Monday, November 23, 2020

Guest Blogger Georgiana Daniels

 Erica here. My good buddy, Georgiana Daniels is stepping up to help me out. I'm on deadline, and I'm currently huddled in a corner with my laptop, muttering and mumbling and generally ignoring the rest of the world as I finish this manuscript. And like the true friend she is, Georgiana has kindly accepted my offer (begging and pleading and a wee bit of sniveling) to post for me.

She gave me a sneak peek at the short story she's offering for free today, and let me just say, it is true-blue Georgiana all the way, and soooo funny! You won't regret signing up to get your copy!

Take it away, Geo!

Unexpected Blessings and Other Crazy Lessons

 

Does anyone else feel like 2020 whacked them in the head? The blunt force trauma of this year is unlike any other. Whether it’s health related, financial, or general anxiety, we’ve all been affected one way or another. But the good thing is, it’s also caused most of us to reevaluate what really matters in life—and I don’t just mean Clorox wipes and toilet paper (a-hem).

 As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to look at what we’ve learned over the past 11 months and the unexpected blessings that snuck up on us. No doubt many of us had to pivot both in our personal lives and in our writing careers or other areas that matter most. In doing so, we’ve probably realized how resilient we are—and how much we rely on God for His daily provision of everything we lack. That, in itself, is a blessing.

I’ve discovered a lot about myself over the past year—a good whack in the head will do that, you know. For example, I can spend an inordinate amount of time working and/or lounging in pajamas. Who knew? Also, I’m perfectly content to hide out at home—I mean quarantine—for the good of humanity, of course. And in other news, whoever is out there making memes this year is doing a fabulous job! (As a side note, I’m printing out my favorites for my journal.)

Then there are the deeper discoveries, like the fact that I’m not as introverted as I’d previously suspected. Because we are, as a family, on the careful side, I don’t get to see my people as often as I want to, and every time we do my well fills up. No longer do I take a moment with family or friends for granted like I did in the olden days—a.k.a. 2019. Also, I never thought of myself as a hugger before this year, but now I savor each hug, never knowing when I’ll get that next meaningful embrace. I’ve become that person that doesn’t let go in a timely manner, and it gets a little awkward. (Sorry, not sorry!)

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. The thing of it is, we never were. Yet most of us took for granted that we’d have tomorrow, and several tomorrows after that to accomplish our goals. We didn’t just set goals for this month, but we had our one-year goals and our five-year plans, as though it were entirely in our hands. Procrastination on issues big and small became a running joke along with endless to-do lists that bled over into the following week and the week after that. But so many of us now realize that what we have is today, and today is a great time to make things happen!


That’s why I’m no longer waiting on the publishing fairy to pay me another visit. I’m taking matters into my own nervous hands and joining the indie crowd! This could be the best thing ever—or it could be an epic disaster. We’ll have to wait and see. Honestly, though, the only epic disaster is never trying, never doing, and always waiting until that proverbial someday.

The point is, I’m barreling ahead because writing matters to me. Story matters to me. Making people smile and experience even a smidgen of joy matters to me. And isn’t that what 2020 should have taught us all, to invest our time and ourselves into what’s really important? (Kind of sad that it took a worldwide pandemic to open my eyes, but that’s a post for another day.)

Don’t put off what’s important to you until it’s too late. That doesn’t mean we jump willy-nilly into the unknown just to see what happens. But we can prayerfully and strategically take steps toward the goals God has placed on our hearts right now. Regret would be an even bigger whack in the head than 2020, and that’s saying a lot.

If you’re anything like me, you need a good laugh this year along with that dose of introspection. On that note, I’d like to offer you The Mystery of the Missing Groom, which is a fun free short story prequel to my spring 2021 release, Crumbs of Passion, as a thank you for signing up for my newsletter.




How about you? What unexpected lessons or blessings did you learn from 2020? How do you plan to carry those lessons into the future? Enquiring minds want to know!




Bio: Georgiana Daniels is an author, homeschooling mom, and master’s degree student. “Busy” is her middle name, but if she finds a nugget of free time she enjoys knitting, reading, and fumbling around on the piano to the dismay of others. Though previously published in romance and women’s fiction, she’s dipping an anxious toe into cozy mysteries—because murder and mayhem are so much fun!

 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests

CHRIST THE KING

Christ the King, a detail from the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck,
1426-1432, St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent. [PD-US]

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Weekend Edition

 


  



If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com







Monday: Jan Drexler took a look at evil and its place in Christian Fiction. The winner of her choice of one of Jan's books is Glynis! Congratulations!

Wednesday: Debby Giusti's blog post, A Thanksgiving 2020 Reflection, got us in the mood for Turkey Day and helped us focus on the many reasons, even in spite of the pandemic, to give thanks. The winner of three Christmas stories, Debby's Amish Christmas Search, and a two-in-one with Vanetta Chapman, is Wendy Newcomb! Congrats, Wendy. Send your snail mail address to Seekerville2@gmail.com so Debby can get your books in the mail.

Friday: Ruthy and friends chatted about heroes and character development... and the winner of a copy of Ruthy's newest Love Inspired "Finding Her Christmas Family" is Wilani Wahl! 

And Ruthy's winners from ELEVEN days ago because she's a dork but she held a lovely Christkindl at the farm and raised money for charity so folks should always cut her some slack, don't you agree? :) Anyway, winners of "Finding Her Christmas Family" are Sarah Taylor and Angeline! 



Monday:  Georgiana Daniels is our guest blogger, and she's got a fun freebie for readers, so don't miss it!

Wednesday:  Cate Nolan will be here to talk about things we're grateful for in this writing life.
  
Friday: Pam Hillman








Missy Tippens
 has devotionals included in another collection from Guideposts! The new 2021 All God's Creatures Daily devotions for Animal Lovers is up for pre-order now! Animals are God's gift to humans. They are instruments of His Grace blessed with a special gift for comforting us when we are down, filling us with joy at just the right moment, and encouraging us on our walk of faith. In this collection you'll be blessed by daily true stories shared in devotionals by different authors.



For more info on the formats available and to purchase All God's Creaturesclick here.


Are you in need of a little happy and hope in your holidays? Erica Vetsch has two Christmas releases here in 2020:




A Joyful Christmas features a reprint of Erica's first novella, Christmas Service, which appeared in the Log Cabin Christmas Collection in 2012. 

The Joy to the World Regency Christmas Collection features a brand new novella, Wonders of His Love, from the Serendipity & Secrets series. Get your copy, and a heaping helping of happy and hope today!

Joy to the World 




What Did You Think of My Book? by Barbara Linn Probst at Writers In The Storm

5 Questions About Scene Sequences by KM Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors

4 Story Weaknesses that Lead to a Sagging Middle by Tiffany Yates Martin at Jane Friedman

The Nuances of Deep POV by CS Lakin at Live Write Thrive


How Strange Are Your Writing Habits? by James Rubart at Learn How To Write A Novel


Do Writers Read Differently? by Bob Hostetler at Steve Laube

Behind the Block: Overcoming Fear to Write by Rochelle Melander at Fiction University

The Stepping Stones of Our Writing by Katy Kauffman at The Write Conversation

3 Ways to Write a Novel with a Full-Time Job by Lewis at The Novel Smithy

Determining Your Character's Emotional Range by Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers




Friday, November 20, 2020

A Back to Basics Post: Focus on Heroes: How to develop characters with character.

 We all have our favorite characters in fact and fiction.

My real-life heroes tend to be actual heroes. The sacrificial type who really stand their ground for the sake of others. Jesus. John Adams. Ben Franklin. Mary, the mother of God. Joseph, who stood in place and cared for a son not his own. Mary Magdalene, Susanna and any woman who followed that cross and stood with Christ in His hour of need. Martyrs. Harriet Tubman. Rosa Parks. Mother Teresa. Every soldier and sailor who stormed those beaches at Normandy, knowing what would happen. And so many others...

Fiction is a different venue.


When we look at fictional heroes we use a different metric.

They don't have to be superheroes, changing the world for us to love them. But they need to be better versions of themselves and probably better than most any real person we know.

They put others first.

They take care of the heroine, even if she's pretty sure she doesn't need it.

They think ahead. (Come on, ladies, it's fiction. Of course they think ahead!)

They generally don't over-react unless there's a gun involved and it's a Western. In which case, we get it.

They're rarely grumpy even if they don't say too much.

They think a lot. (Again, fiction. Work with me here) :) 

They're quite teachable. (I'm thinking of Mary Connealy heroes here. They don't talk much, and they're often surprised by the feminine mystique, but they do think. #HERO!!!!)

They're kind to dogs and children, even if lacking experience with both or either.

They have a sense of humor. (Jason Bourne is an exception. I'm sure there are others.... Wait, so is Mr. Rochester but gosh, that was a TRAGIC LIFE!!!!!!!! Oh my stars)

They are often ruggedly handsome which means they wouldn't be seen on the Euro fashion runways wearing girl clothes. 

They're adorable when befuddled because they come through in the end.

They never let the bad guy win.

They get there in time, even if it's the nick of time. (Wait, Bourne is the exception again. Jason, really???????)

They may save lives. (doctors, sheriffs, officers, military, firemen)

They may build things. (Construction, builders, architects, Amish)

They might be farmers or ranchers.

High school football coaches are great, too! :) Rugged, teaching/coaching, competitive and good to kids. That's one that checks a lot of boxes!

Heroes pull us into stories whether they're male or female. We either identify with them or admire them or want to meet them. Live in their towns, their homes, eat at their table.

What draws you into characters? Is it what they've experienced? What they've overcome? What they're doing? Leave a comment below, darlings and I've got a copy of "Finding Her Christmas Family" for one lucky person who loves, loves, loves beautiful Christmas stories! 



Bestselling, multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great stories on her pumpkin farm in Western New York where the leaves have fallen, winter's approaching, but at least it's tiptoeing in this year... not barreling full-force, so that's good! She's also wishing all of you a blessed and wonderful holiday season. She thinks we're blessed to have the lot o' youse (Yankee way of sayin' "all y'all") here and she loves to hear from you at loganherne@gmail.com or friend her on Facebook or stop by Ruthy's website ruthloganherne.com 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Thanksgiving 2020 Reflection

 


By Debby Giusti

        I live in Georgia, and at this time of year, the weather is mild, skies are clear, leaves are falling and turkeys are on sale at Publix. The hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season is right around the corner, but I’m focused on food and family in anticipation of our Thanksgiving celebration.  It’s a joyous time to be together, and my heart always overflows with gratitude for God’s blessings.

        “But this is 2020!” some might remind me. “How can we be grateful when life has changed and not necessarily for the better?”


It’s true that we’ve endured a virulent virus that forced us to shelter-at-home while churches closed and worship was relegated to virtual services. Distance learning replaced in-school instruction, businesses shut down, folks were without jobs and the means to support their families, and travel and social gatherings were curtailed or forbidden altogether. In some states, those mandates remain. Additionally, many of our larger cities are still in chaos, our heroic men and women in blue have been vilified, and orchestrated protests have turned deadly. With COVID cases on the rise, many folks are wondering how their mental health and the economic health of our nation can endure another lockdown.

Yet as Christians and in spite of everything that has happened, we need to offer thanks. Scripture tells us, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)  



      Looking back to that first Thanksgiving long ago might help us put things in perspective. We all know the story…

 In the fall of 1620, one hundred and one Protestants, seeking separation from the Church of England, boarded the Mayflower cargo ship in Plymouth, England, and set sail for the New World in search of land and religious freedom. Sixty-six days later after traveling three thousand miles, their journey ended, and they came ashore in what is known today as Plymouth, Massachusetts. In the months ahead, the settlers endured hardships, hunger and disease. Death claimed half of the Pilgrims, and by spring, only four of the twenty wives who crossed the Atlantic Ocean with their husbands were still alive. If not for the local Wampanoag Indians, even more Pilgrims might have succumbed to the harsh environment. The Indians taught them to fish, hunt local game, and grow crops, such as corn and beans and squash. That fall, the Indians and Pilgrims joined together in a three-day celebration of thanksgiving for having survived their first year and for their bountiful harvest. Difficulties remained, but the Pilgrims focused on their blessings.


In 1789, after the War of Independence and the ratification of the US Constitution, President George Washington declared Thursday, November 26, a day of thanksgiving and prayer. John Adams and James Monroe followed suit with similar celebrations during their administrations, but it wasn’t until the middle of the Civil War that Thanksgiving became an official holiday. In 1863, after the extensive lobbying efforts put forth by Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, Abraham Lincoln—in hopes of drawing the war-torn nation together—signed a proclamation instituting the fourth Thursday in November from then on to be a National Day of Thanksgiving.

Yes, 2020 has been a tumultuous year, but I’m counting my blessings. I give thanks for the United States of America where people from all backgrounds and all races can live together in peace. I give thanks for our hard-fought freedoms such as the freedom of speech and religion and assembly. I’m grateful for our military who continue to sacrifice so that our country can remain--as Francis Scott Key wrote--“the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Most especially, I'm thankful for my faith and my family. I’m also thankful for this Seekerville blog community, for the friendships, support and encouragement that are freely given and gratefully received.

This year, because of the COVID outbreak, I’m even more appreciative of truckers and grocery store workers, of medical personnel, postmen and firemen and law enforcement, of church ministers and school teachers as well as restaurateurs and entrepreneurs who have kept their businesses open in spite of the pandemic.


In anticipation of Thanksgiving 2020, let’s focus on what we have today instead of what we've lost during this pandemic. I hope you’ll share those things for which you’re grateful, especially any blessings that have come about because of this very unique year.

            Also, let me know if you want to be entered in a drawing for three Christmas stories: my October release, AMISH CHRISTMAS SEARCH and a two-in-one that features my story, AMISH CHRISTMAS SECRETS, and THE AMISH CHRISTMAS MATCHMAKER, by Vannetta Chapman.


Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti

www.DebbyGiusti.com

Amish Christmas Search

An Amish girl’s disappearance is a mystery…

and the clues lead straight into danger at Christmas.

Convinced her friend didn’t run away as the police

believe, Lizzie Kauffman searches for the truth—but

someone will kill to keep it hidden. Now the Amish

housekeeper and her friend Caleb Zook are on the

run for their lives. And if they want to find their

missing friend, Lizzie and Caleb must figure out

a way to survive the holiday.

 Order HERE!


Monday, November 16, 2020

Does Evil Have a Place in Christian Fiction?

 


My newest release, “Softly Blows the Bugle,” deals with some dark subjects against the backdrop of the idyllic setting of the Amish community of Weaver’s Creek.

By the way - in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t write typical Amish novels. I call them “historical fiction with Amish characters.” Don’t expect everything to be buggies, bonnets, and sunshine when you read my stories!


Although my book has gotten great reviews, one reader didn’t like my antagonist. I was expecting her poor review – she had contacted me a few times while she was reading – and I knew what she objected to. My antagonist isn’t just a bad guy. He is evil.

As I read her review and thought of her earlier comments, I had to consider: what place does evil have in Christian fiction?

I’m open to discussion on this! I’m in the process of thinking through this myself.

Here’s my position:

1) There is evil in the world. From the beginning of time, back in Genesis chapter three, we are told that evil is working against God’s plan. We’re also given hope for evil’s eventual destruction (Genesis 3:15.) So, we know evil is real.

2) Christians are to resist evil. That’s why we’re given armor – our breastplate, our shoes, our shield, and our helmet (Ephesians 6:13-17.)

And we are to be prepared to fight against evil with the sword of Truth: God’s word.

3) Since we know those things are true, I believe that one of the things we’re called to do as Christians is to spur our fellow-believers on in the battle.

God has called me to be an author to speak to the Church – to believers – and that’s who I write my stories for.

So, where does evil fit in all of this?

Evil disguises itself as light, hope, and truth. Unless we are prepared to hold it against the plumb line of the Word of God, we can easily be swayed by a smile, a kind gesture, or words that tickle our ears.

This is where Solomon Mast, the antagonist of my story comes in.

Solomon appears to be exactly what he says he is: an Amish man from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A grieving widower who moved to Ohio to leave sad memories behind and make a fresh start. A wealthy, successful farmer who seems to be destined to be a leader in the community.

He is charismatic, self-assured, and disarmingly charming.

What the reader sees long before the members of the community do is that Solomon is leading a double life. Behind closed doors his true nature is revealed.

Movement on the road to the east of the Patterson place drew his gaze. A spring wagon pulled by a single horse. A young man and an older woman. He watched the horse turn into his farm lane.
“Callers.” The very thing he had expected when the morning had dawned so fine. He turned around and cracked open the front door. “Dulcey!”
The young woman appeared in the hall leading to the back of the house, her dark skin blending into the shadowed interior.
“Get yourself down into the cellar and stay put. Someone is coming and I don’t want them to see you yet.”
The girl disappeared like a shadow and Solomon closed the door. He shook his arms, letting his hands hang loose for a moment, then took a deep breath. As he let it out, he stepped into the man his visitors expected to see. Well-to-do Amishman Solomon Mast, new to the community and pleased to be part of it.

I almost wish that he wasn’t any worse than a con man, but as the story progresses, we see that he is totally depraved and ruled by his evil nature.

It isn’t pretty.

That evil side is what Aaron, the hero of the book, recognizes before anyone else does. And it’s that evil that breaks through Aaron’s self-pity and feelings of inadequacy to bring out his heroic qualities.

I needed Solomon to be a powerful foil to Aaron’s powerful faults.

So, what place does evil have in Christian fiction?

I believe that it can inspire us to fight against the evil in our own world. The greater the evil, the stronger our armor needs to be.

What do you think?

Many people think that Christian fiction should only be clean and wholesome, without the stain of the world’s influence. I certainly agree that those books are wanted and needed.
But is there also a place for evil in Christian fiction?

And what role should we, as authors, play in this battle?

Readers - what do you think? What are your expectations when you read a book from a Christian author?

Commenters will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of one of the books from my backlist, your choice! (Sorry, due to postage costs this drawing is open to US readers only.)

The book list can be found on my website: www.JanDrexler.com 



 

 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests

The parable of the talents, depicted in a 1712 woodcut. The lazy servant searches for his buried talent, while the two other servants present their earnings to their master. Artist unknown. [PS-US]

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

"A man going on a journey

called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.

To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--

to each according to his ability. 

Then he went away.

Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,

and made another five.

Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 

But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground

and buried his master's money.


"After a long time

the master of those servants came back

and settled accounts with them.

The one who had received five talents came forward

bringing the additional five. 

He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. 

See, I have made five more.’

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. 

Since you were faithful in small matters,

I will give you great responsibilities. 

Come, share your master's joy.’

Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,

'Master, you gave me two talents. 

See, I have made two more.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. 

Since you were faithful in small matters,

I will give you great responsibilities.

Come, share your master's joy.’

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 

'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,

harvesting where you did not plant

and gathering where you did not scatter;

so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. 

Here it is back.'

His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!

So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant

and gather where I did not scatter? 

Should you not then have put my money in the bank

so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 

Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 

For to everyone who has,

more will be given and he will grow rich;

but from the one who has not,

even what he has will be taken away.

And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

Matthew 25:14-30


The Seekerville bloggers are praying for YOU and for our entire blog community. If you have any special intentions that need additional prayer coverage, leave a request for prayer in the comment section below. 


Please join us in praying for the United States--and the world--during the current rise in Coronavirus cases. Pray for the sick and suffering, for businesses and schools to remain open, for people to be able to work and for our economy to prosper.

We are so grateful for all of you—for your friendship and your support! 

May the Lord bless you and your families and keep you safe.