Friday, March 24, 2017

Best of the Archives: Write the Scene

 Writing a scene seems straightforward enough, but I want to journey past the basics and  into a few other areas of scene that have been on my mind.

If you've been in my online class the basics are not new. You have permission to eat donuts while I review scene and ignore sequel for today. Please save me a maple glazed donut.

The Basics of Scene:

When you write a scene, your goals are to elicit emotion and move your story forward. 

Just like your book has GMC (Goal, Motivation & Conflict) , your scenes have GCD. 

Structure of Scenes:

Goal->Character wants something
Conflict ->2 characters with incompatible goals
Disaster->hook, unexpected development

In many inspirational and sweet romance novels, the conflict and disaster are what is called "low tension." The conflict provides enough worry factor to satisfy the reader but generally does not involve world peace. 

The disaster at the end of the scene can be as simple an internal monologue of worry or "what am I going to do now?"  Or it can be a real "gasp" hook as in suspense or action novels.  Varying your disaster in each scene provides more interest for your reader so they don't predict what's next.

And remember that disaster is why you do not end your scenes with going to bed. The reason we end with disaster is so the story advances, the tension increases and the reader keeps turning the pages. 

Additionally, every scene asks a question: Take the scene goal and turn it into a question. Will xx get xx? The character should always be in worse shape at the end of the scene than at the start.

 An example of scene GCD:

  • Goal: Daisy wants the land that borders the river and plans to purchase it today after selling her cows at market. (The scene question is, will Daisy get the land?)
  • Conflict: She goes to the claim office and discovers the price on the land has gone up.
  • Disaster: Not only that but Cade (her mortal enemy) tells her he intends to buy it and the only way she can have that land is to marry him.

Cheesy, but you get my point. 

And here are some real disaster scene endings from books on my shelf- notice the variety of different types of tension in the disaster endings.

The fire engine’s horn sounded before the vehicle pulled away from the curb.Maggie shook her head, willing herself out of the daze that had wrapped itself around her.
“I’m simply going to have to stay out of his way,” she murmured. “Because Jake MacLaughlin is an exceptionally dangerous man.” 
Safe in the Fireman's Arms-Tina Radcliffe 

The doctor looked up from her crouched position. "Less than ten years, and these markings on the rib cage-" she pointed at the tiny lines "-are lacerations made by a knifelike instrument. It would appear a crime has occurred on your island, Sheriff Grant. And my assessment says it's murder." 
 Grave Danger-Katy Lee 
 Reel wondered if Robie was still coming after her. She wondered if right now he regretted not killing her.
Her phone buzzed. She looked down at the screen.
Will Robie had just answered her.
The Hit- David Baldacci

And yet, once again I will mention my post 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now as I reference scenes with no goals.
So, if getting ham and cheese on rye with the hero is your only scene goal, the conflict better be that the waitress hates your heroine and wants the hero and the disaster is she poisoned your heroine.

Resources for further research on Scene:

Scene & Structure-Jack M. Bickham

Writing the Perfect Scene –Randy Ingermanson

 And just for fun here is Joanna Penn from the Creative Penn talking about how she writes scenes.

I've laid the foundation. Now let's talk about a common practice I see with newer writers. If you think I'm talking about you, you're right and wrong. We've all been there and done that. I even have the shirt. 
Writing Around the Scene 

Writing AROUND the scene usually occurs when your hero and heroine are about to share the stage in a monumental way. The writer leads you up to the scene nicely and then stops right on the edge of the precipice. 

The next thing on the page is either hours later, the next day, or worse, reflection by one of the characters about the scene that we never saw (this reflection is called sequel btw).

Don't do that. Why? Because you are cheating your reader and subconsciously making them very cranky. Allow me to explain.

Scenes are live.

Everything you say happens in a scene must play out in real time. TIME IS REAL IN EACH SCENE. -Michael Hauge

 Yes, we all use techniques to show the passage of time, however, that is used to avoid the stuff readers skip over, like sleeping, showering, using the loo.

BUT passage of time techniques must never, ever cheat your reader.

Every scene is not only going to provide GCD (Goal, Conflict, Disaster) and advance your story, but it also is an opportunity to endear your reader to your protagonist. To get them into the skin of our character. To make them root for your hero/heroine. Make them care. It's also an opportunity to elicit emotion. 

When you make your readers part of the journey then they think about your characters long after they close the book. 

Now on to more sticky scene stuff....

A while back Mary Connealy mentioned the fear that writers have as they sit, hands poised over the keyboard ready to tackle a difficult scene. Let's address that because again, it's another writerly phenomenon we all experience.

Fear of Writing the Scene 

We are neurotic writers who talk to people in our heads, and our fears include:

  • Fear of the audience
  • Fear of the editor
  • Fear of ourselves
  • Fear of the art

This begins with some basic neurosis as you self-talk.  

What if I can’t get what’s in my head onto the paper?

Who am I to tell this story?

What if I fail?

What if it’s misinterpreted?

What if they don’t hear it, taste it, feel it as I do?

What if I freeze in the clutch?

What if they find out I'm a fraud?

What if my editor hates it?

What if I get one-star reviews?

The first step toward writing past your fear is to IGNORE YOUR HEAD. (AND STOP READING REVIEWS -You know who you are and yes, I am talking to you!)

You are not alone in your fears, so just go ahead and write the scene.

The writer does not know what he knows. You must remain with a difficult scene for as long as it takes to dig deeply into yourself and discover more of what you know. You not only complete the scene but add to your store of writing skill.

The "short breath" writer is facile and easily discouraged. When he exhausts what he knows, he rearranges and never learns anything new. He repeats and re-repeats. The "long breath" writer plunges deeply until he finds what he needs. He emerges from the depths of "self" with new material, new techniques. He learns from himself.

Dare to Be a Great Writer-Leonard Bishop

Now I leave you with a thought-provoking technique to consider when you sit down to write your next scene:

Every scene has a "hot spot," the moment that the rest of the scene is built around. One way to determine the best length for a scene is to locate that moment and draw a box around it. Then read backward from there. Read the previous paragraph and ask yourself whether or not it  (or all the sentences in it) contributes to that hot spot. Then repeat the paragraph before that and repeat the process. By alternating the traditional linear reading, you get a more objective perspective of each line and are able to cut those that interfere.

Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes-Ray Obstfeld.

Here's the promised quiz for today:

 What's your greatest fear about writing the scene? 

This post first appeared in Seekerville, May 22, 2015. Comments are closed today so we can catch up on our reading and writing.

Tina Radcliffe can be found, writing that scene in Arizona. Sign up for her newsletter at to keep up with her!

Her online class Self-Editing for Beginners will be held April 3-28 this year. Details and sign up information can be found here. 

If you're out and about buying essentials like chocolate and Peeps today, pick up the April 3 issue of Woman's World with her romantic short, Matchmaking Dad!

And finally, Bradley Cooper told Tina that she needs to build up her presence on Book Bub. Yes. Really, he did. Would you kindly go and follow her on Book Bub? All that will do is send you an email when she has a book released.  Here is the link. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Payoff of Perseverance

with guest Jill Weatherholt. 


In 2008, when I started stalking reading Seekerville, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be contacted by Tina, to write a blog post. But that’s our God—always full of surprises.

Recently, after reading my old journals, I realized 2008 was the year I began to study posts written by the Seekers. I printed articles and created notebooks. I currently have three, but I’m adding on each day. 

Also during that year, I became obsessed with author websites. I read about their road to publication, books they recommended for writers, anything I could get my hands on…I devoured it all.

It was in 2010 that I’d heard about the National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. The contest required participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Turn off your inner editor, get the words on the page and in the end, you’d have a start to a rough draft. At that time, I’d written a few short stories, but had yet to attempt writing a novel. Fifty thousand words in thirty days….how hard could that be. Sign me up!

Committing to 1667 words per day when you have a day job, family responsibilities, keeping up with housework, health issues and other minor disasters that can spring up any day of the week, was no easy feat. But my stubborn Type-A personality was not going to be defeated.  

These were just a few of the thoughts that swirled through my head during that first NaNoWriMo.

Day 1: “I exceeded my daily word goal of 1667. I love November!”
Day 2: “Why am I torturing myself?”
Day 3: “Who needs an outline, I’m a born panster!”
Day 4: “It’s Sunday, isn’t this the day of rest?”
Day 5: “Ugh, Monday…this story stinks!”
Day 6: “I’m a writing machine. I might finish by November 15th!”
Day 7: “This is so hard, I’ll never finish.”
Day 8: “I’m still on track.”
Day 9: “I’m stuck. Should I have my heroine get hit by a bus?”
Day 10: “What’s the point? This will never get published.”

Well, guess what? That story—the very first book I’d ever written was published by Harlequin Love Inspired, this year. 

Second Chance Romance
So, had I worked on that book for seven years? Heck no!

I tinkered with it off and on. Even a few of the Seekers were kind enough to critique some pages. Then in 2011, an unexpected job loss along with health issues, forced me to put my writing aside. Although that story stayed hidden on my hard drive, Jackson, Melanie, and the Shenandoah Valley lingered in my mind.

In 2015, here on Seekerville, I read about the Blurb to Book Contest sponsored by Harlequin. Initially, I hadn’t planned on entering. What was the point? I’d never advance. But a last minute decision had me writing a blurb and submitting the first page of that old NaNoWriMo project. My only expectation was the opportunity to have a professional editor, provide feedback.

On May 15, 2015, when I got home from work, I checked the contest announcement. I had advanced. With disbelief, I scanned the list again. From that day forward, I wrote like a crazy person to rewrite the entire book by the July 15th deadline.

A month later, on a rainy Monday morning at the day job, I got the call from my lovely editor. She asked if I knew why she was calling. “I think so.” I squeaked. That’s it. That’s all I remembered about the call. Thankfully, everything she’d said after my response was typed in an email, for my review.

I’ll never forget that day. Never—ever!  When I participated in NaNoWriMo, I just wanted to write a book, but God had bigger plans for me. And that’s what I’ve learned during this journey, GOD HONORS PERSEVERANCE.

So, are you ready for your payday? Share in your comment a time when persistence paid off. Today, I’m giving away two copies of Second Chance Romance. Let me know if you’d like your name in the dish. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Second Chance Romance

Small-Town Daddy 

Jackson Daughtry's jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him busy—but the single dad's number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner's hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie's pretty brown eyes. Now it'll take all his faith—and a hopeful five-year-old—to show the city gal that she's already home.

By day, Jill Weatherholt works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, but her heart belongs to Virginia. She holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University. She shares her life with her real-life hero and number one supporter. Their relationship grew on the golf course, and now they have one in their backyard. Jill believes in enjoying every moment of this journey because God has everything under control.

Day 23 of Speedbo!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Long Highway Home

My Long Highway Home

by Elizabeth Musser

I’m home now. After almost twenty-five years on this writing journey, I’ve finally found my way home.

I certainly don’t mean I’ve found my permanent publishing house. I’ve had four different American publishers and four different international publishers along the way, and the book I just launched was my first indy novel.

I don’t mean I’ve finally settled into the perfect routine, finding the way to balance my 30+ year career in missions with my calling as a writer. I still juggle, after all these years.

Nor do I mean that I’ve become a savvy marketing-social-media-writing genius.

What I mean is simply I’ve come home to accept that my writing life will always be on a roller-coaster. And I’ve come home to embrace the simple truth of receiving what has been given me to do each day, John-the-Baptist-style. He said it first. “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3: 27)

He made his home in the desert and refused to play the comparison game with his godly God-like cousin.  He did his job, and he let Jesus do His. John the Baptist lost his head along the way, doing his job. But he didn’t lose his heart. His heart was Christ’s. All along.

I hope it doesn’t sound heretical to use John the B as an example, but he’s helped me so very much these last months as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into all the craziness of launching a book in this slot of space during the 21st century.

He’s led me home, back to Jesus. Not just back to “Hey, Jesus, help me write this next scene,” but a desperate, “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”

It’s embracing every aspect of the life I’ve been called to live and living it moment by moment with Jesus.

Oh, I know I was supposed to be doing this all along, from that Sunday morning when, at nine years old, I walked down the red-carpeted aisle to the front of the big Baptist church and gave my life to Jesus.

And admittedly, this 40+ year journey has brought me further and further along the road to total dependence on Him. But it’s brought lots of brokenness too.

Love, love, love this Persian Proverb:

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? He keeps shining His truth into all the dark places of our heart until we break, we confess, we repent and we cling again to Him. He tears off the layers of pride, one-by-excruciatingly-painful-(at times) one.

Ever since I was six years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. When at nine, I grabbed onto Jesus, my prayers to Him were often, “If you’ve given me this gift of writing, show me how to use it for You.”

Always, always, Jesus put others in my life to keep the dream alive: my grandmother, my teachers and professors, my husband, our prayer partners who received my quarterly letters from France and wrote, “You have a gift; you should write a book.”

And then, at my first writers’ conference, I re-met a friend and former fellow missionary who was now an editor at a publishing house. He believed in my first story. So after almost thirty years of praying that prayer, from little-girl dreams to young-adult ministry, I received my first contract to write a novel. The year was 1994, and sitting down at my computer to write felt like getting a hug from the Lord. Every day.

I got to do what I had longed for and dreamed about ever since I was a small child.

But I was also living my other dream as a missions’ worker, helping to start a French evangelical church. And that job was not all croissants and cathedrals, wine and cheese. It was so, so very heart-breakingly hard, pouring ourselves out in a land filled with fascinating culture and breath-taking beauty and deep, deep disappointment with God.

I had a husband, two young sons, a missionary team, hundreds of prayer partners to correspond with, a fledgling church and my first contract. Perfectionist that I was (am?), I determined that I should be a full-time wife, mother, missionary and novelist. I literally almost worked myself to death. I got sick. For three long and extremely painful years.

I was broken.

When people used to ask my advice for getting published, I’d say write, write, write and pray, pray, pray.

I still give this advice. But I add, Cling. To Jesus. Like those grapes on a vine. Tenaciously. Please don’t let your dreams outsmart you, so that you think it’s being done for the Lord but it’s really just a lot of stuff being done.

That only leads to me and you being DONE.

I had to choose to be true to my callings, day after day after day, which meant some days were spent writing, some days spent with a struggling young believer, some days were spent in bed, recovering from illness. Some days were so dark that I could only thank Jesus that so many others were interceding for me.

But I held on. Tight. To Jesus.

Finally, after I had clung (clinged??) to that Vine long enough, well, I began to bend, bend, bend.

My most recent part of breaking, bending, clinging and coming home was admitting that, in this slice of life on earth, I had to accept the blood, sweat and tears of the business side of writing as simply a part of the job. Everyone who works has parts of the job that are enjoyable and other parts that aren’t. Did I think I could somehow skip (or at least skimp) on the parts I disliked?

Coming home has meant embracing social media, little by pulling-my-teeth-out little, realizing that although it is crazy time-consuming, it does give even more interaction with my wonderful readers. On my long journey home, I don’t think I would have persevered if it hadn’t been for my readers. “Your books have drawn me closer to Jesus.” “I had strayed far from Christ. Your novel helped bring me back.” “Thank you for writing stories with a soul.”

And in this season of writing, coming home has meant being inspired by true stories of our colleagues pouring out their lives for refugees, and of refugees finding Jesus at a ministry center near Vienna called The Oasis that serves up coffee and Christ.

So I penned The Long Highway Home.

Right before the novel went to print, I found the perfect verse to start with (you know, after the title page). “A highway will be there. It will be called the Way of Holiness.” Isaiah 35: 8.

I also came across another quote from the Persian poet Rumi that seemed absolutely PERFECT to add under the Isaiah verse:


I googled the quote again, just to make sure
Sigh. (And you can go ahead and google the quote to find out his name, but please finish reading this post and commenting first.)
Rumi had actually written it. He didn’t. A really weird (living) guy who believes in a lot of weird stuff said it. I couldn’t start the book off with him.

But it’s true, isn’t it? In the body of Christ, we are all just walking each other home.

So today, I want to ask you this: How has Jesus broken your heart and helped you bend thankfully to Him in praise? Are you clinging to Him? Who on this journey of life in Christ has helped walk you home? Anything you need to give up to Him during this Lenten season?

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5

Leave a comment answering one of Elizabeth's questions above or just to welcome her, and you will be entered to win a copy of her latest novel, The Long Highway Home.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years.  All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.

Back Cover Copy for The Long Highway Home:

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.

When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier.  Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger.  Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time?  And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Power of a Family Tree

with guest blogger - Amanda Cabot

With the current interest in genealogy and tracing ancestors, you may have created a personal family tree or at least considered doing so, but have you developed one for one of your books?  While I’ll be the first to admit that you don’t need a family tree for many stories, I’m here to tell you that they can be extremely helpful and – yes – powerful for some books.

It’s confession time.  I grew up reading sagas.  You know what I mean, those long, multi-generational stories that were popular more years ago than I’m going to admit.  One of the things that fascinated me about them was that they almost always had a family tree in the front of the book.  Those were designed to help readers keep track of who’s who and who’s related to whom in what way.  I was hooked!  But as much as I liked the idea of a family tree, I didn’t have a need for one until I started plotting the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

From the beginning, I knew that my fictional Texas town would be founded by two families from the North and that there would be multiple generations involved in each story.  While I wasn’t writing a saga, there were enough characters involved that I had the excuse I needed to create a family tree.

And so, I did.  Here’s a simple version of the first tree.

The Process

How do you start to create a family tree?  In real life, you collect information about people.  It’s a similar process with fiction, only you get to decide what the facts are.  As I thought about Cimarron Creek, I began asking questions.

Who were these founding families?  Although I could have had the founders be from unrelated families, more interesting dynamics were possible if they had a common ancestor.
When did they emigrate to Texas?  That helped determine their ages as well as critical events in the backstory.  After all, a town founded well after the War Between the States would have had different challenges than one where the residents had experienced the war and Reconstruction.
How many children did the founders have?  While not all of the children play roles in each book, it was important for me to know how many cousins my hero (Travis Whitfield) had and what ages they were.
What were their professions?  Although that’s not something you see on the family tree or any of the related reports, it was a key piece of information, so I added it to one of the reports I’d printed.

You can see that I changed a number of things as I actually wrote the book, including some characters’ names and ages.  Like the manuscript itself, the family tree was a work in progress.

The Advantages

Why go to this much trouble?  There are a number of reasons.

It forced me to think about each person as an individual.  While I didn’t include birth and death dates on the chart, they’re part of the underlying database. (More about that later.)
Because I knew a fair amount about each of the people on the family tree, I was able to include “insider” details about some of them in the book.  The result, I believe, was a more authentic-feeling town.
Seeing the chart helped me avoid repetition of names or creating too many characters whose names began with the same letter.  While the character chart I always create for my books is useful for that, because of its graphic nature, the family tree made it easier to see duplication.
The reports I generated provided me with information about each secondary character’s relationship to the protagonist.

Yes, I could have made notes about which people were cousins vs. aunts and uncles, but having the software do the work for me made my life a bit easier, not to mention that I knew it was accurate.  I’ve never claimed to know what second cousins twice removed means.

To Automate or Not

While you can always create a family tree manually by drawing squares on a piece of paper, I chose to use Family Tree Maker software.  (And, no, I don’t own stock in Family Tree Maker,, or anyone else who’s sold this particular package.)  I’ve used FTM since the days of Windows 95 and have found it relatively easy to learn.  I also like the reports it generates.  While the Outline Descendant report is the one I use on a daily basis simply because it’s so concise, the Descendant report provides an easy-to-understand explanation of who’s who.

One of the advantages of the software is that whether you prefer to start with the current generation and work backward or with the first generation and move forward, you can do it.  You can also start in the middle and work both ways.  Those of you who know me won’t be surprised that I started with the first generation and worked forward, but I’ve used the flexibility of adding descendants on numerous occasions.  And, of course, I like the fact that I can change names, birthdates, and other key pieces of information as my story evolves.

For me, building a family tree was an essential part of outlining this trilogy.  Using automated software made that process easier and resulted in a tree that Revell could (and did) include in the book itself.

Have I convinced you to at least consider creating a family tree for stories that include multiple generations?  If not, here’s one last advantage I found: it allowed Revell to create an interesting graphic for social media.

Don’t you love the different hairstyles for the various generations?

Author Bio:
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroad trilogy, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a full-time writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.  

A Stolen Heart – Amanda Cabot

The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . . 

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé. 

But when she discovers he has disappeared—and that he left behind a pregnant wife—Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites you into Texas’s storied past to experience adventure, mystery—and love.

Join the conversation on creating a family tree! One lucky commentor will get a copy of A Stolen Heart of their very own! Remember to stop by and check out the Weekend Edition on Saturday!!

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Speedbo Got You Down? Give Yourself the Gift of Kindness

Janet here. The Seekerville Speedbo challenge is to write as many words as you can during the month of March without revising. How are you doing with that? If you’re doing great, making or exceeding your daily goals, congratulations! Take a bow! You’re knocking it out of the park. We’re proud of you!!

But what if you’re not? 

What if you’re failing to meet your goal? What if the large number of words other Speedboers report writing each day is slipping your self-confidence to the soles of your shoes? What if the words you’ve written seems like drivel? Are you beating yourself up? Furious at yourself for not knocking that chirpy little editor off your shoulder? Are you certain you’re not a writer and never will be? If you’re experiencing discouragement during Speedbo, this post is for you.

When we fail to meet the expectations we set for ourselves, some of us think or speak negative, hateful words to ourselves. I’m a_____! Fill in the blanks. Perhaps words like loser, idiot, phony come to mind. Words we would not say to another human being. The worst part is that self-condemnation is counterproductive and has a negative impact on our health and happiness. Use negative self-talk often enough and it will become a pattern.

So what will help us be kinder to ourselves?
  • Recognize we're human. We are never going to be perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. Failure is part of life. Take comfort from the fact that when we fail, we're not alone.  
    Replace negative thoughts with positives
  • Recognize that failure today does not mean we'll fail tomorrow. In fact, failure can push us to work harder next time. When we give ourselves grace after failing, we're more apt to try again. 
  • Recognize that the way we think is our reality. Positive thoughts breed a positive life. If caught in a rut of negative thought patterns, memorize Scripture that focuses on our thoughts and on gratitude. Read Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. Go here and read about the failures of successful people. 
  • Recognize how we react to failure is a choice. We are not helpless. It may take practice to rid ourselves of negative self-talk but it can be done. Refuse to voice negative thoughts. Change the subject if a conversation turns negative. Choose to give yourself the gift of kindness.
  • Recognize that destructive words fed to children can have a far-reaching impact in adulthood. If that's been your sad reality, perhaps talking with someone, a trusted friend or professional, can help you achieve a healthier perspective.
  • Recognize we have a loving God who wants to help us in every area of our lives. Talk things over with Him. Ask for His guidance.

Refuse to let setbacks defeat you. Failure isn't an excuse to give up. Instead, dust yourself off and try again. If you keep positive thoughts in your head and God at your side, you are equipped to take actions that will get words on the page.  

Speedbo on!

Feel free to share how Speedbo is treating you.

Do you have tips to share that help you fight self-criticism? 

For a chance to win a critique of your first five pages or for a chance to read an eCopy of one of my books, leave a comment.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Weekend Edition

Welcome to the Weekend Edition!
As we launch into week 4 of SPEEDBO!
Do let us know how you are doing in the comments!

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

This week's Speedbo prize winners can be found here.

Monday: "A Foot in Two Worlds: Writing in Two Different Genres" with guest Dana Mentink.  Jessica Ferguson gets to have her cake and eat it too! She won both, Dangerous Testimony and Sit, Stay, Love.

Tuesday: The 3 winners of Myra Johnson's upcoming release, A Rose So Fair, are Jackie Smith, Patti Jo, and Marcia!

Wednesday: Debby Giusti encouraged us to "Dream Big!" The winner of the very first Seekerville giveaway of an advanced copy of her May release, AMISH REFUGE, is Wendy Newcomb. Congrats, Wendy!

Thursday: Debut Harlequin Heartwarming author, LeAnne Bristow is our guest with her post, "Pressing on When Life Pushes You Back." Jessica Baughman is the winner of  Her Texas Rebel.

Monday: Janet Dean's post "Speedbo Got You Down? Give Yourself the Gift of Kindness." Leave a comment for a chance to win a five page critique or an eCopy of one of Janet's novels.

Tuesday: Amanda Cabot joins us today to discuss "The Power Of A Family Tree." Having trouble keeping family members straight as you write a trilogy or saga? Amanda shares with us the advantages of giving your characters a lineage and how organizing your character's history from the very beginning can save you major headaches as you continue to create. A copy of A Stolen Heart, Book 1 in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy, will be the prize of the day! 

Wednesday: Bestselling author Elizabeth Musser will be in the house to offer a glimpse into her very unusual writing life and how she's managed to remain relatively (but certainly not totally) sane! Stop by for a chance to win her most recent release, The Long Highway Home.

Thursday: Jill Weatherholt is our special guest with her post, "The Payoff of Perseverance." She's celebrating her debut release from Love Inspired. Stop by and comment for a chance to win one of two copies of  Second Chance Romance!

Friday: Seekerville brings you another Best of the Archives to inspire your Speedbo week. Comments are closed on Friday so we can catch up on our reading and writing.

Tina Radcliffe will be speaking to the Christian Writers of the West (ACFW) on "The Romantic Arc," on Saturday, April 22 (the weekend AFTER Easter). This date has been updated from April 15.

Details on the  CWOW webpage.

Thanks for the link love!

 The Love Inspired Newsletter is coming in April 2017!

Sign up here to get the latest updates from Love Inspired and 3 free eBook downloads.

RITA & Golden Heart finalist calls go out on March 21. Answer your phone!

5 Sneaky Ways to Steal Time to Write (The Write Practice)

Second Chance at Love—Get it Right the First Time (Romance University)

 Five Bad Habits of Good Writers -Free Download (Alicia Rasley)

3 Golden Rules for Your Amazon Author Page (SPR) 

Publishers Plan for Future Without Family Christian (PW) 

Critiquing an Agent's Pitch Letter (Janet Reid) 

Why Write a Synopsis (Steve Laube Literary Agency) 

Three Things to Consider Before Talking with an Agent (MacGregor Literary)

What Kind of Advance Can I Expect ? (Books & Such Literary Management) 

 Advice from Kurt Vonnegut that Every Writer Needs to Read (ProWriting Aid Blog)

All Day to Write, But Where Did the Time Go? (Live, Write, Breathe)

April 1 Deadline! Enter and send proof of entry to us. Details here.