Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Weekend Edition

Welcome to the Weekend Edition!

We Have Winners

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

On Monday, Connilyn Cossett was our special guest. LeAnn Bristow is the winner of Shadow of the Storm. 

Tuesday K. C. Frantzen & May the K9 Spy, presented "Beyond the Bookmark," an in-depth look at swag!  Wilani and Cindy W are the winners of May the K9 Spy e-books. Please specify Amazon, Kobo or Nook. Caryl Kane is a third winner, who  may choose any hardcover May book and their choice of plush toy: Mini-May, the star of our series or Nykeeda the Cheetah, from the latest release May Saves the Day: Situation in St. Petersburg! 

On Wednesday we featured The December Contest Update. Did you stop by to meet our Contest Diva, Laurie Wood?  Amazon Gift Card winner is Nicky. The first 15-page critique winners are Sherida Stewart, Cynthia Herron, Kelly Bridgewater and Kelsey. You have 8 weeks to submit your pages per our legal page. 

Happy December! Seekerville welcomed back, Jill Kemerer, on Thursday, with her post, "When Your Calling Flatlines." Linda Truesdell is the winner of a copy of Yuletide Redemption, her latest release from Love Inspired.

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday: Mary Connealy is your hostess.

Tuesday:  Today we are delighted to welcome back, Belle Calhoune with her post, "Transforming an Ordinary Concept into an Extraordinary One." She's not only got tips for us, but she's giving away TEN copies of Reunited at Christmas. Merry Christmas from Belle! 

Wednesday: We are honored to have Fiction University's Janice Hardy with us today. Don't miss her post, "Three Ways to Make Your Writing Come Alive!" Plus, we're giving away a copy of her latest craft bookUnderstanding Show, Don't Tell: (And Really Getting It), in ebook formatto one lucky commenter.

Thursday: Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne loves to set her stories in big cities and small towns, but join her here on Thursday to talk about that really big story in that initial small town: Bethlehem. What was it like to be the newcomers, creating a ruckus, bringin' in angels and draggin' shepherds from their jobs? Let's examine this sweet, small town together... and there might just be a $15 Starbucks Card for one lucky chatter!

Friday: Join us for the Best of the Archives with Julie Lessman. Each Friday  comments are closed so we can catch up with our reading and writing

Seeker Sightings

Get your free copy of the December issue of Family Fiction Magazine with Julie Lessman on the cover and recipes from Julie and Ruth Logan Herne inside. 

Tina Radcliffe is delighted to have another sale to Woman's World Magazine. It will appear in this week's issue, available to non-subscribers on Thursday, December 8th.

Tina Radcliffe will be blogging at Shelia Stovall's blog on December 5, a Monday. Friendship, Hope & Fried Fruit Pies! Love that name. Join Tina for a post called, "Slow Down!" and  for a chance to win Rocky Mountain Cowboy.

Tina Radcliffe will also be appearing on Cheryl St. John's blog for the 2016 Great Christmas Tree Tour on December 9th. Check it out here.

Debby Giusti invites all her Seekerville friends to join her for Romancing the Smokies. March 17 – 18, 2017 Knoxville, TN. A delightful reader event with Friday and Saturday night get-togethers,Saturday Readers Luncheon, Book Signing, and SWAG!
Don’t miss this fun weekend with more than 20 of your favorite authors!

And get ready for a rollickin', food-fun-faith-filled New Year's Eve at our annual "Rockin' It With Seekerville New Year's Eve" party! We'll start the festivities and the hourly giveaways from 6:00 AM  Eastern Time (Ruthy's shift!) to 3:00 AM Eastern Time (Midnight on the West coast) with Keli Gwyn wishing all a Happy New Year! Prizes, fun, chatter and non-caloric pretend food round out the day! What could be better than that?  Hang with us as we make a pledge to "Kick Discouragement to the Curb"... TOGETHER!

Random News & Information

Thanks for sending links!

Details here. Please share this!

A Writer's Life-Hard Choices We All Face (The Write Conversation)**

Editing: Are You Right Brain or Left Brain (Maris Soule)**

Decoding Agent-Speak: I Didn’t Know Where the Story was Going (BookEnds)**

The Top 7 Details You Need to Think About When Writing Historical Fiction (Writer Unboxed)

10 Bookish Tech Gadgets We Didn’t Even Know We Needed (Book Bub Blog)

The Perspective from Inside a Character (The Editor's Blog)**

How Character Attributes and Flaws Work Within Character Arc (Writers Helping Writers)

What Agents and Publishers Want and Why (Writer Unboxed)**

Facebook Ad Types: When to Use Each Objective (Andra Vahl)

The End is Near: What Makes a Good Ending ( Fiction University)

Recommended Books for Writers (The Creative Penn)

Backing Away from the Cliffs of Insanity (Novel Rocket)**

Short on Time? Read ** First and come back later for the rest!

๐ŸŽ„  Writer, Reader, Cat-Lover, Editor & Agent Gift Suggestions for Holidays 2016

Left to Right. Click on Image to see details. Ho. Ho. Ho.
Novel Teas Collectible Classic Novels Metal Tea Tin Set 

#amwriting Square Notepad from  Better Novel Project

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Cat Lovers from Meow Box

Literary Candles at Uncommon Goods 

Chronicle Books Typewriter Paper Notes

Writer's Block Soap on Amazon

 Writer Signs on Etsy

Foot Hammock on Amazon

Stay Up Late and Write Mug on Etsy

James Patterson Master Class

That's it! Have a great reading and writing Weekend

Friday, December 2, 2016

Best of the Archives: The Secret Life of an Inspirational Romance Writer

This post first appeared in Seekerville July 30, 2015. Comments are closed today as we enjoy a day to catch up on reading and writing.


Today I'm going to set the record straight. 

What's it really like to be an inspirational romance writer?

It's fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.

Sure, it's annoying to have to dress incognito when I go into the world, but that's a small price to pay for the life I live. 

Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The truth is I do dress incognito. My whole life is incognito. HA!

In my ordinary world no one knows that I'm an inspirational romance writer. 

This week  a coworker asked about my recent absence. I shared that I went to New York City for a conference on my vacation.

"A conference? What kind of conference?"

"Um, I do a little writing on the side."

"Oh, a hobby."

Sigh. "Not exactly a hobby...."

This is a typical reaction to my revealing my secret life. 

Of course there is the occasional flip-side of that. I have another coworker with whom I have shared that I write inspirational romance. She told me that her mother is a voracious reader. So I brought in a copy of my latest release, Safe in the Fireman's Arms (in a brown paper bag, of course) for her mom.

That coworker came by my desk later with tears in her eyes and stunned expression on her face. "I texted the cover of your book to my mom. My mother already read your book. She said it was really good. She wants to read it again."

"Your mom is a fan of mine?"


Those moments are far and few between, but they are absolutely priceless. They make me want to shout!

"I'm an inspirational romance writer! I'M AN INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE WRITER!"

So although I'm not fabulously rich and famous.

And no one recognizes me when I walk down the street.

And though I don't dress in full tiara mode.

Or sit in on a mountain top waiting for a word from God.

There are a few perks to this gig...

I write fun and sassy books about real Christians and their daily struggles and my name is on the cover of those books.

I get paid for that honor.

My book is on the shelf in the grocery store!

I'm honored to have the privilege to share my faith in a way that is truly me. 

And once or twice a year I get to meet my tribe at conference. And there is nothing like it. That amazing feeling of being surrounded by like-minded individuals who really, really get me.

Each year the tribe grows a bit more as I reconnect with old friends and add new ones. It's truly an amazing honor and a kick in the pants as well. I'm not ashamed to admit I need my people and yes, they do validate me in a real and very necessary way. After five days with my peeps am ready to go back in the cave and back to my solitary life for another year or so. 

By the way, another perk of conference is I still get to be a fan girl who crushes on her favorite authors.

Here I am with suspense author and two-time RITA winner Laura Griffin. (EEEEEK!)

And with New York Times and USA Today, best-selling author Shelley Shepard Gray who asked me (ME!!!) to sign a book at the Harlequin Book signing event. Another fan girl moment! (omgosh, omgosh, omgosh) 

 The morning after the Harlequin Black & White Ball, I could barely walk after hours of moving on the dance floor like a John Travolta wanna-be. Limping and suffering quietly, with only four hours of sleep, I met Kate Breslin for breakfast. 

Kate! You were worth the pain. 

What a treat to chat with her and Irene Hannon and Lisa Carter and Tanya Agler over scrambled eggs. 

Surrounded by STARS!!!!  I can now die happy! MY TRIBE!!!  

Today I'm back to my office. This is  the reaction I got upon my return.

So what about you? What's your world as an inspirational romance writer like? Do you ever share that you have a secret life? Does anyone get it?  

Tina Radcliffe is thrilled to share that Rocky Mountain Cowboy, is available for preorder. If you enjoyed Dan Gallagher's book, Stranded with the Rancher, you'll love how the mighty falls. Joe Gallagher in in Rocky Mountain Cowboy.

P.S. Apologies for the excessive use of exclamation points in this post. It was..well, unavoidable!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

When Your Calling Flatlines

with guest Jill Kemerer.

The alarm goes off, and you mentally calculate how many cups of coffee it will take for you to get through the day. The email you opened last night weighs on your heart.


Every agent you’ve queried over the past three months has complimented your writing but ultimately passed on offering you representation. You’ve been writing and submitting for years. Your writing skills are solid. Your ideas are good. So why can’t you find an agent, let alone break into traditional publishing?

You seriously wonder if it’s time to quit.

On the other hand, a published author you admire just woke up, too. She’s trying to figure out how many cups of tea it will take for her to get through the day. The email she opened last night weighs on her heart.


She’s written several novels for her current publisher, but the proposals she’s been submitting keep getting turned down. She’s talked to her agent and understands how difficult the publishing market is, but her peers keep announcing new contracts.

She seriously wonders if it’s time to quit.

It’s confusing when we hit roadblock after roadblock.

It feels as if our calling has flatlined.

I’ve been there. Very few aspects of my writing journey have come quickly or easily. I hit rock bottom as an aspiring writer on three separate occasions. I spent my fortieth birthday crying in the O’Hare airport on the way home from an ACFW conference because I literally had no hope left for my non-existent career. But God comforted me in that airport, and I continued to pursue my dream of becoming a published author.

As a published author, I still hit roadblocks. Not all of my book ideas work for the publishing house I write for, and when I’m between contracts, my insecurities thrive. As an aspiring writer, I fought the three Ds—discouragement, dejection and depression. As a published author, I fight the three Fs—fear, familiarity and failure.

Let’s look at the three Ds.

Discouragement. Rejections, even the most complimentary ones, are a closed door. When we submit to agents and editors, our hope is alive—maybe our book will be published and our dream will finally come true! It’s discouraging to watch our opportunities narrow as rejections come in. Rejections aren’t the only things that discourage us—we’re disappointed by lousy contest results, tough critiques, financial issues or lack of emotional support from our loved ones.

Dejection. Dejection sets in when we struggle to believe in our journey anymore. Maybe you had a lousy conference with rough pitches and negative feedback. Maybe you’ve gotten rejections from every editor who requested your manuscript. You might be functioning in your real life, but writing? You no longer cling to the hope your book will be published, and it’s excruciating watching other writers announce their good news.

Depression. I’m not referring to clinical depression here. I’m talking about periods where you show symptoms of depression (feeling hopeless, sad, empty, losing interest in life, sleep problems, appetite changes, headaches and so on). In early 2013, I had been trying to get published for five years. In a one week period, I received rejections from every editor who requested my full-length book, a rejection on a category-length book, and I found out my dad had dementia. I had already been rejected on several other books over the years, so this was a really rough period for me. Thankfully, I was able to avoid depression, but I struggled emotionally for a while. If you suspect you might be sliding into depression, please see a doctor.

Let’s move on to published authors. A contract means everything becomes glittery and rainbows and butterflies, right? Uh…no.

Publishing a book is a dream come true, but it does not make all your dreams come true.

Publishing is a highly competitive business. I’m thankful every day to be a part of it, but my life didn’t become perfect when I finally sold a book. I continue to doubt my writing, I worry about keeping my stories fresh, I get rejections, I have to overhaul story ideas, and I work hard to promote my books.

For many published writers, the three Fs knock regularly.

Fear. Fear exists at every level of a writer’s life, but it intensifies when you get something you want and don’t want to lose it. I fear growing complacent and losing loyal readers. I fear never getting another contract with a publisher I truly enjoy working for. I fear some of my writing dreams will never come true.

Familiarity. Publishers want fresh ideas, but the books must fit into a marketable model. This can be tough on genre writers. How do we continue to write unique stories that will sell? I worry about familiarity—writing the same story over and over. I think this F is the easiest to overcome. If I gave everyone here an assignment to write a short story about a single dad who hires a nanny for his two-year-old daughter, everyone’s take on it would be different. The key to fighting familiarity is to create memorable characters—real, believable individuals for each book—and to push harder to make a common theme memorable.

Failure. So your publishing house closed its fiction line last year, you can’t get another contract to save your life and you would rather lick dirt than go on Facebook and see yet another writer announcing her marvelous research trip overseas for her multi-book series, which may or may not be optioned to be made into a movie? Yep. You feel like a failure. Your dream has died, and your career is over. No, it isn’t! Sometimes we enter an uncomfortable period when we’re writing new stories with no idea if we’ll ever be published again. We have options. We can hold out for a traditional publisher, we can venture into indie publishing or we can do both. The dream is never over until we say it is.

I’m convinced if you feel called to write, you need to write. The three Ds and three Fs are not indications your calling has flatlined. The calling is still there. It’s our expectations that have been shattered. We say we’re called to write, but in our hearts, we want more. We want the book deal, loyal readers, royalty checks, respect from our peers and contest wins.

God does not put callings in our hearts to let us down.

1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Those years I was submitting only to get rejections? They forced me to rely on God. I have a better understanding of His love because of the hard times. When doubts creep in now, I’m able to give my fear to God and trust that He’ll work it out, even if it isn’t the way I’d hoped.

If your journey is all uphill and full of setbacks, don’t quit. The ease of the journey is no indication of the worthiness of it. Stay humble. Do the tasks before you. And never give up.
How do you press forward when you feel like quitting?
Thank you, Seekerville, for hosting me today. I’m offering a copy of my new release, Yuletide Redemption, to one commenter! Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Stop by the virtual party! Eleven Love Inspired (all lines) authors are hosting a Facebook party on December 6, 2016, from 4pm-9pm (EST). We’d love for you to join us. The event is linked here, “December Love Inspired Christmas Party.” 

A Mother's Christmas Wish

After an accident leaves Celeste Monroe to raise her baby nephew, all she wants is to provide one-year-old Parker with a happy life. She hopes taking a job caring for injured Sam Sheffield will help fulfill that goal. But Sam's determination to avoid the world throws a wrench in her plans. Despite his best efforts, Sam can't take his eyes off the pretty caretaker. Her strength and her loving nature has him falling for her—and her baby. But he refuses to burden them with a man who's not whole. Can Celeste convince Sam he's daddy—and husband—material in time for them to celebrate Christmas together?

Yuletide Redemption is available in retail stores such as Walmart, Barnes & Noble and grocery stores. Or buy now on Kindle!

Jill Kemerer writes Christian romance novels with love, humor and faith for Love Inspired. Jill loves coffee, M&Ms, fluffy animals, magazines and her hilarious family. Visit her website,, and connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter and sign up for her newsletter.

๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„Not only does Jill Kemerer have a holiday release, but you can read her online novella A Cradle for Christmas on Read a chapter each Monday through December 26th.

๐Ÿ™ŒThis just in from Publishers Marketplace:

Jill Kemerer's first book of a Wyoming-set miniseries, a wedding planner inherits the family ranch, but when, over Christmas, she falls for the quiet cowboy she hires to manage it, his secret could cause her to lose it all, to Shana Asaro at Harlequin Love Inspired, in a nice deal, in a four-book deal, for publication in October 2017, by Rachel Kent at Books & Such Literary Agency (World).

Congratulations, Jill!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December Contest Update

Leave a comment today for a surprise
 Amazon gift card to go under your Christmas tree. 
For two writers, a critique of the first 15 pages
 of their inspirational manuscript, to prepare for the Genesis.
Three winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

๐ŸŽ…๐ŸŽ…๐ŸŽ…THIS JUST IN! An anonymous SEEKER will take on two more critiques. 
So a total of four! Keep those comments coming! Merry Christmas!

Published Manuscripts

NRCA is open. Deadline December 15

New England Readers' Choice Contest is now open. (Formerly Beanpot) Deadline January 6, 2017

Golden Quill is now open. Deadline January 13, 2017.

Holt Medallion is now open. Deadline January 15, 2017.

Booksellers' Best Award is now open. Deadline January 19, 2017.

Attention Readers! 
  • Interested in judging the  (New England) Reader's Choice Awards? Click herand scroll to the bottom of the page.  

Unpublished Manuscripts

A reminder: always ask to see the contest score sheet before entering any contest.

Emma Merritt Contest. Deadline November 30. Open to published and unpublished authors. Each entry must be an unpublished work – it cannot be published or under contract in any form or format, not in digital or print prior to the entry deadline. Entry must be the first 5,000 to 8,000 words.

Contemporary:  Piya Campana, Senior Editor, Harlequin Super Romance; Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Tara Cuskaden, Editorial Director, Entangled Select-Otherworlds; (agent TBA)

Suspense/Mystery: (editor TBA); Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency
Historical: Tara Gavin, Executive Editor, Kensington Publishing Corp.; (agent TBA)

LGBTQ: Angela James, Editor in Chief, Carina Press; (agent TBA)

Women’s Fiction: Susan Litman, Senior Editor, Harlequin Special Editions; Danielle Marshall, Editorial Director, Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing

Inspirational: Raela Schoenherr, Acquiring Editor, Bethany House/Baker; Cori Deyoe of 3 Seas Literary Agency

Young Adult (YA): Susan Chang, Senior Editor, Tor/Tor Teen; Louise Fury of the Jenny Bent Literary Agency

Romance Me Novel Writing Contest. Deadline December 15. Open to published authors. "Be it historical or contemporary, a grand love story or the gripping tale of a torrid affair, through December 15 submit your Romance novel for the chance to win prizes and be read by judges from Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Hachette Book Group." Submit the first thirty pages. One entry per person. NO FEE! Cash prizes awarded to our top three writers. Everyone else will receive basic service; your submission viewed by multiple publishing professionals; and access to future contests and writer services. Winners will be announced on Valentines Day, February 14, 2017. 

Final editor judges:

Marissa Sangiacomo-Macmillan Publishers

Lexi Smail-Hachette Book Group

Katherine Pelz-Penguin Random House

The Golden Heart Contest-   
Contest opens on December 1- Deadline January 1. The Golden Heart requires a full manuscript and is open to RWA members. The cost is $30. Once again Seekerville will provide an opportunity for entry reimbursement to writers who enter the Golden Heart in the category formerly known as inspirational. We're going to reimburse 10 entries -if the category makes it. So please consider entering! Read the rules here.

How it works. You enter and send us proof of entry. After the January deadline, RWA will announce if the category made it. If it does, we randomly pick 10 entrants to be reimbursed and then email them privately. Winner's first names only are announced on the blog in an effort to preserve contest integrity. 

***   Here's a meme to share with your writer groups such as FHL, ACFW and your local chapters. Include this bitlink to this post:

Great Expectations Contest. Open for entries October 30, 2016. Enter now, submit your manuscript later.  Entry and payment must be received January 4, 2017.Entry consists of the first 5,000 words. NO synopsis or blurb. Finalists will be asked to include an unjudged synopsis for editors.  Unpublished and Published authors. 

Final Round Judges


Elle Keck ~ Assistant Editor/Avon Books

Raela Schoenherr ~ Acquisitions Editor/Bethany House

Marla Daniels ~ Assistant Editor/Simon and Schuster



Madeleine Colavita Editorial Assistant/Grand Central Publishing


Kristine Swartz ~ Assistant Editor/Berkley

Great Beginnings Contest. Deadline February 14.  Contest is open to published and unpublished authors. Entry consists of the opening five (5) pages of your romance novel (projected length of at least 50,000 words).

Final Judges:
Historical – Nicole Resciniti, Agent, The Seymour Agency 
Paranormal – Lane Heymont, Senior agent, The Tobias Literary Agency
Romantic Suspense - TBA

Contemporary – TBA.

Let's start getting ready for the ACFW Genesis Contest which will open January 2017. The first 15 pages and a one-page synopsis!

Other Writing Opportunities

  • St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. Deadline December 12. Details here.

  • January 14. Florida Romance Writers Super Saturday Workshop Event. Featuring Debra Dixon. GMC and Big Black Moment. Details here.

  • Keep your on on this site, #MSWL for writing opportunities. Manuscript Wish List where editors and agents let you know what they're looking for. It also keeps you apprised of trends in the industry.

  • The Erma Bombeck Writing Competition opens December 1. Details here.

  • Chicken Soup Callouts for January 2017-Dogs,Cats, Military Families and Teachers. Guidelines here. 

  • Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference is coming! April 7-11 2017. Details here. 

Welcome to our December Diva, Laurie Wood from Canada!

 I am honoured to be Seekerville’s December Contest Diva! I met Tina Radcliffe through Harlequin’s “Manuscript Matchmakers” Blitz for their Love Inspired Historical Line, and she graciously asked me to blog about my contest experiences over the years. 

Although I grew up writing and dreaming of publication I chose a career in law enforcement and stopped writing. However, I changed careers, got married, and by 1997 I was staying at home raising our two special needs children. While they were/are a joy, I knew I needed something creative for myself. 

I joined RWA and in 2003 I came Third in both the Daphne du Maurier and the Jasmine contests  with a romantic suspense novel called Black Water. I wrote a sister book and queried agents with both of them because the feedback I got was excellent. Still, I didn’t sell either book.

My “early writing” halted when my husband joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in late 2004. Life became crazy with cross-country moves and deployments. However, when we came back to Winnipeg this time, I decided it was time to get back to writing. It’s been like starting all over again!

The first contest I entered was So You Think You Can Write in the fall of 2015. I got zero response, but I was determined to keep going! In April 2016, I entered my historical romance in the Harlequin “Manuscript Matchmakers” Blitz and made it to the second stage where they requested a partial. Still, it was a rejection. 

But that didn’t bother me because I gained what I consider to be the #1 Best Thing you can get from a contest entry: a new critique partner, new friends with other unpublished authors, as well as some lovely published authors with the Love Inspired Lines. Their help and expertise as I kept going throughout 2016 has been invaluable and I cherish these new friendships.

My biggest achievement for 2016 was placing Second in the Inspirational Category of the TARA Contest.  This was my historical romance which I finished despite not placing in “Manuscript Matchmakers”. There’s my second tip for entering contests: don’t just write up three chapters and call it a day. If you love your story, finish it! If you get good/great feedback on it, make use of it and keep going. It’s better to have some finished manuscripts on your hard drive than assorted chapters that lead nowhere. You’ll be poised to take an opportunity if it presents itself.

A couple of tips for entering contests in 2017:  

Do you want feedback? Enter a short contest that takes the first 5 to 15 pages of your WIP. 

Do you want to get in front of a specific editor at a publishing house? Scour Seekerville’s monthly updates for that editor and get that entry in!

Do you want to final/win in some prestigious contests like the Genesis, the Daphne du Maurier, or the Golden Heart, to add these finals or wins to your query letters? Then mark them on your calendar and make a plan now. 

By the time you read this, I’ll have finished this year’s NaNoWriMo Contest….which means December will find me editing that WIP, and getting it ready for contests in 2017. I hope to see you in the finalist listings!

This contest update was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Find her at

That's it Seekerville! Now go forth and contest! (See you next year!)