A lot of SeekerVillagers are on a treasure hunt. We have the map out and are trudging along from clue to clue, hoping that sooner or later we'll get to the end of the rainbow. It's been rumored there's a treasure there, but is it true? Maybe there is no pot of gold at all. Or worse, maybe the rainbow has no end.
We are Valerie Comer, Annalisa Daughety, Nicole O’Dell and Cara Putman, the authors of the novella anthology, Rainbow’s End. We're here to tell you there really is something of value where X marks the spot.
Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn't know enough about guys to realize she's met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they're looking for ... or something else entirely?
Curious about what geocaching is? Take a look at this short video to find out:
1. Following the clues (taking steps in the writing journey)
Valerie: My story is longer than many, I think, in that I began applying myself to learning the craft of writing in the winter of 2002. I joined ACFW in 2007 and finaled in the speculative fiction arena of Genesis in 2007, '08, and '09. I attended my first ACFW conference in 2009. By this time I'd created my own niche of contemporary romance in which to write. . .but no one was willing to take a chance on me.
As 2010 rolled into 2011, I'd completed nine full-length novels, the last two or three of which were actually getting to be pretty good. At least I thought so! I was beginning to feel some frustration at not picking up an agent or a contract. Can anyone relate?
Annalisa: Like many of you, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember—I wrote my first story when I was in the first grade and stapled the pages together to look like a book. But getting up the courage to seek publication took me a long time. After much encouragement from my family and friends, I finally got serious about my goal and joined ACFW in 2007. That year I finaled in the Genesis contest chick lit category (a category which no longer exists) and at my editor appointment, I pitched the idea for a series about park rangers. Fast forward to the following year at the ACFW Conference—I was one of Barbour’s surprise contracts (for the three book Walk in the Park series, set in National Parks) and Love is a Battlefield (the first book in the series) won first place in the Genesis contest contemporary romance category. That conference will always be on the highlight reel of my life!
Cara: I’ve been writing since third grade when we wrote short stories in a journal. Then as a teen I tried my hand at a couple novels. But I didn’t write to get published until 2005 when the itch to write wouldn’t go away. I received my first contract at my second ACFW conference – I will never forget that moment!
Nicole: I’m the relative newbie, I think. I only started writing for publication in 2007 with a bunch of devotionals for Barbour—201 to be exact, which got my foot in the door. In 2008, I was in the right place at the right time with a clever idea—books with alternate endings to teach girls about making good decisions. Armed with the idea for those unwritten books, still just a glimmer in my eye, with no agent and no prior experience—I secured a two-book deal, then another one not long after that.
There’s something to be said for putting in the time and doing the hard work to learn the craft.
The first of FOUR SETS of giveaways to be given to a random commenter is from Valerie Comer, since her novella, "Topaz Treasure," is first in the book. One winner will receive a copy of both Rainbow's End and It's a Treasure Hunt (to get you started geocaching!)
2. Finding the pot of gold (contract)
Valerie: I'd seen Barbour's call for submissions for anthology collections in December 2010, but found it difficult at first to find seasoned authors willing to take me on. Nicole O'Dell, my critique partner, decided she'd love to write a contemporary romance novella instead of her usual YA if that would help me get my foot in the door. We worked on two separate proposals with two groups of authors. I can hardly tell you how thrilled I was when I found out the proposal for Rainbow's End had been accepted! Here are the details of that day.
This netted me the wonderful Joyce Hart as my agent and, while we're still waiting on an offer for one of my novels, I know I'm in good hands and working on the next section of the treasure map. Which seems to involve a lot of proposals and a lot of waiting.
Annalisa: When I got my first contract, I was so surprised and excited—I think I called everyone I knew to tell them the news. I just couldn’t believe it and kept waiting to hear that the whole thing was some sort of mistake. With the release of Rainbow’s End, I now have 8 books in print—with 3 more releases this year. There are days I’m completely overwhelmed by my “to do” list. Between working full time, writing like crazy, and renovating a house—it’s easy to feel like I’m going in too many directions. But with each book I grow and learn and I think that’s the real “treasure” for me. It seems like I’ve learned a lesson from each book I’ve written. Does anyone else learn from their fictional characters?
Cara: After receiving that contract the opening night of ACFW in 2006, I waited for JoAnne to tell me she’d made a mistake. Since then Rainbow’s End makes my 15th book that’s released since October 2007. It’s been crazy! Like Annalisa and Nicole, I’m juggling a lot with writing, teaching, homeschooling, some attorneying, and just regular life with four kids. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world! It’s been amazing!
More than the actual contracts, the knowledge I’d begun to acquire was my pot of gold. It was a magical time as I humbled myself to become teachable. I realized that publishing wasn’t always a choice I could make for myself, but learning and growing was well within my control.
The second novella, "Beneath the Surface," is by Annalisa Daughety. She’s giving one commenter a copy of Rainbow’s End and a copy of her recent release from Barbour Publishing, A Wedding To Remember in Charleston, South Carolina.
3. Our own pot of gold (premise)
Valerie: Are you familiar with geocaching? It's an electronic treasure hunt that uses GPS (global positioning system) satellites beaming latitude and longitude information to your handheld device, allowing you to zero in on a particular set of coordinates. At a site such as geocaching.com, you can enter your zip code (postal code for us Canadians!) and find the coordinates of geocaches in your neighborhood. You'll find dozens if not hundreds from which to choose. (Check out the video above.)
When my husband and I began geocaching a few years ago, we found bits of natural history and interesting hiking trails in our area we hadn't known existed. And as I hiked up these mountain trails, I began thinking how fun it would be to use geocaching as a backdrop for a contemporary romance story.
While it turned out to be a whole HEAP of fun creating a geocaching event in which the characters from four novellas could interact, I might still write a standalone some day that hinges on this fun outdoor sport. Hmm. Maybe a series. Like I don't have enough proposals circling the planet at the moment.
Annalisa: I didn’t know anything about geocaching before working on Rainbow’s End, but now I tell people all the time what a cool hobby it is. In fact, I wish the Rainbow’s End treasure hunt was a real event, because I’d be the first to sign up!
In "Beneath the Surface," Madison Wallace finds herself going back to her tiny hometown after being away for many years. There were definitely some parallels going on in my own life as I wrote the novella. I moved away from my own small town when I left for college and lived in the city for several years. At the same time I was writing the novella, I was in the process of buying a house and some land near my hometown. I loved getting to write Madison’s struggles with going back to her roots as I was going through the same thing.
Cara: I’d heard of geocaching and think it would be great fun to do with my husband and kids. Unfortunately, deadlines didn’t give me a chance to try it last summer when I was writing "Love’s Prize." Someday, I’d love to replicate the hunt that I sent my characters on – without the suspense! I think we’ve all had a time in our lives when we wondered what was true and if it was time to let go of our plans and surrender to God’s will. That’s exactly the struggle that Reagan and Colton experience in the midst of the summer’s adventures.
It’s easy to see why Hadley’s body image and self-esteem issues are near and dear to my heart.
Cara Putman’s novella, "Love’s Prize", is next in the book. She’s happy to give one winner a copy of Rainbow’s End and a copy of her recent release from Barbour Publishing, A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island.
4. Sharing the treasure
Topaz Treasure, by Valerie Comer
Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt her church is using as an outreach event. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof–young, handsome, anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy–to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let along in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?
Beneath the Surface, by Annalisa Daughety
When Madison Wallace’s sister signs the two of them up to participate in the Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt, Madison is less than thrilled. She isn’t the most outdoorsy girl in the world, so spending two months traipsing around the Ozarks isn’t her idea of fun. Especially when her sister has to back out at the last minute. Grant Simmons loves the outdoors. He jumps at the chance to participate in the treasure hunt with his grandfather, but when the elderly man’s health takes a turn for the worse, Grant is without a partner. When Madison and Grant find themselves teamed up for the treasure hunt, their differences quickly rise to the surface. Will Madison be able to break through Grant’s walls and get him to open up? Can Grant look past Madison’s polished exterior to see that beneath the surface is a heart of gold? If these polar opposites can find common ground, they might find a love worth treasuring.
Love on a Dime, by Cara C. Putman
Reagan Graham, an intense thinker with an artsy flare, has never been one to tempt fate. Instead, she’s played it safe by following everyone’s expectations for her, rather than her own heart. When her parents told her to get a safe degree like accounting, when she wanted to explore photography, Reagan acquiesced. But after four years of making numbers march in orderly rows, she’s fried. She takes two months off to join her kid brother Ryan in the Ozarks for the Rainbow’s End geocaching treasure hunt. He’s there for the treasure . . . she’s there to photograph the beauty of God’s creation to her heart’s content. Then she meets Ryan’s frat brother and teammate. Colton Woodill, a non-traditional student her own age, is nothing like she expected. A deep thinker like Reagan, Colton is spending the summer before law school trying to relax. His plan doesn’t include falling in love before law school graduation, but the more time he spends with Reagan, he can’t remember why. Will Reagan and Colton risk their hearts and their safe plans to take a risk on love?
Welcome Home, Love, Nicole O’Dell
And will Noah manage to remind Hadley that the treasures she truly seeks are already within her . . . and right in front of her?
The final novella, Welcome Home, Love, is written by Nicole O’Dell. She’s giving one winner a copy of Rainbow’s End and a copy of her other most recent release from Barbour Publishing, The Embittered Ruby.
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
|Left to right: Nicole O'Dell, Annalisa Daughety, Cara Putman, Valerie Comer, on the Barbour Cruise at ACFW, 2011|
Annalisa Daughety, a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University, writes contemporary fiction set in historic locations. Annalisa lives in Arkansas with three spoiled dogs and is hard at work on her next book. She loves to connect with her readers through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Nicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life's tough choices. She’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular advice column. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents helps pre-empt peer pressure by tackling tough issues.Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney, teacher at her church, and contract lecturer or adjunct faculty at a local community college and Big Ten University. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara loves bringing history and romance to life. You can learn more about Cara and her books on her website, Facebook, twitter, and pinterest.
Thanks so much for having us here...and for reading this far! :) Leave a comment to be entered to win one of the four giveaway sets. The winners will be chosen at random.