Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Weekend Edition: Birthday Week 2

Happy Birthday Seekerville, and welcome to our birthday bash. 
We're celebrate our 8th year, 2630 blog posts
 and nearing 2 MILLION page views. 
We couldn't have done it without YOU!

We Have Birthday Winners!

Giveaway rules can be found here. Please drop us a line to claim your giveaway at All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books! And P.S. - if we forget to send  your prize DO let us know after 8 weeks per our rules

Did you claim your giveaway from last week? Check it out here.

The Birthday Bash Week One winner of a $50 Amazon gift card is Marsha Bernabe.

Monday Sandra Leesmith talked about using characters from different ethnic cultures than your own.  Patti Jo is the winner of her choice of print or ebook copy of Love's Dream Song and the handcrafted kindle tote. Walt is winner of his choice of print or ebook of Love's Dream Song. 

Tuesday we welcomed guest Lynne Gentry with her post, "In Search of Verisimilitude. "  Did you learn how to spell it?  Stephanie Triesch is the winner of Valley of Decision from her Carthage Chronicles series. 

Wednesday  Kristen Ethridge returned to Seekerville  and shared more of her Port Provident series with her post, "Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a Book (or two or three)."  Loves To Read is the winner of a Kindle copy of The Doctor’s Unexpected Family and a pre-order copy of Shelter from the Storm (you’ll get it when it releases in early October). Winners of Storm Surge are Sandy Smith, Becky Dempsey, Caryl Cane, Kathryn Barker and Cate Nolan.

Thursday we kicked off our birthday month with "The #NoLimits Way to Infuse Your Novel with Color and Sound,"  with multipublished best-selling novelist and writing coach, C. S. Lakin.    Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Techique to Supercharge Your Story , is our birthday prize today. An ecopy goes to Vince and a print copy to Christina Lorenzen.

On Friday Seekerville was delight to welcome Bethany House fiction publicist, Amy Green to the party, with her post, "Following Through After a Conference." Winners of Mary Connealy's Fire & Ice are Eva Marie Hamilton, Valri, and Janet Ferguson.

This month we have TWO contest diva's, and Saturday you got to meet the first! Rhonda Starnes. Tracey Hagwood is the winner of  Fairy Tale Birthday Brownies
Next Week In Seekerville

Monday: Mary Connealy shares, "A Cord of Three Strands," how weaving faith into our plot and characters makes our books strong. Mary will be giving away a copy of Fire and Ice, 12 Brides of Christmas and an Amazon Gift Card.

Tuesday: From Seekerville March 2014 Diva Sara E Larson to ....drumrolll here... Sara Ella, YA author of a three book series that sold to Harper Collins. Check out this cute and informative Vlog on her advance. Sara will be with us to share her post, "Defying Gravity." Seekerville will be giving away an ecopy of winner's choice of any the 2015 Carol Award Winner books today, in Sara's honor.

Seekerville is excited to welcome Bethany House Acquisitions Editor, Raela Schoenherr to our little town. Her post is, "8 Tips for Making Your Heroine Unforgettable."  Don't miss the opportunity to chat with Raela, and she's bringing birthday presents! Two commenters will win their choice of any 2015 Bethany House Publishing  release.  

Thursday: Let's celebrate our birthday in grand style with a full day of Ruth Logan Herne critiques! Yes, the Ruthinator is back, and she's spending the day working with you, one-by-painstaking-one to see if we can spit-shine those words! Why, you ask? Well, because it's fun. And she loves working. And she's a know-it-all Yankee, take your pick. Bring an excerpt and an appetite because we won't be stoppin' to cook. The giveaway today is a whole day of Ruthy advice/critique with Connealy making fun of her! If you play nice, she might sweeten the pot with a $20 Amazon Gift Card to one winner and two winners of Ribbons & Roses, her duo release with Mia Ross! 

Friday: Lest we get comfortable in our writerly dreamer world, Bethany House author and Village, Melissa Jagears brings us her post, "8 Reasons Why ‘No Limits’ is Bad for You." Stop by to see what's she is up to and you could win an ecopy of one of her Unexpected Brides series books that Seekerville is giving away in her honor.

Saturday: Seeker Tina Radcliffe gives you "8 Ways to Turn Insomnia into Your #NoLimits Writer Super Power." Bring your pillow and blanket and we'll have a drawing for sheep. Two sheep to two lucky commenters.

Seeker Sightings

Releasing October 10, 2015.  Raise your hand if you'd like to have your name entered in a birthday drawing for a set that includes both collections, Heart Full of Christmas and Home for Christmas. Two winners announced next Sunday. 

Local Authors are Sweet on Their Readers!
Nine Atlanta area authors will host a Sweet on Our Readers luncheon on Saturday, October 10, 2015, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Sugar Hill Community Center, located at 1166 Church St., Sugar Hill, GA 30518. 
New York Times Bestselling author Haywood Smith is the luncheon’s keynote speaker. Participating authors are: Patty Smith Hall, Kristi Ann Hunter, Ane Mulligan, Bryan Powell, Horton Prather, Haywood Smith, Brandy Steffensen, Missy Tippens, and Ruth Trippy. 
Several prizes will be given away, including a Samsung Galaxy tab 4 with case, baskets of books, and of course always chocolate, and more. A bookstore will be available to purchase books and the authors will be glad to sign them. 
Tickets are $30.00. For more information, contact: anelmulligan [at] or pattywrites [at] Or contact Missy Tippens directly at missytippens [at] Hope to see you there!

 On October 6th Love's Dream Song by Sandra Leesmith will be reviewed by Sherida Stewart on her blog Tuesday Tea. Please stop by and join Sherida on her delightful blog. There will be a drawing from commenters for a copy of Love's Dream Song .

Blog tour for Myra Johnson's The Sweetest Rain continues this week!

PREORDER SALE & CONTEST for Julie Lessman's new contemporary novel, Isle of Hope! 

How would you like to have a character named after you in Julie Lessman’s next book or novella, a signed copy, and your choice of another of Julie’s books? 

Well, you can! Simply help Julie celebrate and promote her new contemporary release, Isle of Hope, by entering the contest on her website. And BONUS — the preorder price for Isle of Hope is almost 50% less than what the November 1st release price will be, so take advantage at: 

Julie's Isle of Hope Contest.

From Debby Giusti, Seeker Sightings at the Moonlight & Magnolia's Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, going on this weekend.

Front-Maureen Hardagree, Missy Tippens, Lindi Peterson, and Emily Sewell . Top row, Debby Giusti, Kristi Ann Hunter and Darlene Buchholtz. 

Villager/DivaTanya Agler & Seeker Debby Giusti

Debby Giusti and Missy Tippens

Villager Walt Mussell and Debby Giusti

Darlene Bucholtz, Debby Giusti, Walt Mussell and Haywood Smith

We have four more gift cards and an iPad mini to give away this month!

Random News & Information

Thank you to Villagers & Seekers for sharing links. 

In September, Seekerville lost a wonderful Villager, Eileen Barnes to cancer. Eileen was a diva in Seekerville and a 2015 RWA Golden Heart finalist. We'll be honoring her in the future with a special giveaway. For now, we'd like you to consider  downloading her Golden Heart finaling book, Rescuing Mr. Gracey, which is free on Amazon and add her family to your prayers. 

The September Calendar is UP! Check it out here.

Publishing Startup Pronoun Looks for Path Around Amazon (The Passive Voice)

Why Do People Share What they Do? (BufferSocial)

Insights Into the Dreaded First Page (KillZone)

After Oyster, What's Next for E-book Subscriptions? (PW)

Sticks And Stones? They Hurt. Words? They Can Kill Me. (Novel Rocket)

Simple Instagram Tips for Authors (BookBaby Blog)

Writing Discipline And Mindset For Authors With James Scott Bell (The Creative Penn)

New author sells 80K books in 1 year. Here’s how (The Book Deal)

Spotlight on Sourcebooks (Cindi Myers Market News's Blog)

Don't forget! We're reimbursing two contest entries. Details here.

That's money you can put aside for a conference.

RWA 2016 Conference: San Diego, CA, July 13-16

Writer's Police Academy 2016: Appleton, WI  August 11-14 

ACFW 2016 Conference: Nashville, TN.  August 25-28

NINC 2016 Conference :  St. Pete Beach, FL., September 21-25

It's that time of year when we ask you to please consider nominating Seekerville for the 18th Annual Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writer’s Award. Send an email to with “101 Websites” in the subject line. We are an Inspirational Romance Writing Community. 

Many thanks from your Seeker friends!

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Contest Update

We've got a SWEET October Happy Birthday Contest Update today!

We're sending Fairytale Brownies to one commenter. 
So tell us, what's your favorite treat to eat while writing or reading?

And Seekerville is putting their money where their mouth is.

We're going to reimburse entry fees to TWO writers 
who enter a contest listed below and 
send us proof of entry by Saturday, October 10th.

 (Send to

Winner of brownies announced in tomorrow's Weekend Edition. Winners of contest reimbursement will be in the Sunday, October 11th Weekend Edition.

Game on, writers!

Published Author Contests

 The 2016 RITA Award opens on October 22. Plan your time accordingly! September 22, 2015, Online sign-up to judge the contest opens at 9:00 a.m. CT.  October 22, 2015, RITA Contest opens for entries at 9:00 a.m. CT.  You must judge to be eligible for entry in the RITA.

Unpublished Author Contests

Emily Contest. Deadline October 4. Entry: First 5600 words, no synopsis.
Contemporary – Long.
Agent – Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management
Editor – Tara Gavin, Executive Editor, Kensington Books

Contemporary – Short.
 Agent – Jess Dallow, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
 Editor – Elle Keck, Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins / Avon

 Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal
Agent – Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Editor – Allison Carroll, Associate Editor, HQN, Harlequin Enterprises

 Historical Romance
Agent – Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Literary Agency
 Editor – Tara Gelsomino, Executive Editor, Crimson Romance

Romantic Suspense
Agent – Shira Hoffman, McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
 Editor – Kristin Sevick, Senior Editor, Tor / Forge (Macmillan)

Young Adult
 Agent – Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
 Editor – Alex Sehulster, Editorial Assistant, St. Martin’s Press

Best of the Best is a competition between the first place winners of each category. The winner will receive $100.

Best of the Best Judge:
Former RWA Bookseller of the Year – Kay Meriam, Barnes & Noble

 Four Seasons. Deadline October 10. First twenty-five pages. Open to both unpublished and published authors. Unpublished authors may enter any category. Published authors may enter any category in which they’ve not been contracted or published for three years in any novel-length work of fiction (40,000 + words) in any format (e-book, mass market, etc) to include self-published works. The contest is open to RWA and non-RWA members.
 2015 Final Judges:

Editor: Nicole Fischer, Avon
Agent: TBA

Single Title Contemporary
Editor: Michelle Meade, MIRA
Agent: Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Editor: Deborah Nemeth, Carina Press
Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, Three Seas Literary Agency

Young Adult
Editor: Amy Stapp, Tor/Forge
Agent: Marisa A. Corvisiero, Corvisiero Agency

Editor: Elizabeth Mazer, Harlequin Love Inspired
Agent: Lane Heymont, Seymour Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Mercedes Fernandez, Kensington
Agent: Vicoria Lowes, The Bent Agency

New Adult
Editor: Kristine Swartz, Berkley Publishing
Agent: Veronica Park, Corvisiero Agency

ACFW First Impressions. Deadline for entry is October 15. Entry consists of a back-cover copy type blurb of 200 words or less AND the first five pages of the manuscript. Open to ACFW members and non members. The first round of the contest will be judged by 3 published authors or by experienced non-published authors. The final round will be judged by agents. 

Historical -
Historical Romance 
Novella -
Romantic Suspense 
Short Novel 

Young Adult 

Hook Line & Sinker. Deadline November 1.  Entry consists of the first three pages. All genres. Three judges at least two of them published will critique your first three pages. The top five entries will be ranked by Allison Lyons from Harlequin.  This is your chance to dip your toe in the contest waters all you diva-wanna-bees!

Golden Claddagh.  Deadline is November 1.  Entry consists of the first thirty pages. No synopsis.  Open to both unpublished and published authors. Manuscripts must be unpublished and un-contracted in any form, including self-publishing. Unpublished may enter any category. Published may enter any category in which they’ve not been contracted or published for three years. Open to Celtic Hearts Romance writers, RWA Members, and non- RWA Members. Cash prizes.

Contemporary (New Adult themes allowed)
Young Adult

Finalist judges (editors/agents) not listed yet. 

Sourcebooks Pitch. Deadline November 2. Free! Published and non-published authors. Pitches must be for books not under contract as of November 2, 2015. Judges: Editors Deb Werksman, Mary Altman, & Cat Clyne of Sourcebooks. The editors will select winners to submit partial and/or full manuscripts.

Great Expectations. Deadline: January 3, 2016 (midnight CST). 5,000 word entry limit instead of page count and NO synopsis or blurb. Early Bird rates apply from October 1 to December 1, 2015 (midnight CST). This contest is open to all authors who have never been published in book-length romantic fiction as well as authors who have nott been contracted or published in the entered category during the last three years (during 2013, 2014 or 2015). Cash prizes.

Categories and Final Round Judges:

Contemporary Series: TBA

Historical: Gabrielle Keck, Editorial Assistant, Harper Collins

Inspirational Contemporary: Raela Schoenherr, Fiction Aquisitions, Bethany House Publishers

Mainstream with Romantic Elements: Isabel Farhi, NAL

Romantic Suspense: TBA

Single Title: TBA

Specialized (Futuristic/Fantasy/Time Travel/Paranormal): Kristine Swartz, Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing Group

Young Adult: Alice Jerman, Assistant Editor, Harper Collins

New Adult: Julie A Mianecki, Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing Group

Other  Opportunities for Writers

Coming to Denver, Colorado, November 6-8, 2015, Nourishing the Writer's Spirit Retreat. 

Check out the Upcoming Marie Force Virtual Workshops here.

Don't wait until the last minute! Start saving your pennies for these great conferences coming in 2016:

RWA 2016 Conference: San Diego, California, July 13-16

Writer's Police Academy 2016: Appleton, Wisconsin  August 11-14 

ACFW 2016 Conference: Nashville, Tennessee.  August 25-28

Introducing our October Contest Diva...


2013 Harlequin’s Love Inspired Happily Editor After
2014 Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense Search for a Killer Voice
2015 Harlequin’s Love Inspired From Blurb to Book

When Tina first approached me about being the Contest Diva this month, I told her I hadn’t been in enough contest. Her response was “Rhonda! We have divas who have entered one and divas who have entered 100 contests. You are still a diva. I am slating you in!” Obviously, there is no arguing with Tina. LOL! So, here’s my story.

From the time I was twelve years old, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to be a published author one day. But for the longest time (about thirty-five years), it was just talk. I never did anything to try and achieve my dream. 

Then in February 2013, I saw an announcement for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Happily Editor After pitch contest. I told Mountain Man (my sweet, supportive husband) about the contest, and he told me I should enter. Keep in mind I had never written a complete manuscript. I spent the next couple of days trying to decide if I was really ready to attempt writing. What if I failed? I work a full-time job and come home exhausted at the end of the day, when would I have time to write? Could I really do it? Could I become an author? After listening to me talk for days about the contest and all the reasons I couldn’t enter, Mountain Man said I either entered and pursued my dreams or stopped talking about being an author one day. He said one day is now, and I could either grab hold of my dreams or continue to be too chicken to live them.

How could I not enter after that? Imagine my surprise when my 100-word blurb resulted in a request for a proposal. I quickly put together my synopsis and first three chapters and sent them off to the editor. Six months later, I received a rejection. It was a lovely rejection with lots of encouraging words, but a rejection nonetheless. That was when I was hit full force with the realization that I have a lot to learn about being a writer. It was also around this same time that I found my first critique partners and made my way to Seekerville. I read blogs, studied craft books, and continued to write. 

Then in February 2014, when the announcement came out for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense Search for a Killer Voice contest, I decided to give it another go. I wrote page one and hit send. And before I knew what happened, I had advanced to the final round and had written a full manuscript in three and a half months. Two months later, that manuscript received a revision request. It took me five months to make the revisions and resend the manuscript. 

In March 2015, while I waited to hear back on my revised Killer Voices manuscript, Harlequin’s Love Inspired division announced the From Blurb to Book contest. Although I just knew I’d be getting “The Call” from the editor who had my revised manuscript and would have to dropout of the contest, I typed page one and hit send. My phone stayed silent as I advanced through the rounds and submitted my second completed manuscript. 

Two weeks after hitting send on the Blurb to Book entry, I received a second revision request on my Killer Voices manuscript. Then four weeks after that, I received a revision request on my Blurb to Book entry.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m trying to pass a major test, but I keep failing by a couple of points. Then I remind myself that I now have not one but two manuscripts with revision requests from Love Inspired Suspense. And that’s not a bad place to be for someone who spent way too much of her life dreaming the dream instead of living the dream. 

Our first $50 gift card winner of the month will be announced Sunday!

That's it! Now go forth and contest!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Following Through After a Conference

with Amy Green, Bethany House Fiction Publicist

I’m a huge fan of writing conferences. In fact, this year, I co-taught one at the ACFW conference with Melissa Tagg.
Amy Green with Bethany House Author Melissa Tagg

(We called it “Stress-Free Marketing” because who wouldn’t want less stress in their lives?) She brought the author perspective, I brought the publisher perspective as the fiction publicist at Bethany House. Hopefully that class and the dozens of other classes and workshops at the conference were really helpful to the writers there.
Our presentation for the class. Sidenote: I’d highly recommend for creating presentations. They have lovely, easy-to-use templates that work better than PowerPoint for people with non-linear brains

However, I also know conferences have the tendency to be A. overwhelming extravaganzas of information-overload and B. often focused more on (really good) abstract ideas than (really important) practical application.

As I was planning this post, I noticed Sandra wrote a great post a few months ago covering all of the connect-and-organize details, like contacting editors, taking care of expenses, and putting the swag, books, and business cards you may have collected into some semblance of order.

Which means I don’t have to talk about any of that, which is great, because you can only listen to me for so long without getting bored.

What I want to focus on is more big-picture stuff. It can be easy to learn a bunch of new things and have good intentions to apply it all to your writing, editing, and marketing…and then never do it. Here are some tips for following through and putting what you learned into action.
Amy Green (standing) Melissa Tagg (waiting her turn) at ACFW Conference in Dallas
Step One: Take a deep breath. Maybe wait a week or two to dive back into conference material. After all, you’ve probably gotten behind on a lot of things while you were gone…emails, dishes, family time. (Though my general philosophy is that dusting can always wait.) Catch up, rest a bit…but not too long, or you’re likely to not revisit the conference information at all.

Step Two: Get reacquainted. Get out your notes and handouts and go over them again. Not like a detective studying a case file. More like a mom sorting through her child’s adorable macaroni paintings, Grandparent’s Day essays and “Most Talkative” Awards. (I got two of those in elementary school, in case you were wondering.) Meaning  you should organize (put handouts with the notes for that class, for example), trash (in case there was a handout that didn’t apply or contained information you already knew), and familiarize (do a quick scan of the material).

Step Three: Focus. Take a highlighter and mark the parts of the classes that created “lightbulb” moments in your head—“I’ve never thought about that before!” “This is a weakness I know I have.” “Here’s something I want to learn more about.” “I wonder what would happen if I took this idea, and….” Those will be the sections you most want to revisit.

Step Four: Make an action plan. Melissa and I actually had the writers attending our “Stress-Free Marketing” class fill out an action plan worksheet in class. It had questions for each of our main topics guiding the authors through application—the specific details about what they actually wanted to change based on what they learned.
Here are some suggestions for creating a plan of your own (broken down into two categories because their application looks fundamentally different). I’d suggest pulling a few questions out of these lists and answering them for one or two classes you found most helpful. More than that, and it’ll probably get overwhelming.
Craft Classes:

·         Which of the topics/points mentioned is a weakness for me? What can I do to address this? (Brainstorm a list.)

·         In my current work in progress (or the next project I will write), what is one area I’d really want to grow in? How can I make sure that happens? (Put a Post-It note on your computer, have your critique group specifically look for growth in that area, ask other authors for tips and keep them handy as you write, etc.)

·         Did one theme/topic stand out from this class? Do I know an author who seems to have mastered this? (Read a book or several by this author focusing on how the author accomplished the goal you noticed—such as tighter pacing, natural-feeling spiritual thread, realistic kid dialogue, etc. Take notes, even.)

·         If I learned about a new genre/type of writing, what more would I need to know before deciding to write in this way myself?

Task-Oriented Classes: (Could include marketing, panels on agents, checklists for self-editing, etc.)

·         What part of the class was something I’d like to research more? Do I know anyone who seems to be more experienced in this area? What questions can I ask him/her or research in other ways? (Internet, agent blogs, books on marketing, etc.)

·         Is there any discussion I want to start with my publisher or other writers based on this class? (Either to decide whether a teacher’s thoughts seemed accurate—“How useful is this platform, really, in your experience?” or to get ideas of how to apply something—“How have you seen giveaways done in creative ways?”)

·         Is there something I should stop doing? Why should I stop doing this? (Examples: takes too much time for what’s it’s worth, it isn’t good etiquette,  it stresses me out unnecessarily.)
·         A year from now, what are three ways I would like to be doing things differently based on what I learned in this class? Now, what are three smaller areas under each of these that would help me reach that goal?

·         When am I going to do [Takeaway Action]? Can it be broken into smaller steps? What are those steps?

There are probably many, many more specific and practical questions you could ask under each category, but hopefully this gets you started.

Step Five: Be realistic. A perfect author would be able to take and apply every bit of writing advice flawlessly, be present on every platform multiple times a day, and still manage to spend time playing endless games of Monopoly with the kids and knead sourdough bread in a spotless kitchen. This is not, however, remotely realistic. If you take a few areas to improve in, there’s a much better chance you’ll actually do it.

It can help to think small. Much like making a list of New Year’s Resolutions or jotting down areas you need to work on after a sermon on the fruits of the Spirit (all of them, if you’re like me), it can be overwhelming to look at a long list of things you need to change or add to your already-busy schedule. Break down larger areas into small tasks and give them deadlines, if that’s what works for you. Or make a long list and pick one task to focus on at the start of each month.

Step Six: Don’t feel guilty if something doesn’t work for you. If you learned any kind of formula, story structure, or method, remember that while you can often learn a lot from how others approach writing, outlining, or editing, your process doesn’t have to look the same as the instructor’s. You may find a time management grid works perfectly for you…and it may trap you and make you feel totally inadequate. The same is true for any To-Do list. Use it as an inspiration, a brainstorm-starter, or something to try and see if it works…but not as a command or a foolproof strategy. You’ll get the most out of conference material if you adapt it to fit your needs, writing style, and schedule.

Step Seven: Reward yourself. After all this work, you deserve a little rest! Take a nap, eat a favorite treat, spend some time doing something you love. Maybe plan out your reward before you tackle your post-conference follow-up to motivate you to actually get it done. (Also, I will confess: I really like lists that are seven points long. I sometimes add or delete things to my To-Do list to have seven. It’s a problem.)

Writers, do you have any post-conference tips to share with other writers? They can advice for organizing information, keeping up connections, remembering what you promised to send where and actually getting it done…anything that helps you!

Amy is giving away THREE copies of Mary Connealy's new release Fire & Ice. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.  Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Find Amy Green's Bethany Fiction Blog HERE

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The #NoLimits Way to Infuse Your Novel with Color and Sound

with guest C. S. Lakin

Fiction writers have a great challenge that filmmakers don’t: they must bring their scenes to life by painting with words rather than visual images. How can this be done effectively? Just saying that your character hears a shout or sees a man in a brown suit doesn’t do much to help transport a reader into your world. 

Writers are told to use sensory detail of setting and characters—sounds, smells, textures, tastes. But this is no easy task. If you try to describe, for example, what an artichoke tastes like to someone who has never eaten one, you’ll get a “taste” for how difficult this might be to do.

So let’s take a look at some ways writers can infuse their novels with color and sound beyond “telling” the reader a character is seeing or hearing something.

Consider a Deliberate Use of Color

The deliberate use of color is often completely ignored by novelists—or used randomly without purpose—whereas filmmakers have to be keenly aware of the subtle and often subliminal effects of different colors. Every color has subtle emotional and subconscious impact on us, and it behooves writers to take the time to research colors and use them effectively.

Listen to what author Patti Bellantoni says in her book If It’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die:

Films as varied as Cabaret, Dick Tracy, and The Sixth Sense all use purple to foreshadow death . . . Both Gwyneth Paltrow’s bedspread in Shakespeare in Love and Nick Cage’s bedspread in Moonstruck are a hot orange-red, and they certainly accompanied lusty activity in those films . . . A strong color elicits a strong visceral response. This, in turn, can set up an audience to anticipate a particular action. . . .
My research suggests it is not we who decide what color can be . . . [but] I am convinced, whether we want it to or not, that it is color that can determine how we think and what we feel.

Filmmakers sometimes tone everything down except for one or two objects in the frame to make them stand out. Similarly, a writer can show her POV character perceiving something similarly when one object appears to be brighter than anything else around it, or a glaring light shines on it, highlighting it in a symbolic way. 

Novelists can infuse their scenes with color, whether vibrant or drab. When you have a character, in her POV, who sees the world around her as drained of color or in shades of gray, you indicate how she feels about her setting in that moment. Washed-out color could imply memory loss or fading emotions, or a disconnect to place or people. 

If you, the novelist, have an understanding of the subtle effect of color, you can purposefully put these colors in your scenes—either blatantly or subtly—to help enhance the mood of the reader. 

So take some time to research the effects of various colors on the human psyche, and play around with ideas on how you can integrate specific colors symbolically into your novel. 

Exploring the Perception of Sound 

In the book Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer Van Sijll, we read this about sound: “Sound effects are as much the purview of the writer as are visual symbols. . . .  Sound effects can also suggest an extended aural metaphor. Sound effects can be obvious or quite subtle. They can intentionally draw attention to themselves or manipulate with stealth. They can expose, disguise, suggest, establish, or reveal.”

Movie scores affect viewers powerfully, eliciting strong emotions that can make moviegoers cry and despair or feel their hearts soaring with joy. And although writers can’t add movie scores to their words (yet), there are lots of ways to add in sounds in fiction for powerful effect.

Evoke place by inserting ordinary sounds into your scenes, such as the clink of glasses, the tinkle of happy banter, the drip of a faucet in an abandoned building, the screech of tires from a car racing away from the scene of a crime. 

Emblematic Sounds

Sounds can also be emblematic. The hum of a mosquito can be deafening and a recurring motif in a story. Even the jangle of keys can be terrifying, as seen in the opening scene of the movie E. T. as the terrified little extraterrestrial runs from the men chasing him. You’ve probably watched movie scenes in which all the sound is muted except for one isolated sound. Similar to a close-up shot, this is done to make viewers pay attention to one specific sound. 

Novelists Can Do It Too

This isn’t all that hard for novelists to emulate. By describing how a character perceives the sounds around her, a writer can essentially do the same. One sound out of many—such as a loud heartbeat—can be singled out, and that sound can even be symbolic or work as a metaphor. 

Think of ways sounds can be used as symbols or motifs in your novel. A ringing bell can be part of a pastoral landscape coming from a church nearby, but it can also mark time, and symbolize time running out. 

Asking questions like these will help you infuse your novel with colors and sound:

  • How much attention should be paid to sound and colors in my novel? 

  • What sounds and colors could I add that the characters would notice and that would enhance each scene?

  • What colors could I place and mention strategically for a specific emotional or symbolic effect?

  • Where in my novel can I mute all colors or sounds but one, to make that one stand out meaningfully?

  • Are there places where it would be appropriate for me to use enhanced, expressive, distorted, and/or surreal sounds to add tension?

Writing novels in a visually stirring way may be something new and foreign to you, and it can take some thought to structure or rework your scenes so that they are dynamic and textural. But if you take the time to infuse your novel with color and sounds, you’ll transport your reader to your rich, sensual world—a world they won’t soon want to leave.

Do any novels come to mind that you’ve read that emphasized certain colors or sounds? Which novels, and how were these elements used? Can you think of a way you can infuse your novel with an emblematic sound or color? If so, share in the comments.

Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Today, C.S and Seekerville are giving away a print copy and an ecopy of Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Technique to Supercharge Your Story. Leave a comment to let us know you want your name in the camera case for this great resource. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition!

C. S. Lakin is a multipublished best-selling novelist and writing coach. She works full-time as a copyeditor and critiques about two hundred manuscripts a year. She teaches writing workshops and gives instruction on her award-winning blog Live Write Thrive. Her book—Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Technique to Supercharge Your Story—is designed to help writers learn the secrets of cinematic technique. 

Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.