Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Weekend Edition

The Weekend Edition celebrates the tenth opening of Unpublished Island.
Leave a comment this weekend 

and we'll draw names for surprise beach reads!
Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.

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

Winners of ecopies of Holt Medallion Award finaling books by Janet Dean (The Bounty Hunter's Redemption) and Tina Radcliffe (Rocky Mountain Reunion) are Cynthia Herron and Connie (cps).

Monday: Susanne Dietze was back in Seekerville. On the heels of a very busy year, she brought us "Whipping Writer’s Whiplash." Phyllis Wheeler is the winner of My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight.

Tuesday: Debby Giusti's blog post featured "Cheap Gadgets for your Writing Toolbox!" Two winners were chosen and will receive a copy of a two-in-one from Love Inspired that features Patricia Davids' The Shepherd's Bride as well as Plain Danger, by Debby Giusti. Debby's also giving each winner a favorite item from her toolbox. Can you guess? A kitchen timer. In addition, each winner will receive a copy of Debby's Publishers Weekly Bestseller, Amish Refuge. Congrats to the winners: Connie ( and Kristin Dievendorf!

Wednesday: Ruthy Logan Herne spent the day talking about 7 Shots at Targeting Your Dream Publisher.... and the winner of her very first mystery "A Light in the Darkness" (coming soon from Guideposts Mysteries) is Dana McNeely! 

Thursday: Melanie Dickerson was our special guest with her post, "How to Take Your Career from Whine to Shine." Sharee S, Dana R. Lynn, and Terri W are winners of hard copies of The Noble Servant!

Monday: Seekerville is closed to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday!

Tuesday: Missy Tippens will be bringing "Creativity and...Improv?" Come join the fun of talking about brain science and creativity. And enter to win an I Love Improv mug!

Wednesday: Author and cover designer, Rogenna Brewer is in Seekerville with her post, "5 Things You Need for a Great Book Cover (And 5 Things You Don't)." Don't miss the fun!

Thursday: Preslaysa Williams returns to Seekerville with her post, "Method Acting for Writers." Stop by and get in character!

Friday: Today we bring you The Best of the Archives. Comments are closed to allow us all to catch up on our reading and writing.  

Join Debby Giusti at Books-A-Million in Peachtree City, GA, where she'll sign copies of her latest Love Inspired Suspense, AMISH REFUGE.

Proceeds benefit Pregnancy Aid Clinic that provides life-changing and life-saving services free of charge to women in the Atlanta area. 

Amish Refuge came out on the Publishers Weekly Bestsellers List! 

Congratulations to Debby Giusti!

Thanks for the link love!

Congratulations to the Wisconsin Fab Five Winners and finalists with a special shout out to Villagers & Friends of Seekerville: Sharee Stover (1st place Inspirational ) and Kate Barker (4th place inspirational), and Linda Truesdell (1st place Women's Fiction), Jeanine Englert (1st place Romantic Suspense).

More Congratulations go out to the Touched by Love Finalists with a special shout out to Villagers & Friends of Seekerville: Cindy Regnier (double finalist in the Historical category) and Amanda Wen (finalist in the Long Contemporary category).

Christian Fiction Keeps Its Allure (PW)

The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence closes soon! Enter your 2016 copyright books! The Inspirational Category is low on entries. Enter today.

Ask the Agent: Indie Publishing, Ebooks, Movie Rights, et al. (MacGregor Literary)

Letting Go When the Book Isn't Working (Writer Unboxed)

New to Book Publicity? Go Local First! (The Book Designer)

How To Know Which Publishing Conferences are Worth Attending (BookBub Partners)

3 Strategies for Marketing a Book Series (DBW)

Amazon Sets Up Shop in the Heart of the Publishing Industry (NYT)

Trade Fiction Versus Category Fiction: What’s the Difference? (Steve Laube Blog)

Don't Miss These Chicken Soup for the Soul Deadlines (CSFS)

Have a great reading and writing weekend.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Best of the Archives: "Happy for No Reason"

By Missy Tippens
Posted Originally on August 13, 2008

I recently saw an interview with Marci Shimoff, author of “Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out.” And she said something really interesting. We all have a happiness set point. And it means that no matter what happens to us in life, we tend to settle around the same happiness level unless we do something consciously to change it.

She said that our set point is 50% genetic (we’re born with it), 10% circumstances, and the other 40% is due to our habits of thoughts and behavior. That 40% is the part we can change. She said we have 60,000 thoughts per day, and for the average person 80% of those are negative. Sooooo…

We’ve got to stop the negative thoughts! And we’ve got to replace them with positive thoughts.

The road to publication and the business of writing can be difficult. None of us is immune to rejection. And then there’s the negative feedback (those painful contests score sheets and tepid or even bad reviews). Even when things are going great, we worry about what’s ahead. We wonder if we can keep producing good manuscripts or if we'll ever sell again. But we have to plow ahead, to keep our chins up and tell ourselves that we’re strong, we’re good at what we do, and we’re going to be successful.

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking I’m a wannabe therapist. It seems with every post I’m trying to force you to do self-reflection. But actually, I think I'm more of a wannabe cheerleader. (Yeah, you guessed it. I was in band in high school.) So here I go once again with a self-help assignment. So sorry! But you have to do it anyway (yes, I can be as mean as Ruthy). :)

Come up with two or three affirmations you’re going to tell yourself this week (and maybe post them on sticky notes on your bathroom mirror). I’d love to hear if changing your self-talk worked for you! I'd also love for you to share what you've come up with.

Gosh, I guess I’ll go first… I’m organized. I’m competent…

I’m skinny.

What? That one doesn’t count? (Don’t you wish we could “self-talk” the pounds away?!) Okay, a third affirmation: I’m creative.

I will succeed! And so will you. Now your turn...

Rah Rah!
Missy :)

Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest and a 2013 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A House Full of Hope was a Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA® Nominee. Visit Missy at, and

Comments have been turned off today so you can focus on writing and practicing your positive self-talk. :)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How To Take Your Career From Whine to Shine

Feeling frustrated that your career isn’t where you want it to be? Do you wonder why with every passing year you don’t seem to be any closer to success? How can you turn that frustration into a win?

I encounter other writers who share your frustration. Here are 6 things I believe will help you take your career from “whine” to “shine!”

1.    Define your goal.

Be as specific as possible. What is it you want? If you don’t define your goal, if you don’t know exactly what you want, how can you expect to get it?

When I was starting out as a writer, my goal was to have a career as a novelist. I wanted to write books for a living. I didn’t want to write as a hobby, I wanted a career. I discovered the basic steps: write great novels, sign with a good agent, get published, etc. But as I worked through the steps, I never, ever forgot the original and ultimate goal, which was a career as an author.

2.    Be single-minded, a.k.a Count the cost.

This is where I see so many writers—good, talented writers—steer themselves wrong and delay the attainment of their goal. Being successful requires focus. Laser focus. The focus of a heat-seeking missile. It requires asking oneself hard questions. It requires tuning out voices giving you bad advice. 

One of the pieces of advice that is like nails on a chalkboard to me is: “You gotta get your name out there.”

What does that even mean? I recently had a conversation with a fellow published author. When I asked her why she was writing short stories and novellas and self-publishing them, she said, “To get my name out there.” I asked her what was the goal of getting her name out there, and she said, “To drive readers to buy my book.” 

“Is that working?” I asked. The look on her face answered my question. “No.” 

If you want readers to discover your books, you need to write more books. If you want to have a career writing novels, you need to write more novels. If you’re agreeing to write novellas for novella collections with other authors, and writing those novellas is keeping you from writing more novels, you need to ask yourself the hard question: “Why am I doing this?” “Is this helping me attain my goal?”

I had a similar conversation with another writer friend who announced she was starting a blog and she was going to set herself a strict schedule of blogging three times a week, because that’s what gets followers for one’s blog. This writer friend had been trying to get the same book published for years and had not written any other books. I asked her why she was writing a blog instead of starting on her next book. She said it was to get her name out there.

Sigh. If you want to get your name out there, write more books, and work at getting them published. Ask yourself, “How is having a blog going to help me accomplish my goal?” If you can’t definitively answer that question with anything other than, “It won’t,” then skip the strict blog-writing schedule. Skip anything that keeps you from writing the next book and getting it published. Let me repeat that. Skip anything that keeps you from your goal.

My point is that you have to count the cost of anything you decide to do, because when you divide your time doing things not directly focused on your goal, then it’s just going to take you that much longer to reach your goal. Know your goal, and know your limitations. 

3.    If what you’re doing is not working, try something else.

If you’ve been working on your craft, practicing said craft by writing several books, and trying to get published, but no traditional publishers are interested in the kind of books you write, it might be time to go indie and publish your own books. Thankfully, we live in an amazing day and time when such a step is a viable option. Many writers have done quite well for themselves by self-publishing. And I love that we have that opportunity and that today’s technology makes it possible to have great success as an independent.

Work hard but work smart.

4.    If success is eluding you and you can’t figure out why, read a book.

But not just any book. I just finished 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life. It’s by Dr. Henry Cloud of Boundaries fame. With points like “Make decisions based on how they’ll affect the future,” and “Don’t make decisions based on your fear of other people’s reactions,” it’s definitely worth reading, and it might help you identify ways you are sabotaging your own success.

5.    Ask yourself the hard questions.

Am I making excuses?   Am I burying my talents by not pursuing my dream?   Am I doing “busy-ness” instead of fulfilling my purpose in life?   Am I spending too much time with marketing and promotion? Is what I’m doing helping me or hindering me from reaching my goal?   Am I praying about each commitment before committing?

 6.    Pray about everything.

I mean it. Ask God to make clear to you what your goal should be and what you should be doing with your limited time and energy and finances. Pray for success. Pray before you accept that offer to become the church librarian. Pray before you agree to write a novella to contribute to your friends’ anthology. Pray before you sit down to a marathon viewing of an entire season of “Blue Bloods” instead of working on your WIP. And pray before you agree to write a blog post for that blog that has only three followers. (Sorry, but let’s be real.)

Be humble. If contest judges and critique partners (or reviewers) have given you constructive criticism, really look at what they’re saying and try to make the changes that will improve your writing. And don’t be jealous of the writers who are getting the things you always wanted. Easier said than done, I know! But take a hard look at whether you have jealousy in your heart, and surrender it to God. 

And while you’re at it, surrender your writing to God. I can remember the day I held out my hands and, with tears streaming down my face, surrendered my writing to God, telling him I was okay with whatever he decided to do with it. It was not long after that that things started happening and I got my first contract.

Realize that success may not be exactly what you expected it to be. I thought being a successful author would make everyone love me. Boy, was I wrong! I lost more friends the more successful I became, and the rejection I felt from those friends, alongside some one- and two-star reviews, was nearly crippling. I also know published authors whose expectations of income have been dashed. When you do attain your goals, you may still end up disappointed. 

So don’t set your heart on success. Set your heart on the One who is able to give you what you need.

And really listen for God to speak to you. David inquired of the Lord before making decisions. Why should we not do the same? Be diligent in prayer. God is faithful. If anyone asks for wisdom, he should believe and not doubt that God will give it to him. If we seek him with all our hearts, we will find him. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Ask and you shall receive. 

My favorite parable starts like this: “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” Luke 18:1 

Keep on praying! Never give up!

So now it’s your turn. If you have reached your goal, what do you think has been the secret to your success? If you feel less than successful, what is something you need to change in order to attain your goal? 

Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win a copy of The Noble Servant. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. Melanie is generously giving away THREE copies of her release. Thank you, Melanie!

The Noble Servant

 She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . . if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?


 Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author for whose success she gives all the credit to God. Her two favorite time periods are Medieval, which she has combined with her love of fairy tales, and Regency England, which stems from her love of Jane Austen. She earned her bachelor's degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing novels like a highly motivated woman on a mission, and being with her husband, two daughters, and two guinea pigs near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on Facebook and at

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

7 Shots at Targeting Your Dream Publisher

Ruthy here, still talkin' and walkin' Western because I love writing Westerns and cowboys and strong women who can stand their ground in and out of the saddle.

But I didn't start out writing Westerns. I started out with straight romance with a dash of women's fiction on the side... and there were no takers. NONE. And of course my nose got out of joint, I scowled, caused wrinkles, bought more anti-wrinkle cream and tried to figure out where I was going wrong.

Years ago, New York Times bestselling author Karen White told me "Write what you want... and when someone grabs you, specialize in that until you can spread your wings again."

Brilliant advice. Loosely translated it means enjoy what you do... but keep it in front of editors. When you sell... Specialize in THAT.... and once you're solid enough, it's amazing how many doors just might open up. And I owe a huge bundle of thanks to my amazing literary agent Natasha Kern for the boatload of opportunities she's arranged for me!

Vince Mooney once dubbed my work "Romance Realism" years ago. I love that title! But not every publisher is dying for that much realism, and so I targeted a line I loved, one that was open to new authors: Love Inspired from Harlequin.... And in doing so it cost me an agent (Nicholas Sparks' agent had called me after going over my submission, but when she found out I wanted to work with Love Inspired, she told me she was no longer interested because she didn't work with Harlequin)....

That was a weird night in my house, because two weeks later, Love Inspired rejected three different manuscripts. So I'd given up my shot at having Theresa Park as an agent and I got multiple rejections... Right then I was pretty sure I was just plain stupid.

And maybe I was, but I look back and have no regrets. I don't work well with major constraints and while Theresa liked the proposal I sent her, (which would be published later by Franciscan Media as "The First Gift"), I wasn't ready for prime time. I know that now. And it taught me a lesson: Learn all you can about your target publisher and aim high!

1. Read the line.... I can't emphasize this enough, it seems simple, doesn't it?  But you would be amazed (raises hand in guilt) how many writers NEVER read the line they're targeting because they're so sure they're better than the current authors in the stable.

2. Where do they sell their books? Are they on mass market displays across the country or are they limited to Christian retail and B&N and Amazon? What is their price point? Will people BUY YOU at that price point?

3. Does this publisher take wild chances? 

I love my work with Love Inspired, and they know I love working with them.... because I love the simple folk who aren't afraid to embrace Walmart and Kroger and Winn Dixie and Winco and Wegmans, etc.  But Love Inspired isn't going to take wild chances, so if I'm writing something outside the norm, it's not going to sell to them... So I better have another publisher in mind or be prepared to indie publish some things!

4. Does this publisher already have a voice like yours? 

If so, you probably want to look elsewhere. Why would a publisher with a successful Amish author want to be their own competition? Or if they've got a great Western author, why would they be looking for another? They want to compete with OTHER publishers... not themselves. It's important to examine who they've got doing what so you can be the person to fill a niche they might not know they have until you come along! Harlequin and Love Inspired are the exception to this, and it's a very important exception... They publish more books monthly and annually than any other publisher, and they sell a lot of books... and that means they need a strong stable of authors.

5. Scout the Internet for editor interviews from your targeted publisher

Learn about the editors. Not just one... all of them. If they give you a shot, or even ask for a full manuscript, you want to be able to carry on a conversation with them that makes you sound like a normal human being... this is NOT EASY when you are in editor shock. :) But editors are people, too, and what they want is the Next Big Thing.  Entice them with your talent, but it's plain old common sense to have a clue about the person you're submitting to.... and their team!

6. Keep your online presence stellar. 

I'm not kidding about this. I've seen so many Christian authors, male and female, putting really tacky post-election things on facebook and twitter... and I'm here to say that's pretty short-sighted. First, it's not exactly up there with living your faith and "being a light".... and Second.... EDITORS WATCH. MARKETING WATCHES. If you make it difficult for them to sell your work (and insulting 50% of the population for their voting choices in a free society might make it trickier, darlings!!!!) then you've tied their hands and publishers don't like that. If you're aiming straight at indie publishing, this rule might not apply because sometimes you can raise a furor among fans by getting them on your side... but that's a different blog post! If it's a publisher's money you're putting at risk... Don't give them a silly reason to stamp your proposal with the customary "Sorry, this is not right for us at this time...."

This looks fun! Check out the facebook page, a way to connect with great books and authors this summer!

7. Submit on a regular basis. Enter contests with your targeted editors/publisher(s) as final round judges and keep working until it's YOU in the winner's circle! Keep trying until it's your work being requested. Keep your name out there, don't get lax, your work ethic and effort will speak well of you. And when asked to Revise and Re-submit, do it. That's an invitation with so much merit and they've put the ball back in your court to see if you are:

A. Cooperative
B. Willing to work
C. Able to compromise
D. Willing to take direction
E. Prompt and focused

This is not the time to whine on facebook that you didn't get the contract, you worked so hard, and you just wish they saw your brilliance... :)

If you need a further reminder of this, go back to #6. Editors and sales teams watch the people they're considering. They know when you change your website, your blog, how often you post on facebook or instagram, how often you tweet and the list goes on. This doesn't mean you need to live on social media... That's a time drain none of us can afford. Not if we're serious about this career... but what you do post should be done to show you as a genuinely nice person. Three Faces of Eve was a GREAT horror show on split personality. For authors on facebook, simple and nice works better. Remember that even if they're not your "friend", your things can be seen and shared by others. Be smart.

And here's an extra tip: Be open to new opportunities when they come your way. Be ready. Like a bench player who gets called into the game when the star shortstop or quarterback goes out on injury... Like John the Baptist proclaimed... Be ready. When Susan Downs from Guideposts messaged that she wanted to talk to me, and offered me a spot on this year's amazingly fun "Mysteries of Martha's Vineyard" author group, I was able to jump on board... and practice something new to me! Be ready and willing. The good Lord might have given you a marvelous talent, but it's only as good as the work you're willing to put in!

Here are questions for you. How are you picking publishers? How are you targeting them? Come on in, grab fresh coffee and a slice of that rhubarb custard pie.... or the lemon bars, right next to it... and let's talk game prep. You're talking with a former soccer coach here, a woman that knows it's the preparation that makes the day... not the day itself!

And today I've got a copy of MY FIRST MYSTERY EVER.... 

to send to one lucky person! (Once my copies come!) Leave a comment inside and I'll toss your name into the bakery box from Candy Lane's Confectionery, one of the popular stop-by places in Vineyard Haven! :)

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruthy Logan Herne loves writing stories folks remember, sweet tales of faith, hope and yes... most of all... love. With over 40 novels and novellas in print, Ruthy is having the time of her life and loves to chat it up with readers and writers from all over the world! Friend her on facebook, give her a shout out on @Twitter or stop by her web page or her blog