Monday, March 27, 2023

Building your Teaching Resume

Erica here. 

Did you know I used to be a high school history teacher? Way back in the dark ages, when my kids were small, I taught history classes. Well, social studies classes, since I taught economics as well as western civilization and government as well as US History. 

The skills I learned in those classrooms has helped me build my teaching resume for writing workshops and conferences. Teaching in such places has many benefits for a writer:

1. Exposure. Getting your name, face, and work out there to writers, who are also readers.

2. Networking. Meeting other writers, publishers, editors, and agents in the business who are also on faculty. Making friends and building connections.

3. Helping. Helping aspiring writers to climb that publishing mountain. Paying forward all the help you received on your journey.

4. Discipline. Teaching workshops helps you discipline yourself in your presentation, your communication, and your reliability.

There are some things you can do to help make your classes top notch.

1. Hone your craft. Read books on the writing craft. Take workshops. Learn all the time.

2. Learn your way around Powerpoint and the various hookups you need to use technology in the classroom. When you're taking a class, study what you like about the slides, the lighting, the fonts, etc.

3. Write. Keep writing books, incorporating what you learn through study. Keep your skills up to date.

So, how does one go about getting invited to teach? Most novelists don't publish one book and instantly jump on the lecture circuit. (There are some exceptions, but they are just that. Exceptions.)

1. Start Small.

There's nothing wrong with humble beginnings. Contact your local MOPS group coordinator. Give a devotional at a baby shower or bridal shower. Make contact with a bookstore or library to do a book signing and book talk. Advertise on your website and social media that you would love to talk to book clubs. Get comfortable speaking to people about your books, about your journey, etc.

2. Local/State Writing Groups

Join and attend writing groups. These groups are often looking for speakers on various topics. Let them know you're available. Then wow them with a great presentation. Ask if they will write a testimonial for you to use in promoting your speaking/teaching. 

3. Apply when the word goes out

Often conferences will issue an open call for workshop teachers/topics. Study recent conferences and see what students are interested in, and what conferences are looking for when it comes to topics. 

4. When you're called upon, deliver!

Professional presentation, crisp handouts, great communication, prompt attendance, go the extra mile. All of these will not only make for a great teaching session, but will also increase the likelihood of you being asked back, or having your name spread to other conferences as a writing teacher who delivers the goods.

I've taught at retreats, libraries, writer's groups, single and multi-day conferences. I started small, and I continue to build my teaching resume. I love talking about writing, and I love talking to writers. I hope this will help you, if you want to begin speaking at workshops and conferences.

Best-selling, award-winning author, Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum. You can connect with her at her website, where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at where she spends way too much time!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests


The Resurrection of Lazarus, Caravaggio, 1601, Museo Naziomeli,
Germany [PD-US].

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, 
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil 
and dried his feet with her hair; 
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying, 
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death, 
but is for the glory of God, 
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill, 
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples, 
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him, 
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, 
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, 
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles, 
because the light is not in him.” 
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death, 
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. 
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe. 
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, 
“Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus 
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary 
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus, 
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life; 
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, 
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, 
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, 
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village, 
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her 
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her, 
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, 
she fell at his feet and said to him, 
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, 
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, 
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said, 
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man 
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, 
“Lord, by now there will be a stench; 
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe 
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me; 
but because of the crowd here I have said this, 
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice, 
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands, 
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

John 11:1-45

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

Please pray for our country and for an end to the problems that plague us at this current time, such as the increased cost of fuel and food and the rise in crime. Also pray for world peace and a resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Additionally, join us in praying for the protection of our military and for law enforcement officers and border agents.   

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

God bless you and keep you safe.

May the Lord bless all of us during this prayerful time of Lent with a new appreciation of His mercy and love.    

Saturday, March 25, 2023

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.  Please send to If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected. **(All winners' emails will receive a response within a week. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, we may not have received it. Please leave a comment in the following Weekend Edition.)

Monday: Mary and Erica celebrated their mutual birthday with cake and giveaways! Here are the SIX winners! The winner of a signed copy of Forged in Love is Laura W. A $5 Amazon goes to our BIRTHDAY TWIN (Triplet?) Sally Davidson and another $5 Amazon gift card goes to Jennifer Bretsch

Erica's Winners are: Stephanie (The Debutante's Code/$5 Amazon gift card), Kris Halcomb ($5 Amazon gift card) and Abby Patterson ($5.00 Amazon gift card) 

Thank you all for your comments and for entering the giveaway! We had a wonderful time celebrating our birthdays with you!

Tuesday: Pepper talked about Diamonds and Duds of Dynamic Duo Series Writing

Wednesday: Cate led a discussion on Making Use of the Waiting Time between editors

Thursday: Pam explained the The Mechanics of Writing Picture Books.

Monday: Erica talks about how to build your teaching resume.




Coming May 23rd...

Book three in award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus's Hope Crossing series.

A short-term solution could lead to long-term love.

When Alli Krenek returns to her hometown, she's surprised to find herself agreeing to become a nanny to Jake Walker's children. Seventeen years ago, Jake betrayed Alli's trust, and she's avoided him ever since. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more his two little ones melt her heart and Alli beings to see the man Jake has become. Is this their chance to finally heal old wounds?

Preorder your copy today!

Disclaimer: Any blog post that includes an offer of product purchase or service is NOT to be considered an endorsement by Seekerville or any of our authors (please see our Legal page )

Going Wide? Why Authors Love to Use Draft2Digital by Rene Averett at Book Brush blog

5 People You Need in Your Writerly Village by Michelle Griep at Learn How To Write A Novel

The Writer's Adventure of Using Sensory Perception, Pt 1 by DiAnn Mills at The Write Conversation

8 Tips for Writing Crime Fiction by Krystal N. Craiker at ProWritingAid blog

Two Ways to Write Organic Themes by KM Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors

Different Types of Characters in a Story by Gloria Russell at The Write Life 

How to Write with AIs by Lisa Norman at Writers In The Storm

How to Read Body Language by Sue Coletta at Kill Zone blog

Voices of Hope: Why Young Writers are Important by Dan Balow at Steve Laube agency

The 5 Turning Points of a Character Arc by Janice Hardy at Fiction University

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Mechanics of Writing Picture Books

by Pam Hillman

Back in January, I shared a bit about my foray into writing children’s picture books, and this month I want to give an overview of the big picture. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to share some actual birds-eye posts about some of the steps outlined in this post.

Let’s start with a list of simple steps that are a good starting place if you want to write children’s picture books. Some of these might shift depending on how your mind works. I personally like to come up with a title long before step 5, and there are other things I switch up, so let’s get going.

1) Determine the goal of your book (age bracket, genre, theme, etc.).

2) Outline your story. Plan the basic page and illustrations you’ll want. Even if it’s just STICK FIGURES.

3) Write the story. For children’s books, there are few words, but they need to be powerful.

4) Illustrate your book, or hire an illustrator.

5) Come up with a catchy title.

6) Independently publish or pitch your book to publishers. An established author might pitch an idea before they do most of the work.

This short list leaves a lot to the imagination (pun intended), so here are some of my notes that resulted in my first children’s book. And I just realized that the above list is what I’d call the “software” part of writing. The “hardware” is the actual HOW do you illustrate a book or produce it? And how is that different from writing and publishing an adult novel?

None of what I’m going to talk about below is set in stone. It’s just the way I did it, after researching on the internet, watching some videos, and more than a little trial and error.

I decided on an 8” x 8” print and ebook size for my children’s book. The main reason was that it would be easy to remember that each page would be SQUARE and a 2-page spread would be 16” (not accounting for the spine on a print book). In addition, anything that is square is proportional, can be sized up or down, and it still fits. I just felt that 8” x 8” was the easiest route to go, and it’s pretty standard for children’s picture books.

Decide on the number of pages in your book. I settled on 32 pages, and since it was such a short children’s book, I didn’t put the page numbers on the pages. Some children’s books have page numbers, and others don’t. So I opted to leave them off.

If you’re going to publish your children’s book as an ebook and a print book, design the print cover first, then crop the front part of the image for the ebook cover. Since I was feeling my way through this one step at a time, I did the ebook cover first. A square image. Easy peasy, yes? It was, but later when I designed the print cover, there were a few minor issues that had to be dealt with. Like bleed. By the time I allowed for bleed on the print cover, my title was a little too close to the edge of the book. Not so close that it would be chopped off, but close enough that it was noticeable that it was off-center. And allowing space for the spine. So, design the print cover first. Since there is no bleed on the ebook cover, you can easily get what you need for that cover from the print cover.

And now, this next tip is going to (seemingly) contradict Tip #2. It stands to reason that a square book will have 2000x2000px (8” x 8”) pages. But what you and readers see when you look at a book is a two-page spread of 4000x 2000px (16”x8”). So design 2 page spreads that will be used in the ebook first, then you’ll just use the left part for the image for the left page, and the right for the right page. Not only will be able to create your illustrations for both print and ebook by doing it this way, you’ll also be able to see as you go what the reader will see on a 2-page spread.

More on this…

~ On 2-page spreads, try not to put bodies, and never faces in the center (called the gutter) of the spread. Muted images from nature (like clouds, grass, and trees) work better in the gutter than anything with hard, straight lines. If you’re having trouble picturing this in your head, think of the ebb and flow of nature scenes vs. the hard, straight lines of manmade things like cars, tractors, and buildings. The gutter won’t be a problem with your ebook, but can cause real problems in the print version.

~ Study children’s picture books. Authors who design 2-page spreads publish their ebook with a two-page spread just like they do their print books. Because an illustration that covers two pages would needs to be viewed at the same time, yes? But I have seen the ebook version of a children’s picture book that was published “1-up”. I like both ways, so just be aware that if you plan to publish it 1-up, you could design each page separately if you like.

~ Don’t use bleed (this is where the image goes off the edge of the page) for two different style illustrations on opposite pages. This will look really weird in the gutter.

Since I was providing my own photos for the book, I started on my illustrations first, then I worked on the story, rearranged the order of the illustrations as the rhyming of the story progressed, then finally got to the end. If you’ll be hiring an illustrator, then this process will look different for you.

Software. I had to learn some new software techniques for this project. I researched several different programs and apps to turn photos into “cartoon-like” illustrations. Since I wasn’t expecting to make a ton of money off this endeavor, I ended up using the free version of an app called Prequel to turn my photos into illustrations that have a watercolor feeling. There’s a limit to how many images you can make per day with the free version, but it was enough to get me what I needed while I learned the ropes.

Once I had the illustrations, my outline of how I wanted it laid out, and the story written, I switched to Picmonkey to design the 4000x2000px spreads so that I could see what the reader would see on each page as I went. I added all my text and decided which font I wanted to use in Picmonkey.

I don’t know if there are proper names for the different ways to layout the pages, but I wanted to use a variety of pages. I didn’t want the entire project to consist of two-page spreads, and at the time I felt those would be harder to create. So I came up with 4 different design styles for the pages. I ended up using more of the two-page spreads than intended, but still used some of the styles listed below.

2-page spreads with full bleed to the edge of the page 1 full page and 1 Spot treatment on facing page

1 full page w/ NO illustrations on facing page

Spot treatment on facing pages

Once you are ready to publish your children’s book, there are two different “paths”, at least if you’re going to publish through KDP. One for ebooks, and one for print books.


1) Use Kindle Kids Book Creator (this creates a mobi file).

2) Everything (including cover, but I uploaded my cover separately) can be in this ONE file that’s saved as a mobi.

3) Upload the cover (jpg for ebook) and the mobi file for the ebook to kdp.

4) Test your files.

5) Publish and order a copy of your ebook. :)

For the interior pages of your PRINT version:

1) Use Powerpoint to create a “slides” for the interior pages of your print book. This was a tip I learned through watching videos. It works great.

2) Design your slides, making sure to include space for the gutters and bleed.

3) Upload the 4000x2000px spreads and then use the left portion of the image for the left page and the right portion of the image for the right page.

4) Once you get everything laid out, save to a pdf.

5) Upload the pdf to kdp and you have a print book.

For the wraparound cover of your PRINT version:

1) KDP has a template to help get the bleed, spine, and a spot for the ISBN that goes on the back cover.

2) Create your wraparound cover in whatever software you prefer. I used Prequel, then Picmonkey. Save as a jpg.

3) Unlike the ebook cover, which lets you upload a jpg, the print version requires a pdf. I can’t remember WHY I didn’t just save my jpg as a pdf, but there was a reason. I think it lost quality. But something didn’t work the way I wanted it to.

4) So, Powerpoint to the rescue again. Design the Powerpoint “slide” to be the exact size that you need for your full wraparound cover, then upload your jpg and save as a pdf. Once you have this Powerpoint template set up, and know it’s works, your good to go for all your children’s books that are 8”x8”.

There’s more to all this than time allows here, but this is a pretty good overview of the method to my madness. It sounds like a ton of work, but once you go through the process once and create your templates, the next time is so much easier. And, honestly, I went from idea to published in 2 weeks, so explaining it seems to take longer than actually doing it.

Happy creating!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Making Use of the Waiting Time

 Almost a month ago, when Emily Rodmell announced she was leaving Love Inspired, 40 of us became her publishing orphans. 

Okay, that sounds a bit dramatic, but it got me to thinking, so expect this post to be a bit of a philosophical ramble. 😉 I hope you'll stay with me and share your own thoughts.

Change is a reality of the publishing industry (not that we have a monopoly on that - change is a reality of life). And as the Bible tells us, 

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I'm showing my age here, but when I started to think about this blog, this song came to mind. (The Byrds - "Turn, Turn, Turn."

But reality or not, change can be hard. It's a time full of uncertainty, challenge, and  often waiting. 

It's the waiting that's often hardest, isn't it? Whether it be a medical diagnosis, an exam result, or a new editor. In the words of Tom Petty:

The waiting is the hardest part
Everyday you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

So what do we do in that waiting season? As I contemplated this post, that's what I zeroed in on. 

What matters is not the waiting itself, but what we do in the waiting time.

A friend recently gave me advice: Don't stop writing! (That came from her personal experience. Last year, she'd stopped writing during the five month wait to hear from a new editor, so it was a case of Do as I say, not as I did).

Don't stop writing.

That's one of the keys to success in this industry, isn't it? Don't. Stop. Writing.

Because the waiting time isn't going away.

Hurry up and get that contest entry done - and then wait months for the results.

Hurry up and get that proposal done - and then wait to get approval.

Hurry up and get that book submitted - and then wait months or even years to see it published.

So what is a writer to do in the waiting time?

A. She could languish - waste precious time wallowing in the wait.

B. She could refill her creative well - read and experience life so there is freshness to write about.

C. She could continue to write.

If this was a multiple choice test, the only wrong answer would be A. The best is probably a combination of B and C. 

If we are in agreement that not writing is wrong, then the question that follows is how do you keep motivated to do that?

When the road ahead is murky, when you can't see where it leads (and pray it's not off a cliff!), how do you make yourself keep going? How do you keep those fingers on the keyboard?

We often talk about how lucky we are to live in a publishing era where we have options. And I think maybe that's the answer. That's what makes the waiting easier. We have options.

Not sure whether you'll win that contest or get a contract? 

Not sure if your editor  (old or new) will like your voice, your plot, anything about the book at all?

The important thing to remember is, even if those come to pass, you're not out of options. There  are other publishing houses or you can Indie publish it.

In other words, there is only one way to guarantee your book will not be published - stop writing it.

I promise to listen to my own advice.  Will you?

When I went to Bible Gateway to copy the verse from  Ecclesiastes, I came upon this verse of the day:

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (New International Version 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

It felt like a particularly appropriate balm and reminder to my doubting heart, because as writers of Christian fiction, we have that ultimate assurance that whatever change may come, however long we wait, God is good and our trust remains in Him, not in the whims of the publishing market. He will light our way.

Please share your thoughts or experiences. How do you handle the waiting time?

All photos from Pixabay.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Diamonds & Duds of Dynamic Duo Series Writing

Are you a series reader? What I mean is, do you like reading book series?

I LOVE writing series!! I know it’s not for every writer just like it may not be for every reader. But, boy, oh boy, I can’t seem to NOT think in series. When I start a first book (and think it’s going to be a stand-alone) my brain immediately starts zooming in on these secondary characters to see who is going to be next 😉

Series writing is a norm for me.


Until, I was asked to write a series where the hero and heroine stayed the SAME in each book!!!

What?? (Erica can chime in here too. She’s doing the same thing with her Thorndyke and Swann series)

I’m a romance writer! The romance is the driving force in most of my fiction, so how on earth could I keep the “spark” alive for characters who’ve already been romanced in book 1 to carry through books 2 and 3??

Have you tried writing a series like that before? Do you like reading them?

As I’ve been learning how to make this type of series work, I’ve been finding a few “diamonds” and “duds” in the writing process.

Diamond: I don’t have to leave characters that I’ve loved writing! I get to follow them into the next part of their story!!

Dud: Um…what is supposed to happen next? Most of my stories end with an implied happily-ever-after, but what happens after the ever after? I have to figure that out?!!

Diamond: I get to spend more time with characters I have ADORED writing! They’re such fun!

Dud: I must figure out how to keep growing their characters/relationship far longer than I usually have to do! (Not an easy feat, my friends).

Diamond: romance and more romance – This hero and heroine are just chock-full of fun romance and humor. It’s a blast to spend time with them.

Dud: But , whereas, romance was the driving force in book 1, it’s not the focal point of the other books so now I have to learn to share that spotlight with another story purpose. I’m choosing mystery (which has been fun) but it requires a new learning curve.

Anyone ever been here before? If you’ve written a series where the main characters continue to be the main characters throughout, I’d LOVE to hear from you. What diamonds and duds did you discover?

AND, for fun, I’m giving away a paper copy of The Cairo Curse to a commenter below (U.S. entries only).   


Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance “peppered” with grace and humor. Writing both historical and contemporary novels, she loves to incorporate her native Appalachian culture and/or her unabashed adoration of the UK into her stories. Her 20th book came out in February 2023. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is a wife, mom to five great kids, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Her dual timeline novel, Hope Between the Pages, was a 2022 finalist for the prestigious Christy awards. Pepper loves connecting with readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook & Instagram.

You can learn more about Pepper and her books on her website at

Monday, March 20, 2023

It's a Birthday Bash!

 Erica here. Guess what? It's my birthday!

And guess what?

It's Mary Connealy's birthday, too! 

Mary and I are birthday twins! How cool is that? Mary was one of my very first writing friends, and I love her dearly, so imagine my joy when I found out we shared the same birthday!

Did you know we also share our birthday with two other famous people? That's right. We share a birthday with the incomparable Mr. Fred Rogers...

And Big Bird from Sesame Street. 

How cool is that? Birthday buddies with so many beloved people! I'm blessed!

To celebrate our mutual birthday, we're serving calorie-free virtual cake. Lemon drizzle with a blueberry buttercream frosting! (Guess who has been watching too much Great British Baking Show?)

We're also giving away prizes! Two winners will be drawn to receive a print copy of the books below, plus a $5.00 amazon gift card, and FOUR MORE winners will be drawn to receive $5.00 amazon gift cards! A total of SIX WINNERS!

How do you enter? Either or BOTH of two ways. Comment below telling us what famous people you might share your birthday with (not the year, just the month/day) and/or use the rafflecopter link below, follow us on Social Media, and be entered that way!

Here's the link to the Rafflecopter:

A couple of happy writers on a
freezing cold writer's retreat in January.

Thanks for helping us celebrate our birthdays!