Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Weekend Edition

 Today is National Fortune Cookie do celebrate with a Seeker Fortune Cookie!

We Have Winners

Be sure to contact us if you are a winner (send an email to 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 here, on our legal page.

 Winners of $10 Amazon gift cards from last week's Weekend Edition "Ruthy Goes Rogue with Random Uprising" are Carol Garvin, Andrea Strong, and Terri Weldon! Thanks for celebrating Ruthy's new contract!!!

Monday Love Inspired author Missy Tippens brought us a nice friendly kick in the pants--Ruthy style with "5 Ways to Beat Average." Winners of Missy's latest release, The Guy Next Door, are Tracey Hagwood, The Artist Librarian, Cindy Huff (Jubilee Writer).

 Oh, no, she's back!!! Tuesday we dug out our grammar texts and started cramming, as the  Grammar Queen returned with her post, "More Commonly Confused Word Pairs!"  Cindy Huff is the winner of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King.

What’s the MOST valuable thing Julie Lessman learned from a writer’s conference? Well, I can tell you this — it’s not just a lesson for writers, but a lesson for life, so we hope you didn't miss Julie’s encore presentation of “Conference CPR.” Wilani Wahl and Patti Jo are the winners of a signed copy of any of Julie’s books, including her upcoming October release, Surprised by Love.

 Friday we welcomed the third author of the "Big Sky Centennial" continuity, Carolyne Aarsen! Carolyn stoped by to tell why she's "Crazy About Continuities" Winner of  three copies of Her Montana Twins are Meghan Carver, Jennifer and Lyndee.  And  winner of Her Montana Twins AND three books from the "Hearts of Hartley Creek" series is Cindy Regnier.

 Next Week in Seekerville

Monday:Love Inspired Historical author Janet Dean will be challenging writers to torture their characters in her post "Raising the Stakes." She will offer examples on how to create anxiety in our characters, even in what appears on the surface as routine events. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Tuesday: Triple Header! Helen Gray returns with the launch of the third book in her Ozark series. Join her today with her post, "Writing in Harmony," and a chance to win Ozark Wedding.

Wednesday:Award winning author Debby Giusti blogs today,and will share information about the Writers' Police Academy she attended last weekend. The event sold out in 12 hours and is a coveted conference for suspense and mystery writers. Learn about law enforcement and crime scene investigation as well as bizarre crimes and other inside information provided at the four-day event. Debby will be giving away a copy of her upcoming Love Inspired Suspense anthology Holiday Defenders, featuring her novella, "Mission: Christmas Rescue."

Thursday: Seekerville is delighted to welcome two-time Golden Heart finalist and Indie author, Piper G. Huguley today, with her post, "Why You Should Submit to the RWA Golden Heart® This Year." Stop by and chat and you could win a very nice $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Friday:Today we will be joined by C. Hope Clark, author of both fiction and non-fiction and owner of the successful blog Funds for Writers. Funds for Writers has been named one of Writer's Digests 101 best websites for writers from 2001-2014. Setting is as important as the protagonist in C. Hope Clark's mysteries, and in her new release, Murder on Edisto, setting defines not only the place but also the plot and the character's journey. Healing on Edisto Beach discusses the important of selecting setting, and how it helps an author write her best. Hope will be giving away a copy of her September release, Murder on Edisto, book one of The Edisto Island Mysteries.

  Seeker Sightings 

Mary Connealy LIVE WEB CHAT!  You can join the Facebook page for Mary's Web Chat.The chat is on September 23rd at 7 pm Central Time.To find out more find the Author Landing Page & the Webcast Landing Page. Up for grabs are a Kindle HDX, AND the Trouble in Texas Series.

 And on Thursday, September 18th, Mary Connealy will be at Petticoats & Pistols talking more about her new release Tried and True.


Friday, September 19th, Tina Radcliffe is guest blogging with the fillies at Pistols & Petticoats. We're all going to be surprised at what she is blogging about, and in fact Charlie the Cat may be ghost blogging for her.

  Random News & Information

 Healthiest Way to Work Standing vs. Sitting and Everything Between (bufferopen)

 I'd Know That Voice Anywhere (Writer Unboxed)

Author Conference of the Future (JA Konrath)

The Music Industry Has 99 Problems. And They Are…(Digital Music News) Is this a lesson for authors?

This Might Be a Terrible Idea (Let's Get Digital)

Paid Book Reviews and Potential Google Penalties (ALL INDIE WRITERS)

Bethany House promotes four in editorial (Christian Retailing)

It's not too late to sign up for our October Night class.  A self-paced course to help you as you finish your manuscript. Details here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Writing Continuities, Babies, Westerns and Romance with Carolyne Aarsen

Hey there. Carolyne Aarsen here. 

Sitting at my computer, all alone, trying to work up the energy to go for a walk and then dive into edits. When I had starry-eyed dreams of writing, I didn't realize how much time I would be spending on my own - just me and the voices. There are many times I wished I had a group of people to work with.  People who cared about my characters the same way I did. People who could help me work through the process. I have a writing partner and we do fantastic together, but sometimes you just need another voice.
And then, into my life, came continuities. These are editor driven series written by various authors. The first time around I was overwhelmed by the people I was working with. Smart, savvy and quick. They helped me decipher the ‘bible’ and showed me to create a proper flow from one book to the next. I discovered that working in this group environment was way more fun than I thought it would be.  I had found….my people. And every time, after that, when I got asked to do a continuity, I said yes.
This past year I’ve had the special privilege of working with an amazing group of people. Okay, I know your thinking “Obligatory public thank you speech” wherein you proceed to gloss over any and all troubles that occurred within the group.
But I don’t need to to any glossing over. We had such a great time together. There was an energy and interaction that made the writing more fun. 
It all started with the introduction of the fellow members of the continuity. We introduced ourselves and we were away. Val Whisenand set up the first book and let us know what she was doing as she fleshed out her characters, gave quirks to secondary characters - Rusty Zidek and his mule -  and introduced new ones. She set up the story world, Ruth took over from there and both gave me a foundation to work with. As Jenna, Brenda and Deb all participated we solved problems in the storylines, came up with additions and changes. Details were seen to and inconsistencies were addressed.
There was an energy to the group that I fed off of. Whenever I read what the others wrote, I would get pushed to try just a little harder. To write a bit better.

Every morning one of my favourite moments was when I opened my e-mail and saw all the letters from my fellow continuity writers. I knew they understood the story world I usually spent so much time by myself in. They knew my people and I knew theirs. 
With this group I had people to complain to, people who understood my story and cared about my characters and slowly, as we work together we started sharing more than just story ideas. We shared personal stuff. We shared virtual cups of coffee and tea and chocolate. We became friends.
I truly had a wonderful time working on this continuity and I was sad to see my part in it end. I hope it shows in the story!

Ruthy here: We had so much fun on this project that it should be classified as illegal by federal marshals!!! (Because federal marshals are C-U-T-E but not as cute as cowboys!!!!) Carolyne's right, we not only worked well together, we became friends and that made the whole project special.

Come on inside and leave a comment... no drive-bys!!!... and Carolyne is graciously giving away 3 (THREE!!!) copies of "Her Montana Twins" and one winner will receive a copy of those two precious babies (Her Montana Twins) AND three books from Carolyne's "Hearts of Hartley Creek" series! 

We've got Friday morning food revved up, a full breakfast buffet from Le Peep (Love their food) and fresh coffee with a barista on hand! Come on in... Set a spell... Let's talk writing and great books!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Checklist for Entering Contests

My former boss always said that my attention to detail was what made me good at my job.  And just for the record, I quit my former job a few years ago to write, work in the Christian publishing world, and manage the books on the family farm. It wasn't like I was fired from that day job! Just sayin' :)

So, this slightly OCD trait also comes in handy when preparing manuscripts for mailing, whether to contests, agents, or editors. But if you’re not detail-oriented, not to worry. Here are some tips to help keep you on track.

Keep in mind that some of the tips below do not apply to all contests. This list of tips is to help you get in the habit of doing all the steps every time you enter a contest, so that you can whip out an entry in a matter of hours. If something doesn't apply, you just mark it off your list.

Once you’ve got the content of your manuscript and your synopsis polished to a shine and/or there are only 3 hours until the receipt deadline, then:

1) Review the big picture rules
a. Does your ms fit neatly into one of the categories?
b. Do you know who the finalist judges are?
c. Have you looked at a sample score sheet if available?
d. Is the deadline a “receipt” deadline or “postmarked” deadline? Most, if not all, unpublished contests are online these days, but published contests will involve mailing books. Rules are there for a reason. If the deadline on a mailed entry is receipt, then the contest coordinator is honor-bound to abide by the rules regardless of when it was postmarked. 

2) Review the rules specific to your manuscript and your synopsis
a. Check the margins
b. Check font and font size
c. Check to see if there is a title page. A lot of online contests have moved away from title pages, but it never hurts to check the rules, just in case.
d. Check header. What exactly does the contest require in the header? What does the contest forbid in the header (like your name or pseudonym)?

3) There are few contests that require you to mail in your entry, so you don't have to print out the entry form these days, but if it helps you to keep everything on track, by all means, print it out. And especially if you are mailing in your entry, you might want to print out the mailing address for one last check when you get to the post office. In your excitement, it’s much too easy to get to the post office and seal that sucker up, forgetting all about the return postage and/or your check.

a. Did you include enough books or copies of your manuscript? If books for a published contest, did you sign them?
b. Did you double-TRIPLE-check the mailing address?
c. Pay a bit extra for Delivery Confirmation. You'll be glad you did. (The same goes for those wonderful contracts you're going to be snail-mailing someday!)

Entering unpublished contests have changed a lot over the years as the bulk of them have gone online. On one hand, the process is much, much easier and cheaper, especially since you don't have to print or mail anything. Isn't that a blessing? Contests with 3-5 print copies of a 20-25 page manuscript added a chunk of change to someone's contest budget. Also, for you young whippersnappers, us oldies had to pay for printing, postage to mail our entries, and a SASE envelope with enough postage for the contest to return all our judged entries. I like online much better.

But online contests don't come without problems. Slow internet, incompatible software, corrupted files, and failure to confirm your entry or payment can knock you out of a contest.

A year or so before I sold, I found out about a contest that was low on inspirational entries, so with hours before the deadline, I entered two manuscripts. One went through fine, but for some reason the other one kept converting from 35 pages on my computer to 39 on the coordinator's computer. Same two computers and the same coordinator as the other manuscript, minutes apart. It was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen and neither of us could fix it. The coordinator bent over backwards to help, but in the end, I had to make a decision. In desperation, I chopped 5 pages off the end, and sent it in with 2 minutes to spare. The manuscript was within the page count at that point and wasn't disqualified. (It finaled and actually won the contest. Go figure...)

Once a contest lost my digital entry. Just literally lost it. I can't remember if they gave me a refund or if they had someone read for me. In the course of writing this post, I found another one that I'm still not sure I ever got the results on. Let it go! Let it go! It never bothered me anyway....

Always, always, always make sure you use an email address that you check regularly and especially check your email after the fact if you end up entering a contest with mere hours to spare. Contest coordinators are amazing at bending over backwards to let people fix issues, but in fairness to other entrants, once the deadline has passed, there's nothing they can do. Stay on top of your entry and don't be disqualified for something that could be prevented just by being aware of your email trail.

Generally when you enter a contest, you will receive at least two emails. Possibly more.

1) Payment confirmation. Most of the time, this email will come from PayPal as that's the go-to for most online payments these days. PayPal allows non-users to pay with a debit or credit card, but the email will still come from PayPal.

2) Entry confirmation receipt. This receipt will be from group/chapter hosting the contest OR the contest coordinator's private email, depending on the software the contest is using. It confirms that the contest coordinator received your entry. Again, generally speaking, #1 and #2 go hand in hand and are automated responses when you complete your entry. This email will usually let you know if you need to look for additional emails.
3) Additional emails might land in your inbox once contest coordinators have laid eyes on your manuscript pages and made sure they meet the guidelines.

Then you sit back and wait for the results...or...

better yet, write another book!!!

By checking your email, you ensure that you've completed the process, sent in your manuscript and received payment. The best laid plans can go awry even after you do everything perfectly, hit submit, but then go off to celebrate your achievement... only to find out that there was a glitch with your PayPal account. 99% of the time, you will receive an email confirmation immediately from PayPal. If you have time to wait 24 hours, do so. If the deadline is looming, it wouldn't hurt to check on the status of your entry.

It never hurts to check and double check everything. You’ll feel better, your package will be neat and tidy, and the coordinator will be forever grateful.

So, any contest war wounds? Lost submissions? You sent in your fee, but forgot to send in the manuscript/books? You sent in everything except your fee? You entered your ms in the least likely category that it could ever possibly final in? 'fess up! :) 

Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. 

The Evergreen Bride (Barbour Publishing) Available October 20th as ebook only and in The White Christmas Brides Collection, exclusively at Walmart. Cover coming soon!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Hi, Julie here, and I'm sorry, but whenever the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference rolls around, I can't help but think about the very first time I ever attended a conference, and trust me — it wasn't pretty. So if you're going to ACFW later this month, loaded for bear with hopes, dreams, one-sheets, pitches, and confidence galore  then maybe you don't need the lesson God taught me in 2003.

On the other hand, if you have blood in your veins and breathe air, maybe you do. Because the truth is we're all painfully human, and the lesson God imparted to me then will most likely speak to you now, whether you're a writer, reader, or starry-eyed hopeful like I was back then, desperate to soak up everything I could from workshops, sessions, and people in the know. Whatever your story, here's mine the year I learned the most important lesson of all.


“Are you okay?” Someone shook me hard. I lay there, unable to speak, eyes welded closed.

“Are you okay” the voice came again, louder this time, more insistent. No answer. I felt the press of fingers to my pulse followed by a quick sweep of my mouth, clearing all obstructions. With a pinch of my nose, someone began to breathe life into me while a gentle hand compressed against my chest, finger on my heart …

Okay, just for the record—I did not choke on a piece of chicken at an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference nor ever had to be resuscitated in any way.

Uh … that is …  not physically.

But emotionally and spiritually? Oh, yeah,  I was a goner. Cried enough tears for the housekeeping staff to think I was heisting Kleenex. But something amazing happened to me at the very first ACFW conference I ever attended—I received CPR in a very unlikely manner, and I gotta tell ya, folks—it saved my life.

So I thought since ACFW is right around the corner,  it might behoove me to repeat a past Seeker blog about this life-saving experience I received when the Holy Spirit administered a heavy dose of truly miraculous CPR—Cry, Pray, Repent.

Oh, how I wish someone had told me what I’m about to tell you before I went to my very first writers’ conference in Houston, Texas in 2003. It was the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, only back then, it was ACRW, American Christian Romance Writers. I went by myself without knowing a soul, which is a hard thing to do, as so many of you are aware. Up until that point, I had done everything I could to put me on the path to publication—took fiction-writing courses at the community college, attended small writing seminars and local RWA chapter meetings, queried publishers until I was blue in the face, and entered contests until I was in hock over binder clips.

I knew in my gut that the time had come for me to venture far from home and interface with other writers of my ilk. I mean how difficult could this be? Although by nature I am a recluse of sorts, I like to joke that I have the misfortune of having an outgoing personality, so the word “shy” isn’t part of my vocabulary. So I smiled and mixed and mingled until my teeth ached and made a lot of acquaintances, but no real “friend” to connect with. Everything felt surface to me, and it seemed like everybody I spoke to was either published, had an agent, a contract in the works, or fulls requested.

That night I cried on the phone to my husband, and I’m talking major sobbing! I told him I felt lonely and jealous and like publication would never happen for me. He comforted me and prayed with me and told me everything would all right.

But it wasn’t. The next day I would attend a seminar, then go up to my room and cry, clean my face and go back down to smile some more. That went on all day as the loneliness and jealousy seemed to grow, and that night my poor husband got another earful of long-distance weeping. God love him, he prayed for me and encouraged me and told me to put my hope in God. Yeah, right, I thought to myself, and how is that going to change these waterworks? That night I cried myself to sleep, rivers of tears seeping into my pillow.

What happened next is nothing short of supernatural. The next morning, even before my eyelids peeled open, my brain was pelted with hope Scriptures in rapid-fire succession:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:12-14

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. -
Romans 5:4-6

No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. -
Psalm 25:2-4

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. -
Psalm 62:4-6

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. -
Psalm 71:13-15

Now, first of all, I wasn’t aware that I even knew that many hope Scriptures. In fact, they shocked me so much, my eyes popped open and I lunged for the Gideon Bible inside the nightstand drawer. I flipped it open to the first few pages where they list Scriptures by subject and scanned the list for “Hope.” It wasn’t there, so I settled on the scripture for “Fear.” There were only two, mind you, and I quickly paged to the first one: Hebrews 13:5.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Come again? What does fear or lack of hope have to do with covetousness and ingratitude? Give me a break—the Gideons have TONS of Scriptures from which to choose and they choose this????

I blinked several times … and then the Holy Spirit nailed my butt to the wall.

I had spent the last two days of this expensive conference doing NOTHING but coveting other writers’ success and complaining that it would never happen for me. My husband had forked over $800 bucks (airfare, hotel room, conference fee) so I could fly to Houston and instead of being grateful, I was utterly lonely and jealous. Talk about a one-two punch!

I immediately fell to my knees and sobbed again, only this time my tears were tears of repentance. I told God I was sorry for being such a brat, and I prayed for every woman that I had been jealous of, that God would bless the socks off of them. I asked Him to change my attitude and give me hope and help me not to be lonely the rest of the conference.

For the umpteenth time that weekend, I cleaned up my face, put on my name badge, and squared my shoulders to go downstairs. The elevator opened, and I flashed a smile to the couple in the back, then turned to face the door. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. "You’re from St. Louis?" The woman's eyes were glowing with warmth, gaze flitting from my name badge to my face with a joyous smile. "I live in Illinois, just twenty minutes across the river.”

I will NEVER forget the look of kindness and warmth in that woman’s face—like an angel sent from God. She was an ACFW author named Diana Brandmeyer (now a Tyndale, Barbour, and Concordia Publishing hybrid author), so be sure to check out her website and her wonderful books at Diana Brandmeyer. Anyway, she invited me to sit with her and her husband for breakfast, and as God is my witness, conference food never tasted so good!

Later that day, there was a contest for book giveaways. You simply had to write about someone who had positively affected you at the conference so far, and if the ACFW Master of Ceremonies (Brandilyn, of course!) picked your comment out of the hat, the person you wrote about won a free book. My eyes smarted with tears as I dashed a quick note about the kind woman in the elevator “whose eyes radiated love and warmth"—Diana Brandmeyer.

If you can believe it, out of over 350 women and like 2 men, Brandilyn picked a handful of notes to read, and one of them was the note I had written about Diana, which referred to her “eyes full of love and warmth.” My heart jumped with excitement … until Brandilyn read my name instead of Diana’s.

My heart froze when I realized I'd written my name down by mistake, thus winning a book for myself rather than for Diana.

Brandilyn called me up, and I was too embarrassed to tell her the truth, so I intended to return the book after the function was over. Imagine my shock when a few moments later, Brandilyn read another note about a woman “whose eyes radiated love and warmth,” only this one was the note I had written about Diana!

Yes, you guessed it—two women who broke the yoke of loneliness off of each other in an elevator wrote almost exactly the same thing about the other. Go ahead, tell me that’s not a God thing!

That conference turned out to be a pivotal time in my career, not only because of the amazing friendship/critique partnership that Diana and I still share today, or even the very encouraging paid critique I received from author Tracey Bateman later on that day. Nope, the main reason was the invaluable lesson that the Holy Spirit taught me from the pages of a hotel-room Gideon Bible.

Yes, contests, writing classes, and writers conferences are all important tools in traveling the road to publication. But the most important tools needed are spiritual—to keep your heart clean of jealousy by praying for those who incite it, to praise and thank God wherever you are in your journey instead of complaining, and to renew your mind with hope Scriptures instead of despair. Because the bottom line is, “hope never fails” … and neither does He.

I would love to hear your own conference CPR stories—I know you all have them (uh, especially Mary Connealy and Melanie Dickerson!), and there are a lot of first-time conference attendees that could use the encouragement. For everyone that leaves a comment, I’ll toss your name in the hat for a chance to win a signed copy of your choice of any of my books, including my upcoming release, Surprised by Love.

So goood luck … and take a deep breath!


Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grammar Queen returns with more commonly confused word pairs

Good morning, class. When last we addressed this topic, some of you may have been napping. Don’t be dismayed. I am happy to take time for review.

As you are aware, the English language is fraught with words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. In my previous lecture, a few of the sound-alike word pairs we discussed were:

slew / slue

stationary / stationery

mantle / mantel

all ready / already

dessert / desert

Your first assignment, therefore, is to write once sentence for each word pair, using each word correctly in context. I’ll start you off with an example:

Sally slued into a slew of slippers.

(Notice how I slipped in some alliteration.) Or you might prefer a sentence using slew as the past tense of slay. As the cliché goes, whatever floats your boat.

So let’s be creative, students! Show me your best work.

All done? Good. Today we’ll add a few more of these sound-alike word pairs to our repertoire. And, as you were duly warned, GQ has come prepared with a pop quiz. Please circle the correct word from the pairs in each of the following sentences:

  1. Audra was pleased to accept / except the award for her outstanding novel.

  2. Cara enjoyed having her family all together / altogether for a festive holiday meal.

  3. Debby’s principle / principal inspiration for writing military suspense is her family’s military background.

  4. Glynna hopes there / their won’t be any flight delays during her upcoming trip.

  5. Janet spent more time then / than her friends exploring the San Antonio Riverwalk last July.

  6. Julie wondered whose / who’s historical romance to read next.

  7. Mary and her Cowboy knelt at the alter / altar to renew their wedding vows.

  8. Missy will counsel / council beginning writers on single point of view.

  9. Myra is loath / loathe to admit how much she adores Grammar Queen.

  10. Pam refrains from writing grisly / grizzly scenes of madness and mayhem.

  11. Ruthy keeps a horde / hoard of children in her new family room.

  12. Sandra is a sight / site / cite to see when she plays pickleball!

  13. Tina created a poll / pole to select images for her next book cover.

(Answers may be found at the bottom of this post. Check your papers and share your score in the comments . . . if you dare.)

Ah, so many word pairs, so little time. The list could go on and on. For extra credit, feel free to try your hand with these:

board / bored

break / brake

fare / fair

fourth / forth

grate / great

here / hear

led / lead

passed / past

pedal / peddle

peace / piece

through / threw

Which homophones (yes, students, that is the correct term for words that sound alike but have different meanings) are your biggest bugaboos? Remember, your word processing spell-check will not help you here, so it remains up to you to make sure you always use the right word.

Dears, read my lips.
The dictionary is your friend.


Grammar Queen isn’t exactly a figment of Seeker Myra Johnson’s imagination, but sometimes Myra would like to keep her there. Hard to relax and enjoy something as simple as reading the morning paper with GQ looking over your shoulder and nitpicking every sentence! GQ would have you believe she’s a writer’s best friend . . . and perhaps at times she is (but don’t tell her we said so!).

So, in honor of GQ’s return to Seekerville today, Myra is giving away a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King. Winner’s choice of paperback (U.S. residents only) or Kindle version. Just add ENTER ME to your comment to be included in the drawing.

Pop quiz answers:
1. accept  2. all together  3. principal  4. there  5. than  6. whose  7. altar  8. counsel  9. loath  10. grisly  11. horde  12. sight  13. poll

For more about Myra Johnson, visit her website at You can also click here to subscribe to Myra's e-news updates.

Monday, September 8, 2014

5 Ways to Beat Average -- with Missy Tippens

5 Ways to Beat Average
by Missy Tippens

Do you ever feel as if you're biding your time? Or maybe just slogging along doing the bare minimum to make your word count or deadline?

Or maybe you feel like you're actually doing pretty well. You're plugging away, putting in your time each day to meet your goals. You're not feeling the peak of your game, but you're managing. Because, after all, you're busy and have lots of other stuff to do: A day job, laundry, chauffeuring kids, cooking something besides frozen pizza.

Several months ago, I saw this commercial on TV and immediately backed it up to watch again. And let me tell you, I was CONVICTED. I hope you'll take a minute to watch it...

Of course, the exercise component convicted me first. (I about fell off the couch laughing at the "loiter" setting on the treadmill, and also at the guy who stands on the escalator waiting for it to start up again, because I could see hints of myself in both.)

But as I watched the commercial a third time (remember how I mentioned feeling convicted?!), I realized that this Beat Average could apply to my writing as well.

How many times have I settled for a word when I know there's something better just out of my grasp? Or written the cliche knowingly? Or told the emotion rather than showing it just because I didn't have the energy to push through and find a better way?

{Side Note: I'm not talking first draft here. For many people, I think it's best to just get that story down on paper. I'm talking about revising here. The polishing before you turn something in.}

How many times have I gone with my first idea for a plot rather than spending the time to dig and maybe find something fresh or different?

How many times have I quit writing for the day just because someone distracted me or my favorite show came on TV?

How many times have I done what was convenient or fun or relaxing rather than what I knew I should be doing?

How many times have I settled for average???


Friends don't let other friends be average!

So I'm sharing some tips I hope can help you and me step up our game. And I promise it won't involve a treadmill (unless you're feeling convicted about that, too.) :)

5 Ways to Beat Average

1.     Study the best.

Nothing inspires me to write better than reading good writing—in my genre and outside my genre. I’ve been known to cry while reading some of my favorite authors, weeping because I knew I’d never write that well. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t TRY. We should all try to improve. So study what your favorites do. How do they write unforgettable characters? How do they describe setting so that you don’t even really notice that’s what they’re doing?  How do they up the stakes? How do they turn the perfect phrase? Study and learn from the masters.

2.     Figure out your faults and weaknesses.

I’m not talking about picking yourself apart and being overly critical. I’m talking about an honest appraisal. These might be things that your critique partners or contest judges notice.  I think you might find these are the areas of writing that are the hardest for you. Do you struggle with conflict? Do you struggle with a sagging middle? Do you struggle with where to start your story? These may be your weakest spots.

3.     Work to improve and overcome.

Once you know your weaknesses, study and practice to improve. To do this, read how-to books. Take online writing classes. Tear apart other novels to see how the author handles your problem areas. Work hard (yes, put the treadmill on a steeper incline!) and you’ll find that you get better and better.  Eventually, you’ll begin to do better naturally, on the first try.

4.     Set goals and aim high.

Feeling overwhelmed by your weaknesses? Or feeling lazy? Not in the mood to put in the time? Do it anyway. Do we want to put average work out there in book form??? NO, we do not!

Reevaluate your goals. Make a schedule. Get in your word count each day before you get online or check social media. Practice, practice, practice. Repetition is how I learn best. Maybe it’ll be the same for you, too. If we establish a good writing habit, meeting our goals will come more easily.
Photo credit: Crestock/donskarpo

5.     Ask for help—push yourself or get someone who will.

Set deadlines for yourself. If you’re not self-motivated or are easily distracted (Every time you sit down to write, do you suddenly decide the shower tile grout needs to be scrubbed with a toothbrush??), consider finding a critique partner or accountability partner. And I’m not talking about your mother or sister or spouse (unless they’re big readers and will be totally honest). Or if you don’t have the time for give and take with a critique partner, consider hiring an editor. And if needed, maybe even a writing coach or life coach.

DON’T SETTLE. We need to do whatever it takes to help us move beyond average.

So who’s ready to join me in trying to move beyond average? Please share what you’d like to improve on. I’ll share mine first. My recent focus is on making sure that I show and don’t tell, especially with emotions. Now, your turn…

GIVEAWAY!  Please LET ME KNOW YOU WANT TO BE ENTERED. I'm giving away 3 copies of my new release from Love Inspired (e-book or print). The Guy Next Door is available NOW on the Harlequin website. And it’s up for pre-order at other booksellers!

The book has already gone out to the Book Club subscribers, and I've been thrilled to have heard from readers who loved it! I hope you enjoy it, too.

The Guy Next Door
Available at:
Barnes & Noble

From Friend to…FiancĂ©?  

Stalwart and steady, Darcy O'Malley has been by Luke Jordan's side since childhood. She has seen him through trials and tragedies, romances and breakups. They've been everything to each other—except boyfriend and girlfriend. Why ruin a good thing? What Luke can't explain, however, is why suddenly Darcy's presence is making his heart beat so hard. Something has changed since he left Appleton, and it's making him uneasy. Is it possible his best friend is meant to be something more? Dare he risk their perfect friendship in the hopes of finding his perfect wife?
@MissyTippens on Twitter

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Weekend Edition

The Seekerville Party Planners are busy preparing for October! Our 7th Birthday here in Seekerville. Keep your schedule open because we've got some amazing guests and prizes every single day, plus every week, and big birthday blowout prize at the end of the month! Our birthday month is when we thank YOU our villagers for our success.

We Have Winners

 Be sure to contact us if you are a winner (send an email to 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 here, on our legal page.

 Tuesday, Mary Connealy continued her series on emotions with "The Medium is the Message - Are Your Books Running Hot or Cold?" Winner of their choice of any of her books (that she has) is Connie Brown (Mary will contact Connie to work out the details). The winner of Cheryl St. John's  Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict is Terri. 

On Wednesday Abingdon Press author Lisa Carter returned to Seekerville with her post, "Settings So Real You’ll Be Tempted to Pack a Suitcase." Vince and DebH are winners of her latest release, Under a Turquoise Sky. Thank you, Lisa!

Thursday  2014 ACFW Genesis Double Finalist Candee Fick shared about how to keep going when the writing journey feels like a never-ending story. Stop by for a much needed dose of encouragement. Winner of a $10 Amazon gift card is Mindy Obenhaus.

Friday we celebrated the September Contest Update and crowned of our September Contest Diva Cindy Regnier. The winner a first-ten page critique is Jennifer Smith. The winner a copy of any Seeker book currently available or available for pre-order on Amazon- for Kindle or in print is Megan Besing.

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday: Love Inspired author Missy Tippens will be bringing you a nice friendly kick in the pants--Ruthy style! Drop by and let's discuss "5 Ways to Beat Average." Not only will your writing improve, but you may even lose a pound or two!

Tuesday: Oh, no, she's back!!! Dig out your grammar texts and start cramming, Seekerville, because on Tuesday Grammar Queen returns! And, as you know, GQ is not shy about starting the day with a pop quiz. (Actually, she's not shy about much of anything.) If you want to impress her (and who doesn't, because she's SO scary!), brush up on confusing soundalike word pairs. Ace the quiz and you could earn one of GQ's coveted gold stars. Or just audit the class and play it cool (and maybe GQ won't notice). Be sure to pipe up when she calls roll and you could be entered in a drawing for your own copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Wednesday: What’s the MOST valuable thing Julie Lessman learned from a writer’s conference? Well, I can tell you this — it’s not just a lesson for writers, but a lesson for life, so don't miss Julie’s encore presentation of “Conference CPR.” Whether or not you are attending the upcoming American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, you won’t be sorry — especially if you win a signed copy of any of Julie’s books, including her upcoming October release, Surprised by Love.

Thursday: Contest season is in full swing, and detail-oriented Pam Hillman brings us a contest entry checklist to keep us all on task. Sharpen your pencils and start checking off your contest list, and your list of contests!

Friday: Today we welcome the third author of the "Big Sky Centennial" continuity, Carolyne Aarsen! Carolyn stops by to tell why she's "Crazy About Continuities" and she'll be giving away three copies of Her Montana Twins with those adorable babies on the cover, and one winner will receive Her Montana Twins AND three books from the "Hearts of Hartley Creek" series. Stop by and leave a comment to have your name tossed into Ruthy's cat dish!

Seeker Sightings

Another great Seeker book is now available on Amazon for preorder! Her Holiday Family by Ruth Logan Herne.

September is packed with good news for Ruthy Logan Herne! She's just signed a three-book deal with Random House/Penguin/Waterbrook/Multnomah for a contemporary cowboy romance series! Needless to say she is happy dancing in upstate New York. (You don't want to see her dance, it's utterly ridiculous, not to mention embarrassing, but it's nice she's happy, right?)

Surprise giveaways TODAY and TOMORROW!!! Ruthy will be drawing names for some sweet prizes to celebrate this new contract! (Thank you, Natasha Kern and Shannon Marchese!!!) 

Leave a comment to have your name tossed in a VERY CLEAN cat dish! (cleaned to celebrate and match the clean table, LOL!)

She's brought balloons and food: Party in Seekerville!!!!!
Set on the Double S Ranch in central Washington, Sam Stafford's got a whole lot to be sorry for, and maybe not much time to do it. But God willing... now that he and God are back to rights... he's going to give it his best shot. His goal? To make things right with the three motherless sons he raised, who all have pretty good reasons to hate him. But maybe faith and forgiveness will go hand in hand, and if romance should turn Colt, Nick and Trey Stafford's heads while the family's on the mend, well... that's not such a bad thing, is it? The "Double S Ranch, Sam Stafford (and sons!), owners.

And if that wasn't enough good news, Ruthy's essay "Mary's Girl" is scheduled to be included in this December's "Chicken Soup for the Soul": "The Power of Forgiveness". Ruthy's delighted that her story of turning some really tough lemons into God-given lemonade will be out there for folks to read... and enjoy! Release date is December 16, 2014, which makes it a great Christmas present!

Mary Connealy will be on  Dorothy Adamack's Ink Dots blog on Monday, September 8th. Mary will be giving away a signed copy of Tried and True.

Mary Connealy LIVE WEB CHAT!  You can join the Facebook page for Mary's Web Chat.The chat is on September 23rd at 7 pm Central Time.To find out more find the Author Landing Page & the Webcast Landing Page.           

The giveaway isn't live yet and won't be until September 8th, when the blog tour officially starts. But the giveaway prizes are a Kindle HDX, AND  the Trouble in Texas Series
Don't forget to Take the September Books Quiz at the Bethany House Fiction Blog today: Which Character Are You Most Like?

And check out Mary Connealy's ad on page 42 of the new RWR.

Random News & Information 

RWA 2014 VIDEO RECAP (see Seekers @ 10:56)

How Revising Rewards Mistakes (Jane Friedman)

Stuff I Want to Know (Hugh Howey)

 16 Gifts For Your Favorite Book Lover Under $26 Each (BuzzFeed)

B&N Testing Espresso Book Machines (PW)

How To Write A Novel With The Snowflake Method With Randy Ingermanson (The Creative Penn)

Starting from Zero (Let's Get Digital)

How a book designer plucks a vision from an author’s pages (LIS News)

Authors Please Don't Do This (PW Shelf Talker)

Ten Things Happen When You Can't Put Down a Good Book (BuzzFeed Books via The Passive Voice)

Amazon pops up with Kindle Kids’ Book Creator (Roger Packer)

HarperCollins has a new digital first imprint devoted to thrillers and crime fiction. KillerReads will publish two or three titles per month — crime stories, detective fiction, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, and almost anything that fits under the umbrella of crime fiction. To celebrate their launch, KillerReads is opening for a limited time to submissions of complete manuscripts from unagented authors. You’ll need to submit a complete manuscript, a 500-word summary of the story, a one-paragraph recap of the story, a list of the characters and an author profile. This reading period will close on September 14, 2014, so get your submissions in now. Find all the details here. (Cindi Myers Marketnews's Blog)

 UPDATE! The SYTYCW Contest info has been updated.  Harlequin So You Think You Can Write Web Page. Mini Conference and Contest Launch this month.


That's it, have a great writing and reading weekend!