Saturday, April 29, 2017

The 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. Send to

Winner of a box of Love Inspired books is Tanya Agler.

Monday: We welcomed Lisa Carter. Winners of The Deputy's Perfect Match are Barbara Fox and Stephanie Sullivan.

Tuesday:  Martha Alderson, the Plot Whisperer joined Sandra Leesmith and shared about developing plot. Winner of an hour consultation is Loraine Nunley. Winner of Martha's book Writing Blockbuster Plots is Lara. Winner of her choice of one of Sandra Leesmith's books is Deb H. 

Wednesday: Winners of Glynna Kaye's The Nanny Bargain are: Vince, Cindy W, and Wilani!

Thursday: Our guest blogger was Candice Sue Patterson. Winners of How to Charm a Beekeeper's Heart are Jeanne T (print copy) and Josee (ecopy)! 

Monday: Mary Connealy is your hostess!

Tuesday: We're delighted to welcome back Eva Marie Everson with her thoughtful post, "The Choices We Make." Stop by to chat and you could win a copy of her latest release from Tyndale, The One True Love of Alice-Ann

Wednesday: Jenni Dewitt is our special guest!

Thursday: Connie Queen is our hostess today, with her post, "Stripping Your Characters of the Their Identities: Ramping Up Internal Conflict the Easy Way." Stop by to chat and welcome Connie! Oh, and did we mention that she brought an amazing giveaway??

Friday: Today we bring you The Best of the Archives. Comments are closed to allow us all to catch up on our reading and writing.  

Cover Reveal! Myra Johnson's upcoming Love Inspired romance, Her Hill Country Cowboy, is now available for pre-order! Watch for the official release next August!

Join Tina Radcliffe at the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers meeting, May 9, 2017. Details here. 

Join Ruth Logan Herne on Friday, May 5th, over at Petticoats & Pistols for some down home fun talk about writing Western, and how this vast country differs from sea to shining sea! Ruthy will be celebrating the new release of Peace in the Valley with a delightful giveaway of the bestselling first book of the Double S Ranch trilogy Back in the Saddle! See you there! 

Want a character named after you in Julie's summer release, His Steadfast LoveThen you better hurry, because Julie's InD'tale Magazine contest ends Sunday evening at midnight (4/29), so what are you waiting for? Here's the link: Enter Julie's Contest HERE

Deal Alert!! From May 5-11, book 1 in Julie Lessman's Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted, will be on sale for only 99 cents, so if you haven't read book 4 in Julie's O'Connor saga, you'll want to take advantage. 

This is Julie's favorite book she's ever written, so if you've already read it and liked it, then please spread the word, okay? Here are the links for the sale that runs MAY 5-11: AMAZON / B & N / CBD

Look who's doing lunch! L-R. Stephanie Queen Ludwig, Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman and Sharee Stover.

Thanks for the link love!

Character Archetypes: How to Enrich Your Novel’s Cast (Now Novel)

The Organized Writer-helpful charts, templates, and worksheets...(Annie Neugebauer)

7 Things to Do When You Want to Give Up (Instead of Giving Up) (

4 Common Copy Editing Issues to Watch For (Jami Gold)

Should You Have More Than One Bio? YES. Here’s Why… (Writer Unboxed)

Tips to Turn Off Your Internal Editor (The Write Conversation)

Top Five Character Pitfalls and Ways to Avoid Them (Romance University)

Is Your Query Letter Ready for Submission?-Infographic (David R. Slayton)

5 Types of Rough Drafts ~ An Infographic (Writer Off the Leash)

Resurrect a Forgotten Manuscript (WD)

Angela's Fantastic Finds for Writers (Writers Helping Writers)

The Complex Power of Mapping the World of Your Novel (Writer Unboxed)

 'Screen Fatigue' Sees UK ebook Sales Plunge 17% as Readers Return to Print (UKGuardian)

"Win It Before You Can Buy It"

We've got two more copies of Ruthy Logan Herne's Peace in the Valley because it's an "all about cowboys" kind of day!  Leave a comment to have your name thrown into the big ol' Resistol hat, as we chat about faith, hope, cowboys and ... love!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Best of the Archives: Pimp Your Prose! Contest Advice Withstands the Test of Time

Happy Friday!

We started "Seekerville" with one goal in mind: To help aspiring authors become more aware of the ins and outs of publishing, and maybe avoid some of the pitfalls we stumbled into along the way... and contests were a big part of bringing the Seekers together... also a great way of getting your work critiqued by multiple people, and assessing what strikes a note with readers... and what doesn't!

I've tweaked this somewhat to make it more up to date, but the basic advice is solid: Don't be afraid to "pimp your prose" to make it shine in a particular contest... and then you can adjust as needed if you get the chance to be on an editor's desk! 

Adaptation... if adaptation was easy, the world would be crawling with dinosaurs today. :)  

Here you go, back into the archives...

Good morning, all, and how about that news we posted yesterday!!! You guys knew I finaled before I did, LOL!!!

Ruthy here, with your regular dose of snarkism brought to you fresh and free, delivered right to your door, better’n a milkman ‘cause there’s no bill involved.

Today’s post comes with a no-strings-attached bit of wisdom that came to me as I was reading a response to Tina’s post the other day.

Judging differentiation.

We all realize that judging is subjective, that while one judge might love your work, another may not, and the truth may lie somewhere in between, right? But I think it’s important to talk to judges today, to those among us who actually judge contests, and see if we practice what we preach. But first, a word from our sponsor:


Inspirationals are a tough go for many judges. They may or may not feel qualified to assess a faith thread, or know how to measure that. In Ruthy’s world, the faith thread does not need to be dragged out or hit-the-reader-over-the-head obvious, but that’s me. Other judges may not relate to your work unless it has a strong, basic fundamentalist background. This means you may or may not get a judge who likes your style, or appreciates a lighter Christian read. On top of that, inspirationals are lumped. Long contemporaries, short contemporaries, historicals, fantasies, mysteries…

Often they are all judged together under one umbrella. It’s hard enough for a judge to separate his or her personal preferences of writing style within one category, but inspirationals (with the exception of straight inspirational contests like Genesis, Touched By Love, Christy Awards, etc.) are grouped together like a well-mixed greens salad. You might like how endive looks, but hate the taste, so how will you score it?

Not well.

The same can hold true within straight romance categories. How often have you been told that the opening you geared specifically for Single Title or Superromance is too slow, that your story starts on page four when the hero walks into the room? Some judges want smack-down hero/heroine development from page one, and nothing else will do, regardless of target publisher or length. If your heroine doesn’t start the book inadvertently sitting in the front seat of the hero’s car (or office, or yard, or kitchen…), you get points off. Never mind that your target publisher allows you those few pages of story building, the judge may not.

I enjoy stories that actually d-e-v-e-l-o-p rather than lay everything out in the opening three pages. Sure, the opening needs to hook, but a long contemp, Superromance or Single Title might need more leeway than a category romance. The difference of 25,000 words between my Love Inspired books and my 85,000 word single titles and longer series is a big difference... and gets tweaked a little differently! 

Did I mention that this wonderful story, with a great Romantic Times review.... (the review begins with "Swoon alert ahead!")... releases in FOUR DAYS??? It feels like I've been waiting so long!!!

A friend of mine admits she tweaks the story to make judges happy. (Yes, I have a friend.... Two, actually!!!)

When a publisher saw the real deal, the story written as it was meant to be, the opening was more fully developed, but my friend had learned what takes some of us longer to figure out. Lots of judges want that instant fix, that WHAM! GMC that spills the internal organs of the story in full-blown instant fashion.

By tweaking her story to give that punch, she ended up winning the contest and ultimately was contracted. If you’ve ever entered a "Just the Beginning!" contest, that’s a basic example of story punching right there. In five pages you have to sell the judges on your amazingly wonderful opening to get a seat in the finalists’ box. Five pages.

That’s a total front-load dump, but necessary for the format.

My friend's methods provide a good lesson for us to learn. If you final, you might get a request for a full. If so, then you lay out the story as it should be, plotted and planned for that editor’s line. Until then, many of us would be wise to adjust our strategies for particular contests. The fact is, if we don’t final, we don’t get a spot on the desk, right?

Finaling is the ultimate goal of entering contests, the confirmation of talent and perseverance and applying critiques to "grow" your work. Once you’re there, you may or may not get the chance to dazzle the editor with your understated brilliance, but if you don’t get there, it’s guaranteed you won’t.

So even though it might feel like your pimping your work to someone else’s specifications, tough it out, tone it up, streamline, baby, streamline. Get the bang for your contest buck by recognizing the hidden rules. Earn your chance to shine.

Learning to adapt has fringe benefits as well. When an editor requests changes to your amazingly wonderful piece of work, today’s timely lesson helps you to remember the basics. She (or he) is paying. Smile, nod, and do what you’re told. Show ‘em you’ve got the gumption to be in the hot seat. Learning to do what it takes to succeed in contests is a great stepping stone to becoming the kind of author an editor desires. Tough enough to be good, strong enough to accept direction.

And that's a plus in any editor's stable!

Did I mention that Peace in the Valley is on sale 5/2/17 NATIONWIDE??? :)

This article was first posted 5/8/08 and that seems like so long ago!!! But in general, this advice is just as true today as it was nine years ago.  Comments are closed for today so we can write uninterrupted. Enjoy your writing time, my friends!

Ruth Logan Herne is loving life and living her dream of writing sweet stories for multiple publishers... and on her own, too! Send her a friend request on facebook (She loves to talk: BEWARE!) or follow her on @twitter @RuthLoganHerne. Or stop by her blog or her website She loves to chat it up with readers and writers!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

It’s All in the Details: Make Your Scenes Come Alive

Hi, everyone! I’m Candice Sue Patterson, and I write contemporary romance for Pelican Book Group. One thing that can be said about me is that I’m a detail-oriented writer. When I read, I want to be sucked into the scene—feel the sea spray on my face, taste the warm, tangy butter of the grilled lobster the hero is indulging. I want to connect with the characters. I want to laugh, cry, and fume along with them. Since I may never get the opportunity to travel the world, I also want to become a temporary resident of the setting—if only in my mind.

These things are vital to me when reading a novel. They capture my attention by creating a mini-movie in my brain. Am I weird? Probably. ;)

As a writer, I’m always careful to utilize these tools to create cinematic magic in my reader’s heads too. Today, let’s explore how to enhance your scenes during the revision/editing process by adding rich details using all five senses, choosing calculated words to convey a mood, getting deep into the hearts and minds of your characters, and creating a setting that sticks with your readers. 

We’ll start with the five senses. We all know them: taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Why are they important to a manuscript? Pavlov and his salivating dogs. Our senses are attached to our psyche. As we go throughout our day, we use these senses—usually without conscious thought—and they play a large part in how we respond to the world around us. Same for your characters. 

For example, your heroine walks into a coffee shop. One of the first things she would notice—even before fully stepping indoors—is the aroma. Smell. Rich, bold, made to order. Perhaps the peppermint flavoring draws her attention and coaxes her to stray from her normal dark roast. After all, today is the day she emerges from the comfortable box she’s built around herself and proposes her revolutionary idea to her boss, who, of course, will promote her to partner. Or maybe the smell of peppermint reminds her of Christmas, the season her twin sister was tragically killed in a car accident, and it causes her to lose her appetite for caffeine altogether, decides her boss is going to hate her idea, and leave. 

The next thing she would notice immediately is the number of customers, especially the ones in line ahead of her. Sight. If she’s in a hurry that number could affect her stress level, especially if she’s running late for said meeting, which may or may not cause her to be terse with the handsome stranger (aka future husband) in front of her who’s taking forever deciding what to order. If time is on her side today, however, she might take stepping out of that box a bit further and flirt with the handsome stranger. 

What about sound? The low hum of chatter, the whoosh of an expresso machine, 90s soft rock playing at a low decibel, the hustle of baristas filling orders. If your heroine is at the shop for caffeine and creativity, and perhaps a little match-making, she’s in the right place. But maybe her sister’s favorite Bryan Adams love song, along with the peppermint, becomes too much to bear on such an important day and, in the middle of her eyelash batting at the stranger, she grabs her filled order and flees the shop in tears. 

As she steps back onto the busy sidewalk, hand wrapped around her paper cup, her thoughts reel, and she steps aside for a few deep breaths. The warmth of the liquid seeps into her hand, calming her enough to refocus on the importance of this day. If her boss accepts the proposal, a new foundation will be created in her sister’s honor to help families of drunk driving victims. Perhaps the handsome stranger follows her out and introduces himself. She takes his offered hand, and the enticing combination of callouses and soft skin sends a bolt of attraction up her arm. Touch. It just so happens they’re heading in the same direction and agree to walk together. 

A block away, they pause at the flashing hand telling them not to cross the street, and she sips her peppermint coffee. It glides down her throat and invigorates her senses. Once again, she’s confident and in control. Until they reach her building and they decide to swap numbers. Her thumbs pause over her cell phone when the stranger reveals his last name. As recognition dawns, the peppermint turns rancid on her tongue. Taste. The handsome stranger is the drunk driver who killed her sister—convicted, served, and in desperate need of forgiveness. 

See how the senses are connected with our actions? Including such details will bring a richness to your scenes your readers can identify with. 

Now, let’s talk setting. Every book has to have one. Your setting should make sense to the storyline, fit your characters, and portray the right cultures and customs. Transylvania wouldn’t be scary in the heart of Amish country, and the battle between Captain Ahab and Moby Dick wouldn’t be the same set in the Sahara Desert, so don’t drop your characters in settings that don’t make sense. 

Done right, your setting can become a character in itself. My novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart is set in a fictional town on Mt. Desert Island, Maine. I didn’t want to just tell my readers this by having the hero drive past a “Welcome to” sign on his way through town. By the time readers complete the novel, I want them to feel like they’ve visited there. 

Here’s a short description from a scene where the hero and heroine meet at a popular seafood shack built atop a peninsula to discuss the rental property debacle they’ve been thrown into. The heroine is most affected by the outcome, as it could leave her and her young daughter homeless. 

Foamy waves crashed against jagged boulders, churning the greenish water. The color reminded Arianne of the jade Depression glass her grandma used to display on shelves in the summer kitchen. She missed the security of those days, the sun’s warmth washing over her through the windows at sunrise, bouncing prisms of light off Grandma’s collections.

She paused for a moment to enjoy the scenery, and inhaled a deep breath to steady the orchestra of nerves playing a grand concerto in her stomach. The woodwinds carried the melody of anxiety, mingled with brass notes of nausea. Then the string section played the slow, mournful tune of what loomed in her future. It would be beautiful music, really if it wasn’t her life’s song. 

Earlier, I mentioned how words can convey a certain mood. That’s what I’ve done here along with describing the amazing view of the restaurant (continued throughout the scene). Allow me to dissect these sentences to show my technique. 

Foamy waves crashed against jagged boulders, churning the greenish water. 

Foamy gives the waves texture. Crashed gives the waves sound. Jagged gives the boulders dimension. Churning and greenish gives the water movement and color. That may not seem like much, but look at the sentence without some of those words. 

Waves crashed against boulders, churning the water. 

The picture isn’t as three-dimensional. The sentence, and thus the setting for this scene, wouldn’t come alive. And those details cause the heroine to reflect on a childhood memory, back to a simpler time in her life when decisions weren’t so complicated and she felt safe and loved. 

Now, let’s dissect the second paragraph. 

She paused for a moment to enjoy the scenery, and inhaled a deep breath to steady the orchestra of nerves playing a grand concerto in her stomach. The woodwinds carried the melody of anxiety, mingled with brass notes of nausea. Then the string section played the slow, mournful tune of what loomed in her future. It would be beautiful music, really if it wasn’t her life’s song.

We’ve all heard an orchestra. The musicians are skilled, on alert, and passionate during a performance. A grand concerto is a complex set of music with various tempos and tones. I used this analogy to describe her body’s physical reaction to fear.  You can see the depth of her emotions because you can relate to it. We’ve all heard the aforementioned instruments, and many of us have an appreciation for classically played music. Even the more somber sounding pieces. None of us, however, want those depressing notes to become our life’s soundtrack. 

With these two paragraphs, I’ve not only set the scene and mood, but I’ve also included three of the five senses. A writer should set up every scene right away so the reader can envision where the action is taking place. To help me achieve good setting descriptions, I continually immerse myself with pictures I’ve scoured from the internet or books and magazines. I use Scrivener to write my manuscripts, which gives the option of placing pictures on the sidebar when writing. Pinterest is another great source.  

Last but not least, let’s get into our characters’ psyche. Why is this important? There’s nothing more boring than reading underdeveloped characters. In real-life, we’re around people every day. It’s okay if we don’t know all their business. But in a novel, we need to be in their heads, feel what they feel, know what makes them tick. That takes psychology. 

It’s not enough to know the heroine abhors alcohol. We need to know why she abhors alcohol. When sketching your characters, ask why, and keep asking why until you can’t go any further. So, as I mentioned above, the heroine abhors alcohol. Why? She doesn’t like seeing the negative effects it has on those who drink it. Why? Growing up, her father drank every night when he’d come home from work. Why? Her father was a cop, and he relied on alcohol to cope with the things he did and saw in his job. When he drank, he ignored his daughters, whose mother had died, forcing the heroine to step into an adult role and raise her younger sister, thus stealing her childhood. 

Push your characters to their limits and use words, body language, and actions that stir the emotions you want to convey. In my novella, Silver White Winters, the heroine, a country music singer struggling to revamp her career after rehab, returns to her childhood home in West Virginia when she discovers her dad and brother are trapped in a coal mine collapse. Pay attention to the highlighted words as some of the miners are rescued. 

A woman screamed.

Bodies shifted into action.

Reporters and cameramen pushed their way to the main gate.

Raelynn grabbed Mama’s hand and followed.

The Hudson Mine rep walked toward the gate. Men trailed behind him, but they were too far away to recognize.

Sirens split the night. Red and blue lights flashed in the darkness. Three ambulances parted the crowd as they drove to the gate opened by uniformed guards.

Mama crushed Raelynn’s fingers in her own.

Paramedics left the vehicles and ran to the approaching group.

The crowd hushed.

Raelynn slapped a hand over her mouth as she spied the miner’s uniforms, sooty skin. 
She almost didn’t believe the scene, afraid it was a mirage.


Raelynn looked up at the little girl next to her, propped on a man’s shoulders. Tears 
streamed down the child’s face as she yelled the word over and over.

Raelynn’s body convulsed with sobs.

Claps and laughter erupted. People hugged one another.

Mama bounced up and down with girlish energy, nearly pulling Raelynn’s arm out of 

The first miner limped beside a gurney, wheeled by a female EMT. His face, flooded by halogen light from the flagpole made Raelynn’s heart soar. “Billy!” [her brother]

See how my verb and adjective choices show movement and emotion? This heroine is pushed to her limits later in this scene upon discovering who was responsible for the rescue. 

When attempting to get into your characters’ psyche, put yourself in their shoes. Pretend you’re the one in their situation. How would you react? What would you say in response? What body language would you have? Then ask, does that match this character’s backstory and personality? 

Nothing I’ve mentioned here today is revolutionary to the world of writing and not every author uses the same techniques. These are the ones that work for me. Thanks for letting me stop by and chat today! 

Now, let’s hear from you. What helps you ground your readers into the setting? How do you sneak into your characters’ psyche? How do you incorporate the five senses? 

Today Candice is generously giving away a print copy of How to Charm a Beekeeper's Heart to one commenter. And Seekerville is giving away an ecopy! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he's indebted to from a mistake made years ago. When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers a compromise to keep her boutique and her life out of bankruptcy-she'll aid in his lengthy recovery if he'll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces. Amidst a battle-of-wills, their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, providing opportunity to overcome their pasts and start anew. Will this confirmed bachelor consider holy-matrimony, or will Huck's choices sting them a second time?

~ Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. Her novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart was a 2012 ACFW First Impressions finalist and made INSPYs Longlist for 2016. For more on Candice, visit her website at

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Flying at Night: The Search for Your Story's Core

There you are, flying at thirty-five-thousand feet above the earth on a cloudless, moonless night, and even with interior lights dimmed you can’t see much more out your window than the blinking of a wing light or a single far off pinpoint glimmer below. Your own faint reflection obliterates the stars.
It’s a perfect time to think about your latest story idea--which for some reason just isn’t coming together.
Ideas are wonderful. Those as yet indefinite, unformed conceptions can be found everywhere around us and are limited only by our imagination. So many choices. So much potential to be tapped into! But sometimes, even after you begin to develop those brilliant ideas into plot points, to dream up scenes and wedge them into a logical order, to give the hero lovable quirks and a decent external goal to strive for, deep down you may sense something isn’t quite right.
Despite the twists and turns and quirky characters you’ve incorporated into what you’re thinking might even be a “high concept” idea, the story may feel wooden, flat, and ho-hum. It’s as if something vital is missing. Maybe the pieces are coming together on the plot, you’re applying the recommended craft “rules”--but where’s that spark that brings it to life? The ember that ignites your enthusiasm and generates the energy required to write all the way to The End?
Maybe you’re even beginning to fear that this uncertainty, this feeling that you’re flying in the dark will be picked up on by readers--readers who will lose interest halfway through the journey you’ve placed before them and reach for the remote.
There could be lots of reasons for this nagging impression. Maybe it’s an undercurrent of concern that the scope of the story is beyond your ability or experience to tell it. Perhaps it requires more research than you have the time or inclination to tackle. You’ve bit off more than you can chew.
OR MAYBE it’s just that you simply need to re-examine the CORE of your story. Perhaps you need to not only think about “all this stuff happens to them when Dick and Jane search for the treasure,” but what do Dick and Jane learn about themselves as they search for the treasure? How does this search change them, grow them? What can they do or be at the end of the story that they couldn’t possibly have done or been at the beginning? Maybe you need to spend time going deeper and thinking about what the story is REALLY about--what the “takeaway” is that will linger in a reader’s mind long after the last page is reached.
To do that, let’s fly a bit closer to earth. Get back down to a level where you were just beginning to gain altitude for a long writing flight where ideas--like lights sparkling below—appeared as endless handfuls of glowing diamonds scattered across a field of black velvet. As with basic story ideas, character growth ideas are endless. Again, so many to choose from, but choose you must to pin down the heart and sustaining substance of your story.
So where do you begin? I always ask myself questions.
- Who is it you most admire and why do they inspire you? Have they always been that way? If not, how did they get to where they are now? Share those insights with your hero.
- What specific issues and character flaws do you see the world around you struggling with? What would need to happen deep inside to bring about positive change? Are these things your hero could also struggle with, an area of needed change?
- What personal character challenges do you wrestle with? How would you like to change? What steps can you take—or what circumstances might lead you—to grow? What lessons has life taught you or is currently teaching you? Give those same challenges and life lessons to your hero.
- What truth is your hero blind and deaf to--something he’s rejected either consciously or unconsciously?  Are others aware of it?
- What lie / misbelief does your hero hold about himself? About others?
- What will happen to your hero, to others, and to the story itself if he doesn’t change? What will happen if he does?
In answering some of these “core” questions as they relate to your own story, do you feel a little less as if you’re flying in the dark of night? Do you feel some substance to your story beginning to surface? A glimmer of light?
Of course on that final page of your manuscript you can’t simply wave a wand over your hero to make his inner transformation magically happen. You need to incorporate character growth into your entire story. What needs to happen to bring it about? Weave that in around the plot points you’ve given so much thought to. Readers want to experience the inner struggle as much as the outer one, to be a part of the change as it comes about. To see it illustrated at the end.
- At what point does the hero recognize his shortcomings, misbeliefs, the need to change?
- What events can you build into the story to bring about the hero’s needed change in behavior, attitude or beliefs?
- How can you illustrate this change as the story progresses and how will it make a difference in how the story ends?
Today please share in the comments section what, as a reader, your thoughts are on are on the importance or unimportance of character growth in the books you most enjoy. As a writer, do you consciously incorporate character growth into your story? Is it a forethought or an afterthought? What tips and tricks can you share with us regarding how you satisfactorily illustrate a character’s growth?
If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my May Love Inspired release, “The Nanny Bargain,” mention it in the comments section, then check the Weekend Edition to see if you’re a winner!
GLYNNA KAYE treasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns--and vacations spent with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to the times a houseful of great-aunts and great-uncles gathered with her grandma to share candid, heartwarming, poignant and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood. Her Love Inspired books--Pine Country Cowboy and High Country Holiday--won first and second place, respectively, in the 2015 RWA Faith, Hope & Love Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards. “The Nanny Bargain” is on the shelves now, and coming in October is “Mountain Country Cowboy.”
Concerned for his orphaned twin brothers, outdoor-gear shop owner Sawyer Banks urges new employee Tori Janner to apply for the nanny position their grandparents are advertising…and spy for him. With plans to start over in Hunter Ridge and dreams of reviving her quilting business, Tori takes the job—but refuses to report to Sawyer unless the boys' welfare is in danger. But soon it's her own heart that's in jeopardy. Because after spending time with the committed bachelor, she starts to see the depth behind his easy charm—and begins to imagine herself as his wife…

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Called The Plot Whisperer Again

Sandra here and I’m just starting a new work in progress (wip) and although I knew the romantic plot, I realized it wasn’t enough to hold interest in a 70,000-word manuscript. I needed more depth.  So I called the plot whisperer, Martha Alderson.

I have a huge pot of my new favorite Dunkin Donuts’ Chocolate Glazed Donut coffee and a platter filled with Chocolate glazed donuts (and some maple ones too as I love those as well). Help yourself and enjoy the plot tips I gleaned from Martha. 

My new favorite coffee
At the workshops during the Saguaro Chapter of RWA in Tucson this winter, I heard two speakers talk about how they developed plot with readers via their Facebook page. Well I thought that might be fun. It really was interesting. The people that joined in surprised me though.  I thought it would be other writers, but most were friends and family that follow my Facebook and have no experience with plotting. However, I did get some great plotting ideas from their comments. I had given some of the backstory and flaws that would cause problems. Several men wrote about experiences they had similar to those my hero faced. Some wrote to me offline about some personal experiences and within those, I’ll be able to use some emotional markers. So I did get some excellent help in an unexpected way.

However, I was still stuck with where this story was going. Not a fun place to be when you are writing a story. I’m thinking its because I’m spinning this story off another so it can be a series and I’ve never done that before. So I have the characters, but not a real issue for them to deal with since the issues I wanted to deal with involving the setting of Sedona, were already dealt with in Book One.

Well you can never say you’re too old to learn a new skill. What I needed to do was call upon the skills I know and apply them to the current wip. I also decided to take advantage of people I know. I called upon a friend.

Martha Alderson came to the rescue. I met Martha years ago at the Desert Dreams writer’s conference in Tempe, Arizona. She was featured as one of the speakers and demonstrated her strategies for developing plot. She was also featured in two of our past blogs. In August 2013 we talked about developing the story climax and in October 2013 I wrote the first post I Called a Plot Whisperer.  Check this one out for examples of a detailed step by step process.

If you go to her website you will see all the ways she provides help in developing plot. Be sure to sign up for her free monthly plot tips.  They are very useful.

Go here to sign up.

So how did Martha help me?  First off, she sent me a form to fill out. This includes information about my characters. She asks for you to think about your theme and your concept and asks for a list of scenes.

The main part of the list is as follows:  (printed with permission of Martha)

Please fill out the following information for your main character(s)
               Protagonist name
               Complete the following 3 items for the beginning, middle and end of your story
                                 What stands in his/her way?
                                 What does he/she stand to lose?

I sent her most of the items, but I didn’t really know all of the answers. Yet!!!  I didn’t really know what was standing in the way of the goals and discovered it was because I hadn’t really been that clear on the goals in the first place.

How did I find that out? It was during my phone conversation with Martha.  After sending the forms in, she read over what I have given her and then formulated questions. The gift Martha has for helping you develop the plot is that she asks the kind of questions that make YOU come up with the answers. She doesn’t give you answers. She doesn’t develop a plot. But through her questions, you end up with the answers because she stirs up the brain waves so that you think of the answers yourself. This is important because then you don’t lose your own voice when writing your story.

We talked for an hour and I was writing notes furiously. Hopefully, I can read them and hopefully they make sense. LOL. It was very much like brainstorming with a critique partner except that Martha is skilled in this and you get right to the problem in the first few minutes.

The questions she asked made me think of other tangents to follow and other conflicts that could arise. With that information and thought process, I was able to deepen the plot and also develop a bigger story.

What I didn’t really realize is that my hero has his own plot. The heroine has hers and then you have the romance. When you develop and intertwine all three of these plots, you end up with much more than a mere romance. You have conflict, emotion, and accountability that engage the reader.

She also asks questions that bring you to an awareness of what she calls “energetic markers”. These are like plot points that bring the reader to a climactic event or turning point that will change the story or resolve the conflict.

So if you want to plot like the plot whisperer, start asking yourself questions. Start asking Why? When? Where? And if this happens what will the consequences bring? What are the consequences of the decisions each character makes? And what do you want to accomplish? 

So what helpful hints can you share with us about plotting? What has worked for you? How have you deepened the plot?

Martha will be joining us today and is generous with her advice. So if you have any questions for her, please ask away. Those who write comments today will be put in a drawing for a free hour plot consultation with Martha. One other commenter will win a copy of Martha’s book “Writing Blockbuster Plots”  And a reader who comments can have an ecopy of one of my books. Please indicate in your comment what prize you would like to win.
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Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.