Saturday, July 21, 2018

Weekend Edition


  



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.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com





Monday:  Jan brought us examples of how she uses words to capture the reader's imagination. Winner of an e-book copy of A Home for His Family is Kaybee!

Tuesday: Ruthy popped in to celebrate the release of her newest Love Inspired "Her Cowboy Reunion" available nationwide at Walmart, Kroger, Winn Dixie, wherever mass market paperbacks are sold, and even at some Barnes & Nobles! Go them! Check out Ruthy's newest Western series... "When three Steel Magnolias are forced to spend a year in western Idaho, will the region... and the cowboys... ever be the same again?

Wednesday: Melanie Dickerson challenges us to Write Confidently, Even If That Scares You. Challenge accepted! A copy of Melanie's recent release, The Orphan's Wish goes to Jeanne T! 

Thursday:  The delightful Richard Mabry stopped in to talk effort and accomplishment on Friday and he was wonderful, as always. His newest book "Guarded Prognosis" has hit the Kindle marketplace with a bang... as it should! Richard wants to do a giveaway, so we're doing that THIS WEEKEND! An e-copy of "Guarded Prognosis" for one lucky weekend commenter!

Friday: Matt Mikalatos shared 7 Ways Fiction Can Break Through When Non-Fiction Fails. Tyndale House is giving away a copy of The Crescent Stone to one lucky commenter and that commenter is ... Vince!



Monday:  Erica Vetsch offers her vast knowledge on the subject as she explains How To Write A Killer Author Bio.

Wednesday:  Publishers Weekly bestselling author Debby Giusti and RWA Golden Heart finalist Josee Telfer will share thoughts about the Romance Writers of America National Conference 2018. Be sure to stop by and learn what both ladies--who roomed together--thought about the conference. One lucky person who comments will receive a surprise giveaway.
  
Friday: Location, Location, Location, we've all heard that, haven't we? Pam Hillman brings it to life in her books.












ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA NATIONAL CONFERENCE

2018 Literacy Autographing Information

When: Saturday, July 21, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. MT
Where: Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Plaza Ballroom (Plaza Building, Concourse Level)
Proceeds from book sales benefit ProLiteracy Worldwide and Literacy Coalition of Colorado
This event is open to the public and is free of charge to attend.
More than 400 authors will be signing, including our own DEBBY GIUSTI. The seating
is alphabetical so look for Debby in the "G" row and be sure to stop by her
table and say hello! 

Pam again... still celebrating the release of The Road to Magnolia Glen. :)
I'm a sponsor at the Christian Fiction Summer Reading Safari.
Read! Review! Win books! (It really is that easy!)
Click here to join the fun for the entire month of July!

Melanie made a "Big Announcement" this week: She's delving into new territory with this Southern Historical Romance! And it comes out in just a month and a half!!! Check it out and Pre-Order it on Amazon!

P.S. Isn't this cover so dang PRETTY???!!! 

2018 Maggies Announcement! Here are the finalists in the Published Division of the Maggie Award for Excellence, Spiritual Elements... hearty congratulations go out to all these folks, a bunch of Seekerville favorites!

  Celebrating a First Sale! Seeker villager Pat Jeanne Davis let us know that she signed a contract with Elk Lake Publishing for her historical romance! Congratulations, Pat!

And this just in from the Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence!!! Congratulations to all of these wonderful gals! Connie, Christy, Cindy, Dianna and Christy again! We are so proud of you!



And Ruthy (Ruth Logan Herne) has lovely news... a romance anthology of novellas hitting the market next Tuesday, 7/24, but you can Preorder It Here! Perfect for beach reads... or any old place you want to smile and sigh! And all written by this multi-published, award-winning author!



5 Reasons to Give Up On Your Novel (and 1 Reason Not To) by Janice Hardy at Fiction University.

How to Write Unique Themes from K.M Weiland's blog.

What Can Happen with Your Writing One Year from Now? by Lucinda Secrest McDowell at The Write Conversation.


Do you need help with Time Management? Check out Sarra Cannon's blog, Heart Breathings, as she discusses all things writing efficient.

Do Publishers Care About An Author's Online Presence? by Debbie Emmitt at Live, Write Thrive

For a complete list of the 2018 RWA Golden Heart and RITA award winners, check out Romance Writers of America.

Friday, July 20, 2018

7 Ways Fiction Can Break through When Nonfiction Fails

by Guest Author Matt Mikalatos


Think of your reader as a walled city. Inside the walls are their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and insights. They have built up a lot of defenses to prevent random people from accessing those things. They want to control what comes in and out of their city. As writers we want to access that city because we want to transform it in some way. We get to choose between using a battering ram or a Trojan Horse. A battering ram is brute force: facts, figures, charts, logic, and so on. The battering ram gains entrance by overwhelming the reader’s defenses. Fiction, on the other hand, is a Trojan Horse. The reader allows a story past the defenses because of his or her desire to receive a gift—entertainment. Then we effect change from the inside.
So let’s talk about seven ways fiction can break through those walls:

1.      Fiction accesses the emotions rather than the intellect.
Many of us see the world and make decisions based largely on emotional criteria (even when we think we aren’t). Stories speak to emotion. That’s why when someone trots out all the statistics about, say, immigration, one side will respond by telling a beautiful story about an immigrant who came to the U.S. and escaped terrible suffering, and the other side will tell the story of an irresponsible immigrant who killed someone in a drunk-driving accident. Story connects us to raw, powerful emotions that can sweep right over the facts and take us to conclusions in opposition to them.

2.      Story creates empathy and compassion for others.
You don’t have to know a single person from Africa, or have ever been to Africa, to read and be moved by Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen. But you can learn about his world, about growing up in poverty and political unrest, without leaving your living room.  Stories teach us about our differences, yes, but also the universal reality of the human experience as people all made in the image of God.

3.      In fiction, the reader constructs their own arguments to make sense of the events.
A well-written story may leave the reader to piece together what happened and why, and what led to that result—a lot like real life. A classic example of this is the story “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton. In the story, we’re told that a princess looks down on her beloved in the arena, and there are two doors: behind one is a beautiful woman who her beloved will marry (and not be with her), and behind the other is a man-eating (literally) tiger. The princess knows what is behind each door, but her lover does not. She points to a door, telling him to open it. The question posed to the reader is, “What lies beyond that door?” The story doesn't tell us, but I’ve sat in classes where readers passionately defend the “real” ending to one another. The human response to story is to make patterns, to create meaning.

4.      A good story can be revelatory to the reader . . . about the reader’s own heart.
I was reading a novel by Percival Everett (pretty sure it was Glyph). More than a third of the way into the book, the narrator reveals his ethnicity. In fact, he reveals it and then says, “I bet you thought I was white, didn't you?” In fact, I had thought he was white. Because at that time, my assumption was that white was the “default.” It was a stunning moment—the author not only revealed something to me, but knew what my reaction was going to be. He had baked it into the center of the book. It—no exaggeration—changed my life.
We see the same thing being done in the story of the prophet Samuel going to David and telling him a story about an injustice (a rich man has stolen a poor man’s sheep). David is furious and demands justice—and Samuel says, simply, “You are that man.” Do you think the story might have been different if Samuel had walked in and said, “Let me lay out the facts. You slept with another man’s wife and then murdered him. Does that cover it?”

5.      Story can reveal a truth without ever stating it.
I love Les Miserables, which works on so many levels and has so many profound insights that it has become rightfully beloved worldwide. It’s a deeply Christian book about redemption that is celebrated by people of all faiths. A great example of story revealing truth without ever saying it is found in what Les Miserables teaches about prayer.
I may have missed one, but as far as I know, every single prayer uttered by a character in Les Miserables—prayers for protection, for justice, for provision—is answered, and often in miraculous, borderline-unbelievable ways.

6.      If story is so important, why are you writing an essay?
Once upon a time, there was a woman named Harriet Beecher Stowe. Distressed and angered by the political situation of her day, and particularly by the horrors of slavery, she began to write a story, which was serialized in a newspaper called The National Era. It was the story of a longsuffering Christian slave named Tom and the horrific abuses he experienced in slavery, which ended in his death. The story left no room for any conclusion other than this: Christianity was incompatible with owning slaves. When collected into a novel called Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe’s book became the second bestselling book of the century (with the Bible in the #1 slot). Her book deeply impacted the people of the United States, to the point that when Abraham Lincoln met her during the Civil War, he called her “the little woman who wrote the book which caused this great war.” Her little story had literally changed the world.

7.      “The quote is apocryphal.”
It’s likely Abraham Lincoln never said those words to Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was first put down in print in 1896. Lincoln scholars think it may have been invented and then propagated by professors, authors, and other people who loved literature as a way to show the enduring power of fiction.  And guess what? Here we are, 122 years later, still telling that story.
As for me, I wrote a story about a young woman named Madeline Oliver who has a fatal lung disease. Her friend Jason Wu has experienced a tragedy so deep that he has vowed never to tell a lie again. Together they are invited into a fantasy world called the Sunlit Lands, where they discover things about themselves and the world that would be impossible for them to learn another way. The novel, The Crescent Stone, deals with painful contemporary issues in our world without ever turning into an essay—but rather by connecting us with people we come to care about. I hope you enjoy it!

About Matt:
Matt Mikalatos writes books (surprise!). In the past, Matt worked as a high school teacher and a comic book clerk, but currently focuses on nonprofit work devoted to helping people love one another despite their differences. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, three daughters, two unicorns, a gryphon, a dragon, and three brine shrimp.

About the book:
A girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . .
A bargain that brings life, but may cost more than anyone can imagine . . .

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price. When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.

THE CRESCENT STONE BY MATT MIKALATOSISBN: 978-1-4964-3171-4 | Softcover: $15.99

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3170-7 | Hardcover: $24.99



Tyndale House Publishers is giving away one copy of The Crescent Stone to one reader. Just leave a comment for Matt or whatever you'd like to share to enter. Winner will be announced in the Seekerville WE this Saturday. (Sorry, US mailing addresses only.)
 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

TO STRIVE, TO SEEK...

By Guest Blogger Richard Mabry

Most of us are aware of the five interlocking rings that are the Olympic symbol. But I suspect that many are unfamiliar with the motto that goes along with that symbol. It’s Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger.” Participants have hardly completed the games before they’re already planning for the next one. And their training is aimed at letting them go faster, allowing them to leap higher, strengthening muscles that are already strong by normal standards. They never stop improving. And that should also be the goal of each of us who writes, whether we’re as-yet unpublished or the author of numerous books.


At one of the first writing conferences I attended, I had the temerity (or stupidity—take your choice) to approach an editor and pitch my book to him. Probably to get rid of me, he told me to submit the whole thing to him and he would read it. I didn’t know any better, so I wasn’t surprised when I got notification from him that he was taking it to the Pub Board. Those of you who know how the publishing world works will be amazed that an unpublished writer with so little experience would have such a thing happen. I wasn’t. I took it as a usual thing and was genuinely surprised when I was notified that the Pub Board turned down the book. Looking back on the event, I wonder that my book got this far. It still resides on my hard drive and will probably never see the light of day unless I rewrite it.
Why did this happen? Because I didn’t know enough about writing when I composed it. I didn’t even know enough to realize how much I had to learn. I needed to become much more proficient at the craft. Eventually I did, but I did it by learning the fundamentals, studying, practicing, and striving to constantly improve. And I’ll try never to stop.
When I was practicing medicine, I initially attended conventions and conferences to learn more about my specialty. Later, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to lecture at the same conferences, but although I was a teacher I made it a practice to continue attending the sessions held by others. Why? I realized that medicine was constantly evolving, and my level of knowledge was never as high as I needed it to be. It was best for both my patients and me if I continued to constantly learn.
Doesn’t the same thing apply with writers? Just as we expect our physicians to keep up and improve, don’t our readers expect that our next book will be even better than our last? When I attend a writer’s conference, I always want to leave with one or more pearls that I can apply to my writing. Perhaps I learn a way to make transitions between scenes smoother. Maybe it’s a method for displaying what my protagonist really wants and the danger he or she faces if that doesn’t happen. Whatever I can glean, I try never to stop learning.
But reading and listening only goes so far. Then comes practice—writing, and rewriting, and rewriting again. Of course, writing without constructive criticism by an accomplished person is meaningless. Practice doesn’t make perfect if we keep making the same mistakes again and again with each repetition. Comments by your mother or a friend are nice to receive, but what matters most to me is when a fellow writer tells me that he or she especially likes—or doesn’t like— something in a book I’ve written. The struggle for each of us to improve our work never stops, nor should it. We continue to strive for “faster, higher, stronger.”


When I had completed my most recent novel, GuardedPrognosis,  I proudly showed the finished product to my wife, who is my first reader. She’ has always been both my biggest fan and my severest critic, and she pulled no punches with her assessment of this one. I was proud of my opening sequence and the story arc that followed, but she pointed out that it failed to get her attention (and would likely do the same with my readers). Instead, she suggested an alternate story arc which would be timely and intriguing. It required my essentially rewriting about half my already-completed novel, and every author reading this knows how much we hate that. But I did it. And it worked. Why did I do it? Because I could see that I was resting on my laurels, instead of seeking to write a better novel.
I’m not an authority on the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, but I think the last line of his poem, Ulysses, is applicable here. Ulysses and his companions have done it all, so to speak, but he exhorts them not to rest on their laurels. They are to keep on until the end— “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Every writer should have those lines above their desk. Every book, even the ones turned down by a publisher, should be better than the one before. To do less is unfair to everyone concerned…including the author.
Are you striving?
*     *     *

Dr.Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for a number of awards. He and his wife live in north Texas, where he strives to improve his golf game and his writing.





 






Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Write Confidently, Even if that Scares You


What does it mean to write confidently? Does it mean to write without worrying if your story is too controversial? Does it mean to write a story that you know will be hard to pull off, but if you can pull it off, it’s going to be amazing? Does it mean to write without worrying that it might not be your best seller? Does it mean to write what God has put on your heart even though it’s not a popular genre?

Yes. Yes to all of the above. Not to say that you should always write whatever strikes your fancy. I once decided it would be a good idea to write a YA series about teens who had to save their town by killing zombies. While I still think it’s not a terrible idea—Buffy the Vampire Slayer was pretty popular, after all—it wasn’t the best idea for me. At all. So you should definitely pray about it if you’re not sure.

"I'd rather regret the risks that didn't work out than the chances I didn't take at all."

- Simone Biles

Writers are gymnasts who take risks with our words, with our imaginations and our characters and our stories. Not just for the sake of taking a risk. But just like an Olympic gymnast, we do it to win the gold. And winning the gold for us means to write something that will touch a hurting heart. Make a reader not feel so alone. Make our readers catch their breath at how beautiful and true our words are. We take risks for the sake of truth in our stories. The truth of love and hope and dreams coming true, as well as the truth of pain and disappointment and that bad decisions have consequences. But always the ultimate truth, that Jesus is the Way, and He loves us.

"I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

- Maya Angelou

We take risks and write confidently because we have to make our readers feel it. We study and learn and revise because we want to choose the very best way to say something to make the reader feel all the feels. But first we have to be confident, almost reckless, as we write that story, that dialogue, that action. We pour it out, drawing on our own pain and experiences, the truth inside us, the things God has taught us in the crises and difficult times we’ve walked through. And we do our best to make them feel.

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.”  -- Mitch Albom

 

What do you love? Write about it. What makes you unique? Write that. What makes your heart race and your breath shallow? Write about that. Don’t write what you know; write what you LOVE.

 

“To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”

-       Anne Rice

Be yourself when you write. That’s how you write with confidence. Be completely and fully you. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. Go ahead and risk it for the sake of your story, the sake of being fully, completely real.

"I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."

-       Anne Frank

What do we love about Anne Frank? She was real. She told it like it was, without holding back. Her emotions were real. Her struggles were real. Our characters have to be the same way. They must show real feeling, real struggles. After all, that’s how we learn, and that’s how our characters learn, by struggling with real problems.

So let your courage be reborn as you write, as your sorrows disappear from the joy of writing, of creating characters and a story that’s never existed before in this exact form. God created us in his image, and since he’s the ultimate Creator, we were made to feel the joy of creating, just as he did.

"Courage doesn't mean you don't get afraid. Courage means you don't let fear stop you."

-       Bethany Hamilton

When you’re afraid, you dig deep for your courage and write anyway. Don’t let anything stop you from writing confidently.

 

“You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

-       Octavia E. Butler

 

When you get back those revisions or those critiques from your critique partners, don’t let yourself stay discouraged. Get back in there. Figure out why they said what they said. If you agree that what they’re suggesting will help your story, then change it. If you don’t agree that their suggestions will improve your story, then don’t change it. But most likely there’s a reason, something you can do to change the story and make it better, to make it as flawless as possible, so your reader doesn’t get hung up on something that distracts them from the meaning and emotion of the story. And that might be the ultimate test of your courage and confidence. Being confident enough to make changes.



So, what is your greatest struggle in writing? What keeps you from writing confidently? Or are you writing so confidently, you struggle with the practical side of things? Let us know, and I’ll give away a copy of my recent release, The Orphan’s Wish, to one commenter.
And now for the "surprise news" I've been posting on my social media. I am self-publishing a new book in a month and a half. It's a book I wrote over 10 years ago, a book I always hoped would be the first in a series of books set in my neck of the woods, the place I've lived nearly my whole life--the Deep South. So instead of "playing it safe" and sticking with Medieval fairy tale retellings, traditional publishers, and another Regency romance series, I'm branching out to write what's been on my heart for a while, my Southern series.
Truett Beverly’s hometown needed a doctor, so after finishing medical school, he returned to Bethel Springs, Alabama. Fighting a secret war with a corrupt lawman wasn’t in his plans, but Sheriff Suggs thinks he’s above the law and can lynch anyone who crosses him. When Suggs threatens his childhood friend, Truett dons a cape and hood and rescues him—placing “the Hooded Horseman” in Sheriff Suggs’s crosshairs. 

Celia Wilcox arrives in Bethel Springs in June of 1880. She’s come from Nashville to help her sister care for their younger siblings. She hopes only to be on the small farm for the summer, just until her mother recovers from the shock of Celia’s father’s death. She must return to Nashville to fulfill her dream of opening her own dress shop. 

The lovely Celia catches Truett’s eye, and he finds himself wanting to impress her. But she flatly refuses to flirt with him or to fall for his—if he does say so himself—considerable charm.

Celia’s overwhelming attraction to Truett terrifies her. What will happen when Sheriff Suggs discovers Truett is the Hooded Horseman? Will Celia be able to prevent the sheriff from carrying out one last lynching? Or will her worst fears come true?
You can pre-order it on Amazon!