Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Transforming an Ordinary Concept into an Extraordinary One

with Belle Calhoune.

Good morning, everyone.  Belle here.  I’ve brought along some pumpkin donuts and a mug filled with eggnog.  It’s never too early in the morning to have a little eggnog, especially at this time of the year.  Cheers!

In the competitive world of publishing, every author or aspiring author needs to write a book that shines.  In my humble opinion, one of the most effective ways of creating a compelling read is to take an ordinary premise and make it something extraordinary.  

 Unusual.  Different.  

Back in 2012 when I stumbled upon a Speed dating pitch on the Harlequin forums, I discovered an opportunity to become a published author with Harlequin Love Inspired.  When I began writing my book, which was titled “The Return of the Preacher’s Daughter,” (A title I still love) I knew two things.  One—I wanted it to be a reunion romance.  Two—I wanted the heroine to have really endured something profound that separated her from her hometown and the people she loved, including the hero.

Think about it.  When you read a book about a hero or heroine who hasn’t been back home in a long time, as an author you must create a compelling reason for this long-term absence. 

Let’s rewind to my childhood when I lived across the street from a public library and devoured Harlequin romances like nobody’s business.  Although I loved these novels it always bugged me to see the heroine doing a lot of hand-wringing over a situation that seemed fairly minor.  Even at the age of twelve, I knew it wasn’t that serious.  It made the heroine appear weak and it lessened the overall impact of the character arc.

I had a lightbulb moment while brainstorming my plot for the book I hoped would earn me a contract with Love Inspired.  My reunion romance story needed a shot of adrenaline.  It needed to be elevated.  After a lot of brainstorming, I came up with this:  Eight years earlier the heroine Cassidy had fled her hometown after being the driver in an accident that left her best friend a paraplegic.  Before she left town, Cassidy ditched her fiancé, who was the older brother of her best friend.  There’s also a plot twist about the accident.  BAM! I had a reunion romance-heroine coming home story with tension, conflict, secrets and twists.  

When I received “the call” from my editor, Emily Rodmell, she told me my book had a lot of hooks and Harlequin Love Inspired wanted to buy it.  Lots and lots of hooks, if I remember it correctly.  It was clear to me how important my hooks were to the sale of the book which ended up being titled, Reunited with the Sheriff.   

When you add hooks to your work, try to create something compelling and unique.  Put your own twist on it! Sell that book!  I took the simple idea of a reunion romance and turned it on its head.  There were many layers to the story, including a character who was a paraplegic.  One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done as an author is to create a story featuring this paraplegic character, Holly.  Heart of a Soldier was a tough book to write because it delved into areas that weren’t always comfortable.  Romance between a rugged, able-bodied man and a paraplegic woman confined to a wheelchair is a tricky road to navigate. 

However, it was a completely fresh approach and full of hooks.  The heroine Holly had met the soldier hero Dylan due to a pen pal and email correspondence so he had never seen her in person.  Again.  Turning a story on its head.  Readers loved this particular book, which showed me the rewards of digging deep and taking a romantic story and turning it upside down.  I was by no means an expert on paraplegia, but I did my research and created an accurate portrayal of a paraplegic.

If you take your story concept and twist the screws a little bit, you’ll have a book that stands out from the rest.  Readers will love you for it.  Publishers and editors also.  If you’re trying to get a publisher to notice your work, I think it’s a great way to go about it.  

As a means to this end, brainstorming is a great tool for authors.  I highly recommend getting a huge storyboard and then start fooling around with a romance trope.  Think of ways to make it unique.  Out of the box.  Flip it upside down and twist it around.  Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.  It’s difficult and sometimes uncomfortable to challenge the status quo, but in the end, you’ll reap the rewards.  And so will your readers.

Author Jolene Navarro shares some of her insights on this very subject.  “With The Soldier’s Surprise Family I started with the popular secret baby plot and thought about ways to make it different.  What if he didn’t know about his son?  His wife wouldn’t let go of her past so he left the drama behind and cut all contact with her.  Five years later she is killed by her boyfriend in a murder-suicide situation.  CPS shows up at his door.  Not only is his son traumatized, but he refuses to speak and needs a home.  There’s a baby girl too.”

Jolene elevated her secret baby story to include a traumatized child and an additional baby—a sibling of the hero’s own son.  Complex, huh?  She flipped the secret baby-child story on its head and created something highly original and poignant.

My December release for Love Inspired is entitled Reunited at Christmas.  I have a confession to make about this particular story.  I wrote it in part because I don’t particularly like amnesia stories.  I wanted to challenge myself to do the very thing I didn’t necessarily want to do.  

My heroine Ruby Prescott wasn’t just any amnesia victim.  She was a search and rescue worker who had been presumed dead after an avalanche in Colorado.  Her family in Love, Alaska has been grieving her loss for two years.  Add in the fact that Ruby and Liam are an interracial couple with a five-year-old son she can’t remember.  Oh, and her return is a few weeks before Christmas, the most blessed time of the year.  Plus, her husband is hiding a secret about their marriage.  

In celebration of my new release, I’m giving away ten copies of Reunited at Christmas Winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition.


Happy Holidays everyone! And remember—don’t be afraid to take your novel and make it a gem. It’s like polishing a diamond.  Make it shine!

So, my friends.  How are you challenging yourself in your writing? 



A Season to Remember 

Two years after the avalanche everyone thought had claimed her life, Ruby Prescott returns to the remote Alaskan town of Love. And no one is more ecstatic than her husband, Liam, and their young son. Even if amnesia has robbed Ruby of her memories, she's soon woven back into the fabric of their lives. As they celebrate the holiday season, Ruby is falling head over heels for the man she's told was the love of her life. But she can't escape the feeling that there's something Liam is keeping a secret. Will the return of her memories tear them apart for good—or will this be a Christmas she'll never forget?



Belle Calhoune grew up in a small town in Massachusetts as one of five children. Growing up across the street from a public library was a huge influence on her life and fueled her love of romance novels.  Belle is the author of seven Harlequin Love Inspired novels with two more contracted.  She has Indie published the popular and best-selling inspirational romance series, Seven Brides, Seven Brothers.  Her new indie series, the Secrets of Savannah is a spin-off of her debut series.  Belle loves writing romance and crafting happily ever afters.  When she’s not wrangling her two high maintenance dogs or spending time with her husband and two daughters, Belle enjoys travel and exploring new places.

145 comments :

  1. How can you NOT LOVE a guest who brings pumpkin donuts and egg nog??? I mean seriously. You had me at hello!

    Congratulations on your latest release. A gorgeous multi cultural cover. Just beautiful.

    And this post is such a huge reminder to all of us! Thank you!

    I am sneaking a pumpkin donut under my pillow in case they are gone in the morning.

    However, I will send out for reinforcements if needed. No worries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good Morning. Sorry to be late with the donuts and egg nog. Mornings here revolve around my 14 year old daughter, Sierra. Breakfast check. Stopping for hot chocolate at Dunkin Donuts check. Drop off at high school check. Thanks for having me here on Seekerville. It's a fabulous place to be.

      Delete
  2. I was about to start of with "You had me at egg nog" but thankfully I read Tina's comment first and dodged that embarrassing bullet!

    This was a great post, Belle! You got my creative juices flowing. I want to set aside time this week to pull out the big notebook of story ideas and see how I can turn them on their heads and come up with something new! Limited time, though. I don't want to get lost down that rabbit hole and not finish my current projects! Lol ;)

    And that cover is beautiful. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of amnesia stories either, but you've got hooks! I can't wait to pick up a copy of Reunited at Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, this author is giving away TEN copies, Megan. Your name is in the mug! An empty one, of course.

      Delete
    2. Yay!! Thanks! I'll toast my egg nog to that! :)

      Delete
    3. Hi Megan. Yes yes yes. Finish that current project. And I'll be honest. I wrote the amnesia storyline because I wanted to challenge myself to do something I didn't particularly like. THAT was my version of turning my project on its head. And I have to admit--I love the way it turned out. Good luck on your projects!! Blessings.

      Delete
  3. Oh I LOVE plot twists...the unexpected, unusual, unique and not-so ordinary!!! I've read two stories that deal with amnesia, it was a refreshing change & the authors did a phenomenal job. They ended up being two of the best stories I've read (and I read a LOT) :-)

    All those twists add layer after layer and depth to the story, at least in my opinion anyway. I love a multi-faceted novels, those that leave me guessing what's going to happen next or gasping at all the surprises. You'll definitely have this reader hooked! :-)

    I have the two books you've mentioned here Belle (Heart of a Soldier & Reunited with the Sheriff)...I've yet been able to read them, but I know I'm in for a treat. Thanks for sharing your very insightful post :-) I love getting into the mind of an author!

    Please add my name to the hat for a copy of "Reunited at Christmas". It would be a great addition to the 2 or 3 other books I have in the Alaskan Grooms series!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sneaking a couple of those pumpkin donuts myself before they disappear....good idea Tina!

      Delete
    2. Hi Trixi. I love plot twists also. As a writer it is quite challenging to pull them off. I have to admit that as I wrote this story I ended up staring at my computer and thinking I had bitten off more than I could chew. I momentarily became a bit freaked out at the idea of writing a heroine who couldn't remember herself or her past. How was I going to make her real? Who was she? Thankfully I got over it and just forged ahead. Sometimes that's the answer to our fears and reservations. Enjoy the pumpkin donuts, Trixi.

      Delete
  4. Belle, DONUTS!!!! *munch* Thank you! ('Cause I couldn't wait until the morning.) :-)

    Thanks for sharing about hooks and taking our plot twists to new levels. You've given us food for thought, and what beautiful book covers! I love your story premises.

    I remember you saying you grew up across from a library. That must have been great! I use to walk several blocks to my little hometown library (because kids walked everywhere then), and I'd check out books by the dozens. Ahh...the good ol' days!!! And I still love the library.

    ...Now to see if I can't turn my WIP "on its head." Thanks again for your insight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I rode my bike to the library and would come home with my basket filled with books! Loved browsing through the shelves and finding all those treasures to read!

      Delete
    2. Hi Cynthia. Pumpkin donuts are addictive!! And yes, I did grow up across the street from a public library. It really shaped my life in many ways and I'm certain it is the reason I'm an author. Being surrounded by books from such an early age was a huge influence on me. I still love libraries and my youngest daughter has to pry me away whenever we visit. Wishing you much luck on your WIP.

      Delete
    3. Hi Debby. Waving at you from Connecticut. I love the image of you riding your bicycle to the library and filling the basket with books. I am such a library person. It really feels like home to me and I'm very fortunate to have four libraries in my town. Blessings.

      Delete
    4. DEBBY, I adored our little town library! It was an old converted, two-story house with quaint, cozy niches and so much character. As a starry-eyed teen, I devoured most of the romance section. But shhhh... don't tell my mama. Most were harmless, but there were a few... And once, the little bespectacled librarian refused to let me check out a romance book because she didn't think it fit for a 14-year-old. They did things like that then, and probably a good thing! (On a milder scale, I thought Barbara Cartland was the bombdiggity!) :-)

      Delete
  5. Belle, those are some very compelling hooks! I love the sounds of these stories and will definitely be looking them up! As a writer, I imagine that some of the challenge for you is to balance have some fascinating hooks and keeping the story real--not to overwhelm it with too much "and ALSO..." twists :) Looking forward to reading yours!! They sound just right!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fedora. You really hit the nail on the head. It really is a delicate dance. In Reunited my heroine has amnesia which is fairly tricky to write. I loved the challenge of it, but it also had the potential to be really cheesy lol. I tried to show how confusing it was for my heroine to be dropped into a world she couldn't remember. I hope readers felt Ruby's pain. Wishing you a happy holiday season.

      Delete
  6. You set yourself quite a challenge.

    As a reader I do like it when a favorite author writes in a different than their usual genre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mary. I think as authors we have to challenge ourselves from time to time and do those things that don't necessarily feel comfortable. At one point while writing this I honestly wasn't sure if I had made the right choice in having an amnesiac heroine. I found myself stumped about who she was in the present versus who she was in the past. And how could the hero still love his amnesiac wife when she was clearly not the same woman? Thankfully I found a way. And I honestly believe these challenges make us stronger.

      Delete
  7. Wow, what a wonderful introspective post, Belle! Thank you so much for being here today, and I'm lovin' on the pumpkin donuts and eggnog. This is my time of year, absolutely.... great food, every single day, LOL!

    Your story ideas are wonderful. I think this strong basis and your beautiful writing have been key to your ongoing (and growing!) success. And showing us those key ideas here, and the layering process, is a perfect way for aspiring authors (and pubbed authors, too!) to see the parts of the story laid out.

    Congrats on your success, and I love the biracial aspects of your December release. My second LI was a biracial romance, a heroine with African American and Native American and Caucasian heritage from a dysfunctional, mean family... and she was the break-the-mold Slocum, the one who raised the bar. I've always loved that story!

    Great job of showing us hooks... and layering.

    And now I'm grabbing more eggnog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruth. Waving at you from Connecticut. I'm so glad you're loving the pumpkin donuts and eggnog. I love this season too. My family jokes about how much I love pumpkin food items and they always get a giggle when I come across a pumpkin item I don't like. They love to say, "But I thought you loved everything pumpkin." I would love to know the title of your second LI book so I can order it. It sounds wonderful. And thank you for your sweet compliments. I really feel fortunate to be able to do the one thing I'm passionate about doing. And let's face it. Being able to work in my pajamas is a pretty big perk. Blessings!

      Delete
    2. I agree totally.... I waited all my life to do this, and I've never had more fun at anything than I'm having right now....

      The book is "Waiting Out the Storm", part of my first series set in the Adirondack North Country....

      And I was blessed to have another biracial book put out this September. The First Gift, from Franciscan is a beautiful story of how it takes a village... regardless of color or creed... to save/raise a child.

      I was so honored when they picked up that story.

      Delete
  8. Hi Belle! Congratulations on your new release! I'm with Tina, the cover is beautiful!

    I love books that have plot twists and keeps me guessing. I also like it when an author takes a subject and revamps it into something extra special.

    Pumpkin donuts and eggnog? Please pass some my way!
    Thank you.

    Oh, and please toss my name in to win a copy of Belle's book.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cindy! I'm so glad you love the cover. The Harlequin Love Inspired art department does such a fabulous job at creating wonderful covers. They never fail to amaze me. I've been going for a wedding theme for the series due to the Alaskan Grooms series title. I have three more in the series and I'm crossing my fingers that the covers depict brides and grooms. Happy Holidays.

      Delete
  9. Hi Belle,

    Congratulations on your new book. The cover is beautiful!Thanks for sharing your secrets with us today. Hooks and twists. Now to make that work.
    The first romances I read were also Harlequins, and I'd love to write for LI someday.
    Thanks again for sharing, and I'd love to be in the drawing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jackie! I'm glad you're loving the cover. I love it too. It really appeals to my romantic side. Love Inspired is always looking for new writers, so definitely polish that manuscript and submit it. I know my editor Emily Rodmell loves hooks, so don't forget to throw a few in. Wishing you the best of luck. Blessings.

      Delete
    2. NO DOUBT IN MY MIND, YOU WILL, JACKIE!

      Delete
    3. Jackie, there's room at my table for you, darling! Come on over!

      Delete
  10. Good morning, BELLE! it's always fun to read a story with a "tried and true" plot--but with a TWIST!! I can't wait to read your Christmas book--gorgeous cover!

    (As a writer, I'm interested to find out if your editor let you keep the hero's secret from the READER for any length of time or only from the heroine. Don't tell me, though--I'm swinging by Walmart after work today to get a copy!) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question, Glynna. I'd like to know too. Secret baby stories are always tricky with LI. I've stayed clear of them for that reason. Would love to hear your thoughts, Belle!

      Delete
    2. Hi Glynna. I'm biting my tongue so I don't give you the answer. LOL. I'm so glad you like the cover. It's one of my favorites for my books. There is something so romantic about a wedding couple. Throw in the cute little kid and the winter surroundings and I'm in heaven. The LI art department has some serious skills! Enjoy the read, Glynna.

      Delete
    3. Hi Debby. With regards to the secret baby story I honestly never enjoyed them for one huge reason. It always bugged me to think that the hero missed out on such a huge amount of the child's life. So for me when I wrote Alaskan Reunion I made sure the child was still a baby. I think she was 9 months or so. Also, I had a pretty big reason for the heroine to omit the truth. She had basically been run out of the Alaskan town after her father embezzled from the town coffers. So she didn't know she was pregnant until after she left....literally run out of town on a rail. Part of her journey was returning to this town where she was a pariah in order to tell the hero the truth and introduce him to his child.

      Delete
    4. Thanks for sharing how you handled the secret baby. I like that the child was still so young. Good move on your part. The story sounds wonderful...I'm hoping to read it soon!

      Delete
  11. Love this post. There's no end to the twists, turns, and hooks we can come up with. Reunited with the Sheriff sounds like a great book. I'm going to hsve to check it out. Love the cover for Reunited for Christmas. There's just something special about Christmas stories. Anything can happen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sally. You're so right. The world really is our oyster when it comes to creating twists and turns in our books. That's what makes it so fun. And we can always challenge ourselves to come up with something fresh. And you are so right about Christmas stories. Anything can happen during the most blessed time of the year. Happy holidays!

      Delete
  12. Tina asked, "How can you NOT LOVE a guest who brings pumpkin donuts and egg nog???"

    Ahem, when you're still full because she turned you on to Haagen Daz Peppermint Bark icecream!!!!

    Yes, Belle, after a year, I finally found some yesterday. YUM. #stillfull

    But I love the way you explained this. Editors are always asking for fresh takes on the standard hooks, and I think you did a fabulous job of explaining just how to do that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you sharing the Haagen Daz, Cate? If so, I'd love a scoop! :)

      Delete
    2. I'm in for ice cream??? I love Perry's White Christmas, too!!!

      Delete
    3. Hi Cate! Well you introduced me to the Talenti Peppermint Bark ice cream which is AMAZING. And I had some last night for dessert. Added bonus is I'm the only one in my house who likes it. These people I live with don't know what they're missing. And yes, I think editors are always looking for new twists. I think it is especially important for writings who are trying to get their feet in the door. It's a way of getting noticed. Blessings!

      Delete
  13. Welcome, Belle! It's great to see you here. Congratulations on your latest release. Your covers are always so gorgeous. After I've written the first draft, I love to use a storyboard to shake things up a bit. Thanks for this terrific post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jill. Great to see you here too. And thanks so much! I am such a cover enthusiast, so it thrills me when I see an awesome cover. This one really made me smile when I first saw it. We're so fortunate to have the LI art department in our corner. I love storyboards so much. I am very visual so it really helps me, especially when I get stumped. Happy holidays, Jill.

      Delete
  14. Pass the pumpkin donuts please. I just had a glass of eggnog.

    This is a very helpful post about hooks and how important they are. Now to go find the hook that will be a best seller.

    Hoping to find out what is causing all this pain later today.

    Have a great day everyone. By the way we are getting some much needed rain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Wilani. First of all, I'll be praying for your pain to go away. I'm glad you had a pumpkin donut and eggnog though. Those always give me an extra spring in my step. Hooks are really great at attracting a publisher's attention and keeping the reader invested in the story. Wishing you much success in finding your "hooks" and creating that best seller. Blessings.

      Delete
  15. Belle, you've inspired me to look a bit deeper into my current WIP! I need a WOW! factor. Thanks for the prodding.

    Love the blurb for Reunited at Christmas AND the gorgeous cover! The story sounds intriguing. A must read!!!

    I'm sure the story about the paraplegic stretched you. I'm heading into ATL to visit my quadrephlegic friend who has been in ICU for 20 days. Prayers appreciated for Jeanna.

    Belle, I'd love to hear about your indie stories and how you schedule your writing time between traditional and self-pubbed work. Do you favor one over the other?

    I'll be back later in the day. Snagging a donut and pouring a bit of eggnog. Lowfat?

    So thrilled that you could join us in Seekerville today!

    Hugs and Advent blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, excellent question because Belle juggles and produces an amazing amount of really good work.

      Delete
    2. Debby, I'm glad you're well enough to be able to visit Jeanna today! I hope you'll update us.

      Delete
    3. Hi Debbie. Praying for your friend Jeanna. I'm sure her spirits will be raised by your visit. Being in ICU for 20 days is really difficult.

      With regards to being a hybrid author I really just have to juggle my time. Because Love Inspired involves a contract and deadlines I know that I can't fool around with not completing a manuscript on time. So to me those deadlines are sacred. That being said, sometimes getting responses is lengthy and even being placed on the schedule can be tricky since the LI line tends to be backed up with more authors than slots. I had three books with LI in 2016 and will have two in 2017. One of those two almost didn't make it into 2017 which shows the slots are really tight. I write faster with my Indie books because I make my own guidelines lol. With LI I have to write to the line's requirements which is more difficult. The only problem I have run into is readers asking me when an Indie book is coming out. They really like a quick turnover which isn't always possible. I will confess that the past year has been quite challenging. I have the three LI books out this year as well as over the course of a year I put out all six books in my Secrets of Savannah series as well as three novellas. PHEW. I need a vacation lol. Wishing you many blessings.

      Delete
    4. I'm not sure I can count as high as the number of books you've published this year, Belle. Amazing. I'm reaching for more eggnog to calm my racing heart. You're the hare. I'm the very slow, methodical tortoise.

      Congrats on all your accomplishments!

      Delete
  16. Hi Belle!

    Really terrific idea for a blog post. AND your covers are always lovely. Glad to see you here today. Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rose. I'm glad you've enjoyed my covers. I really love the fact that as an LI author I get to part of the cover process. Doing the AFS sheets can be hard but I've found that the artists are really faithful to our input. It's rather amazing. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

      Delete
    2. I appreciate that we have a chance to see the cover before production. They can't make big changes but did change the color of Henry's hat from yellow straw to cowboy brown. That was a small detail but important to the story.

      Janet

      Delete
  17. BELLE, welcome! Thanks for the eggnog and donuts and the reminder to dig deep and turn a hook on it's head. I love to read a story that is complex with serious issues that make it logical that the hero and heroine can't easily fall in love.

    Congratulations on your success and Christmas release!
    The story sounds terrific!

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Janet. Thanks for having me here on Seekerville. It's an honor to be here! I was happy to bring the donuts and eggnog. It's a great way to start the morning. I love reading complex stories as well. At the moment I'm reminding myself that the hero and heroine can't just fall in love. There needs to be obstacles. So I'm taking out my storyboard and trying to make my proposal work. Wishing you many blessings during this holiday season.

      Delete
    2. I wish you Christmas blessings, Belle, and for your brainstorming to produce a story LI will love!

      Janet

      Delete
  18. Belle I just loved this post! I definitely enjoy a story that has plenty of hooks and that takes its time resolving issues. I too was devouring Harlequins at a very young age thanks to my best friends mom. :) Thanks for the encouragement to get uncomfortable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly. I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the post. I am very thankful that my parents didn't scoff at my reading Harlequins at a very young age. I think they saw a romantic in me. And there's something beautiful about allowing your children freedom to be who they are. And getting uncomfortable is a great thing. It won't always be easy (I had some major doubts while writing Reunited at Christmas) but it pays off in the end. It's like delivering a baby. So worth the hours of labor! Blessings. And good luck with getting uncomfortable.

      Delete
  19. Belle, welcome! This was a great post! You made me really want to play with the hooks on a couple of my rejected proposals to see if I can put enough of a twist to make them publishable. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Missy! Thanks for the compliment. You're a fantastic writer so I'm sure you can take those proposals and rework them. That's the beauty in having a writer's mind. We can use our imaginations to turn stories and proposals on their heads. I actually had a book I wrote many years ago that I'm now editing to release Indie. There were some issues with plot that I've now fixed after playing around with it. Best of luck with those proposals. I know you can do it!!! Wishing you many blessings!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Belle! And best of luck on the indie you're editing!

      Delete
  20. Good morning, Belle. (Sorry, I can't help but hear Gaston's voice.)

    I love your stories ideas. Those are the kind of things that stick w/readers long after they're through reading the story.

    In my current suspense wip, my hero had accidently left his 6-month old nephew in the car to die. (Of course, my heroine has an infant...)I don't know anyone who has ever done this, but my heart always breaks when I hear about these cases. This is one I need to be careful so I don't offend the readers, or a certain editor who like to post pics of her nephews. :)

    I'm hoping I can do my character justice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Connie Queen. And I love that you hear Gaston's voice. Belle is my favorite Disney princess. It's all about the books!!! WOW. That's a powerful storyline and very topical. I think it's great to have the hero having experienced something tragic and life altering. And making the heroine a mother is wonderful. It really heightens the conflict. I recall reading a Love Inspired a few years ago where the heroine was responsible for her nephew or neice's death. It was a baby. I think Linda Goodnight was the author or Jillian Hart. So there is precedent for doing it. It sounds riveting. Wishing you much sucess.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Belle.
      And I reread my post. Ha. Ha. Sound like I was saying never has ever written about a child dying. I meant no one I've ever known has left their child in
      the car...

      Delete
    3. Well Connie Queen I think the storyline is original. I've never seen it done before so the hero having left a child in a car is unique as far as I'm concerned. Go for it!!

      Delete
  21. Belle Calhoune is about as dreamy a name as it gets. It's the kind of name you'd see in a romance novel! Lucky lady.

    Thank you for this post. I'm new to writing and I'll never forget the night I sat up in bed with my light bulb plot twist! So exciting! I'm on my second book and I've taken a pause from writing to re-think my plot. It needs a kick in the pants. The stakes need to be high and what's a romance without drama?!

    I love the interracial coupling in Reunited at Christmas. You don't see enough of that, frankly. I also downloaded Mistletoe Memories and can't wait to sit by the fire with my tea and read! Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JOSEE, a kick in the pants should make your characters sit up and notice they've got more work to do. I always blame my characters for taking the easy road. :-)

      Janet

      Delete
  22. Good morning, Belle. Excellent post today and one that I needed. I've been trying to stretch myself writing about a wheelchair-bound character---which serves as a personal reminder for me that were it not for my spinal surgeries a few years ago I could've been in a wheelchair myself. :( But I knew this particular character is crucial to the story, so I'm working on her.
    This post is going into my Keeper File---thank you again. Also, your books I have so far are on my keeper shelf (along with books by my Seeker friends!).
    CONGRATS on your writing success. I just read your reply to Debby Giusti about being a hybrid author and what all you've done this year alone---Whew!! (Needed to grab another donut, LOL) ;)
    Please enter me in your drawing, and Merry Christmas from Georgia! :)
    Blessings, Patti Jo (CatMom)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CatMom. I love hearing about your wheelchair bound character. It really is a stretch for us who are not confined to a wheelchair. And for you it has an extra meaning due to your spinal surgeries. You bring a perspective most cannot. If I live to be a hundred I will never forget a very special email I received about Heart of a Soldier. I actually have tears in my eyes right now remembering it. It was written by a paraplegic woman who told me how much she loved the story and how she hadn't been blessed with romance in her life but she was able to live vicariously through Holly the heroine. That letter just floored me. It made me realize how our work matters. It matters so very much. Go for it! Stretch yourself and write that best selling book. Happy Holidays.

      Delete
  23. Hi Josee! Thanks so much. I have to admit I love my name also. Someone told me it sounds like a historical author's name, but I'm firmly writing in the present lol. I adore lightbulb moments. They really feel like a shot of adrenaline racing through our veins. I totally agree with you. There are not enough diverse couples being shown in fiction. I come from a very diverse background...I'm African American mixed with Irish mixed with many other European aspects. I want people to see diverse humans on the cover, but once they read the story come away with the idea that we are all part of the human race and we all are seeking love and comfort and a soft place to fall. Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As my dad always told me, "You're French. That's it, that's all. Both sides, as far back as it can be traced." After he died, my mom re-married a Portuguese African-American. I love telling people he's my dad. They always do a double-take. You're right, though. Maybe the cover shows people of different colors and cultures but a good story is universal. Blessings!

      Delete
  24. AHHHH! Teenagers in the morning. I used to have to separate my youngest two. Give them access to the kitchen table at separate times. One (female) was NOT a morning person. Attention Megan Brummer. Teenagers are just like two year olds. Wonderful and faith-trying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. I have a college girl so I've been to this rodeo before. But strangely enough, the girls are so different. I end up scratching my head a lot.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the heads up Tina! We joke that our daughter is a "threenager" right now because she's in the peak of that "wonderful and [very] faith-trying stage of tantrums and learning she has an independent will!

      As for the not being a morning person... let's just say my son wakes up like his mama does.... *ahem*

      Delete
  25. I love all these examples, Belle! Thanks so much for being our guest today with these wonderful tips!

    One point really struck a chord with me: "Although I loved these novels it always bugged me to see the heroine doing a lot of hand-wringing over a situation that seemed fairly minor. "

    My earliest exposure to Christian romance left me with similar feelings. I'm so glad we're now able to go deeper with conflict and explore more sensitive issues in our fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Myra. Thank you so much for having me on Seekerville today. It really is the place to be!! It's funny how writing has evolved. Now we have more complex stories with layers and twists. We have to find ways to make stories fresh. And that is challenging. Years ago I tried to read a book I loved as a teen. It was a Harlequin. WOW. I just couldn't get around the plot. I don't think it would fly now in this time period. And speaking for myself, I know my editor always challenges me to deal with weak points in my plot. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

      Delete
  26. You've had me thinking about turning my story upside down for days, since I put this post up. This is just such an excellent post. We have to shake things up if we want to stay relevant as writers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tina for having me on Seekerville. It was a fun post to write and I really believe turning things upside down helps freshen up plots.

      Delete
  27. Belle the hooks, you are so right! These are great.
    For some reason it really HOOKED me to think the amnesia woman had a child she couldn't remember. Wow, that's so interesting. I can't wait to read this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mary! Thanks for having me here on Seekerville. The fact that Ruby had a child was one of the most poignant parts. It gave her a reason to stay in the Alaskan town when she actually wanted to leave. It rooted her there. And it was poignant to write the developing story between mother and child. I really love writing Christmas stories and this one had a lot of different elements. Blessings!!

      Delete
  28. And it is so so so hard to come up with a truly fresh hook.
    Thank you. It goads me to trying harder, thinking wider. Excellent post!

    ReplyDelete
  29. WHOA, BELLE ... talk about turning plots on their heads, my friend - WOW, WOW, WOW!! You nailed it to the wall on just the few you mentioned.

    You said: "Although I loved these novels it always bugged me to see the heroine doing a lot of hand-wringing over a situation that seemed fairly minor. Even at the age of twelve, I knew it wasn’t that serious. It made the heroine appear weak and it lessened the overall impact of the character arc."

    OH. MY. GOODNESS -- YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!! My hubby and I have been watching tons of Hallmark Christmas movies, but with 95% of them, the plot is all about simple miscommunication or hand-wringing over something soooooo stupid that we are constantly saying out loud, "wow, I didn't see THAT coming ..." Don't get me wrong, I love Hallmark movies because they're mindless relaxation after a hard day, but I will NOT read novels like that if I can help it. Give me complex. Give me drama. Give me realistic situations that twist the heart and soul!!

    You also said: "Think about it. When you read a book about a hero or heroine who hasn’t been back home in a long time, as an author you must create a compelling reason for this long-term absence."

    And, boy did you, my friend -- your reunion plot is AWESOME!! And, admittedly, a little embarrassing for me since my recent release, Isle of Hope is VERY similar!

    You said that "Eight years earlier the heroine Cassidy had fled her hometown after being the driver in an accident that left her best friend a paraplegic. Before she left town, Cassidy ditched her fiancé, who was the older brother of her best friend. There’s also a plot twist about the accident. BAM!"

    My story is a heroine returning eight years later to the small island town of Isle of Hope, GA. Before she left, however, she ALSO "ditched her fiance who was ALSO the older brother of her best friend!! BUT ... there is a plot twist at the end that I promise you has NOTHING to do with an accident or a paraplegic, thank God! And, I also promise you that I started writing IOH eight years ago right before I sold The Daughters of Boston series to Revell, so no plagerism, I swear! ;)

    EXCELLENT POST, Belle, and you sound like the kind of author I definitely need to read because I LOVE complicated, unpredictable love stories. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Julie! Thanks for having me here! Oh boy do I agree about Hallmark movies. Honestly, I have a love hate relationship with them. Some are done really well while others make me roll my eyes. The actual conflict is not really believable conflict at all. And from what I know, actual conflict pushes the story forward. I think perhaps we are too much "writers" for those Hallmark movies. I think they serve a feel good audience. And no worries about my thinking you copied anything from me lol. There are so many similarities in stories. And I suppose it's because there are only seven plots in fictior or so they say. That's one of my points in this post. We're all recycling plots and ideas so putting a spin on it really freshens it up. I realized a few months ago that a few Love Inspired authors had a series set in Alaska similar to my Alaskan Grooms. I had no idea and I was really worried they would think I copied them. I just had to let it go and realize there are only so many plots out there. It's what we do to turn them on their heads that really matters. And I'm going to pick up your Isle of Hope book. Congrats on your BB ad. Those are such fun. Blessings!

      Delete
    2. Julie, I can't imagine not loving Belle's work.

      Delete
    3. Aww, Ruthy you are too kind. Right back 'atcha.

      Delete
  30. HI Belle, I love your story ideas!! As a reader, it's fabulous to get a WHOA-never-saw-that-coming, moment. As a writer, it's so wonderful to get the AHA to write it. I play WHAT IF with my stories and characters...Find ways to make their lives worse before they get better. It's a twisted way but it works...sometimes ;)

    And like many here, pumpkin donuts has bonded me to you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sharee! Pumpkin donut lovers unite! I wish I could find them all year round, but alas they seem to be plentiful only this time of year. I love the AHA moment where we figure out how to twist the plot and torture our characters. And yes!!! We built up to that black moment and then the sun comes out and the happil every after commences. Wishing you a blessed holiday season.

      Delete
  31. Hi Belle
    This is a wonderful post. My muse is already turning over some latent storylines (deep in the abyss that is my brain) I can feel it. All of your examples make me want to go find your books and read, read, read.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise with Seekerville. I apologize that I'm not a pumpkin or eggnog fan (only part of pumpkin I enjoy is the roasted seeds) - I'm sure the donuts are delish though. More for everyone else. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi DebH. Thanks so much! I'm glad my post is allowing your creative juices to flow. I love when that happens. It's so exciting to brainstorm and plot and turn things inside out. And no worries about the pumpkin and eggnog. All the more for me. LOL. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

      Delete
  32. p.s. Belle is also my favorite Disney princess because of the books (what a library Beast has!!!) Close second is Merida in Brave, I love archery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh. I've always dreamed of a library like that. One day maybe.

      Delete
  33. Oooo that sounds like a must have book, Belle. My tbr pile is actually down to zilch. I'm going to have to order some books....or go to the library! Please put my name I the mug. Guess by this time it's not longer empty? Thanks for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marianne. How I envy you. A TBR pile that is empty. WOW. Good luck with winning Reunited at Christmas. You definitely need a book on your TBR list. I have so many books TBR in my house it is really a crying shame. When I go to writing conferences I come back with dozens and dozens. Blessings!

      Delete
  34. Hi Belle:

    I love your idea of making unique twists and complications in familiar romance themes. It's what the editors say they want: "The same, only different".

    I've come up with a few twists I love but I found out that it takes a great deal of skill and talent to pull these 'twisties' off successfully -- especially the more twisted they are!.

    I had a 'hidden' child theme in which only the child knew his foster parents were actually his biological parents. The parents were in the witness protection program and the child overheard a report that the his parents must never know of their true relationship because they would seek immediate revenge which would expose who they were and get them killed! This was harder than I could write! : (

    I also had a double amnesia theme where the hero and heroine wake up in a snow bound mountain cabin both with amnesia. They are spies on a mission and neither believes the other really has amnesia and it is just a plot to get them to reveal some secret. They search and find that they each have several passports under different names. They each also discover hidden small pistols which they don't let the other know they found. The big worry is who will recover their memory first, know the score, and maybe kill the other. Should they just kill the other person now and avoid the risk of being killed first? Another problem: they seem to be lovers from the available evidence and from their deep personal feelings. Key: they both mistakenly took a memory loss drug that was only meant for one of them. What will happen? Can they even survive in a cabin they can't get out off? Are they really lovers or were they sent to kill the other?

    Again I find it easy to come up with these twists but they can require skills that I just don't yet have. Simpler is safer. : )

    Have you come up with great but 'twisted' ideas that you have not been able to make work? I sure have. : )

    Please enter me in the drawing. Christmas romances are my all time favorites. Ten prizes! That's bella, bella, bella! (Beatiful, beautiful, beautiful!) Thanks a million!

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vince. WOW! I'm impressed. It sounds like you're quite masterful at plot twists and turns. I love it. Your hidden child plot is fantastic. I've never heard of that plot twist before. So right there you've done something unique. And double amnesia! I'm seriously impressed. Single amnesia is hard to pull off lol. And you're right. It's tricky to do these layered plots but I also find it very fulfilling. It doesn't mean I don't sweat it out while writing it. I do. But in the end I feel very accomplished by doing something I wasn't sure I could pull off. Good luck in the drawing, Vince. Happy Holidays!

      Delete
    2. Wow, Vince that spy story looks really interesting. Did you ever end up writing it?

      Delete
    3. Hi Nicky:

      I did write a comprehensive plot outline on spreadsheets for a class on plotting but I never went into writing the text. I really enjoy creating a very good story with lots of details and GMCs for each character on both the internal mode and external mode. After I do all that and feel good about the story, I move on to the next creative challenge. I love doing this and I have over three million words in print of advertising copy so I don't feel a big need to get my fiction in print but I do have about seven completed WIPs that need editing and a lot of layering with polish. I guess I'm waiting for the spirit to move me. : )

      Delete
  35. I love it when an author can make a normal trope and turn it on its head! I love those stories when they are so unique. Keep it up! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan. It's actually something I love myself when I read a book. Last year I read the book "Girl on the Train" and it was a page turner. It was such a unique twist on an idea. There's an Alfred Hitchcock movie...Rear WIndow in which Jimmy Stewart witnesses a murder from his bedroom window. This was a moder day twist on that story but with a totally different feel. So unique. Blessings to you, Susan.

      Delete
  36. Belle, I remember those early Harlequins. There is simply no comparison.
    I have a secret baby in "Trail, a Novel of the Oregon Trail." I also have a price on the hero's head, and a heroine who hasn't been able to forgive him, but has to depend on him to get her West when she's never been able to depend on him for anything else. I just kept pouring it on...If we "go deep," we end up with deeper characters. We need to add something to the mix while keeping it plausible. Or as KC Frantzen would say, "Pawsible."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kaybee. Yes!! It sounds like you really raised the stakes in your book. And it sounds fascinating. I love the idea of a heroine who hasn't been able to forgive the hero but needs to rely on him. That's really going deeper. And you're absolutely right. It makes the characters more complex. Bravo! Wishing you many blessings!

      Delete
  37. I love the ways you've turned a trope on its head. This hasn't been a strength of mine, but I'd like to grow in this. :) Maybe your ideas here can turn my brain in this direction . . . and brainstorming with some friends.

    LOVED this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeanne. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. And brainstorming with writer friends is an amazing tool. I really enjoy it. It's great to have people who are willing to point out any flaws in my plot points and to give feedback. Good luck on your future works. Sounds like you're up to theh challenge. Blessings.

      Delete
  38. JULIE, I've been watching the Hallmark movies too, but only when I'm very, very tired. One of their recurring themes is the ambitious career woman who lives in the wicked city and doesn't have time for a life, let alone Christmas, but for some reason, personal or professional, she finds herself stuck in a small town where they really Get It and there's a hunky guy who has left the Rat Race behind. Hallmark hates cities and ambition. I liked the one where Candace Cameron Bure was an MD who found herself in a small town in Alaska, although I would not necessarily let Candace Cameron Bure take out my appendix. Dick Van Dyke, maybe, but I'm not sure he's still practicing. There was also the one where Shirley MacLaine was the Angel of Death and Kristin Davis died, only she wasn't really dead, that one was a mélange of "It's A Wonderful Life" and Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," but Shirley MacLaine delivered. They also have a couple where a young woman of humble birth gets noticed and eventually loved by a prince or king, cannot imagine where they got that plot. They run them on a loop, so if I miss one I can catch it another night.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Amnesia can be lame, but so can secret baby and all the other conventions. It depends what we do with them. Work, work, work, listen, listen, listen, revise, revise, revise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right, Kaybee. It's all in our hands as writers and what we do with it! We have power.

      Delete
  40. "although I would not necessarily let Candace Cameron Bure take out my appendix. Dick Van Dyke, maybe, but I'm not sure he's still practicing."

    OH MY GOSH YOU JUST CRACKED ME UP KATHY BAILEY!!!

    But you are so right. A lot of them are about those career women in the fast lane.And of course the huge one..inheriting the ranch, the lodge, the farm that need to be saved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. Laughing here in Connecticut. Yes indeed. They always have the high powered career woman who comes to the sticks and finds the meaning of life. HA HA. Too funny.

      Delete
  41. BTW, and on a completely different topic, I am heartened to see the acceptance of interracial couples in Christian fiction. I have a series set in NYC in the early 1920s, and I really wanted to do something with the Harlem Renaissance for the third book, but I was dithering. I shall Dither No More and write it -- as soon as the first two books sell, of course.
    KB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kaybee. It means a lot to me as well. Not only because I'm a person of color but because I truly think we have readers of all colors so why not make our characters reflect our world? And I find the era of the Harlem Renaissance so fascinating. My brother lived in Harlem and it is such a great place to live. Rich in history and amazing restaurants and venues.

      Delete
  42. Hello!! Thanks for the donut and the shout out to Garrett. He's one of my favorites. One of the things I don't like about secret babies...I have a hard time liking the mom in some of them. Finding ways to twist a favorite storyline is always worth it. Great post Belle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Jolene. Great to see you here. You know I love your books and your twist on plots. You really go the extra mile. And I also struggle with the mother who is keeping the baby secret. It crushes me sometimes to know the hero missed out so much. BUT....it does create a compelling foundation for a story. Congrats on all your books! Blessings.

      Delete
  43. Thanks, Belle, regarding the BookBub score. I have been trying for about three years now to get a BB ad (as has my agent), but we've never been able to swing it. This year I submitted four times and got rejected everytime! So when I scored the Family Fiction mag. Dec. cover, I said to myself, "Self ... you're on a roll, so try BB one more time ... And BINGO!! Personally I attribute it to God because He told me to lay most promo down a few months ago, and ever since I did that, it's been raining promo ops! ;)

    And regarding the Hallmark movies, the Hallmark Hall of Fame ones are usually pretty good and far more realistic without all that tinkling Christmas music they play in the background, so I think you're right -- we could probably write those and be happy, but not the cookie-sweet ones!!

    KAYBEE SAID REGARDING HALLMARK: "I liked the one where Candace Cameron Bure was an MD who found herself in a small town in Alaska, although I would not necessarily let Candace Cameron Bure take out my appendix."

    LOL, Kathy, I'm with you on that. My favorites so far this year have been The Christmas Card and Operation Christmas, which actually made me cry. ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  44. The Christmas Card! I based my hero on that guy. And his real life wife on the heroine. LOVED that movie with Ed Asner.

    MAY WE ALL HAVE OUR BOOKS MADE INTO HALLMARK MOVIES!~~~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that would be fairly awesome, Tina. I don't think I'd know what to do with myself. Every time Teri talks about it I fan girl. Imagine going to the set! WOW.

      Delete
  45. Terrific post, Belle! Not that I have anything new to add to what everyone else has written, but every editor is looking for a fresh hook...and the more hooks the better. The next time I brainstorm with myself, "hooks" will be at the top of my list.

    The other day, one of our ladies at church said that watching Hallmark movies was her favorite thing to do at Christmastime. When I told her I'd already seen them all last year, she said, "Oh, I don't care. They make me happy, and I know everything will turn out okay." So while I'm not one to read a book or watch a movie for a second time, some people do. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barbara. You're so right. The more hooks the better. And fresh ones really shine. I think people do find comfort in the Hallmark movies, especially the Christmas ones. They bring good cheer and happy endings. That can't be a bad thing. Blessings to you!

      Delete
  46. I totally agree with you about having to come up with a different idea. When I brainstorm my stories I like to think "How can I make this different from anything else?"

    So it's a time travel story? Let's make it so that the bad guys are controlling the time travel.

    Where would they go? The most dangerous times in history because the bad guys are trying to kill them.

    What about the love story? I'll make it a love triangle between a mysterious time agent who isn't telling my heroine everything and another guy who seems to keep popping up in every time zone she is sent to. To raise the stakes, let's make it that whatever choice the heroine makes will end up determining the future.

    End result? A tug-of-war game for the future of my heroine, and the winner is able to determine the future of the world.

    Thanks for this post and the generous giveaway! Please enter my name. Your book looks really interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nicky. You are definitely asking yourself the right questions. Making your book as fresh and unique as possible will make it stand out. And fresh takes on classic stories is appealing. Your time travel story sounds very intriguing. I love it. Wishing you the best of luck with it. I hope you enjoy this holiday season!

      Delete
  47. Awesome post, Belle!
    And great reminder for hooks, hooks, and more hooks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eva Maria! Great to see you here. For me the hooks actually help me write the book. They propel the action forward. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

      Delete
  48. Julie...BB is total awesomeness. So much good flows from it. A hearty congrats. It sounds like it is definitely your time to shine. Shine on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Belle! And I would love to send you a mobi file of Isle of Hope if you like because it sounds like we would really like each other's work! Just let me know through FB message if you'd like me to send it to you.

      Hugs!!
      Julie

      Delete
  49. TINA SAID: "MAY WE ALL HAVE OUR BOOKS MADE INTO HALLMARK MOVIES!"

    LOL ... amen and amen!

    And you based your latest hero on The Christmas Card, Tina? Rocky Mountain Cowboy??? Oh, YUM!! That's going to the top of my TBR ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  50. Belle, I know it's getting to be suppah time on the East coast, so I want to take a moment to thank you for spending the day with us. And for your generous giveaway! Merry Christmas and continued success to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for having me TIna. As usual, Seekerville is an awesome place to hang out. You guys rock!

      Delete
  51. Great post, Belle, with lots of good ideas to think about in my writing.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sandy. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I had a lot of fun writing it and thinking about hooks. Now to actually follow my own advice and make sure I put them in the book I'm currently writing. Wishing you a blessed holiday season.

      Delete
  52. I like that you wrote a story about a subject you disliked. Interesting. I have actually wanted to read this story for the amnesia storyline. Please enter me. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Boos Mum. I've actually done it several times with writing a trope I didn't particularly enjoy. It felt like jumping over a hurdle. And I'm really glad that I did it. Sometimes we put up barriers for things we don't like. It feels so much better now to know that I tackled something difficult and survived. Good luck on the drawing. Blessings!

      Delete
  53. Great post, Belle! Thank you! Btw, I love amnesia stories. If I'm trying to choose between two books and one has an amnesia story line, that's the one I choose :-)

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Laura. That's so interesting. I'm much more open to amnesia stories now that I realize how difficult they are to write lol. Honestly, it isn't easy so kudos to all the authors out there who have successfully tackled the dreaded amnesia. Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Belle, Thank you for the challenge to go deeper while brainstorming. So often I stop at the second or third brainstorming idea instead of going deeper and searching for something that would make my book stand out more. Thanks for some hints that might help me go deeper and seek out more compelling characters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tanya. You're so very welcome. I'm so happy you were able to find something valuable in the post. I'm actually challenging myself at the moment and trying to add some layers to my characters so they stand out. Sometimes you have to play around with a project and keep digging at it to find the stuff that really shines. Best of luck, Tanya. You've got this! Happy holidays.

      Delete
  56. Belle, what a great post!! I love how you encourage thinking bigger!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pepper. I love your name! It wouuld be an awesome name for a heroine. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I really think when we begin to "think bigger" we can really hit paydirt with our projects. And stretching ourselves makes us better writers in the end. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, Pepper.

      Delete
  57. Hello Sandra! You already know that I adore this book! I hope a lot of people read it! It's such a touching story! I highly recommend it! So fun to see you here on Seekerville!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Valri! Great to see you also. Awww. Thanks for recommending Reunited at Christmas. It makes me so happy that you enjoyed Liam and Ruby's story. It was so great meeting you in person here in Connecticut. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

      Delete
  58. Hi, Belle!! Loved your post and learning more about your writing process - thank you. While some readers like to read solely for enjoyment purposes with simple story lines attached, I'm just the opposite. I love reading realistic complicated plots about flawed characters, their struggles and redemptions, and feeling all the emotions such stories invoke. Just another way to indulge my reading addiction while helping me learn/realize more about the struggles of others and how to reach out to them.

    I'd love to become acquainted with your writing-please drop my name in the drawing for your book giveaways. Thank you so much!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bonton. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I think we're alike in our reading taste. As a writer I love to read also. My tastes really veer toward complex stories with lots of layers. I love backstory. For me, the messier the better lol. My favorite is the redemption arc. I enjoy reading it and writing it. Best of luck with the drawing. Happy Holidays.

      Delete
  59. I'm noa write so my biggest challenge is writing a review that is worthy of the books I read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jan. We love readers who take the time to review our books. It's the greatest way to help a writer. So thank you for your efforts. Taking the time to review is a wonderful thing to do. Blessings!

      Delete
  60. Belle, this lesson was absolutely riveting to me. You struck many chords and made me excited to revisit my story hooks. I adore LI and have to say also that your book covers are gorgeous! Blessings to you.

    ReplyDelete
  61. What a great post this morning! I really want some pumpkin donuts now!
    I am really excited to get ahold of this new book! I love the description. I loved the LIS party last night!

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hi Belle, So sorry I missed you as we had an emergency. All ok now. Yay. Looks like you had a great day. I hope you enjoyed Seekerville. We thank you for posting and giving us such great info. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I really like the idea of challenging ourselves in everything. I love your other novels in Alaska. I can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the chance to win!
    Becky

    ReplyDelete