Monday, May 27, 2019

Seekerville is Closed Today

Seekerville is closed today for 
the U.S. Memorial Day, 
a day we pause to remember
 those who made the ultimate sacrifice 
for freedom, 
both here and abroad.

Please join us again soon!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

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

Monday: Guest blogger, Suzanne Woods Fisher shared Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine. The winner of a paperback or ebook of On A Summer Tide is Amy Anguish!

Wednesday: Jan Drexler brought us a blast from the past as she revisited Having Fun with Revisions!

Friday: Pam Hillman was our host yesterday encouraging us to weave a bit of fact with our fiction, or fiction with our facts. Hey, either works!

Monday:  Seekerville is closed for the Memorial Day holiday. Enjoy!

Wednesday:  Carrie will share Interview Do's and Don'ts
Friday: Come join our guest bloggers Louise Gouge and Laurie Kingery as they share A New Twist on an Old Setting. 

All three ebooks in Pam Hillman's
Natchez Trace Novel series are on sale during May!
Links to each where you can select your favorite retailer:
The Promise of Breeze Hill - $1.99
The Road to Magnolia Glen - $5.99 
The Crossing at Cypress Creek $4.99

The fourth installment of Mindy Obenhaus's Rocky Mountain Heroes series, Reunited in the Rockies, is now available for preorder.

A fresh start…and an old love reignited?
A Rocky Mountain Heroes romance

For widow Kayla Bradshaw, restoring a historic Colorado hotel means a better life for her and her soon-to-arrive baby. But she needs construction help from Jude Stephens, the love she lost through a misunderstanding. Working with Kayla, the police officer finds himself forgiving her—and longing to rebuild her shattered confidence. But can they trust each other enough to forge a future together?

Branding 101: Defining Our Brand by Jamie Gold

Writers Beware of the Legal Pitfalls - Copyright Basics Pt. 3 by Karen Van Den Heuvel at Thyme For Writers

20 of the Most Instructive Quotes Abo Writing by K.M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors

Showing Your Scenes Through Your Characters' Senses by C.S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive

Real vs. Fictitious Settings by Mindy Obenhaus

5 Ways to Hook Your Readers by Janice Hardy at Fiction University

Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Summer 2019 by Arthur Klepchukov at Writer Unboxed

Recent Changes and Updates in Writing Style Guides by Lori Hatcher at The Write Conversation with Edie Melson

Friday, May 24, 2019

Building a Story World: Part Fact, Part Fiction

by Pam Hillman

Creating a story world is like being captivated by a stranger’s face through a rain-soaked window, or traveling through an unfamiliar countryside blanketed in heavy fog. There’s a hint of what’s on the other side of the glass or the haze, but you can’t see everything clearly. But because of that very thing, your imagination is given the freedom to paint the picture you most want to see in your mind.

If you could wipe the glass clean or burn away the fog, you might discover that the story world in question is part fact, part fiction.

This is true of the story world I created for my Natchez Trace Novel series set in the 1790s. Each story begins in Natchez-Under-the-Hill, a real place that dates back to the 1730s, touching on some of the aspects of the seedy wharf and making reference to actual streets that were laid out at the time of my series. Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, governor of the Natchez District, his future wife, Elizabeth Watts, and his secretary, Stephen Minor, make cameo appearances.

My characters travel along the Natchez Trace, stopping at a tavern called Harper’s Inn. This particular inn is fictional as I wanted it to be a very rough establishment and didn’t want to “cast aspersions” on any real establishment from the period. Mount Locust, on the other hand, which was a very respectable inn and is still standing to give visitors a look at what inns (also referred to as stands) of the day consisted of, is also mentioned multiple times throughout the series, giving anyone familiar with the area a yardstick by which to gauge where my characters are as they travel back and forth along the trace.

Breeze Hill Plantation, Magnolia Glen Plantation, and Cypress Creek are all fictional, but if pressed, I could take you twenty miles north of Natchez along the old trace, find a hill surrounded by rolling countryside, and claim it as the spot where Breeze Hill would have stood. The plantation home itself is based loosely on the floor plan and design of Linden Hall, part of which was constructed in 1785 and is located in Natchez proper to this day operating as Linden Hall B&B. Most of the other plantations, homes, and businesses sprinkled throughout the series are fictional.

Travel a few miles east of there and we’d find Magnolia Glen. Due west in the tract of land between the Natchez Trace and the Mississippi River and you’d find the virgin forest that Caleb O’Shea and his brothers logged in The Crossing at Cypress Creek, along with the rough-and-tumble little river town dubbed Cypress Creek.

So, we have a little bit of fact and a little bit of fiction.

Why use a real location at all? Readers are anchored in the story when an author uses a real town, country, or geographical location that they are vaguely familiar with to set the stage. It might be as broad as “the Mojave Desert,” or “London, 1845”. The exception, of course, is science fiction where the story world is created entirely from the author’s imagination.

With the reader anchored solidly in fact, the author can then add in a fictional ghost town or fort at the edge of the desert, a small millinery tucked on an unnamed side-street in London, an entire plantation along the Natchez Trace in 1791, and a river town along the Mississippi River in 1792.

All three ebooks in Pam's
Natchez Trace Novel series are on sale during May!
Links to each where you can select your favorite retailer:
The Promise of Breeze Hill - $1.99
The Road to Magnolia Glen - $5.99 
The Crossing at Cypress Creek $4.99

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Having Fun With Revisions - Digging into the Seekerville Archives

The Seekerville archives are full of wonderful blog posts. I'm sharing this one from 2016 as a taste of what you can find there.

How do you find the archives? Look at the top of the page...see the button? You've got it!

Now, a trip into the past...

* * * * * *

by Jan Drexler

We all know the feeling.

You wake up early, refreshed and ready to head into the next scene of your Work In Progress. You grab your caffeine of choice (mine happens to be tea) and sit down in front of your computer.

Everything is fine until about an hour later. You read through what you’ve written and you’re ready to tear your hair out! What happened to those beautiful words that flowed through your mind during your shower? Why are your characters so…so…cardboard? Yes, cardboard!

You bang your forehead on your keyboard, sobbing. “I’ll never be a real writer!!!”

Okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic. Or maybe not. First drafts are – yes, we can say it – awful. But that’s okay! Look at that scene again….

I wrote 700 words this morning. It was the beginning of a scene for my next Love Inspired book that I had labeled “action leading to Twist 1.”

The problem?

Here, let me give you a sample:

“blah blah blah pigs blah blah blah mud blah blah blah father blah blah blah money…”

Do you see what I see? No action! No movement – unless you count the pigs wallowing in the mud (and I don’t). It’s just my hero, Samuel, and the pigs. There isn’t even any dialogue.

Seven hundred words of boredom. Blah blah blah.

Unless you like pigs.

But I’m not giving up. The first draft – no matter how horrible it might be – is necessary. I’ve dumped what I want the scene to look like onto my computer screen. I’ve given my ideas shape. There is something there…which is much better than nothing.

I can’t revise words I haven’t written, and revising is what makes the writing sing. 

So how do I fix this scene?

First of all, the biggest problem is that Samuel is alone. The whole scene is introspection, with a few buckets of pig slops thrown in.

When our characters are alone, nothing happens. Think of the last time you had a moment to yourself and write it out as if it’s a scene in your book.

Jan swished the tea bag in the cup of hot water, hoping that would make it brew faster. She flipped the newspaper open with one hand and read the headline. “Mayor Urges More Spending on City Center.”

Exciting, right? Unless someone walks into the kitchen at that moment and starts a conversation. Then we have some spark. Some interest.

There is a time for our characters to be by themselves, deep in introspection, but this scene isn’t it. Remember that this is an action scene. And it’s a lead-in scene.

What is it leading into? The first plot twist. So in order to write the lead-in, I need to know where I’m going.

What is the plot twist? I have that planned already – Samuel tells the heroine, Mary, that she should stop worrying about money. “Find some fellow to marry and let him worry about it.”

Yeah. Right. She responds to that suggestion about as well as you think.

So now I know what I need to do to fix this scene. Since Mary is going to be key in the next scene, I need to bring her in here. Something she says or does will prompt Samuel to make that suggestion in the next scene that sends her off.

So instead of introspection, I need dialogue between Samuel and Mary. They can talk about the pigs, the mud, and his father. But they need to talk to each other.

Okay, I can hear some of you already: “Plot twist?” “Lead-in?” “Action scene?” What is she talking about?

It’s time for a quick lesson in scene building 101. This is not a rabbit trail, I promise! I’ll come back to revisions in a minute.

How to build a scene:

1. Give it a purpose. Scenes aren’t just fluff and filler. Each scene has a role to play to move your story forward from the beginning, through the middle and on to the end. You, as the author, need to know what each scene’s purpose is. That will help you determine how the scene will play out.

2. Give it a beginning, middle and an end. Think of each scene as a mini-story within your book. Start by showing your reader who is in the scene, where they are and what they’re doing. Ramp up some tension that’s appropriate for this scene’s purpose. And then end with a hook…make your reader go on to the next scene with no thought of putting your book down.

3. Give it a main character. Each scene needs to have a main POV character, and your job is to show the scene through the character who is best able to convey the message of the scene to your reader. 

Now back to revising my scene’s first draft. As I revise, I need to keep asking myself those all-important questions.

Another point to consider as I revise this scene is balance.

I tend to write scenes with a word count between 1200 and 1500 words. In my novels for Revell, the scenes tend to be longer, around 2200 words. Why is this an important detail to know? Because I want to build my scenes in proportions the same way I do my novel.

Most novels are in three acts, with Act One in the first 25% of the book, Act Two in the next 50%, and Act Three in the remaining 25%. I want my scenes to have that same kind of proportion.

So my balanced scene would be around 300 words for the beginning, 600 words for the middle, and 300 words for the end. Do you see the symmetry?

Okay. We have our three building blocks and our scene is balanced. How does it look now?

In the first 25%, I describe the physical setting: Samuel is in the barn feeding his pigs, the morning is pleasant, and he is happy to see Mary stop by the farm.

In the middle 50% of the scene, we have the conversation between Samuel and Mary.

They talk about the pigs, his farm, and her idea to raise money to support herself, her sister and their elderly aunt.

Then in the final 25%, we see Samuel’s reaction to the conversation and his lack of understanding of why Mary feels the need to support herself. She should just find a husband, right?

And the groundwork is laid for the next scene.

I have an assignment for you. Don’t worry, it’s a fun one!

Find your favorite book and read it again. This time, pay attention to the scenes as they unfold. Do they have the three building blocks of a good scene? Do they end with a hook?

Now, what can you do to make your writing sing like that?

* * * * * 

Back to the present!

I would apologize for the winter graphics, but we're on the downward side of a late winter storm here in the Black Hills. Lots of wet, wet snow! So I get to share it with you!

Let's discuss scene-building. What is your favorite technique? Or do you "wing-it," working through it until it feels right?

Jan Drexler’s ancestors were among the first Amish immigrants in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing extended family. She writes historical Amish fiction and is published by Revell and Love Inspired.

Twitter: @JanDrexler

Monday, May 20, 2019

Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods Fisher

With guest Suzanne Woods Fisher

As I was gathering information to begin the writing of On a Summer Tide, I spent time roaming through remote islands along coastal Maine. Original research enhances a book in innumerable ways—from how the terrain looks, to the effects of weather, to unique and credible details gathered that only come from on-the-ground visits.

The effort and expense to travel across the country to Maine was well worth it. In fact, I would say it changed the story I had in mind and took it down a different path. I learned a few things about year-round island living, how seasons affect locals, how time is marked, and wove them in to make this story believable.

Here’s six things I learned from an island in Maine:

  • Ferry time is the only clock that matters. A ferry is a lifeline to a remote island. These ferries probably aren’t coming from the mainland but from yet another island, and are dependent on good weather conditions. These ferries are small, passenger (and bikes) only. Lugging cars back and forth means a wait for a larger vessel, and it’s costly. Locals develop a sense for the arrival of the ferry, even before they hear its horn blast. One local woman described it as sensing a change in the wind. She can feel the ferry’s arrival before she sees it.
  • Time shouldn’t be a dictator. Island time is a real thing. While traipsing through these islands, my watch came off, my phone got forgotten more than a few times. Unhooking was nice, it was relaxing. It made me realize that there’s more margin than we think in our day…or maybe there should be.
  • We can live without a lot. Come winter, when the ferry stops running, a pantry should be well stocked…or locals do without. They have a clever skill at making do with whatever is on hand and can get pretty creative in the process. Did you know that duct tape, an island necessity, is better than tweezers to pull a splinter out of a finger?
  • It’s a very good thing to discover the difference between needs and wants. You might not find everything you want on an island, but most likely, you’ll find everything you need. Most problems, I noticed on this research excursion, had been solved with duct tape. Broken vacuum hoses, cracks in windshields, leaky pipes, missing shoelaces. ;)
  • On an island where shipments can be a little hit and miss, eating seasonally and locally is healthier, cheaper, and tastes so much better: just-picked blueberries, the day’s catch of lobsters, clams or scallops. (Nothing beats fresh lobster tail caught by local fisherman, soaked in melted butter.)
  • There is strength in community. Americans make independence a cardinal virtue, but when you’re on an island that gets cut off from the mainland for a few months every year, there’s incredible value in developing and relying on community. Bottom line: People need people.

Yes, people need people. And authors need readers. On a Summer Tide is the first in a new series—a
Order your copy here!
new genre!—for me, called ‘Three Sisters Island’. It’s a story about a dad who realizes his young adult daughters are growing increasingly estranged. In a desperate attempt to keep the family together, he buys a bankrupt island off the coast of Maine. His daughters think dear old Dad is ready for the looney bin, but don’t count him out too quickly. This clever dad seems to know that there’s just something about an island…

Jan here: Thank you, Suzanne, for a wonderful post and a glimpse into Island Life. I'm looking forward to reading this series!

And for the Seekervillagers, Suzanne is graciously offering a copy of "On a Summer Tide" to one commenter! Your choice of paperback or e-book! Just let us know in your comment if you want to be entered in the drawing.

Christy award nominee Suzanne Woods Fisher writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels and lives with her very big family in northern California. 

Find Suzanne on Social Media!

Facebook SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor
Twitter @suzannewfisher
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Bookbub  Suzanne Woods Fisher
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Saturday, May 18, 2019

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

Winner of the loaded CFRR swag bag from Beth's post last week is Chanel M. Congratulations, reader friend!

Monday: Beth Vogt encourages us to Be An Influential Reader. Sometimes comments to your favorite author sparks creativity!

Wednesday: Debby Giusti and Ruth Logan Herne are two of 16 Christian authors featured in Summer of Suspense, an anthology scheduled to release on August 6. Debby invited Mary Alford, Ruth Hartzler, and Samantha Price to provide a behind-the-scenes look at organizing an anthology in a post entitled, "The Story Behind Creating The Summer of Suspense Anthology!  What It Takes to Put Together A Multi-author Anthology From Start to Finish." Mary, Ruth and Samantha gave away copies of Summer of Suspense to three lucky winners. Congrats to Sandy Smith, Lucy Reynolds and 2craftykaties!

Friday: Winnie Griggs , who's looking forward to an upcoming girl's trip with her sisters, discussed six ways writing is like a road trip. And the winner of a copy of her book, THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE, is Amy Anguish!

Monday: Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher will be Jan's guest, with a peek at the research behind her newest release, "On a Summer Tide."  

Wednesday: Mez Carrie offers us some of her finest insights.
Friday: Pam Hillman is in fine spirits today!

Don't miss this GOODREADS Giveaway - ENDS 5/18!
Enter today to win one of 20 paperback copies of
The Crossing at Cypress Creek!
Click Here to Enter!

All three ebooks in Pam Hillman's
Natchez Trace Novel series are on sale during May!
Links to each where you can select your favorite retalier:
The Promise of Breeze Hill - $1.99
The Road to Magnolia Glen - $5.99 
The Crossing at Cypress Creek $4.99

Long Days. Hot Nights. Deadly Secrets.
Grab this red hot Christian Suspense Anthology bargain for just 99 cents for a short time only before the price increases to 9.99.
Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before published tales of Christian suspense from today's most popular mystery and suspense authors.
Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Pre-Order Summer of Suspense at Barnes & NobleApple, and Amazon

5 Ways Writers (Try to) Fake Their Way To Good Storytelling by K.M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors

A Deep Dive Into POV by C.S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive

10 Success Tips from Brene Brown by Jenny Hanson at Writers In The Storm

Flawed Characters vs. “Too Dumb to Live”: What Makes the Difference? by Kristen Lamb

Your Cover Sells Your Book by Melinda VanLone at Writers In The Storm

Tips On Writing A Novella by Lynn Coleman at Steve Laube

Friday, May 17, 2019

How Writing Is Like A Road Trip

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  For the past few weeks my 3 sisters and I have been excitedly planning a girl’s trip to Disney World for mid-June.  It’s the first time we’ve done something like this and we’re all very excited about not only going to Disney, but having the opportunity to spend some time together.  My baby sister, who still works a full time job and lives the furthest away is planning to fly, but the other three of us are going to drive together.  So lately I’ve been googling tips for getting the most from a road trip. 

To my surprise I found a lot of these same trips can be tied to writing. So here is my interpretation of 6 ways writing is like a road trip:

1. Spend some time figuring out the best route
Like a road trip, when writing a story you need to know your character’s starting and ending destinations. Once you know these two anchoring points, you can explore the many routes you can take to get you there.  Some of the factors that will play into your decisions – the amount of time you have available to make the trip ( novella, short work, longer work), the various sights you want to see (character milestones), and  the spare time you have for side-trips (subplots).

2. Clean and service your vehicle before you leave.
Just like it’s a good idea to make sure your vehicle is clean and in good working order before you leave on your trip, you also want to make certain you’re starting your new book under the best possible conditions.  Clear your workspace, put away all the research and story notes you accumulated on your last project, and if time allows, take a breather between projects to do something fun and restful to ‘refill the well’ of your energy and creative juices.

3. Entertainment
For some people, playlists and eBooks are an essential part of any road trip. Just so, for some writers, having a writing playlist, sometimes specific for each story, is also essential.

4. Have a plan but be flexible
To get the most from your road trip, you want to have a solid plan for how you’re going to get from start to final destination. But you also want to leave some flexibility in your schedule to accommodate unexpected roadblocks and side trips. So too, as a writer we all know that life happens. Our writing schedules can be detoured by illness, family events, major climate events and any one of a dozen other issues. Make sure you leave some room in your writing schedule to adjust for these life events when they happen. 

5. Choose the right companions
Taking a long road trip can make or break a friendship. After all, you’re going to be trapped in a vehicle for a number of hours with your travel buddies with no way to escape them – make sure they are folks you can get along with.  So too, make certain the characters you’ve developed for your story are ones who can keep your interest (and the reader’s!) for the duration of the ‘journey’.

6. Understand the rules of the road
This may sound basic, but if you’re going cross country, or even into other countries, the ‘rules of the road for these other states/countries can be different than what we are used to.
Relating this to writing, each genre/sub-genre has its own expectations and you need to understand the ones for the book you’re writing.

There you have it - my thoughts on how writing is like a road trip. Do you agree with these? Do you have others to add.  
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for my brand new release, The Unexpected Bride.


Fleeing an arranged marriage, socialite Elthia Sinclare accepts a governess position halfway across the country. But when she arrives in Texas she finds more than she bargained for - more children, more work and more demands. Because Caleb Tanner wants a bride, not a governess. But marrying this unrefined stranger is better than what awaits her back home, so Elthia strikes a deal for a temporary marriage. She says I do and goes to work—botching the housework, butting heads with her new spouse, loving the children.

Caleb isn’t sure what to make of this woman who isn’t at all what he contracted for—she’s spoiled, unskilled and lavishes her affection on a lap dog that seems to be little more than a useless ball of fluff.  But to his surprise she gets along well with the children, works hard to acquire domestic skills and is able to hold her own with the town matriarchs.

Could the mistake that landed him with this unexpected bride be the best thing that ever happened to him?