted (by her artistic friend, Diane) bag for a Kindle or tablet. There might be some surprises inside the bag too!  



Tuesday: Pam Hillman is your hostess with "7 Random Writerly Things That Make Me Go Wow!" And she hopes to wow 7 winners with e-copies of her latest novella, The Evergreen Bride.


Wednesday: Today is fairy tale day in Seekerville as we welcome back Zondervan author Melanie Dickerson. Melanie will be sharing, "7 Things I’m Glad No One Told Me about the Writing Life (Or I Would Have Quit)." She's also giving away THREE copies of her November 4, release, The Princess Spy...and we have one more fun twist. If you change your BLOGGER PROFILE PICTURE to reflect ANY fairy tale character (think Mother Goose or Brothers Grimm), we'll put your name in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. 


Thursday: Seekerville is thrilled to welcome back one of our favorite literary agents. Stop by to chat with Natasha Kern as she talks about the day in the life of your agent. What is it that they actually do all day long?  Natasha's Seeker clients have sweetened the pot with some fun gifts for that day including chocolate, gift cards and books! If you wanna talk it up with one of the top-selling, most knowledgeable agents in the biz, make Seekerville your Thursday "go-to" place!


Friday:Seeker Glynna Kaye joins us to share “7 Words of Writing Wisdom” – tips that she picked up from the fantabulous ACFW 2014 conference in St. Louis.  In honor of Seekerville’s SEVENTH BIRTHDAY, she’s giving away a copy of her November Love Inspired release, High Country Holiday to SEVEN winners!

Saturday: Welcome to the November Contest Update. Stop by for our usual contest fun and games and prizes, and to meet the November Contest Diva/Divo. Additionally, WE WILL ANNOUNCE THE OCTOBER BIRTHDAY iPAD MINI WINNER. All other winners will be announced on Sunday, November 2, in the Party is Over, Weekend Edition.

Seeker Sightings
 
I'm Free! Pick Me!

  AWARD-WINNING FREEBIE! There’s nothing better than free, right? Audra Harders is crazy excited about Second Chance Ranch finaling in the International Digital Awards contest, so it’s time to celebrate with free books for everyone!! Tell family, friends…EVERYONE, that Second Chance Ranch is free this weekend! Click here to whisk you away to Amazon and download your free copy. It will just take a minute, then come back to Seekerville and keep the party going!!








 

To celebrate the release of her novel  Every Tear a Memory:Till We Meet Again, Book 3, award-winning author Myra Johnson is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card! Find the entry form on Myra's Facebook page or at her blog, Writer at Random. The contest runs from October 20 through November 30, and there are several opportunities to increase your chances of winning! 









 




Glynna Kaye invites you to a "High Country Holiday" at the Love Inspired Authors Blog.












 
A friendly pre-order competition is going on between Team Historical and Team Contemporary. Pre-order now so the Contemporary writers can catch up to the Historical writers!

Pre-order here.






Pre-order here.



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








  




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







Random News & Information


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

 Many thanks. 


Your friends at Seekerville


Understanding Goodreads for Authors With Julie Whitely, Goodreads Librarian (From the Heart...Cheryl St. John)


October 2014 Author Earnings Report (Hugh Howey)


 Man Spends 17 Months Planning His Proposal, And The Results Are Perfect (Elite Daily)

 Jane Austen Lovers Unite: A Fine Cast Brings 'Death Comes To Pemberley' To Life (Huffington Post)


 I am Not My Book (Writers in the Storm via Nancy C)


Ten Lessons from Plot & Structure (Kill Zone) 


 The Psychology of Color in Logo Design (INFOGRAPHIC) (Huff Post via Brandy Vallace)

The Psychology of Color in Fashion (A la Mode via Brandy Vallance)


5 Marketing Mistakes That Beginning Fiction Writers Make (The Book Designer)


 10 Social Media Rules Every Author Needs to Know (Edie Melson)

 
Details here

 I'm enrolled! Are you? (We can throw erasers at each other and pass notes!)


Have a great day Seekervillagers!