Friday, February 24, 2017

Best of the Archives: Never Miss a Chance to Speedbo

2017 is our SIXTH year to Speedbo.

We've heard every excuse imaginable for why not to Speedbo, but here's something to remember. Contracts, revisions, galleys, and other editorial requests will arrive at your inbox at the most inconvenient and difficult times of your life once your sell. You'll still meet those deadlines, because you are are a professional writer. 

Speedbo teaches you how to carve out time in your crazy world despite what's going on. Because there will never, ever be a normal day for a writer. 

Here's what some of our Speedbo participants from past years have to say about the month-long challenge:

 I'd encourage anyone who's interested to give Speedbo a try. I'm a fan for several reasons:
First, there's the timing. I find March a great month to focus on drafting. It's still winter here and it's bleak outside. There are not a whole lot of other things going on in March so it's easier to make writing a prime focus. 

Then there's the flexibility. Speedbo works really well with this year's theme of No Limits because your Speedbo goals are entirely up to you. You decide what works for you and you evaluate your success. There's no failing at Speedbo because whatever you accomplish is more than you had to begin with.

Finally, if you need motivation, look no further than this. The book I wrote during last year's Speedbo will be out from Love Inspired Suspense in October. Yes, you can write a book and sell it. I'm living proof! 
 -Cate Nolan
 I’m pretty sure the Seekers should apply for a patent for their Speedbo invention. It is genius. In my little corner of the writing world it gives me accountability without expectation and motivation without threat of failure. Speedbo has birthed new novels in me, transferred ideas to my computer screen and even given me new hope and courage when those two commodities were sadly lacking. Speedbo 2014 was a landmark year. I dusted off the novel I had begun summer of 2013, finished it, edited it and entered it in contests. I won the attention of an agent and now that Speedbo novel is sitting on the desk of editors. Maybe no one buys it, but the point is – I did it! Thanks Seekers and Speedbo. The certificate thing is really cool too!-Cindy Regnier
 I'll be honest with you guys, I don't always make my Speedbo goal. I know, you're thinking where's the encouragement in that. Here it comes, even when I don't make my goal I write more than normal. There's just something about reading everyone's progress that encourages me - motivates me to do better. So take the plunge, make a Speedbo goal and strive to reach it, but if you don't quite make your word count, don't beat yourself up. Instead, look at all  those glorious words you've written and bask in how much you've accomplished.Terri Weldon
 Last year was my first time participating in Speedbo. The timing was perfect because I had entered the Love Inspired Killer Voices pitch contest, and I needed to get words on paper–fast.  Speedbo offered me the challenge of completing my novel in one month by giving me a deadline while providing me with an encouraging community of supporters. When it was all said and done, I didn't meet my goal of writing a complete novel in one month, but I don't count it as a failure. Why? Well first, I wrote daily (something I had never done). Second, I wrote more words in one month than I ever had before (roughly 20,000). Finally, I became a participant in Seekerville (instead of lurking in the background, I started commenting on posts and being involved).

This year, March is going to be an exceptionally busy month for me with relatives visiting and a baby shower for my daughter who is expecting her first child. But I'm already gearing up for my participation in Speedbo. I will once again attempt to write a novel in 31 days. Will I be successful? Only time will tell, but I know one thing for sure. I can't succeed if I don't try. -Rhonda Starnes
 Speedbo offers the ideal format for doing projects that I need to do but which I have been putting off forever because it always seems that taking that much time to do one big project would prevent me   from completing my more pressing short term projects. Of course, the right time to begin never comes. Speedbo makes the ‘right time’ arrive. I have found that with each Speedbo success, I am more motivated to tackle the next  writing project. Nothing breeds success like success.  In my three years of doing Speedbo, I’ve  completed a second draft of a long novel, wrote a novella, and added 25,000 words to a NaNo book that was far from finished at NaNo’s 50,000 word goal. If NaNo is the infantry,  Speedbo is the Special Forces. -Vince Mooney.
  Speedbo is normally my rite of Spring. I plant my Speedbo seeds: new words and goals for my new WIP. It’s a great jump start and keeps me focused. But I didn’t realize how much I need Speedbo until last year when I couldn’t participate.  I’m so glad to be back this year, knowing those seeds I plant are going to bloom!  And newbies, don’t be afraid. Set your own goals and pace. But whatever you do, join up! -Julie Hilton Steele
I have entered contests, and entered two of my short stories due to Speedbo.-Sally Shupe

 New Villagers: The tips, advice, support, and encouragement during Speedbo make the month of March a great writing month. It makes you sit down and seriously think about writing and what goals you want to set. Go ahead and dream! What do you really want to do? Whether you write 10 or 10,000 or more, one word at a time is how you complete a story. 

You can sign up starting Saturday, February 18th, through March 31st by sending an email to with your personal goal listed. Sharing your goal is only for accountability. Seekerville will not be sharing your goal with anyone.

We'll add your name to the Seekerville Speedbo Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will be updated by midnight EST of each Speedbo Day, and y
our name will appear at

Additionally, we'll send you a confirmation email with a Speedbo participant badge to add to your blog or website and a certificate.  

All participants who sign up by March 1st (March 1st at 11:59 pm) will be entered into a drawing for a little extra incentive -one $25 Amazon gift card to be given away for every 50 writers who sign up.  Remember you can still enter Speedbo after it begins.

Plus, we'll be giving away an $15 Amazon gift card (AND MORE) weekly during March (that's five times). All you have to do is check in (on the Blog) and let us know how you're doing. We have surprise book packages for our readers as well. All the fun can be found here. 

All prizes will be shipped out AFTER Speedbo. April 1st. During Speedbo all we are doing is writing.

So sign up and whatever you do, stretch yourself. 

Get out of your comfort zone.

We leave you with some Speedbo tips to help you prepare for March!

Print your own Don't Break the Chain & use it for March 2017.

Try the Pomodoro Technique.

Join author Carol Moncado's 1K1HR  Group on Facebook.

Check out Write or Die by Dr. Wicked.

Do you need Cold Turkey to keep you focused??

This post first appeared in Seekerville 2/13/2015. Comments are closed on Fridays so you can read and write. But you can still enter Speedbo today!

This post was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Though she writes slower than slow, she still does Speedbo every year. 

What's your excuse?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Using Readers for Story Inspiration

with guest Karen Witemeyer.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. We sit alone with our computers, locked away from reality for hours on end crafting (and re-crafting, and tossing out, then crafting again) page-turning, award-winning prose. We instruct our children not to disturb us unless there's blood. We plead with our husbands to pick up pizza because we just need five more minutes (okay, forty-five minutes) to finish our chapter. We become experts at pushing people out of our writing world, at least I do.

On the other hand, anyone who has published a book can tell you that creating a saleable product takes an entire team of people working together. Editors, cover designers, marketing specialists, sales directors, retailers, and most important of all, readers. Out of necessity, professional authors learn how to allow numerous cooks into their kitchen during the production stage, but like a chef whipping up a batch of secret sauce, we tend to shut the door on outsiders while we're perfecting the recipe of our manuscript.

The control freak in me resists letting anyone else in on my creative process. I'm not one of those authors that have dozens of ideas floating around in their heads or stored in their filing cabinets. I'm a rather odd duck. I search for one viable idea then grab on with both hands, not letting go until the manuscript is finished. I'm very quick to throw ideas out and very slow to commit to the one. (Hmm… sounds like some romance heroes I know.) So brainstorming is hard for me. However, when tight deadlines offer little wiggle room, and my current creative well is running dangerously low, I don't have time to sit around and wait for a flash flood of creativity. I have to woman up and ask for help.

That's what happened to me with this latest novella. I had already completed the manuscript for the first book in the Ladies of Harper's Station series, No Other Will Do, and I needed to get rolling on the sequel novella. 

Worth the Wait $1.99 for Kindle.

 I knew the characters: Shopkeeper Victoria Adams – single mother and determined never to let a man close; Freighter Benjamin Porter – has delivered Tori's supplies to the women's colony for a year and sells their goods to outside vendors. He's determined to woo the shopkeeper into a partnership that goes beyond business.

I knew the starting plot point – Tori and Ben start up a new business delivering goods directly to area farmers and ranchers. They set out on a day-long run to drum up business for their new venture.

What I didn't know was what was going to happen on this trip to draw them together. Everything idea I had, I'd used before. I needed something fresh. Different. But I had nothing.

It also happened to be time for me to write a blog post for Inspired by Life and Fiction, a group Christian fiction blog I'm a part of, and I had nothing to write for that, either. Pitiful.

You know how your mama always told you that two wrongs don't make a right? Well, this time she was WRONG! I threw those two wrongs together and came up with something exactly right. I wrote a blog post asking readers to help me plot my next story. I gave them the bare bones of what I knew then begged them for help. The result was better than I could have hoped.

Comments poured in. So many ideas. Some I liked, some that weren't quite right, but all of them stirred my creative juices and got them flowing in new and exciting directions. Four in particular made a meaningful enough impact on me that by the end of the day, I pretty much had my entire story plotted.

Those four readers saved my bacon, and in appreciation, I dedicated my novella to them. Be sure to look for their names if you download a copy of Worth the Wait.

Readers have help me out before. One day we were chatting about character names on Facebook and one lady mentioned that she'd recently had a daughter and named her Charlotte because it was such a beautiful, old-fashioned name and suggested I consider it when naming my next heroine. I did, and a new Charlotte was born – Charlotte Atherton, my heroine from Worthy Pursuit, the novel that won the ACFW Carol Award this past year.

A Worthy Pursuit

A year and a half ago, I had the honor of doing a book tour with my Dutch publisher in The Netherlands. So many of the readers there jokingly asked me to write a story with a Dutch hero. A few random ideas started percolating, and by the end of the trip, I had decided I would do just that. The Ladies of Harper's Station series alternates between two novels and two shorter novellas. The last novella, which I turned in a couple months ago, will feature that Dutch hero. In America, of course, coming to Harper's Station, TX. It took a little finagling to get him there, but I had already introduced a runaway mail order bride in the first book who was Irish, so it didn't take too long to piece together a way for these two immigrants to have known each other back east.

The best inspiration I receive from readers, though, are the notes they write. Hearing how my stories touched them, made them laugh, or helped them get through a hard time makes all the work worthwhile. Without readers, I would have no reason to write. So I look for ways to honor them whenever I can. 
No Other Will Do

Question for you:

  • If you were to give me a plot point to use in my next book, what would you suggest? The only parameter is that it must fit into a late 1800's time frame. Other than that, anything goes. Have fun! The crazier the better.  

One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of the book that started the Ladies of Harper's Station series – No Other Will Do.  Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Men are optional. That's the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women's colony in Harper's Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight--and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's plea arrives, he bolts to Harper's Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

Christy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, National Reader's Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Training vs Trying: The Benefits of Perspective

There it is…looming up ahead. The lofty heights of Mount Speedbo!
With only a week remaining until Seekerville’s annual writing challenge takes off to climb that peak, it seems everyone in the Village around you is milling eagerly at the starting line. Stretching muscles. Bouncing on the balls of feet. Fist-pumping and -bumping. Enthusiasm permeates the air. Woo Hoo! Let’s get this show on the road! Everyone is ready to leap across the starting line.
Didn’t think we’d notice, did you?
Sure, we’ve seen you do a few fist-pumps, throw out words of encouragement to your fellow Villagers. Talk the talk. But deep down, doubt weighs heavily.

Maybe you signed on in previous years and were pleased with the results. But this year…can you really expect the same—or even better—results? Are you setting yourself up for disappointment if you try it again? You suppose, though, that if you try harder
Could be you’ve tried the challenge before and were disappointed in the results. You didn’t even come close to meeting the goals some Villagers set and achieved. You didn’t get the book done or revised as you’d hoped—and maybe you still haven’t despite a year’s passing. Yeah, you signed up again, but is there any REAL hope things will be different from the last time? Maybe if you just try harder

Or maybe you’ve never given Speedbo a shot, choosing to observe from the stands and cheer others on. But this year you’ve taken the leap and signed on despite serious reservations. Man, do you ever hope this isn’t a mistake. That the month won’t be just like any other month in the past year when you can’t find the creativity, time or energy to write and everything that can go wrong will go wrong. But maybe you could try harder...
Could be, too, that you’ve never tried Speedbo at all, and have no intention of doing so this year. You’d be setting yourself up for failure, right? What’s the point in trying?
Are any of these scenarios where YOU find yourself today as a month-long stretch of SpeedBo draws near?It seems to me the word “try” has gotten a bum rap. Webster’s defines it as an experimental trial. An attempt. To subject to something that tests the powers of endurance. But somewhere along the line the word “try” has taken on the implication of a weak, half-hearted struggle where there’s little or no expectation of meeting with any success. Don’t get your hopes up.
How many times have you observed children, when challenged to do something, give a heavy sigh accompanied by an exaggerated eye-roll and a shoulder-slumped, doubt-filled “Well, I’ll TRY”? The message is clearly “I don’t expect much and neither should you.” Such a shame that a courage-laden word like “try” has been reduced to such as that. Is that little word intimidating you?

If you haven’t noticed before now, our brains can be contrary at times. Occasionally we have to push them out of their well-worn ruts. Point them in a new direction. Not “I have to do this,” but “I get to do this.” Not “I dread doing this,” but “I’m eager to do this.” Likewise, what if, as you face a month of Speedbo, you mentally stop the negatively emotion-laden “Well, I’ll TRY” in its tracks? What if you change your perspective on the month ahead with a simple word substitution?
Not a month of TRYING, but of TRAINING?
Training to get your writing muscles in shape for the future. Training to build your creative endurance and repertoire of writing skills. Training to learn how to overcome obstacles that hold you back from reaching your writing goals. Seeing the month not as a futility-laden, emotionally-distorted TRY but as a work-out process, a time of preparation for the future of your writing as much as an immediate goal.  Does that take a little of the trying harder pressure off?

Yes, by all means, set a tangible goal to shoot for. Something that stretches you a bit, but is realistic. A word count, finishing or revising a book. Writing a novella or a short story. Completing a contest entry or a book proposal for submission. But why not put a positive mental and emotional spin on it—see Speedbo as an opportunity to TRAIN versus try-and-sigh?
I challenge you today to give some thought to how a simple word switch – TRAIN WISELY rather than try harder – might make a difference in how you approach the coming month. Discard the fear, discard the dread, and approach Mount Speedbo with growing hope and determination. Then throughout the month continue to coach yourself that you’re in training, educating yourself, exploring new territory, building the muscle of discipline and experience that will help carry you into your writing future.

Share with us today where you think your own doubts regarding Speedbo may be centered. Very likely there are other Villagers who are in the same boat with you who can offer encouragement. Or if you are currently doubt-free, did you at one time have any? How did you change your thinking? Your feedback could encourage others who are uncertain or who haven’t signed on to Speedbo yet.
If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my May Love Inspired release, “The Nanny Bargain,” mention it in the comments section, then check the Weekend Edition to see if you’re a winner!
GLYNNA KAYE treasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns--and vacations spent with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to the times a houseful of great-aunts and great-uncles gathered with her grandma to share candid, heartwarming, poignant and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood. Her Love Inspired books--Pine Country Cowboy and High Country Holiday--won first and second place, respectively, in the 2015 RWA Faith, Hope & Love Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards. Coming in May 2017 is “The Nanny Bargain” and in October “Mountain Country Cowboy.”
Concerned for his orphaned twin brothers, outdoor-gear shop owner Sawyer Banks urges new employee Tori Janner to apply for the nanny position their grandparents are advertising…and spy for him. With plans to start over in Hunter Ridge and dreams of reviving her quilting business, Tori takes the job—but refuses to report to Sawyer unless the boys' welfare is in danger. But soon it's her own heart that's in jeopardy. Because after spending time with the committed bachelor, she starts to see the depth behind his easy charm—and begins to imagine herself as his wife. PRE-ORDER HERE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Romance Matters: To the Reader and the Writer

Janet here. Whether you're a writer or a reader I thought it would be fun to revisit a topic I examined a while back and discuss the importance of romance novels.

When new acquaintances learn I’m a writer, they often assume I pen children’s books, perhaps because once upon a time I taught first grade. When I say I write inspirational historical romances I’ve gotten that look, then a flimsy smile and sometimes they say some version of “Oh, you write those little books.”

I don’t think they're referring to the book's size.

I hate to admit this, but I might have reacted that same way when I only read NYT's bestselling novels. That is until a friend loaned me a romance novel and I was hooked. It took quite a few years for me to get around to writing a romance. I'm proud I both read and write it. Because romance matters.

Romance novels matter to those who read them

Readers like happy endings. I know because I’m a reader. A happy ending doesn’t make the story fluff, it makes it satisfying.

Romance novels are as varied as their authors. Romance novels are emotion-packed, humor-laced, fast-paced and often deal with difficult issues we all face daily. Romance novels uplift and entertain, even edify. With all the sad events in this world, isn't it a blessing to read stories with happy endings?

 Romance sells. Readers don’t put out hard cash over and over again without getting a return. 

The following stats are from the Romance Writers of America Web site:
  •  Estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013: $1.08 billion (source: BookStats)
  • Romance novel share of the U.S. fiction market: 34% (source: Nielsen BookScan/PubTrack Digital 2015)
  •  What formats of romance fiction are selling? (source: Nielsen BookScan/PubTrack Digital 2015; figures do not include self-published romance e-book sales or Amazon-published e-books)
        E-books: 61%
        Mass-market paperback: 26%
        Trade paperback: 11%
        Hardcover: 1.4%

  •  Who is the romance book buyer? (source: Nielsen Books & Consumer Tracker)
        Female: 84%
        Male: 16%

  • Age of the romance book buyer: 30–44 years old (source: Nielsen Books & Consumers 2015)

 Romance novels matter to those who write them.
Nothing moves me as much as receiving emails, letters and reviews from readers who have said that a novel helped resolve a spiritual struggle they were having or got them through a hospitalization or long hours caring for a chronically ill loved one. 

Romance novels are not a "fill in the blanks" formula as critics sometimes claim. Anyone who's tried to write a romance novel knows that's laughable. The only formula is the novel's happy ending.

Through writing romance novels I’ve received these blessings: 

  •  Stimulating work. I get to create people.
  •  A release for my creativity.
  •  New friends, both writers and readers.
  •  A sense of who I am.
  •  Direction for my life.
 Through writing romance, I’ve learned to persevere.

Our God-given talent may be raw and need simmering with practice but we dare not waste it. It may be tied to God’s purpose for our lives.

Through writing romance, I’ve learned to control my emotions.

The ups and downs of publishing can keep writers reeling. Writers must accept change and go with the punches. Rejections, less than stellar reviews, so-so sale figures can take writers from a place of gratitude to jealousy and even worry. Each day before I write, I pray God will give me the calmness, wisdom and ability to write the book He wants me to write and someone to read.

Through writing romance I’ve learned to leave the outcome with Him.

Other than the words we put on the page and our efforts to promote, we can do little to control our success. All we can do is write the best books we know how. No small achievement.

What was the first romance novel you ever read? Why do you read them? Write them?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 dollar Amazon gift card. Here’s hoping the winner uses the gift card to buy romance novel/s.

 I brought apple fritters and mixed fruit, coffee and tea. Let's chat romance novels.

Janet Dean grew up in a family who cherished the past and had a strong creative streak. Her father recounted fascinating stories, like his father before him. The tales they told instilled in Janet a love of history and the desire to write. Today Janet spins stories for Love Inspired Historical. She is a two-time Golden Heart finalist, a Genesis and a Carol finalist and a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novels are also Golden Quill, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Booksellers Best and Inspirational Readers Choice Award finalists. Visit Janet at her Website:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Strong Inciting Incidents Generate Strong Stories

Janet here. In my January post, I talked about the importance of strong inciting incidents to hook the reader. For those who might have missed that post, I’ll repeat the definition of an inciting incident.

An inciting incident is an event or situation in the story’s opening that brings change and spurs the character to action. This change should threaten the character or his goal or his self-concept or all three. The threat needs to be something readers can relate to, something that will make readers worry about the character, something that will lead readers to ask questions that will keep them turning pages to find answers.

In response to that post, Villager Vince Mooney pointed out that expanding on the inciting incident creates the story, eliminates the problem of the 'sagging middle' and brings a satisfactory conclusion. Vince's points are important. Important enough to merit another post. 

Strong inciting incidents aren’t just a gimmick writers use in the opening to hook the reader. Strong inciting incidents trigger the entire story. The event or situation that threatens the character forces him to act. His actions produce conflict that makes things worse. The character then must regroup and take another action, moving the story forward. This action/reaction is repeated time and time again, but each time the stakes need to be raised.  

I'll use the inciting incident in my novel The Substitute Bride to show how it triggers and produces the mail-order bride story I wanted to write. 

A strong inciting incident triggers the story. I wanted to create an inciting incident that would put the heroine between the proverbial rock and a hard place. So I gave Chicago debutante Elizabeth Manning a father who is determined to marry her off to an old geezer who promised to pay his gambling debts in exchange for his daughter’s hand. Set in 1899, the story opens on the eve of Elizabeth's wedding. The clock is ticking and since the groom turns Elizabeth's stomach, the stakes are high. If Elizabeth stays, tomorrow morning she’ll be trapped in a loveless marriage and her little brother Robby will be sent to boarding school. This is the “So what?” Dr. Mobry spoke about here.

With no money and not much of a plan, Elizabeth decides to run, promising Robby she’ll return for him in a month, before the bank forecloses on their house. Elizabeth’s promise to her brother becomes another ticking clock. I raised the stakes for her by taking away the little money she had (her father had taken it out of her purse) and the support of her aristocratic friends who turned their backs on the now penniless Manning family. Though the story is laced with humor, this inciting incident hopefully builds sympathy for Elizabeth, hooks readers and makes them worry. 

Strong inciting incidents involve hard choices, raised stakes, dramatic action and when possible, ticking clocks. 

So how does this inciting incident get Elizabeth into the mail-order bride marriage I want and trigger the entire story?

Elizabeth’s a strong, determined woman. She has no one to run to for help so she goes to the railroad station, figuring somehow she’ll find a way to board a train. After a night spent on a bench in the depot, Elizabeth comforts a weeping young woman and learns that Sally is a mail-order bride with cold feet. In exchange for the ticket to New Harmony, Iowa, all Elizabeth has to do is switch places with this homesick farm girl and marry her farmer groom. Elizabeth has no interest in marrying anyone, much less a total stranger who might be worse husband material than the old geezer she’s running from. So why would she switch places with Sally and give me the mail-order bride story I want?

Motivation is the key. To motivate Elizabeth I take away her options by bringing her father and the old geezer to the station. When Elizabeth sees them heading her way, she grabs the identifying silk flower, the ticket, and then boards the train, certain that once she arrives in Iowa, she won’t marry the groom. Do you see how a strong inciting incident and a motivated character creates the action? In this case, the inciting incident forces Elizabeth to choose between two bad scenarios.

This is a romance novel so what’s my hero’s motivation for marrying a stranger?

Widower Ted Logan can’t take care of his two young children and work his farm. With no eligible women in town, Ted advertised for a mail-order bride. In the letters he exchanged with Sally, she assured him she can cook, do chores and take care of his children. Ted has no idea that the woman stepping off the train is a pampered debutante who’s never done more than boil water.  

This "fish out of water" heroine is not what Ted ordered. This mismatched pair guarantees things won't go smoothly if Elizabeth marries Ted. Of course, Elizabeth plans to do no such thing.

Which brings me to another point…

Strong inciting incidents require strong characters. Except for his gambling addiction, Elizabeth is like her determined father. She’s capable of taking drastic measures to get what she wants, including lying. She’s got a lot to learn about God, but that’s not the point of this post. Except to say, strong characters are not perfect characters. They have weaknesses, make mistakes and fail. In fact, you’ll want to make sure they do.   

Now that Elizabeth is safely away from the trouble motivating her to run, how does the inciting incident keep the story going?

Again strong motivations make characters act. In the story’s opening, Elizabeth’s younger brother Robby yearns for life on a farm with animals, especially a dog. Elizabeth had promised she’d get him a dog once they are settled. Ted can give Robby both. Even if Elizabeth had the skill to get a job in this small farm community, which doesn’t appear likely, she’d earn only enough to rent a room in a boarding house. She wants to give her motherless, insecure little brother a good life. For Robby’s sake, she decides to marry a stranger, but can't go through with it until she tells the truth about her identity. Though Ted’s shocked and angry about the switch, he's desperate to have a caretaker for his children. He asks Elizabeth three questions. Satisfied with her answers, the town preacher marries them. Their wedding is one of the most entertaining scenes I've ever written. I still grin when I think about it. Desperate characters taking desperate actions can create a suspense or comedy, anything the writer chooses. To keep this story from becoming slapstick, I give Elizabeth and Ted deep-seated wounds. Wounds that create internal conflict and keep them from falling in love. Strong characters need depth. Their pasts need to cause them as much trouble as their present.

Though Ted is willing to wait for Elizabeth to love him, he’s stunned by her inability to handle his home and children. The strong inciting incident leads to Elizabeth’s daily struggles, especially with Ted’s daughter’s hostility, and ensures that the middle of the story doesn’t sag. Elizabeth’s goal is to keep the marriage going so she can bring Robby to the farm. But she keeps his existence secret until she admits her plan in the middle of an argument. Though Ted is keeping secrets of his own, he is livid. Things get worse when Robby arrives and doesn’t fit any more than Elizabeth. Elizabeth even takes Robby and moves out for a while. This "time out" is important to the story, as it gives Elizabeth time to heal, to find out who she is and what she wants. Both she and Ted miss each other, but still have a lot  to overcome. 

So how does a strong inciting incident make for a satisfying ending? 

The satisfying ending is the result of the characters overcoming the obstacles that the inciting incident created for them. Ted and Elizabeth married without love, without knowing one another, without sharing their pasts or secrets. Elizabeth was woefully unprepared to be a wife and mother. The inciting incident threw them together but the odds were against them, Through the actions they take and the lessons they learn, characters are forced to grow and change. That growth is the result of the inciting incident's strong call to action. 

Another point: The happily ever after ending works best when it mimics the inciting incident in some way. By that I mean, we writers can use the elements that forced the character to act, to now give them their happy ending. Elizabeth's father arrives, a changed man thanks to events that happen during the story so the man that created the situation is now the man who shares in their HEA. Ted proposes to Elizabeth and they will renew their vows. This time they know each other, are keeping no secrets and choose to marry because they're in love, not because the inciting incident forces them to. 

When we writers create strong inciting incidents, they will propel the characters through the book, eliminating a sagging middle and giving the satisfying ending we all want. 

Think of the inciting incident in your work in progress or in a book you’ve read. Did these situations or events move the characters to action? Trigger the entire story? Keep the middle from sagging? Bring about a satisfactory ending? 

Share an inciting incident that worked for you for a chance to win an eBook of The Substitute Bride.

I brought coffee and tea, fresh sliced peaches, homemade biscuits and crisp bacon. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Weekend Edition

Welcome to the Weekend Edition!
"Look How Far We've Come!"

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

Weekend Edition Chocolate winners are: Phyllis Wheeler, Walt Mussell, and Cate Nolan.

Monday: The winner of a copy (ebook or print) of Alone by Edie Melson is DebH!

Tuesday: Four winners today! Cindy W. is the winner of the heart-shaped pencil holder. Winnie Thomas is the winner of Myra Johnson's novel Castle in the Clouds. Caryl Kane is the winner of a $10 Starbucks gift card. Stacy Simmons is the winner of a Seeker book of choice.

Wednesday: Debby Giusti lead us in a discussion of "The Mentor's Role in The Hero's Journey." The winner of a copy of "The Writer's Journey," by Christopher Vogler is Meghan Carver.

Thursday: Winner of a print or ebook copy of Dr. Richard Mabry's  latest release, Medical Judgement is Connie Queen.

Monday: Join Love Inspired Historical author Janet Dean for her post "Strong Inciting Incidents Generate Strong Stories." Leave a comment for a chance to win an eBook copy of The Substitute Bride. 

Tuesday: Dr. Dennis Hensley is our guest today sharing his expertise as both a writer and college teacher of creative writing with his post on writing dialogue. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of his craft books or one of his fiction books.   

Wednesday: Join Love Inspired author Glynna Kaye for "Training vs Trying: The Benefits of Perspective" and an opportunity to be entered into a drawing for a copy of her May 2017 release, The Nanny Bargain. 

Thursday: Karen Witemeyer returns to Seekerville with her fun post, "Using Readers for Story Inspiration." One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of the book that started the Ladies of Harper's Station series – No Other Will Do.

Friday: Best of the Archives: "Never Miss a Chance to Speedbo" with Tina Radcliffe. Comments are closed on Fridays so we can catch up with our reading and writing.

COVER REVEAL! Glynna Kaye’s May 2017 release of “The Nanny Bargain” – a "Hearts of Hunter Ridge" series inspirational romance set in mountain country Arizona. Pre-order here!

Concerned for his orphaned twin brothers, outdoor-gear shop owner Sawyer Banks urges new employee Tori Janner to apply for the nanny position their grandparents are advertising…and spy for him. With plans to start over in Hunter Ridge and dreams of reviving her quilting business, Tori takes the job—but refuses to report to Sawyer unless the boys' welfare is in danger. But soon it's her own heart that's in jeopardy. Because after spending time with the committed bachelor, she starts to see the depth behind his easy charm—and begins to imagine herself as his wife.

Debby Giusti invites Seekerville friends to join her at Romancing the Smokies  March 17 - 18. Knoxville, TN. A getaway weekend filled with authors, readers, books, yummy food and lots of fun!

Thanks for the link love!

TBL Details and the Contest Score Sheet Can Be Found Here!

 9 Statistics Writers Should Know About Amazon (Jane Friedman)

Book Marketing: What to Expect in 2017 (Ryan Zee)

Inner Conflict (Michael Hauge's Story Mastery)

5 Ways to Help An Author You Love (PR by the Book)

How to Protect Your Creative Work (The Creative Penn)

The Secret of a Successful Mystery: Making the Reader a Participator (Writers Helping Writers)

Remove the Barriers in Fiction (The Steve Laube Agency Blog)

Quiet Doesn't Cut It: Why Your Brain Might Work Better In Silence (Fast Company)

Naming characters: 5 steps to find fictional character names (Now Novel)

Got Galleys? What They Are and Why You Need Them (Writer Unboxed)

All About Beta Readers: 7 Ways They Can Improve Your Book (Anne R Allen)

8 Ways to Troubleshoot a Scene–and 5 Ways Make It Fabulous (Writers Helping Writers)

Writers Police Academy Registration Opens on Sunday. Details here. 
Sisters in Crime is once again is offering a $150 registration discount to all SinC members attending the WPA for the first time. The WPA Golden Donut Contest, a fun, prestigious 200-word short story contest also opens this Sunday. The winner of the 2017 contest will once again get a FREE registration to a 2018 WPA event in addition to the cool trophy.

Seekerville is getting ready for 2017 Speedbo. Read the rules here and prepare for the sign up that begins TODAY! Everyone who signs up by 11:59 pm March 1,  is included in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card

For each additional fifty participants, We toss another $25 gift card into the mix. Weekly prize giveaways for WRITERS & READERS are listed here. All prizes on the list may be claimed April 1. During March we WRITE!

Don't delay.  Get ready for Speedbo NOW!

To prepare we're giving away three copies of 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. (for Kindle) Let us know if you want to be in the sneaker for this book! Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.