Friday, October 6, 2017

Advice for Authors at Every Level of the Publication Journey

with guest Emily Rodmell, Harlequin Love Inspired Editor.



Beginning Writers

If you’ve just decided that you want to write a book or have been pursuing writing for a short period, this is the time to learn. Read craft books. Learn the mechanics of writing. Study plot and conflict. Explore different genres and figure out the one that you enjoy writing the most. 

Connect with writing groups. Meeting with other writers in all stages of their careers can be a valuable experience, whether online in groups such as Seekerville or in person via RWA or ACFW. Start to explore where you want to submit your book. Research agents and publishing houses. 

It’s very important in this stage to finish a book to prove to yourself that you can do it. So many beginning writers have multiple unfinished manuscripts languishing in their computers. I’d advise finishing one, even if it will never be published. Typing the end will be a breakthrough that can propel you to the next step of your journey.


Pre-Pubbed Writers

You’ve finished a book…or ten. You’re writing with publication in mind. Now is the time to refine your work and strive toward publication. 

Just because you’ve finished a book, doesn’t mean it should be published. But even if it’s not, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valuable learning experience. Each book you write will teach you something and help you grow as a writer. This is a good time to get feedback on your writing. Submit to contests. Judges are often authors or editors or agents, and getting feedback from them can help you refine your work. Find critique partners in the industry. While your mother may love to read your work, you can get more honest feedback from someone who didn’t give birth to you. 

Once you’ve gotten some good critiques or feedback on your finished manuscripts, try submitting to an agent or publisher. If you’re fortunate, maybe one of your contest finals already led to a request. If not, research where you want to submit and follow submission guidelines. 

Some quick submission tips: 

1. Address your submission to a specific person. 

2. Always include a synopsis. 5-7 double spaced pages is the sweet spot. 15+ make our eyes glaze over. 

3. Highlight your experience in your query letter. If you don’t have experience, show us your research and enthusiasm. Tell us why you think your book fits with us. Don’t apologize for your inexperience. 

4. Spoil us. Editors and agents need to know all the twists and turns in your book. This isn’t the place to tease your ending. Tell us everything that happens.

5. Once you submit, start writing the next one. Don’t refresh your email or reread your book and drive yourself crazy finding typos. 


Newly Published Writers

You’ve done it. You’ve finally sold a book. This is an exciting time, but it’s not the time to get complacent. It’s the time to buckle down and work. First, start your next book if you haven’t already. Often, writers find that selling book number two can be harder than the first one. The first one you’ve spent years working on and perfecting and submitting. Then writers try to write the second one in a few months, and it often falls short. So, don’t rush through it. Make sure you go through the steps that you did with the first one. Get critiques. Revise. Put it aside for a few weeks and read it through with fresh eyes. Take your time, so that you don’t submit a book that isn’t ready. And understand that while you’re working on the next book, you’ll still be doing work on the first. Revisions, promotions, dedications and edits will be coming your way. Make time for them. 



Mid-level Writers

You’ve sold a few books. You’ve gotten past the second book slump. You’ve made it. Many writers often fall into complacency at this point. But that is not the way to go. Even if you’ve gotten in a groove and are selling regularly, it’s vital to keep growing and learning. 

Here are some tips to keep your writing moving in a forward direction: 

1. Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Every author has a different journey. Just because someone else writes five books a year, doesn’t mean you must. Make your own personal goals and focus on those. If you compare yourself to others, you’ll always fall short. 

2. Set realistic deadlines. If it takes you six months to write a book, don’t set three month deadlines. Every writer goes at their own pace, and it’s better to have too much time than too little. If you write too fast, your writing quality may go down and impact your career. An editor would rather you set a longer deadline than miss one or turn in a rushed book. And don’t forget to include time for all the things you still have to do for prior books. 

3. Keep up with the industry and trends and adjust and grow your writing. The books a publishing house are looking for change with the calendar. If you’re still writing books that they were buying years ago, you might have trouble selling. Be flexible and look to grow your writing. 



Experienced Writers

Writing is your career. You’ve been writing for many years. People know your name, and it can open doors. Newer authors are coming to you for advice. Surely you don’t need advice, right? Wrong. Publishing is a changing business, and you can always grow and learn new directions. Genres go in cycles, publishing houses open and close, sales go up and down. To keep your voice fresh, you need to stay on top of trends and try new things. 

Here are a few tips for experienced writers:

1. If someone mentored you when you were starting out, don’t forget to pay it back. I was just at the ACFW conference taking appointments, and a good chunk of the writers came to me and said that Tina Radcliffe or Lynette Eason (one of my authors and the newly named ACFW Mentor of the Year) mentored them and sent them to the appointment. Editors always appreciate authors who are great mentors. Thanks for giving back, ladies. If you are experienced, consider sharing your knowledge with others like these writers do. 

2. Don’t assume that because you’ve made it, you don’t need to research and do your homework. We get a lot of multi-published authors who submit to Love Inspired, and it’s often harder for them to sell to us than a new author. Because they submit a proposal without researching and studying what we do and what a series romance book requires. Even if you’ve written 50 books, do your homework before submitting to a new house or agent. 

3. Always keep trying to improve your craft. Strive to make your next book your best book ever. Readers will thank you for it. 


Thanks for listening everyone. I’ll be in and out today to answer questions about writing or the publishing industry or writing for Harlequin. To start the conversation, tell us what stage you’re in and what the best advice you’ve been given is. 



Emily Rodmell is the editor for Love Inspired Suspense. She has acquired more than 45 authors in her career with Harlequin and is always looking for more. Send her your high-intensity romantic suspense novels and unique and interesting contemporary romances. She can be found on Twitter: @EmilyRodmell, Facebook: Emily Rodmell, Editor and Instagram: @nyc_editor_life










All comments go into the party hat for the Weekly $50 Amazon gift card drawing.
One commenter today will win an assortment of Love Inspired books from Seekerville in honor of Emily's visit. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


We also have birthday videos from three of Editor Emily Rodmell's authors!



Debby Giusti

Terri Reed.




Sharee Stover

157 comments :

  1. Great tips for writers! Published, unpublished or anywhere in between. I've seen a theme going with "improve your craft" even for authors who are seasoned with multiple books published...I always say "you're never too old to learn" :-) Keep honing your skills and improving yourself (book wise that is)...readers like me appreciate it!

    Emily, I love your cute coffee cup! You've posted some wonderful advice that I'm sure our authors will eat up :-)

    Speaking of eating...anyone in for some fresh homemade pumpkin muffins or a slice of pumpkin bread? Or how about I can whip up a pumpkin spice latte for the coffee drinkers among us? Do you think I have fresh pumpkin on my mind? After all, 'tis the season!

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    1. I will take a pumpkin muffin. Believe it or not, my first taste of ANYTHING pumpkin this season. I've been loading up on apple cider doughnuts, sigh.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by Trixi and Kaybee. I do love pumpkin season.

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  2. Hi Emily:

    I must say that I don't see the writing journey as a lonely desolate road but rather a maddening urban sprawl with noisy dangers and distractions at every turn.

    Best recent fiction advice:

    1) James Patterson who said in class that he rewrites each scene six or seven times. Not to correct errors but to make the story better and better until it's the best he can write. (His goal is not to get published but to sell more fiction than anyone else.)

    2) David Mamet who said in class that you should have each scene change the trajectory of the story… or cut it. This is probably best for a suspense story where you want to story to move as fast as possible.

    Question: How long do you think Amish romances and suspense stories will be published at the rate they are today?

    Vince

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    1. Well, Vince, that's my image, not Editor Emily's. So I will say that I don't see that image as lonely and desolate. I see it as an exciting and beautiful journey to the unknown. Like the sunrise and sunset of each day.

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    2. Good morning, Tina and Vince. I do think that Amish books have become a genre in their own right. I don't see them going away any time soon. Our readers have a voracious appetite for them.

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    3. Hi Tina:

      No people. No shade. No trees. No sign of life. Black ominous clouds lit only by an exploding volcano. We truly see what is behind our eyes.

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  3. It's Friday and there is an editor in the house! Happy Birthday to us!

    Welcome Editor Emily! I brought..drumroll, gluten free, Italian Cream Cake and large pots of Starbuck's coffee.

    We're delighted to have you with us. And how appropriate as so many of us sailed off unpublished island thanks to the wonderful LI editors.

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  4. Thank you, Emily, for all your wonderful tips. I'm an older beginning writer, and all I do is study. I can't get enough...there are so many books out there, advice from other writers, and awesome help from my critique partners. Writers are the most generous people I know, especially here in Seekerville. This blog has been such a blessing to me and my writing journey.

    Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

    Marcia

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Marcia. Studying is one of the best things you can do as a new writer.

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  5. That you for the great post Emily, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your Love Inspired Suspense line. I just can't get enough of them!

    I love to study and have a huge amount of craft books, but I also love to study the books I read to see how a particular author "does it".

    Blessings to you and everyone here in Seekerville!

    Happy 10th Birthday!!!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. That should read.... "Thank you for the great post Emily..." not "That you..." Sorry.

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    2. Cindy W., you should see MY typos. Oh, wait, you probably have.
      KB

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    3. Typos happen to the best of us. Even editors. I'm so glad to hear you love LIS.

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  6. Thanks for the definition of stages, Emily. I'm at the pre-pubbed stage. The best advice I was given came from an editor when I was a beginning journalist. She copied some pages from the classic "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser and gave them to me. First lesson: Editors are invaluable to writers. The part about avoiding cliches has stuck with me, not just about phrases, but on multiple levels. It's not easy to put a fresh spin on scenes and an entire novel, but it's vital. You mentioned contests. How do you think contests help pre-pubbed authors get to "sold" and how many of those 45 writers you've brought in have come from contests you judged? Are you most fond of ACFW contests in scouting new writers? Just curious to know the "best" way to break in. Maybe the regular submission process? :) I'm also wondering how Love Inspired is handling the #ownvoices and diversity movements in publishing, or is that a good example of keeping up with what is current? My manuscript could fit into that. Thanks very much for stopping by Seekerville. So nice to hear from an expert, when there is so much noise surrounding the industry right now--or maybe that's just my perception. It's hard to know how to sort through it all!

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    1. I think contests are a valuable tool for feedback. Often the early round judges will give good critiques on the entries. Some authors have sold. I would say if you're talking about writing organization organized contests (RWA/ACFW, ect) just a handful on my end. But if you broaden the scope to include all of the other types of contests, like pitches I've organized through Harlequin or on Facebook or even Seekerville, that number expands a lot. I bought 9 authors from my first pitch contest that I organized called Speed Dating with an Editor.

      I haven't bought an author from a writing organization organized contest in a while because the books often aren't targeted to what we publish. But some people can break through that way. I just wouldn't put all my eggs in that basket. Enter the contest that offers the best feedback and if the final judge is your targeted publisher or editor.

      Love Inspired welcomes diverse submissions.

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    2. Cathy Shouse, have you seen any of Belle Calhoune's books. She often has diverse characters and they are on the cover as well. That's just a quick "haven't had my caffeine" yet mention.

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    3. Thank you, Emily. Tina, I'm not aware of Belle and will check her out. Thanks.

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  7. Great post for every step of the writing journey. Best advice given: the book (s) you've written may or may not see the light of day, but each one teaches you something about writing. There's always something to learn or improve.

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    1. That's a great lesson to learn. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  8. Emily,
    Thanks for being with us on Seekerville today, and thanks for providing great information for folks at every stage of the writing journey.

    I have learned so much from you and feel so very blessed to have you as my editor. Your editorial input always improves my story. As I said in my video, you're the BEST!

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    1. Debby, I love your video! And I agree 100% Emily, you’re amazing!!

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    2. Thank you for such sweet videos Debby and Sharee and Terri. It's great to work with all of you. :)

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  9. Emily,
    Thank you so much for your insight. I see myself in what you wrote. I have several works in progress and have written one 'the end.' Critiques of the 'finished' work showed the need to start a year long journey of studying the craft. This year has been very enlightening and recently I've dared to start revamping, editing, and filling up my 'ideas for stories notebook.' Now I just need gather courage for the next steps.
    Happy birthday Seekerville!

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    1. Finishing a book is a huge accomplishment and a big step in the right direction. Keep plugging forward on it. :)

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  10. Need to....ooops, can't blame that one on auto correct...just on distracted brain.

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  11. Thank you, Emily for your post. I'm at the pre-pubbed stage and currently querying agents. The best thing to happen to me on this journey has been "meeting" Tina. I look forward to our face-to-face!
    The best advice I've received is to keep writing. To understand that nothing in this business is typical, and to look at it as a marathon, because the work doesn't end when you land an agent, sell your first book, or even your second, for that matter.

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    1. I wasn't joking when I said multiple authors came up to me at ACFW to tell me how Tina had mentored them. Thanks for everything you all do at Seekerville.

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  12. Good morning Emily,
    I consider myself pre-pubbed. Better be, I've made just about every mistake there is to make, so there's nothing left but publication, ha ha. I did historicals for years and years and love the genre, but this past January I was blindsided by an idea for a contemporary romance series and have been working on that.
    Craft is important and I get my instruction in a variety of ways: this and other blogs, my crit partner, contest feedback, and reading
    other people's work. Sometimes I'll back up and say, "Oh, I wonder how they did THAT!" It's a lot of work but also a lot of fun.
    Stuff to do, be back later.
    Kathy Bailey
    Enjoying the ride in NH

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  13. Good morning! It’s a rainy day here so bring on the coffee!

    Emily, I’m so blessed to have you as my editor. Thank you, thank you! you’re advice is so great at every stage of the Writing journey. I’m working on book two and you’re so right that it’s harder than book one. Crazy!

    LIS has great series books. What do you think makes a strong series? And is the connection best between characters that appear in all of the books or a common connection like location or occupation?


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    1. Sharee, I'm so glad to have you as my author as well.

      Strong series can take many forms. For LIS, I find the strongest are tied together by characters. Often law enforcement colleagues or friends. It can be harder in suspense to do the family series because it's a bit to suspense disbelief that each brother or sister would have someone trying to kill them. But I do have authors who have done is successfully.

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    2. *suspend disbelief.

      See, editors have typos too.

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  14. Hi Emily!

    All of the Seekerville ladies are great mentors to writers!

    I'm at the mid-level stage in my career and believe the only way you keep growing as a writer is to learn more about your craft and to challenge yourself with your writing by trying new genres or entering contests...anything outside of your 'normal' writing box.

    When you are reading for work, what types of book do you read?

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Rose. For work, mostly suspense. But I do do a little contemporary now and then.

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  15. Good morning, Emily. Thank you for visiting Seekerville and sharing these wonderful tips.

    I'm in the Pre-Pubbed stage of writing. I have three completed manuscripts, and I'm currently working on my fourth. You're so right about family not being objective enough to see the flaws in a manuscript. My hubby, Mountain Man, keeps telling me I need to dig out my first manuscript and work toward getting it published. I just smile, because I know there is so much wrong with that manuscript that I'd probably be better off to do a complete rewrite, which I may do one day. For now, I'm focusing on moving forward on my writing journey.

    Debby, Terri, and Sharee, I love the videos!!

    I'm off to the day job! Have a wonderful day in Seekerville, everyone!

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  16. Good morning, Seekerville.

    It's always a pleasure to visit with you. I hope you're all doing well. I'm happy to chat or answer any questions you have.

    Now to find coffee.

    Emily

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  17. Thanks for the great article, Emily. These are wonderful tips. I have one manuscript under my belt, but it was pretty bad. I need one more before I feel like I can call myself a writer and I'm trying to enjoy each stage of this journey. Thanks again for stopping by!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Finishing a book is a great accomplishment. I think you can call yourself a writer.

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  18. Welcome, Emily! And thank you for joining our 10th birthday celebration with tips for all levels of writers! There's something for EVERYONE in your post!

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  19. Welcome to Seekerville, Emily! Great list for every stage of a writer's career. Always keep learning, growing, and giving back.

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  20. Emily, thanks for this helpful article. I'm doing the last (for now) edit on my 1st ms searching for those typos (I laughed at your comment) and have 3 roughs shouting for attention- still a beginner.

    I've received so much good advice- a great deal of it right here at Seekerville, three things float to the top. 1. Your first ms will be like a college education in writing 2. Take 24 hours for the pity party and then find the big girl panties 3. Nothing's Happening (hmmm, I wonder who that was?)

    I wonder if Tina actually knows how helpful she is?

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    1. LOLOL. I just read that. Yes. I am guilty of saying "Nothing is happening." Blame my own editor. She certainly finds those dull boring take them out spots in my own writing. The truth is that those areas you are so easily able to spot in someone else's writing are usually your own Achilles heel issues now or at one time. Hang in there, Barbara. Your recent contest final shows you are growing as a writer. I know you are are a contender!!

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  21. Thank you for being in Seekerville today Emily. I read a great deal of Love Inspired and enjoy so many things about it. I am pre-pubbed but hopeful. Is there any chance that LI Historical might be brought back? Historicals are my favorite, both in reading and writing.

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    1. Love Inspired Historical will still publish through next June, so there's still a lot of great stories for you to read. But there are no current plans to bring it back after that.

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  22. Hi, Emily. One of the best things I was told by experienced writers is something you have always said too. When you finish one book send it off and don't sit around waiting to hear back - start on the next book. Also to keep an open mind that others might have suggestions that will make your story stronger. I have known new writers that get the revise and resubmit and they refuse to change anything in thier story. They never resubmit. Thank you for sharing your insight.

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    1. Even after all these years, I'm always surprised when writers choose to not revise and resubmit. I feel like it can't hurt to try. You can always keep the original saved on your computer.

      And I wish all writers would follow the send it off and start the next one advice.

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  23. Hi Emily,

    Welcome to Seekerville! It was great to meet you at conference.

    What's your favorite number of books for a LIS series?

    Thanks!

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    1. Currently we're focusing on shorter series. Around 3-4 books.

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    2. Would you recommend proposing a series for a first-time author?

      My current WIP has series potential. Knowing whether or not to draw that out in the query stage would be very helpful.

      Thanks all around for your willingness to answer questions, Emily.

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    3. It can't hurt to mention you have other ideas. LI probably wouldn't contract more than one book at a time from an unpublished author. But it would be good to know you have series ideas.

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    4. Thanks again for getting to the heart of it. I'll submit accordingly when all is complete and polished.

      Enjoy your weekend!

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  24. Hi, Emily, thanks for the helpful post. I love Seekerville and all the gals!

    I think I fit into the pre-pubbed category as far as novels go, ALTHOUGH I recently had a short story (mystery) published in a Sisters in Crime Anthology, SoWest Killer Nights. Woot!

    But I want to publish novels. My first completed book is a Biblical Fiction and I'm at work on a cozy mystery. I know it's important to concentrate on one genre, especially in the beginning of a career, but I can't help myself. I love both genres (and several more). And the stories grabbed me.

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    1. Congrats on the publication.

      Now is the time when you can play around with genres, so don't feel like you shouldn't. But once you get a contract, it's best to stick with one genre for a while.

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    2. That makes sense, even to me. :)

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  25. Great advice, Emily! I can say truthfully that writing for LIS has really helped me grow in my journey! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  26. I am so excited that you're here, Emily! Thank you so much for sharing the excitement of our 10th birthday with us. Love Inspired has been with us every step of the way, guiding, laughing, helping, hiring and contracting... we are all crazy grateful.

    Here's a line that jumped out at me as I'm finishing the last 10K on my 22nd Love Inspired book... "Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Every author has a different journey."

    So true. And comparisons should only be self-directed... Am I doing my best? Am I able to achieve my goals? Am I doing something I love, and how can I do it better?

    Comparing ourselves to others is such a waste of energy and can be disheartening.

    I'm so glad you mentioned that because we're all created equal... but we write quite differently!

    And that's okay!

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    1. Congrats on 22 books. Only 3 more to the big 25 milestone. :)

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  27. Good morning, Seekerville!

    Emily, this was a great post. I'm so grateful to have you as my editor, and I appreciate your tough but insightful feedback on each book.

    I think that's also a key thing for new writers to understand -- editors are there to make your book better, they're on your side!

    Pre-pubbed writers: I sold my first book to LIS via one of Harlequin's pitch events, and my second book was an R&R. If I hadn't made the suggested changes and resubmitted, I wouldn't be where I am today, in the midst of working on book #6 for LIS. Those R&Rs can seem daunting, and they're not easy to do, but definitely worth the effort. Don't make editors sad by being the one that got away! Haha. ^_^

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    1. Hi, Michelle. I'm glad you didn't "get away"...though that sounds really creepy now. ;)

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  28. Emily, are there any tropes or hooks on your wish list and conversely, is there anything that is becoming overdone?

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    1. Love Inspired as a whole is always looking for Western set stories and Amish.

      I do a lot of suspense, so I'm always looking for hooks like interesting law enforcement careers, amnesia, Witness protection, secret identities, spies and secret babies.

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  29. Emily, thank you for your insights. I've published my first and am bearing down on my "hard-to-sell" second book. I'll keep your advice close as I continue to write it. I enjoyed reading about the challenges writers encounter as they progress from one level to the next. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with that second book :)

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  30. Hi, Emily. Great post. Wonderful advice for authors at all stages of their careers. I always hope that I grow with every book I write. I'm still thankful for the pitch opportunity back in 2012. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Sandra. You were one of the nine authors I bought in the first Speed Dating pitch. Can't believe it's been 5 years. :)

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  31. Emily, welcome back to the blog! We're so glad you're celebrating our birthday month with us. This was a fantastic post.

    I had to smile about the synopsis length because I used to send ones that were way too long! :) Thanks to your advice, I finally learned to keep them under 10 pages. :)

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    1. Hi, Missy. I hope you're doing well. My eyes do appreciate shorter synopses. :)

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  32. I also meant to say I'm thankful for critique partners and contest feedback! My manuscript had been sent to LI as the result of a contest was discovered by Emily when she started working there. :)

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  33. Good morning, Emily!

    It was lovely meeting you at conference.

    I don't think this was the best writing advice, but it was the mostly timely.

    I had read somewhere that Sinclair Lewis was asked to talk to some students about being a writer. He asked them, "How many of you here are really serious about being writers?" A lot of hands went up." "Well, why aren't you all home writing?" Then he walked out of the classroom.

    Back when I read this, I was constantly talking and thinking about writing when it was time to sit down and write.

    I enjoy all of your advice on Facebook and Twitter.

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    1. Great story, Connie. It was nice to meet you as well.

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  34. Good morning, Emily, and thank you for joining us today with this excellent post!

    I'm pre-pubbed but have seven completed manuscripts and am currently working on another project.
    I have a quick question, and I hope it's okay to ask here. Last year at a writers conference I met with a wonderful Love Inspired Editor who showed enthusiasm for my story and requested my full manuscript. I submitted the full 13 months ago but have not heard anything (I've also sent three brief follow-up e-mails to check on the status of my submission). Please don't think I'm being impatient because I know you all have a HUGE workload, but is there anything else I should do at this point (regarding that submission)? I've worried that maybe there was some kind of computer issue going on at my end, so I also sent a snail-mail note.
    Thanks so much for any suggestions you can offer, and thank you again for being here today. :)
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo Moore

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    1. The only advice I would have would be to email to check on it. We do try to get back to authors in a few months, but it's not always possible.

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  35. Hi Emily
    I'm in the pre-pubbed stage of writing. I've learned so much here at Seekerville. The big one: write, write, write. Unfortunately, I seem to be in a not-writing phase because of familial commitments/issues that have drained the creative muse.
    I did discover during the Killer Voice contest that I have the chops to write and that editors are very, very smart/savvy to what is working/not working in a story. I was a finalist with an R&R offer andI know the MS will require a major rework to address the issues pointed out by Shana (she was spot on, I might add...). I am embarrassed about the amount of time that has passed, but I will revisit the MS - or create a new one of similar ilk. Thanks you wonderful editors, I will have the confidence to hit "submit".
    Thanks for your wonderful advice and the generosity you have always shown here at Seekerville. I really, really appreciate it.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure Shana would still love to see the ms when you have it ready.

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  36. Thanks for being here today, Emily. I follow your Facebook page. You have such good advice. I am a published writer with short stories but almost finished with my first novel. I hope to start entering contest soon.

    Are all LI books series? I thought I had read some that were stand alone.

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    1. Not all LI books are series. Some do stand alone.

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  37. I also meant to say I agree with the comments about Tina. She is definitely an encourager.

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    1. I wanted to say that about Tina, too, Sandy. She's the best!

      Marcia

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  38. Thank you, Emily for your helpful advice on Twitter and Facebook. It is very valuable to writers. I have published numerous articles and devotionals, and in fiction I have published a short story and had completed and was going to rewrite a manuscript for LIH when the line was dropped. Then thought I would try writing an LI Amish because that is what I read. I researched and visited a community. I wrote my LIH as a panzer, which left me struggling in the middle, so I am heavily plotting and working on character motivation for my Amish one. My question to you is what is the best advice to someone writing an LI Amish novel? Thank you.

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    1. For Amish, it's important to do your research. There are little quirks with the Amish that need to be treated accurately. And we can tell when an author hasn't researched.

      Also we're seeking Amish stories that put the Amish in a good light. So we're not looking for characters that leave the Amish at the end or books that focus on the more controversial issues with the Amish. Our readers just want to be transported to a simpler time and place.

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    2. Thank you, Emily. I appreciate your time.

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  39. I am in the pre pubed stage. The best advice I have been given is to keep writing. I have 4 completed manuscripts, two of which are in complete overhaul and rewriting as I have learned more.

    I have entered contests but never gotten past the first round so I am trying to get them polished Yet I have received very high scores from some of the judges. Wondering if I need to wait to submit to a publisher until I have something that can make it past the first round of a contest.

    By the way, I love Love Inspired Books. I just wish I had the money to buy them all. I was starting to be very upset at Walmart last night when I couldn't find Debby Guisti's new book. I kept searching and found one so now I have it on my To be read pile. Someone had put another book in front of it so it looked like there were two rows of another author. I have learned if I want to buy the suspense books. I have to snatch them quickly before they are all gone,

    Have a good day and weekend and stay safe all who are in the path of Nate.

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    1. Wilani, there's no rule that says you have to wait until you final in a contest to submit. Or even that you have to enter a contest at all. However, it can be a good barometer of what stage your work is in. If the feedback you get from judges shows that there's still work to do on your craft, I'd take your time and polish some more.

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  40. Emily, great to see you here!! Happy Anniversary, Seekerville!! I'm writing! I'm plotting!! I'm learning!!

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  41. Emily, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life as an editor to share your wisdom with our Seekervillagers!

    Thanks also for the editorial tips in your Tweets and Facebook updates. Even with 20 published novels (2-going-on-3 with Love Inspired), I'm still learning.

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    1. The best authors always do keep learning. :)

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  42. Hi Emily! Thanks so much for the tips today. I sold book 1 and still struggling to sell that 2nd one, so your list was perfect. It only took me 4 years to sell the first one and I really DON'T want to go that long again...although it's looking that way, lol. I love all the tips and advice you publish on FB and Twitter. Thanks so much!!!

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    1. Congrats on selling book 1. Keep at it and book 2 will find a home eventually.

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  43. Following the conversation about writing an Amish romance, how do you feel about the more modern groups? I visited/researched an Amish family and they didn't use different words for "Dad," for example. They were very family oriented and ran a restaurant, and it was a lovely visit. But I came away wondering if they would be "Amish enough" for fiction, if that makes sense. As some of them introduce some technology into their world, and drop the old order terms, is it going to be acceptable to include in the Amish novel?

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    1. If it seems realistic and is explained well in the book, sure.

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  44. Thanks for being here and sharing these helpful tips, Emily. I've been a student of the University of Seekerville for many years. It's here where I learned about the Blurb to Book contest which got my foot into the door with your publishing house. Thank you to Harlequin for offering contests that make dreams come true!

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  45. hahahahah The University of Seekerville. LOVE IT!!! I wonder if we get tenure? Retirement benefits??

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  46. Emily, welcome back to Seekerville!

    I'm at the pre-pubbed stage and have won/finaled in contests. It's a bittersweet journey at times, and I think the worst think writers can do is sit idle for very long. Sometimes, of course, we need much deserved respites, but I think the best thing we can do is to continue plowing through.

    I love how approachable all the LIS and LI authors and editors are. Love your practical advice and tips AND also the fun tidbits you post. Thank you!

    Oh, since you like suspense, do you ever watch Blacklist? Last season, it got a little convoluted, but I think they may be back on track now. James Spader kills me with his off-beat humor.

    Count me in the TINA R fan club, too. She is the BEST.

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    1. I've never seen Blacklist. My current suspense binge is Orphan Black.

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    2. Will have to check it out! Thanks!

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    3. Oh my gosh, LOVE Tatiana Maslany..and I saw somewhere that she has a movie coming out.

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    4. Stronger. I saw that movie but didn't like it. Definitely didn't showcase her range.

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  47. WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, EMILY!! You are truly a household name around here and we are SO excited to have you back, especially during our 10th birthday celebration!

    Truly excellent tips all the way around and I SO appreciate how you covered every aspect of writing, from prepubs and newbies to multi-pubs and veterans. There's something for everyone here, so THANK YOU!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  48. EMILY, thank you for sharing your wisdom for writers.

    I love these Seekerville snacks!

    Happy Friday!

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  49. What a terrific article!! Thank you, Emily, for sharing your wisdom. It's refreshing to see advice for writers at all levels!

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  50. Good morning Emily and happy birthday Seekerville.
    Great post Emily. I had some forced downtime this summer and used it to learn how to dictate my work. Huge learning curve. I have more forced downtime coming up that will be used to continue to tame dictation.
    As for advice I’ve received...there’s been so much. I guess the one I use most often was by Nora Roberts— you can fix a bad page but you can’t fix a blank page. This helps me get past the crisis of self confidence that can be paralyzing at times.
    And I agree Tina is very gifted with encouragement. All the ladies here at Seekerville are awesome and wise.

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    1. Hi, Terri. Thanks for the fun video. :)

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  51. Hello Emily and thank you for your post. I guess I would be somewhere between a beginner and a midlist author.

    The best piece of advice I received was to have a tough skin and forever be willing to learn.

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  52. Good morning, Emily! Waving hi to everyone at Seekerville, too. Happy birthday to Seekerville!

    I appreciate all you do for authors, Emily, and I am glad for your insight on Twitter and FB. I'm always eager to learn something new. I also appreciate your line in the post, "Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Every author has a different journey." So true, but it's easy to take my eyes off my road and look at others'... what a distraction!

    The Seekerville gals are all lovely, generous women. I've learned a lot from them. I'll never forget my first RWA and Debby Giutsi prayed with me, a total stranger to her. Tina Radcliffe has helped me with everything from proposals to conference fashion. I love how generous these women are! I hope to be more like them.

    Thank you so much for all you've done for me. :)

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    1. snort! You should be worried when Tina gives out fashion advice. I own two pairs of shoes.

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  53. I am only a reader but I love visiting Seekerville because I learn something each visit and your post today is no exception. I especially liked your mention of those who pass it on. Some of my greatest lessons as a librarian came from seasoned librarians who were kind enough, and secure enough, to share their hard-earned knowledge with me. Thanks for sharing today!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Connie, there are NO ONLY READERS. If not for readers where would we be?? You are loved.

      Librarian!!! Who knew. I started as a library assistant and then was a cataloger in Littleton, Colorado for 6 years. May the WorldCat be with you.

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  54. So nice to see you here, Emily. Love the happy birthday videos, and I'm still so tickled for Sharee's upcoming first release.
    There are days I don't "feel" like it, because as an "experienced" writer I continually strive to learn and grow.

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  55. Emily, it's great to see you in Seekerville! Thanks for the wonderful advice to all of us writers, no matter where we're at in our journeys.

    I was blessed to have you as an editor. I appreciate the time and effort you gave to make my books the best they could be!

    Do you have any idea how many authors you've bought? I'm sure it's a high number.

    Janet

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    1. I've bought around 45 authors. It may be off by an author or two.

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    2. Emily, I'm impressed. Take that number and add up the books from all those authors and the list of books you're editing has to be long. The editors at Love Inspired do a great job bringing wonderful books to the shelves.

      Janet

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  56. Happy birthday, Seekerville! It all started for me here during a birthday celebration, six years ago. A contest, a request, a revise/resubmit, and a sale to Emily!

    Emily, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I am probably a low-level writer, but feeling like a pre-pubbed as I research a new genre. i've read a few the last couple of months, but I was wondering if you have favorite suspenses you would recommend?

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    1. Yes! You were my author that I bought from Seekerville. :) For LIS, I'd recommend reading current books from Shirlee McCoy, Terri Reed and Lynette Eason. And our K-9 series (plural).

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  57. Hi Emily,
    I had the pleasure of pitching to you at ACFW. Thank you for taking time to direct my story idea into something more tailored toward LI. It felt like an on-the-spot revision letter. Pure gold!

    I'm one of the people who mentioned Tina Radcliffe. The guidance and generosity of Seekerville authors is amazing. I'm grateful to be here.


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    1. It was lovely to meet you at conference.

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  58. Emily, thanks for such an organized informative post! Always enjoy your Tweets and pics too! Especially lately with all your "Pumpkin Spice" finds! Just to tempt you, we have Pumpkin Spice Tea at our antique shop!

    I'm at the pre-pubbed stage. Have had an ongoing relationship with LI. Elizabeth Mazer requested R & R for LIH which I sent in but before she'd had time to review, the line closed.

    This year I entered a contest and found out after my sweet husband passed away that Shana Asaro requested a synopsis and three chapters for LIS. Losing the love of my life put my world upside down and sideways but she's been understanding and kind.

    I am forever grateful to my hometown writing group and to Tina and this group at Seekerville for their continued support and encouragement. My dark days have been brighter because of their faithfulness. Even though I don't always comment I come every day to drink from this well!

    Thank you for your investment in writers. It's a joy to connect with you.

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  59. Hi Emily,

    I am an older, pre-pubbed writer, and some of the best advice I have had is from reading James Scott Bell's book, Write Your Novel from the Middle. His method has helped me to get more clear about those things in a scene that actually forward the plot versus those things that fill space and are nice but don't raise stakes or reveal background for one of the characters. At ACFW last month, Mr. Bell gave a workshop in which he asserted his stance about starting the plotting of the story from the midpoint.

    But sometimes, I struggle to know if I have written conflict or not. So...my question to you, Emily, would be how do writers, sort through the obstacles in a scene to recognize when we've written something that forwards the plot or when we've written something that serves as a "delay tactic" but doesn't push that scene along?

    And thanks, Tina, for bringing gluten-free Italian Cream Cake. Oh my goodness, a dessert I can participate in with a cup of Starbucks!

    Thanks,
    Darlene

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    1. Well, when I'm speaking of conflict it's usually referring to romantic conflict. i.e. What is keeping the hero/heroine from declaring their love until the climax?
      As far as moving the plot forward, if you can take the scene out and nothing changes in the book or the book could go on without readers noticing. Then it's filler and doesn't move the plot forward.

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  60. Happy Anniversary Seekerville!

    Hi Emily! Always great to see you here!

    I'll always be thankful to her for acquiring me :)

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  61. I'm still a Beginning Writer- I'm only just learning the ropes. I'm pre-pubbed in the sense that I haven't published traditionally, but I'm also to the point where I HAVE written and published two books (albeit independently). So does that make me a mid-level writer as well?

    I was just thinking this morning how I probably would have given up long ago on writing if I hadn't finished my first book when I did. Back before I knew all the rules or really how to write or had any idea of what I was writing or what that entailed, I just did it. I'd probably only have a bunch of half finished manuscripts if it weren't for my ignorance and tenacity at that young age.

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    1. I guess it would depend on what your publication goals are. If your goal is traditional, then you'd be pre-pubbed. But if your goal is indie, then for that you'd be mid-level.

      Glad you finished that first book and kept pushing on.

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  62. GREAT stuff here, Emily. Honored to be mentioned in the post. Love my mentees!

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  63. Good afternoon, Emily, Editor Extraordinaire! I think I'm approaching mid-level as I work on my third to-be-published book. Thank you for the reminder not to compare. Comparison only takes the focus off of the most important thing -- the writing. Instead of comparing, I look to writers like writing ninja Ruthy or twenty-books-and-counting Debby as examples and mentors.

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  64. Hi, Emily! I'm so thankful you're in Seekerville today. I'm a small press and indie gal. Not sure what category that puts me in.

    I follow you on Facebook and Twitter. Your posts are invaluable.

    I'm targeting LIS, so I appreciate the heads up on reading the line and authors to read. I agree totally about making sure the story line works for the targeted line. I try to really focus on the line I'm targeting when plotting.

    Tina is a jewel of a mentor and offers so much help and guidance.

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  65. Best writing advice.....The Best Writing is Re-writing

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  66. Emily, it's nearly end of day in NYC. Thank you so much for spending the day with us and giving so generously of your time and advice.

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  67. Emily, thank you for the great analysis and breakdown of the advice for various stages. I'm a pre-pubbed writer seeking traditional publication.
    Hmm, I think I have a tie in the best advice given to me. When I was at a writing workshop at an independent bookstore, someone mentioned Georgia Romance Writers and I feel the advice to attend of their programs was one of the best things to happen to me as a writer. I was either attending my first or second program there when a marvelous author, whom I now count as a friend as well, told me I had to go home and order a copy of Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. I followed her advice.
    Thanks for the great breakdown of different advice for writers at every level.

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  68. It's fascinating to see the different stages laid out like this... and the theme to never get complacent! :) It's always eye-opening to read about the hard work writers put into their books.

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  69. Stopping in again very quickly because I also meant to mention how WONDERFUL our Tina is!!
    I predict that one day, in addition to the RITA, CAROL, and CHRISTY Awards, we'll also have a TINA Award. :) And we can say that we know THE Tina and she's the BEST!!

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    1. And it will be a large piece of dark chocolate with sea salt and pecans. hahaha

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  70. Always a good reminder to ask for advice. Thank you!

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  71. Best writing advice...keep writing.

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  72. I'm a reader, not a writer. But I enjoy reading these posts and getting to know my authors, and how they do what they do. It's kind of a "behind the scenes" feeling, and it's nice. Makes me feel connected to ya'll. :)
    Maybe one of these days my wild imagination will produce a book, and I will already know some great people to turn to for advice. Thank you all!

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  73. Emily, so good to see you in Seekerville! Thanks for outlining the steps to catch your attention and then hold it for subsequent books. These are the tidbits of wisdom we all need to file away and revisit often!

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  74. Thank you Emily! Great to see you here!

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  75. Emily: How very special to read your blog today. Lots of good insight. Thanks for taking the time to write the latest information in this fast moving world of publishing and writing. Keep on writing everyone.

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