Let’s start by doing math…
3 authors + 3 stories + 1 Christmas Anthology = 7
The numbers add up to 7 years of success for Seekerville thanks to all the wonderful folks who visit each day and support us in so many ways. To celebrate, I’ve invited fellow authors, Susan Sleeman and Jodie Bailey, to join me in sharing Seven Secrets of Success.
In case you haven’t heard, our Love Inspired Suspense Anthology, Holiday Defenders, was released this month and features three novellas with a military theme. You’ll find my story, "Mission: Christmas Rescue," along with "Special Ops Christmas," by Susan Sleeman, and Jodie Bailey's "Homefront Holiday Hero." We hope you’ll enjoy not only the “secrets” we’ve shared but also leave a comment to be included in three drawings. You’ll find more about the giveaways at the end of the blog.
Debby Giusti’s Seven Secrets of Success
1. Put God First
Everything goes more smoothly, including the writing, when I start my day with prayer. I think of it as giving Him my “first fruits” before the hustle and bustle begins. Similarly, I “bookend” my day by spending time in prayer before I fall asleep. Often I may be struggling with a character or plot point, but when I make time for God, the problems resolve and the story gets written.
2. Know why you write
For financial gain, notoriety, fame? (Are you laughing?) Maybe your goal is to bring joy to your readers’ lives or spread God’s message of love or show how good can triumph over evil. Whatever the reason, it should be important to you, important enough to keep you writing when you’re tired or sick or frustrated with the story. Once you determine the why, you can accept projects that advance that vision and reject those that don’t.
3. Learn How to Say No
This dovetails with knowing why you write. Say no to the things that don’t fit into your plan or your reason for writing. For me that includes social functions that keep me from my computer, such as lunch dates or shopping sprees. I still have a life, but I don’t over schedule my week with events that keep me from working.
4. Study Story
Learning to see the big picture is important. Often we focus on the bits and pieces--the plot, the characters, the conflict—instead of the story as a whole. We need to know how the parts fit together into a seamless tale that transports readers to another world. Studying the greats who “get” story helps me. Some of my favorite gurus include Christopher Vogler, author of The Writer’s Journey, Michael Hauge, who wrote Writing Screenplays that Sell, or Donald Maass with his Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.
5. The Synopsis is Your Friend
I’ve never known anyone who enjoys writing synopses, but I have learned to use them as a tool. If I can’t get the synopsis to work, my story won’t work either. Finding the flaw—the weak plot point, the limp conflict, the lack of motivation, or even the right villain—in that early story overview saves times and keeps me from writing two hundred pages that head in the wrong direction. Embrace the synopsis as a friend and an important first step in your writing process.
6. Guard your Health
Sitting at a computer for long periods of time is detrimental to your health. Take frequent breaks. Exercise daily. Get adequate rest. Drink lots of water. Health is one of our most important assets. Take care of yourself so you can enjoy the long writing career God has planned for your future.
7. Ignore the Negative Voice
You know what I’m talking about—that small internal voice that says hateful things about you and your writing. My negative voice can be very vocal…and very mean. “You can’t write,” she often taunts. “This story stinks. Give up now!” Early on, I waged an almost endless battle to squelch the negative and focus, instead, on what I got right. These days, my internal voice is a bit more subdued, although when I’m tired or overworked, she frequently makes herself known. My advice? Turn down the volume and don’t let her sap your confidence. Remember you are a writer. Ignore the criticism and just write!
Susan Sleeman’s Seven Secrets of Success
1. See yourself as a Professional Writer
Attitude is critical for success. If you believe you are a writer, you will do the things necessary to become a published writer. Think of your writing as a small business. The only way a business gets off the ground is with a lot of work, determination, and dedication. The success to your new business is setting aside regular time where you commit to write no matter what. So set aside that time and write, write, write.
2. Accept Constructive Criticism and Grow from It
Don’t be unteachable. Evaluate the comments and opinions offered on your WIP with an unbiased outlook. Use the comments that will make your WIP better and let the other ones go. After all, not only will it help you grow as a writer, but it will prepare you for edits and negative reviews once you’re published.
3. Set a Goal and Stick to It
Set word goals for the time you committed to write. To keep up my publishing pace, I must write at least 3000 words 5 days a week. Do I always want to write 3000 words each day. “No,” I scream loudly, but by setting this goal, it forces me to stay on target for my deadlines.
4. Along the same lines, Set a Book Deadline
Any published author will tell you that an impending deadline makes you do super human things to complete a book on time. But you don’t have to have a contracted novel to do the same thing. Give yourself a deadline. Treat it as if an editor is waiting for your manuscript and stick to it. This will not only enable you to write more words, but it will be great practice for when you begin contracting novels.
5. Read in the Genre You’re Hoping to Publish
Look for best-sellers in you genre and read them. You certainly don’t want to copy the books you read, but reading will give you a flavor for what sells and what a publisher is looking for. Analyze the book. Look for pacing, structure, and an overall feel of the book.
Don’t quit. If you haven’t already wanted to quit, you will. Even when you’re published, there are days when you ask if this is all worth it. But if you REALLY want to be a writer, you have to work through these emotions and keep writing.
7. Know When to Move On
There are times when the WIP that you dearly love, just isn’t going to be picked up by a traditional publisher, yet you keep trying to perfect it in hopes it will sell. You edit it more, polish the proposal more and so on. This takes up your writing time and your focus, but more importantly, it keeps you from writing something new. Know when to put this book aside (or self-publish it), but stop trying to perfect the book. It’s okay to let go and move on.
Jodie Bailey’s Seven Secrets of Success
I kid you not. And I know it’s a cliché. But there’s something about a good cup of sugared and creamed coffee warming in my hands that sets my muse to spinning. It’s like my brain says, “Oh! Hi! It’s creativity time!”
2. Beta Readers
I have four people who read my book when I’ve done as much as I believe I can. Sometimes my brain is over it, and I’ve looked at it so long that my edits are doing more harm than good. That’s when these four amazing women swoop in and read with a fresh view. Never underestimate the power of someone else’s eyes on your work.
3. The “Off” Button on Your Wi-Fi
Sometimes, you really need to be able to shut down the internet so you can focus on something other than Facebook. (Or is that just me?) My desktop computer has no wireless card and is not wired to anything other than power. When I’m in my office, I have no choice but to write.
|Jodie (R) with special friends--Donna Moor, Christina |
Nelson and Kimberly Buckner--who love and support her!
4. Cheerleaders and Prayer Partners
I have friends who have committed to pray specifically for my writing journey. I have others who tell me different when I start to think I’m a no-talent hack. I even have one friend who could moonlight as a marketing genius, she’s so good at getting the word out there. You need those people in your life. Be good to them. Give them chocolate.
5. A Good View
Really, don’t you want to look at something besides the screen every once in a while? I’ve been blessed with wonderful windows in each of our houses since I started writing. There’s just something about looking up and seeing part of God’s amazing world right there.
I go to the gym three days a week. It’s not just because writing involves a lot of sitting. It’s also because, at the gym, all I can do is count reps and laps. My brain has to turn off in order to focus on those things. As a writer, your brain needs a break or all you do is think about the story until you hate it. And nothing feels better than muscles worked after a long session of sitting in a chair.
Thanks, Susan and Jodie! We’ve shared a total of 21 “secrets,” but I know many of you have tips as well. Leave a comment or your own “secret to success” to be entered in the three drawings for a copy of Holiday Defenders. Each winner will also receive a $7 Starbucks’ gift card so you can enjoy your favorite brew as you read our novellas.
To celebrate Seekerville’s birthday, I’ve brought seven cakes: German Chocolate, Red Velvet, Sponge, Carrot, Black Forest, Pound and Spice. An assortment of ice cream is also available.
The coffee and tea are hot. Colas are chilled. There’s iced tea, sweet or unsweetened. Help yourself.
I’ve asked Captain Nick Fontaine, the hero in my novella, Mission: Christmas Rescue, to serve the cake. Grab a slice, pile on the ice cream and let’s share some more secrets.
Happy writing! Happy reading!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Mission: Christmas Rescue, by Debby Giusti
On the run from a killer, Elizabeth Tate must accept U.S. Army Captain Nick Fontaine’s protection for the sake of her young niece and nephew. Now her life is in the hands of the very man who broke her heart years ago.
Special Ops Christmas, by Susan Sleeman
Researcher Claire Reed’s top secret project is stolen, putting her at risk of being kidnapped to unlock it. Her undercover bodyguard—her former love, Green Beret Travis Chapman—is on his most dangerous mission yet.
Homefront Holiday Hero, by Jodie Bailey
When someone tries to kill the daughter of a military official, U.S. Army major Tyler Rainey must keep Kelly Walters from harm…while guarding his own heart against very unexpected feelings.
DEBBY GIUSTI is a medical technologist who loves working with test tubes and petri dishes almost as much as she loves to write. Growing up as an Army Brat, Debby met and married her husband--then a Captain in the Army--at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Together they traveled the world, raised three Army Brats of their own and have now settled in Atlanta, Georgia where Debby spins tales of suspense that touch the heart and soul. Her stories have won numerous awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense, the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Golden Quill, the Beacon, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Write Touch. In addition to full-length fiction, Debby has written magazine articles for Southern Lady, Woman’s World, Our Sunday Visitor, Army and Family, and served for over twelve years on the editorial advisory board of ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory.
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion-2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Book Award, No Way Out and The Christmas Witness both Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalists.
In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website TheSuspenseZone.com. She currently lives in Oregon with her husband, but has lived in nine states. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
Connect with Susan at:
Her Website - http://www.susansleeman.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanBooks
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/susansleeman
Review Site - http://www.TheSuspenseZone.com
JODIE BAILEY writes novels about freedom and the heroes who fight for it. Her novels include Freefall and Crossfire, from Love Inspired Suspense, as well as Quilted by Christmas, from Abingdon Press. Her devotions have appeared in Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. She is convinced a camping trip to the beach with her family, a good cup of coffee, and a great book can cure all ills. Jodie lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and two dogs.