Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Writer's Best Friend: The Reader

Hello Seekerville.

Sandra here with a pot of chocolate velvet coffee.

I’m still reeling from the blog tour going on since the 20th.  My publicist and editor, Amber Stokes of Editing Through the Seasons has really put me through the paces. And it has been a blast. If you haven’t checked it out, be sure and do so as there are lots of giveaways and a Rafflecopter contest.  The tour lasts until the 31st. And feel free to read past blogs from the tour. Our hosts did a terrific job.

And I love, love, love hearing from readers who have read my books. Which brings me to my topic this month—the reader—a writer’s best friend.

Readers are the most important factor in the crazy mix we call being an author. For me anyway, it is really special when I meet someone who has read my books. After all, the reason we write and publish a book is so someone can read it.

Our first readers are usually our critique partners. I worked with several locally so of course I had met them.  Below are the critique partners who helped with Current of Love.

Sandy Lagesse, Joan Domning, Barbara Larriva, Nancy Damato, Sandra and Peggy Parsons
My first online critique partner was Seekerville's Ruth Logan Herne. We met through the ACFW critique partner program. We critiqued together for a year or two and finally met in person at our first ACFW conference in Denver, 2005.  It was at that conference that we met other Seeker buddies. Since we had all read each other's work, we were thrilled to finally meet face to face.

I have critiqued with most of the Seekers at one point or another.  What a blessing that has been.

Critique partners and Beta readers give an author great feedback and are usually reading our work while in progress.

Special meeting this summer when Seeker buddy, Glynna Kaye invited me to her house for lunch. 

And speaking of meeting readers at a conference, we have been blessed to meet many of you Seekerville friends at conferences.  

Seeker friends in St. Louis 2011

Seeker friends Debby and I met at RWA Anaheim 2012

I will especially remember meeting Carole Moncado because she brought the most awesome chocolate chip cookies to the ACFW conference in St. Louis 2011.  That is how sweet you Seeker readers are.  You are important to us for many reasons--besides cookies.

Carol Moncado sitting by her TBR pile Seeker books
Now this is a serious reader 

The positive feedback you give us keeps us going during those dark moments we all get when we wonder if the work is worth the effort. There have been several times that our buddy Vince Mooney has posted an encouraging word when I needed it the most. I was all ready to give up on my picture books when he posted reviews on his blog Philosophy of Romance, of the animal series. Now how can I stop writing those after reading those reviews from a reader.

My blog tour hosts are mostly Seeker friends.  Look at what a super job they have been doing.  Not only are they giving me publicity, but their reviews give me feedback that is important  to hear. And it is through Seekerville I have met Amber Stokes, my wonderful editor and publicist who set up the tour. 


Another joy has been to meet readers from other countries.  Surprisingly, most of my books published by Montlake are selling in the United Kingdom. So international readers are important also.  

Missy and Debby were fortunate to meet our friend Jenny from Australia when she came to the United States.  Missy says, "I absolutely love meeting readers who I've only known online. I got the opportunity recently when Jenny Blake (Ausjenny) came from Australia to visit the United States! We had a marvelous lunch with Patty Smith Hall, Debby Giusti and Patti Jo Moore." Missy sent these photos to share with you.

Jenny and Missy

Patty Smith Hall, Debby Giusti, Patti Jo Moore

I have been blessed to meet international readers also.  Marianne Barkman of Canada has written lovely reviews for my books and she won a basket of books filled with Seeker books and chocolate velvet coffee.  But the best surprise was she brought me a gift also--a pan of her homemade cinnamon rolls. yum

Sandra presenting basket of books to Marianne 

Reader reviews are critical to an authors career. Therefore readers who write reviews are special also. Kav wrote a lovely review of Love's Miracles on her blog Best Reads.  This was great publicity, but the best publicity was the review she wrote on Amazon. Amazon promotes books based on reviews.  My book, Current of Love has been selected by Amazon several times for special promotions and that is because there were so many 5 star reviews.  

And sometimes there are bad reviews.  I know that I am not going to please every reader.  We all have different tastes. I got a one star review for Price of Victory. The reviewer said it was "cheesy"  Well if they are used to erotica romance and they received one of mine as a freebie, I'm sure they did think it was cheesy.  smile  But those bad reviews do bring down our ratings for promotion and sales.  So we don't like to see those.  Personally when I read a book I don't like, I do what my mother always taught me and that was "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  It would be nice if all readers followed that rule. 

Another fun place I've met readers is at autograph signings. Readers really make a signing interesting and fun. 

Sandra meets a reader (Martha) at Amazing Grace Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
 I really enjoy meeting the readers because I know how much I like to meet my favorite authors. The first author I met was Irving Stone. I had gone to a writer's conference and was so excited to meet him. He wrote historical fiction. He had interviewed my great grandmother when he wrote Men To Match My Mountains. When I had him sign my book, we talked and he remembered her. That was truly special.  So when I meet readers who ask for an autograph, it is not only special for me, but for them also.

Book club luncheons are another fun event. It is really interesting to hear what different people have to say about your book. Often they read things into your story that you didn't even realize you wrote about. I figure they draw out experiences from the reader, but also are subtle subconscious elements we don't even realize we've written about. One reader asked me why my heroine was hispanic. To be honest, I really don't know.  I thought Debra was interesting and maybe it was because I had been working with so many hispanic children.
Sandra at a book club luncheon 

Traveling in my RV I've met a lot of people. Often I sell my books at craft fairs in the resorts. This is really fun because then you get to talk to readers after they have read your books.  The other day, I was swimming in the pool and this lady swims up to me and asks, "Aren't you Sandra Leesmith?" When I assured her I was she went on to tell me how much she loved Current of Love and could hardly wait to start Price of Victory.  I can't tell you how that tickled my heart. 

My pickleball friends read my books also. Most of the time they buy my children's books for their families. Grandparents love them. 

Sandra signing books for Susan
Susan is all set for the little ones in her family

My friend Becky buys all of my books. What was really fun was her nephew, Taite came to camp with her. Becky had purchased my animal books for Taite earlier in the year. When he came, he knew I was camping with his Aunt Becky so he brought his books with him so he could meet me and get a photo together.  How special is that?  

Becky and Sandra

Sandra and Taite

WE celebrated Memorial day last weekend. Several of us Seekers donated books to our Seeker friend KC Frantzen who is involved with Wounded Warrior Getaway.  She sent these photos and told me how much it meant for the families to receive our books. Each family had been given one of my animal stories also and she told me how excited the children were. That feedback from readers is awesome. All of us donate books all the time so it is really special when we hear back how much the books meant to the readers. These are the moments that remind us to keep writing when the going gets tough.
Seeker books donated to Wounded Warrior Getaway
Copies of Price of Victory
And there is KC at the event having a blast.
Speaking of Memorial Day Weekend I have to shamelessly brag about how much fun I had at Lake Tahoe with my niece and nephew and their son who is my godson. 

Hubby, J, J, and J
Sandra and Justin

I hope you readers understand how wonderful you are and how important you are to all of us authors. We love your feedback and we love meeting you. Thank you so much for your support, your friendship and your prayers. We Seekers love you to pieces.

Celebrating a holiday made me hungry for pizza. So I have trays of every kind of pizza you could think of.  Even anchovies and pineapple.  Yuk.  But I know some of you love those items on your pizza.  My favorite is sausage, mushrooms, peppers and olives.  Of course they are gooey with cheese.  Enjoy and have a great week.

Prize giveaway today to two winners drawn from those who comment will have their choice of one of my books.  

Don't forget to check out the blog tour. You can enter on Rafflecopter for a wonderful grand prize.


  1. Wow! I'm first! That is quite hard to believe. So the Starbucks coffee is in the pot and ready to go. We also have an array of sweets to offer as well so don't be shy. :)

    Thank you for the wonderful post this morning Sandra. It's always wonderful to hear how much we the reader are appreciated and we 'reviewers' love to give back the appreciation to you all.

    The only author I have ever met happened to be the one author that stirred my desire to start reading again, that happened to be Colleen Coble. We met at a tour of the facility where my husband use to work his part time job (he just retired & continues as a full time pastor). Who would have thought when we went to the plant tour and picnic that I would run into Colleen Coble? Her daughter-in-law happened to work there in the human resource department at the time. I truly believe it was a God thing.

    Have an awesome day everyone.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. It sounds like you've had a wonderful time on your tour.

    I hope you got lots of sales (I know I bought your book last week.).


  3. Hi CINDY, What a great story. I have met Colleen also. She is really a sweet person. And the best thing, she started you reading again. That is awesome.

    We are so happy you not only are reading again, but are a Seeker friend. Have a great week.

  4. Oops CINDY, I forgot to thank you for the yummy sweets and coffee.

    A sure hit this morning.

  5. HI JACKIE, Yes, the tour has been really fun. My first one. I have had the fun part. Amber did all the work.

    I hope you enjoy the book.

  6. Sandra, I love me some readers too!!!


    Touching a reader's heart is the best gift ever. That's the Holy Spirit, on the case, all the time, in every way!

    Super huge congrats on your new release!!! I can't wait to read it... And you and I had some fun years together, guiding each other, laughing, lamenting, working. We spurred each other to work hard and long and it's paid off so nicely!

    I love meeting readers. I love hearing their stories. We are so blessed to receive a paycheck for something we love to do so much.

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Sandra!!! And the coffee. I'm gobbling the virtual pizza because the real thing isn't on the low-carb list. Dagnabbit!

    But broccoli slaw is! :)

    (If I grow rabbit ears to go with my big front teeth, you'll know it's from too much of Mr. MacGregor's fine leafy produce.)

    Four-Day-Work-Week!!! Hallelujah chorus!!!

  7. Morning RUTHY, I'm laughing at the rabbit teeth. I think I have them also. Although I really love veggies.

    And carbs. sigh

    Yes, we did have fun times flying work "across the prairies and over the mountains".

    I know you love meeting readers. You just love everyone. chuckle. That's what we love about you.

  8. Good morning, Seekerville!

    Sandra, I love your thoughts about readers. They're the most important people to writers -- even more so than editors and agents (and we know how important they are!)

    So here's to readers!!!!!!! I'm holding up my cup of cappuchino.

  9. I didn't realize when I started reading Christian fiction that I'd find myself catapulted into a whole new world filled with wonderful people -- both authors and readers. It's been such a blessing for me and a real anchor in my crazy chaotic life.

    And don't get me started on talking about what reading all these books has brought to me. Blessed is the one word that comes to mind to sum up this reader's heart.

  10. SANDRA -- What a WONDERFUL tribute to our readers! It's so much fun hearing from them and meeting them in person. Reading is such a partnership between the reader and the author, so putting a face with readers is really, really special!

    Love the pics!

  11. Good Morning Sandra!

    What a great post about readers! I'm just beginning to discover the delights of reader feedback, and it's wonderful - mostly because of the time they take to send a note (something I can learn to do better as a reader!).

    Memorial Day marks the beginning of the tourist season around here. From now until Labor Day, tourists will outnumber locals in the Black Hills. I love it! Tourism is the lifeblood of our community, and I'm finding I love our visitors almost as much as I love readers :)

  12. Hi CARA, Glad you are enjoying that cup of coffee.

    Love and hugs

  13. Thanks KAV, You are definitely one of our special readers.

    Librarians ROCK because you encourage others to read.

    Thanks for helping with my blog tour.

  14. Thanks GLYNNA, I know you love meeting readers. We have had the pleasure at Desert Dreams.

    Have a great week.

  15. Hi JAN, Yep tourist season is upon us and we are on the road like a typical tourist. LOL

    I love the Black Hills. It has been one of our favorite places we visited.

    We spent the weekend at Lake Tahoe. It was really fun and gorgeous. Tons of tourists.

  16. a great posting...as always :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  17. This reader turned writer knows we also benefit from our relationship with authors.

    I have made such good friends, critters and mentors through Seekerville!

    Peace and put me in for the drawing. And no, I don't think your books are cheesy!


  18. Sandra,

    Where to begin?

    We MUST write, but it seems reader feedback is the cherry on the frosting! I'm certain you've experienced those genuine spontaneous hugs children offer when they share they enjoyed your book. Not much better than that...

    The Warriors and families were thrilled to receive your books and those of the other Seekers (and this FRIEND of Seekerville's books too). :) They endure countless appointments and surgeries, etc. so there is a LOT of time to read... And those little ones need good books to read too.

    YAY for VINCE encouraging you to keep on with those!!!

    Oh my! Our sweet Amber. Thrilled she was able to help you with your publicity. I'm happy to say, she and I are about to *ahem* emBARK on some as well. It's exciting!

    Thanks for sharing the fun photos and stories. It brings full circle what we do... and yes Jan, agreed. I am trying to be better about writing notes AND reviews. Friday, I found out book one is on Amazon. (In fact, one of the warriors let me know... I had no idea!) I got in high gear asking readers to please review. We couldn't very well have it sit there with zero reviews now could we?

    Until this weekend, I didn't fully understand just how important reviews are. I'll mend my wicked ways going forward I assure you.

    Thanks for this good reminder and post! Pass the "kitchen sink" pizza, hold the anchovies, please! Pizza IS an approved breakfast food, correct? :)

    Have fun in the RV!!! C'mon over to TN for a visit.

  19. Thanks JULIE HS. I'm glad you like my books. I think its really funny and certainly understand as I've categorized some books I've read as cheesy also. Truly we all have different tastes, thank goodness. But I wish they hadn't posted it. I think that is mean so wouldn never be able to do that myself.

    Have a great week Julie.

  20. HI KC, You are going to work with AMBER. Yeah. You will love it. She is wonderful to work with. I think she did a great job. I got some notice that Love's Miracles rated # 9 on free books. wow. I'm in shock.

    And what a great job you did with the Wounded Warrior Getaway. I loved all the photos. I hope you shared them on Facebook or somewhere. Let us know.

    And yes, reviews are key. Happy writing.

  21. PS Pizza is great breakfast food. And lunch. And dinner. And midnight snack.

  22. I have "Men to Match My Mountains' at home and haven't read it yet.
    I need to get on that. I'm hoping for lots of larger than life heroes to inspire more books.

    Readers .... writer's don't exist without them.

  23. Loved this post, Sandra--and all the pix! What a lovely tribute to readers everywhere!

    I have to agree about reading groups. You just never know what they will see in your story that you never realized was there. It's fun (usually--LOL!) and enlightening to listen to their feedback.

    Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day! Whether shopping, grilling, boating, or just soaking up the sunshine, we couldn't enjoy any of these freedoms if not for the sacrifices of those who serve our country.

  24. Hi MARY, You will enjoy Irving Stone. Some of his other books are stronger reads in my opinion, but of course I LOVED this one because of my great grandma.

    Readers rock!

  25. Hi MYRA, It would be fu do share comments. I should write them down. They always surprise me so.

    You are so correct. We are blessed with so much and we have our military to thank for the freedom to enjoy. So many times we take that for granted. Go travel in other countries and that knowledge will slap you in the face.

  26. Sandra,

    Congratulations and WTG, Amber! #9 for Love's Miracles already?! PAWSOME!

    Believe me when I say, it is our honor and pleasure to serve these warriors and their families. I'm just in awe of them really. About serving these precious families, my husband says, "It's the highlight of our year." VERY true!

    There are 2 more Wounded Warrior Getaways this year, both in the fall: one east coast, one west coast. So please everypawdy, volunteer if you can, or donate a little, or even write a thank you note to a family. Warriors and families do not pay, they just come for an amazing long weekend of fun and respite. The best part - it's hosted by Joni Eareckson Tada and her group, Joni and Friends.

    Here is a link from this month's WWG on May's FB page. Check it out and please leave a comment! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.520261948038391.1073741827.143319679065955&type=1

    And another that tells more about the program from Amber's blog a couple years ago with all sorts of links... (YES! May and I are FANS of Amber's for many, many reasons.) http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2011/04/monday-for-military-wounded-warrior.html

    Thanks again, Sandra, for all YOU are doing. We each have our own ministries. It's wonderful how the Body of Christ comes together! :)

  27. HI RUTHY I can't have the pizza either I have not had pizza since March 2. Learning to live, learning to live, learning to live without it.
    SANDRA, thank you for the post. One of the things I'm looking forward to is having a relationship with my readers. When I get them.
    Gotta go, got to work on my 10 pages for my critique from TINA, which is a pretty good break since I won it on the day I mistook her for CARA. Trying to decide between two different books.
    Kathy Bailey
    Pre-pubbed in New Hampshire

  28. KC, Thanks for all the links. Many people want to show their appreciation and help but don't know quite how to go about it. So these links help a lot. "Pawsome"

  29. I love this post, Sandra. You've collected readers in so many ways. Since I don't have a published book out, I'm thankful for my beta reader, my crit partners and my mom. She always has an encouraging word about my writing. And, I'm thankful for those who read my blog. :)

    BTW, I like cyber pizza because I can eat the gluten-filled crust and the cheese with no ill effects. :)

  30. Hi KATHY, Glad you said WHEN you get readers, not IF. smile. And congrats on winning the critique.

    Happy writing.

  31. HI JEANNE, You have a great start to have beta readers and crit partners and a blog. Great going.

    And Mom. How specialis that. My mom was my best fan too. She was great because she thought everything I did was wonderful. So I needed crit partners. chuckle

    Happy writing.

  32. Thanks for the opportunity, Sandra, thanks again for the opportunity to share. When you see the smiles, and hear the warriors, their spouse or caregiver, or their children thank US... Well. There's not many dry eyes.

    Your books will have an impact long after... Thank you again for your generosity! (And the other Seekers as well!! I didn't get photos of everyone's books but at least you have a flavor.)

  33. Kathy Bailey, we shall eat veggies and GRIN!!!


    Although I did cheat yesterday for a fun holiday picnic once we came back from the cemetery... My first pasta salad this year! And a slice of angel food cake (not home-made, topped with strawberries!)

    Color me happy!

    Sandra, I learned so much from you. How to broaden my view... How to build a character arc. Your teaching comes through in your critique work and it's been invaluable to me. Thinking of it makes me smile!

    Children are playing nicely so I hopped over here for a minute but must go prepare a birthday extravaganza for three of my urchins, 5/25, 5/26, 5/28... It's a three-peat birthday at Ruthy's!

  34. When someone says "I'm just a reader," I remind them of exactly what your post said -- they are not *just* anything. My RWA chapter has a luncheon each year for readers. It's on June 8 and I'll see Debby there. *waves to Debby*

    I've met many authors at RWA conferences but it's always exciting to meet someone new. I especially like meeting someone I've "met" online and exchanged emails or forum posts or blog comments with.

    I had a critique partner years ago but we were so very far apart in skill and production level that I broke off the arrangement. I would love to find a critique partner again, but it needs to be someone who understands I write in spurts. Sometimes the muse just loves to write and other times... Meh. She can be so ornery. I'd also love to have a good brainstorming partner. I'm working on a new idea now and the characters are slowly revealing themselves to me. It might help to have someone else asking questions I had to answer about them to help speed up the revelation.

    Great post!

    Anyhoo, did I hear someone say four-day work week??? Woohoo!


  35. Hello, Sandra! Enjoyed your comments about readers. I need to remember the importance of reviewing on Amazon and Goodreads. So glad to hear Love's Miracles is at Kindle #9!

    KC, what a tremendous service you give to our warriors and their families! And congrats on working with Amber with your new project! She is so helpful.

    Thanks everyone for the goodies. (I'm munching on a slice of pizza right now!)

  36. Good morning, Sandra.

    Love that photo of KC. What a gorgeous smile she has.

    I was just thinking about this yesterday..THE READER..that is. Julie Hilton Steele is who came to mind and Mary Curry. Started getting to know them three years ago.

    That's just amazing!! Now I feel like they are my next door neighbors.

  37. Hi Sandra,

    Great post! Glad you're having such a great time with your re-release. I picked up a free copy for my Kindle!! Will read it next!

    Love to be in the drawing for one of your other books though!

    Just posted a couple of reviews on Amazon yesterday so I must have known what you were going to post about. Have to do another couple of reviews today. I always have great intentions and then forget about it and go on to another book! I didn't realize how important these reviews are.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  38. Hello Sandra, so glad this reader decided to stop by today, loved reading your post and the comments from both authors and readers...
    It is a win win situation I am thinking, if you authors didn't have readers would be no reason to write and if we didn't have the authors that love to write we wouldn't have books to read so, we need one another....
    thanks for being one of the ones we need.
    Paula O

  39. Awww RUTHY, I learned much from you also. Back in those days we had more questions than answers. smile

    Happy birthday. I know you will make the day special for those precious little ones.

  40. HI MARILYN, Yes,4day work week. Hooray.

    What a great idea to have a luncheon for readers. I think I'll pass that along.

    Do you belong to ACFW? They have a critique partner program. I think they still have it? Just explain your situation and limitation. Best wishes.

  41. HI SHERIDA, Hey folks, come on over to Sherida Stewart's Tuesday Tea site. She is having a tea party and she featuring ME. smliling.

    Thanks again Sherida for the thoughtful review.

    She interviewed me and we had so much fun. She serves great tea and cakes.

  42. Hi TINA, It is a real blessing to meet these readers.

    Happy day.

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. HI SUSAN, Oh that's great that you picked up a free copy of Love's Miracles. I'm so excited about the release.

    And thanks for writing reviews. They are important.

  45. Hi PAULA, I am so thankful we need and have each other. smile

    I'm doubly glad you decided to join us today also. What a treat.

    Happy reading.

  46. I love readers!!! :)

    And I'm so jealous of that title page signed by Irving Stone!

    Sandra, I've heard you mention that about your grandmother being interviewed for Men to Match My Mountains. I'd love to know if she was quoted in the book. My copy is dog-eared. I think I bought it from Lyn Coleman once when she was clearing off her research shelves.

  47. Oh, and there's food????

    PIZZA, no less!!!! Yay!!!

    And topping it off with something from Cindy's Dessert bar...


  48. Hi Sandra:

    It may seem odd but the first author I met, that I knew was an author, was Irving Stone, in 1971, at a book store in Santa Barbara. He was signing his new book about Sigmund Freud, “Passions of the Mind”. I’ve read about five of his book. However, I’m not sure how much good this signing did him. His wife stood besides him to rush people on. She did not want anyone talking to him. No dedications. Just his signature. It kind of ruined the event for me. She seemed and sounded like the worse kind of New Yorker. Irving just looked henpecked. I felt sorry for him. But then they say his wife made him when she cut two-thirds out of his “Lust for Life” manuscript which had been rejected more times than there were publishers! He would write a book that was at least 50% too long and she would cut it in half.

    Louis L’Amour's wife did the same thing at book signings and even limited the autographs to just one book no matter how many books you bought. But in fairness, L’Amour had a line of over 600 people waiting! This made the evening news! Louis at least wrote a short dedication: “To my wife, Linda”. The book was “The Californios.” It was for her birthday. I felt very good about meeting L’Amour. I went on to read all his books. I did not read many more of Stone’s books. He probably had no more than 15 people in the store at any one time. As I read “Passions” I could visualize his wife giving me the bum’s rush. It ruined the reading experience for me.

    Moral: if the reader feels good about meeting you or reading your interview, then this will improve the reader’s reading experience. It’s part of the total package.

    I am much more inclined to buy a book if I like and find the author interesting than if I am just interested in the book. Readers are buying an author along with the book. They hope to find a new source of enjoyable reading.

    Like a fine restaurant, the reading experience is affected by the ambiance. This includes the acknowledgement, the dedication, the info about the author, the cover art, and a “Dear Reader” summary. I think Ruth and Missy have this down to an art!

    I think the substance of your reader comments in this post fit perfectly with the way to deal with readers and help create the best reading experience.

    I also like your children's book set in rhyme. It’s more fun to read, you can say more in fewer words, and it won’t take a long time to read a kid a bedtime story. :)


    P.S. Strange fact! My reviews of three of your books were two to three times longer than your books were! That’s how the best philosophers write. : )

  49. Speaking of pizza...

    I'm laughing as I remember a friend telling about her daughter who had gone to a 4-week summer workshop at a state college.

    Emily was 14-15 yo. Brilliant young lady and had been chosen for this academic scholars summer camp.

    Anyhow, the college took good care of the kids. They stayed in the dorms, roomed with other girls their age, went to class, and got a taste of what college life and FREEDOM would be like.

    They also got a taste of ordering pizza and pigging out in the dorm room at midnight...

    My friend called to talk to her daughter one day and during the convo asked what she'd had for lunch. Pizza.

    The same pizza the girls had ordered about 36 hours before, but hadn't refrigerated (no fridge). My friend (the mom) almost came unglued! lol

    College kids must have iron stomachs.

  50. Sandra, I don't belong to ACFW because I don't write inspirational fiction. I probably need to just open my eyes and look around. I'll bet I could find someone at the various places I haunt online.

    The readers' luncheon is always well-attended, and the focus is solely on the reader. You could talk to Debby Giusti and Missy Tippens about it since they've both attended. Each author hosts a table of readers. We have a keynote speaker (this year is J.T. Ellison and in the past we've had Sherrilyn Kenyon, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Kerrilyn Sparks, Roxanne St. Claire, Karen Robards, Sharon Sala and Sabrina Jeffries to name a few). We also do a basket raffle as a fundraiser and then have a book signing afterwards to raise money. In the past we've donated those funds to literacy programs.


  51. sandra
    wow. you sure know how to make a person feel special. such a cool post!

    i'm a reader in training to be a writer and Seekerville is helping me get there.

  52. I love al of the pics, Sandra!

    I need to figure out how to share my Kindle books with the troops. I'm adding that to my to do list for today. As well as checking out your book tour!

    lostie815 AT hotmail DOT com

  53. Wonderful post, Sandra! Thanks for sharing the fun pictures of Seeker friends who've become very special to all of us.

    I want to add a hearty thanks to readers for their feedback and for taking the time to post a review online! Sales are important. A positive review might encourage someone who'd never read one of our books to take the plunge. Bad reviews sting, but it helps to remember that a savvy editor liked the book enough to buy it and spend hours editing and overseeing its production.

    Sandra, I can't wait to read Love's Miracles!! I started Tina's book last night and hated to put it down! Talk about h/h conflict!


  54. Sandra, such a lovely post! Great pics too!

    Thanks for the pizza!

    I've been in deadline mode for too long and emailed the COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT to my editor today!!!

    Whoo-hoo! Now I'm catching up with laundry and dusting and vacuuming and...well, everything, including Seekerville. I'm missed you all!

    Readers are so, so special. Love connecting personally whenever possible.

    Sending hugs to all readers and lots of thanks for all you do so that we can keep writing!

  55. Sandra, your book in on my Kindle. Can't wait to read!

  56. Waving to Marilyn!

    The Heart of Dixie Readers Luncheon is fantastic!

  57. SANDRA, LOVE this post, my friend!! Almost like armchair traveling (or maybe I should say RV-chair traveling!!:)

    You said, "But those bad reviews do bring down our ratings for promotion and sales."

    Oh, AMEN to that!! And they don't just "bring down" our ratings and sales -- they bring down the author as well.

    I've been avoiding Amazon for the month of May, but I got a Google Alert yesterday that took me to a 1-star review on B&N that flat-out said I couldn't write and that my writing skills were greatly "lacking." After a month of seeking God on the direction for my writing, I am happy to report that I took that review with a grain of salt and prayed for the person instead of getting angry. But I gotta tell you when I got an e-mail not 30 seconds later from a reader who said there was only one word to describe my writing -- "magnificent" -- I laughed out loud. You can't please everybody, that's for sure. But at least the good reviews can redeem the bad ones for the authors we enjoy, so DO post good reviews for books and authors you love!!

    Sandra ... cannot WAIT to read your new book and you can bet your bottom dollar I will post a review!! :)


  58. Hi Sandra! I'm so glad your readers say hello and want to meet you-- I used to be afraid that authors wouldn't want the attention, or might think someone e-mailing them would come off as "stalker-ish." Then I grew up and realized authors are just real people, too, who like to be complimented every once in a while just like everyone else.

    The first author I "met" was Ann M. Martin, who wrote the Babysitter's Club books. I wrote her a fan letter to when I was 10, and she sent me back a personal reply! I was over the moon.

    But the first author I actually met in person was Stephanie Grace Whitson, whom I interviewed for my newspaper at the time after she did a workshop at the local high school. She encouraged me to keep in touch (and boy, I did!), and inspired me to travel the road of inspriational fiction. One thing led to another, I got involved with my local ACFW group, and the rest is history.

    I'm glad we readers lift up and encourage our author friends, and they in turn can inspire us through their imaginations and stories, and friendships.

    Thank you!

  59. Okay, let's cue the Twilight Zone music. This new story idea I mentioned. It's about a man with PTSD and a woman who is a massage therapist and also dabbles in alternative therapies and works with PTSD sufferers. When I read the blurb for Love's Miracles, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.


  60. I've met so many wonderful cyber friends in the writing community while pursuing my dream of publication. I write and read, and constantly discuss books and writing with them. But I often forget to look beyond my fellow writers and focus on the readers who are the whole reason we write! So thanks for this post and your reminders about how special readers are.

  61. WOw i see me again in hawaii now meeting in Atlanta was a highlight for me along with meeting readers and authors in Spokane snd Williamsburg. SAd to say today is my last day but my wrist needs s break.
    AS a reader its a thrill to meet authors thanks for all you encouragement. TOday just chilling

  62. Sandra - I am sorry and embarrassed to admit I have not read one of your books but I am about to rectify that right away. The only thing I like more than reading is writing. sure would like some advice on finding those crit partners and beta readers. I'm usually too shy to ask or volunteer. Looking forward to the blog tour. Congratulations and Best wishes

  63. Sorry folks. Passed through a non - cell range so no Internet for a bit. Will try and catch up before we hit another canyon. We are driving in the mountains.

  64. Hi PAM, Its been a while since I've read it. I know she played a big part. Some of her things are in the Smithsonian.

    It was really exciting to meet him. He was so kind and supportive--just like my Seeker sisters. smile

  65. Hi Julie:

    You wrote:

    “I got a Google Alert yesterday that took me to a 1-star review on B&N that flat-out said I couldn't write and that my writing skills were greatly ‘lacking’."

    Now in a sea of bad reviews this negative review might make some sense but in a pristine lake of excellent reviews, such a review will be seen by readers for what it really is: reviewer pollution.

    BTW: what if I wrote a review of one of your books that was three times longer than your book? Poetic justice?


  66. Hi VINCE, Irving Stone's wife was not there when he signed. Lucky me. So my experience was good. I think you have a good point about it being the total package.

    We write from our own world view and experiences so two books about the same thing will be totally different. This contributes to why people have different tastes in their reading material.

    So funny that your reviews are longer than my stories. But you really see a lot into the stories that I'm not sure I consciously thought out. my my. Love hearing it from a philosophers pov.

    Hector Wants To Play is the book set in rhyme. It is my most popular book. I think it is because of the rhyme. The odd thing is, most publishers won't even look at rhyme. But all my years teaching Kindergarten, I know they love it.

  67. PAM that story about the college girls is too funny. We have been with my niece and nephew. They were so busy and into so many things that they had our heads spinning. Then hubby and I sat back and started laughing as we remembered we used to be able to multi-task like that too.

  68. HI MARILYN, You should be able to ask around and find a crit partner in one of those groups. Just start asking around. You will be surprised because maybe there is someone out there just like you who wants to find someone. That is how I found Ruthy.

  69. Hi DEB H. Sounds like you're doing all the right things. Keep hanging in there. smile

    We will be celebrating your debut one of these days.

  70. Hi DONNA, I hope you enjoy the tour. My hosts did a wonderful job with their interviews and reviews.

  71. Hi JANET, Your book is on top of my list. The blog tour slowed down my reading. But It keeps calling to me. I love your writing so know I will love the book.

  72. HI DEBBY, CONGRATS girlfriend. I know you are feeling great about getting that manuscript off. Whew. Now catch up time. LOL

    Have fun.

  73. JULIE, you are a MAGNIFICENT writer. Don't let a bad reviewer tell you otherwise. They just have different taste.

    I'm so jealous that you took a month off from Amazon. That is too funny. But I am enjoying my blog tour. That part is a blast.

    Glad you are taking the one star with a grain of salt. Maybe the Lord needed you to pray for that person. smile

  74. HI STEPHANIE QUEEN, What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Isn't it fun to share? ANd I think CARA said it when she said it is win-win for both sides.

  75. MARILYN, the hair on my neck is standing up too. Must be a need for this now. Not just for warriors but survivors of terrorist attacks as well. So sad.

  76. Thanks CAROL. so glad you are doing well with meeting writers. Readers are just as fun. You will see. We need both.

  77. JENNY, it was a kick to be able to text with you while you were here. I would have loved to meet you. Maybe I'll have to travel to Australia. smile

    Have fun chilling.

  78. Hi CINDY R, Do you belong to any writer's groups? If not, you might want to consider joining one. Find one that fits you best and then go to meetings and functions. You will meet others who are just as shy if not more so. And you will exchange phone numbers and pretty soon you have a crit group. smile

  79. VINCE, you are too funny. You can try and write a review longer than one of Julie's books. Whew. That would be equivalent to a PhD in philosophy. chuckle

  80. Whew! I hope we don't climb any more mountains. That is a lot of work to catch up. smile

    I need an Ice cream cone or chocolate milkshake. I'm looking for a place to stop but no one has parking for our RV. rascals--guess they know I shouldn't.

  81. So great to see a published author sharing those who helped along the way.

    Especially love the picture of Carol sitting behind her huge pile of TBR books.

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the life of a published author, Sandra.

  82. Hi JAN, You are one of the Seeker friends I've had the delightful privilege of meeting. And to find out you are Carol's step mom was even a bigger treat.

    Are you the one who taught her to make those yummy cookies?

    I love that picture. I emailed her to ask if I could use it. Where she is sitting looks close to heaven to me. smile

  83. Sandra, I know how hard it is to keep up with Seekers and Seeker friends books! Isn't that a terrific problem to have? :-)


  84. Yay, Debby! Congrats on finishing your book!!


  85. Jenny, not sure when you're flying home but praying you have a safe and timely trip!


  86. I know JANET. Such a tough life. chuckle. We are sooooo blessed.

  87. Twice I went to book signings at the library's Author, Author event where the author also spoke. The first time I saw Elizabeth Peters and the second, Carol Higgins Clark. They both write mysteries. I got books signed. I've also won books signed by the author.

    Regarding reviews, if I left one I would try to say something positive. Sometimes people review books before they're published so maybe they might read something that they normally wouldn't buy for themselves and might not like it.

    I have tons of T.B.R. books too and would be surrounded by them, like in the picture.

    Please throw my name in the cat dish for the drawing.

  88. Hi MICHELLE, How wonderful to have a large TBR pile. The worse thing is to not have anything to read. yikes.

    Yes, there are many reasons one might not like a book, but saying bad things about it is really not necessary. What good does it do? Reading is so subjective.

  89. What a fun blog, Sandra!

    And I'm so in awe of your Irving Stone story.

    If I think on it, he probably most influenced my desire to write historical fiction. I lived on his books during my HS years. I absolutely fell in love with John and Abigail Adams because of him. Likewise Rachel and Andrew Jackson, Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln, Jessie Benton Fremont. I could go on and on. :)

  90. FLy 11am hawaii time tomorrow 6 hours behind seekerville time.

  91. MARY C. Another Irving Stone fan. I love it. He influenced me also. I read all of his books in high school also. Small world.

    Thanks for sharing.

  92. Hi JENNY, Hope you enjoyed your time in Hawaii. Have a safe trip home. So glad you were able to visit us.

  93. >>Often they read things into your story that you didn't even realize you wrote about.<<

    Indeed! Isn't it amazing when someone says something about a character or situation and while you nod you're thinking, "I wrote that?" When readers engage that fully, and bring their own experiences into the story, what an accomplishment.

    Totally enjoyed your post and all the pix, Sandra. Have you ever overheard someone speaking about something you wrote but they don't know who you are?

    Nancy C

  94. Sorry I'm so late today, Sandra (been on the go ALL day!) but I loved your post. ~ Enjoyed the photos too, and seeing that Seekers donated books to the Wounded Warriors - - that's special. ~ Your nephew (and Godson) is precious! Thanks again for sharing with us, and also for the pizza (I'm glad to see there's a slice left with my name on it, LOL). Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  95. P.S. YAY DEBBY GIUSTI!! Sooo happy you finished that ms and got it sent in!! You've had so much going on lately, so I'm sure this is a big relief. ~ Hugs, Patti Jo

  96. Wow, Sandra! What a journey! From first critiques through booksignings. The ride is every bit as good as the prize.

    I love all the pictures. I have to confess, I had to return to your post several times today to catch all the fun and info. Too often I got caught up in the pics and relived the moment.

    What a joy!

    Thanks for the stroll through our years, Sandra. You're right, no one beats our readers!!!!!!!

    I bought your book the day it launched. I'm sooooo looking forward to reading it!!!

  97. Hi PATTI JO, Glad you made it. I sure do know about those hectic days. Today was one for me also as we were on the road again. Had some spells in deep canyons in the mountains with no Internet. Then setting up camp etc. whew.

    But the best part of the day is getting back to Seekerville and finding another comment. woo hoo.

    Thanks and enjoy that pizza.

  98. Thanks AUDRA, So glad you were able to enjoy the memories. Some times we've had. smile

    Have a great week. Hugs

  99. Good night Seekerville, Thanks for joining us today.

    Don't forget to check out the weekend edition to see if you won a book today.

    Have a wonderful week.

  100. Sandra, thanks for the great post. I've always been an avid reader - my father passed his love of reading on to my sister and me.I think it's my love of reading that started me on the writing journey.

  101. It makes me realize that I need to try to remember to write reviews. So important for writers.

  102. And I imagine I'm last --congrats, Sandra....looking forward to meeting you. Your story is encouraging!
    Gail Kittleson

  103. Great thoughts on readers, Sandra. I've made a effort in the past year to review as many books as I can. As a writer, I appreciate the hard work that goes into the books I love to read. Surprisingly, I only learned how to do a review on Amazon about a year ago--before that, my book reviews were all verbal and repetitive! I'm trying to make up for lost time. Would love to hear more about Irving Stone - I'll have to read that book in which your Grandmother cameo-ed.

  104. This was a wonderful posting. I really enjoyed it. I've never had the opportunity to meet an author. Hopefully, one day I will. I would love to meet an author. Thank you for entering me in your giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson

  105. This comment has been removed by the author.

  106. Hi EDWINA, Most writers are or at least were avid readers. We love books.

  107. Hi MARY P, Good reviews are so important. Thanks for writing them.

  108. Hi GAIL, I am looking forward to meeting you also. The way time flies, July and the RWA conference will be here before you know it.

  109. Hi DANA, I think you would enjoy all of Irving Stone's books if you love historicals.

    Thanks for writing reviews. They are helpful.

  110. Hi BARBARA, Find out if you have a local RWA group in your area. Or an ACFW group. You can find the chapters by going onto their main sites. Go to my website at sandraleesmith.com and you can click on links to those.

    Most RWA and ACFW chapters allow visitors to attend a meeting twice a year. You will meet authors at those meetings. If you are writing, you should join one of them. The info they share is invaluable.

  111. Sandra, I missed your day. But what fun to see the photos!! Thanks for sharing!