Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Weekend Edition

Welcome to the Weekend Edition!
As we launch into the FINAL WEEK OF SPEEDBO!
Be sure to share how you're doing in the comments!

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. Send to

 Check here to see if you were a Speedbo winner this week!

Monday: Janet Dean gave us a lift with her post "Speedbo got you down? Give yourself the gift of Kindness." The winner of a five page critique is Kathy Bailey. The winner of one of Janet's eBooks is Caryl Kane.

Tuesday: Amanda Cabot joined us as we discussed "The Power Of A Family Tree." The winner of an autographed copy of A Stolen Heart is DebH.

Wednesday: Bestselling author Elizabeth Musser was in the house to offer a glimpse into her very unusual writing life and how she's managed to remain relatively (but certainly not totally) sane! The winner of her most recent release, The Long Highway Home, is Terri Tiffany.

Thursday: Jill Weatherholt was our special guest with her post, "The Payoff of Perseverance." She's celebrating her debut release from Love Inspired. Toni Shiloh and  Evelyn Hill are winners of  Second Chance Romance!

 Monday:  Seeker Tina Radcliffe brings her friends to Seekerville to share, "Deadline Tales From Trenches." Speedbo, book deadline or contest entry deadline, you are not alone as you madly dash toward "The End." Stop by for fun and a cool giveaway!

Tuesday: Sandra Leesmith will discuss the importance of hiring an editor before sending your manuscript out and/or indie publishing your book. She has invited Rachelle Rea Cobb, a freelance editor to answer questions.  Sandra will be giving away five copies of Rachelle's helpful book: Write Well: A Grammar Guide.

Wednesday: As the end of March looms, Glynna Kaye offers "Speedbo Countdown! Getting Yourself to The End with a Quick Win," and the opportunity to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of her May Love Inspired release, The Nanny Bargain.

Thursday: Tina Radcliffe brings you "The WHY of Motivation." We'll talk about Stupid Heroine Syndrome and all sorts of fun things. See you there! 

Friday: We bring you our final Speedbo Best of the Archives posts. Comments are closed on Friday to allow us more reading and writing time!

Check out Tina Radcliffe's short romance, Matchmaker Dad in the April 3, issue of Woman's World Magazine. On sale, NOW!

April is coming! Time to polish those Speedbo manuscripts. Held one time only this year. Details and sign-up information here.

Thanks for the link love!

Congratulations to the RITA and Golden Heart finalists. A special Villager shout-out to  GH finalists Dianna Shuford and Laura Conner Kestner. And to RITA finalists, Karen Witemeyer, Kara Isaacs, Carol J Post, Margaret Browning and Robin Lee Hatcher. Here's the list: you should be reading RITA finaling books in the category you are writing or targeting. 

Discover the Joy of Inspirational Romance with 3 FREE Love Inspired ebooks!

The State of Social Media Demographics: 2017 Benchmarks [Infographic] (HubSpot)

5 Tools Every Indie Author Should Use (Social Media Just for Authors) 

 How Do I Stay Published With Lackluster Sales (Janet Reid, Literary Agent)

How To Rescue a Book in Danger of Dying (Writers Helping Writers)

As we enter the last week of Speedbo, let's lift each other in prayer and recall the words of Elizabeth Musser from her post on Wednesday.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Best of the Archives: Write the Scene

 Writing a scene seems straightforward enough, but I want to journey past the basics and  into a few other areas of scene that have been on my mind.

If you've been in my online class the basics are not new. You have permission to eat donuts while I review scene and ignore sequel for today. Please save me a maple glazed donut.

The Basics of Scene:

When you write a scene, your goals are to elicit emotion and move your story forward. 

Just like your book has GMC (Goal, Motivation & Conflict) , your scenes have GCD. 

Structure of Scenes:

Goal->Character wants something
Conflict ->2 characters with incompatible goals
Disaster->hook, unexpected development

In many inspirational and sweet romance novels, the conflict and disaster are what is called "low tension." The conflict provides enough worry factor to satisfy the reader but generally does not involve world peace. 

The disaster at the end of the scene can be as simple an internal monologue of worry or "what am I going to do now?"  Or it can be a real "gasp" hook as in suspense or action novels.  Varying your disaster in each scene provides more interest for your reader so they don't predict what's next.

And remember that disaster is why you do not end your scenes with going to bed. The reason we end with disaster is so the story advances, the tension increases and the reader keeps turning the pages. 

Additionally, every scene asks a question: Take the scene goal and turn it into a question. Will xx get xx? The character should always be in worse shape at the end of the scene than at the start.

 An example of scene GCD:

  • Goal: Daisy wants the land that borders the river and plans to purchase it today after selling her cows at market. (The scene question is, will Daisy get the land?)
  • Conflict: She goes to the claim office and discovers the price on the land has gone up.
  • Disaster: Not only that but Cade (her mortal enemy) tells her he intends to buy it and the only way she can have that land is to marry him.

Cheesy, but you get my point. 

And here are some real disaster scene endings from books on my shelf- notice the variety of different types of tension in the disaster endings.

The fire engine’s horn sounded before the vehicle pulled away from the curb.Maggie shook her head, willing herself out of the daze that had wrapped itself around her.
“I’m simply going to have to stay out of his way,” she murmured. “Because Jake MacLaughlin is an exceptionally dangerous man.” 
Safe in the Fireman's Arms-Tina Radcliffe 

The doctor looked up from her crouched position. "Less than ten years, and these markings on the rib cage-" she pointed at the tiny lines "-are lacerations made by a knifelike instrument. It would appear a crime has occurred on your island, Sheriff Grant. And my assessment says it's murder." 
 Grave Danger-Katy Lee 
 Reel wondered if Robie was still coming after her. She wondered if right now he regretted not killing her.
Her phone buzzed. She looked down at the screen.
Will Robie had just answered her.
The Hit- David Baldacci

And yet, once again I will mention my post 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now as I reference scenes with no goals.
So, if getting ham and cheese on rye with the hero is your only scene goal, the conflict better be that the waitress hates your heroine and wants the hero and the disaster is she poisoned your heroine.

Resources for further research on Scene:

Scene & Structure-Jack M. Bickham

Writing the Perfect Scene –Randy Ingermanson

 And just for fun here is Joanna Penn from the Creative Penn talking about how she writes scenes.

I've laid the foundation. Now let's talk about a common practice I see with newer writers. If you think I'm talking about you, you're right and wrong. We've all been there and done that. I even have the shirt. 
Writing Around the Scene 

Writing AROUND the scene usually occurs when your hero and heroine are about to share the stage in a monumental way. The writer leads you up to the scene nicely and then stops right on the edge of the precipice. 

The next thing on the page is either hours later, the next day, or worse, reflection by one of the characters about the scene that we never saw (this reflection is called sequel btw).

Don't do that. Why? Because you are cheating your reader and subconsciously making them very cranky. Allow me to explain.

Scenes are live.

Everything you say happens in a scene must play out in real time. TIME IS REAL IN EACH SCENE. -Michael Hauge

 Yes, we all use techniques to show the passage of time, however, that is used to avoid the stuff readers skip over, like sleeping, showering, using the loo.

BUT passage of time techniques must never, ever cheat your reader.

Every scene is not only going to provide GCD (Goal, Conflict, Disaster) and advance your story, but it also is an opportunity to endear your reader to your protagonist. To get them into the skin of our character. To make them root for your hero/heroine. Make them care. It's also an opportunity to elicit emotion. 

When you make your readers part of the journey then they think about your characters long after they close the book. 

Now on to more sticky scene stuff....

A while back Mary Connealy mentioned the fear that writers have as they sit, hands poised over the keyboard ready to tackle a difficult scene. Let's address that because again, it's another writerly phenomenon we all experience.

Fear of Writing the Scene 

We are neurotic writers who talk to people in our heads, and our fears include:

  • Fear of the audience
  • Fear of the editor
  • Fear of ourselves
  • Fear of the art

This begins with some basic neurosis as you self-talk.  

What if I can’t get what’s in my head onto the paper?

Who am I to tell this story?

What if I fail?

What if it’s misinterpreted?

What if they don’t hear it, taste it, feel it as I do?

What if I freeze in the clutch?

What if they find out I'm a fraud?

What if my editor hates it?

What if I get one-star reviews?

The first step toward writing past your fear is to IGNORE YOUR HEAD. (AND STOP READING REVIEWS -You know who you are and yes, I am talking to you!)

You are not alone in your fears, so just go ahead and write the scene.

The writer does not know what he knows. You must remain with a difficult scene for as long as it takes to dig deeply into yourself and discover more of what you know. You not only complete the scene but add to your store of writing skill.

The "short breath" writer is facile and easily discouraged. When he exhausts what he knows, he rearranges and never learns anything new. He repeats and re-repeats. The "long breath" writer plunges deeply until he finds what he needs. He emerges from the depths of "self" with new material, new techniques. He learns from himself.

Dare to Be a Great Writer-Leonard Bishop

Now I leave you with a thought-provoking technique to consider when you sit down to write your next scene:

Every scene has a "hot spot," the moment that the rest of the scene is built around. One way to determine the best length for a scene is to locate that moment and draw a box around it. Then read backward from there. Read the previous paragraph and ask yourself whether or not it  (or all the sentences in it) contributes to that hot spot. Then repeat the paragraph before that and repeat the process. By alternating the traditional linear reading, you get a more objective perspective of each line and are able to cut those that interfere.

Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes-Ray Obstfeld.

Here's the promised quiz for today:

 What's your greatest fear about writing the scene? 

This post first appeared in Seekerville, May 22, 2015. Comments are closed today so we can catch up on our reading and writing.

Tina Radcliffe can be found, writing that scene in Arizona. Sign up for her newsletter at to keep up with her!

Her online class Self-Editing for Beginners will be held April 3-28 this year. Details and sign up information can be found here. 

If you're out and about buying essentials like chocolate and Peeps today, pick up the April 3 issue of Woman's World with her romantic short, Matchmaking Dad!

And finally, Bradley Cooper told Tina that she needs to build up her presence on Book Bub. Yes. Really, he did. Would you kindly go and follow her on Book Bub? All that will do is send you an email when she has a book released.  Here is the link. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Payoff of Perseverance

with guest Jill Weatherholt. 


In 2008, when I started stalking reading Seekerville, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be contacted by Tina, to write a blog post. But that’s our God—always full of surprises.

Recently, after reading my old journals, I realized 2008 was the year I began to study posts written by the Seekers. I printed articles and created notebooks. I currently have three, but I’m adding on each day. 

Also during that year, I became obsessed with author websites. I read about their road to publication, books they recommended for writers, anything I could get my hands on…I devoured it all.

It was in 2010 that I’d heard about the National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. The contest required participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Turn off your inner editor, get the words on the page and in the end, you’d have a start to a rough draft. At that time, I’d written a few short stories, but had yet to attempt writing a novel. Fifty thousand words in thirty days….how hard could that be. Sign me up!

Committing to 1667 words per day when you have a day job, family responsibilities, keeping up with housework, health issues and other minor disasters that can spring up any day of the week, was no easy feat. But my stubborn Type-A personality was not going to be defeated.  

These were just a few of the thoughts that swirled through my head during that first NaNoWriMo.

Day 1: “I exceeded my daily word goal of 1667. I love November!”
Day 2: “Why am I torturing myself?”
Day 3: “Who needs an outline, I’m a born panster!”
Day 4: “It’s Sunday, isn’t this the day of rest?”
Day 5: “Ugh, Monday…this story stinks!”
Day 6: “I’m a writing machine. I might finish by November 15th!”
Day 7: “This is so hard, I’ll never finish.”
Day 8: “I’m still on track.”
Day 9: “I’m stuck. Should I have my heroine get hit by a bus?”
Day 10: “What’s the point? This will never get published.”

Well, guess what? That story—the very first book I’d ever written was published by Harlequin Love Inspired, this year. 

Second Chance Romance
So, had I worked on that book for seven years? Heck no!

I tinkered with it off and on. Even a few of the Seekers were kind enough to critique some pages. Then in 2011, an unexpected job loss along with health issues, forced me to put my writing aside. Although that story stayed hidden on my hard drive, Jackson, Melanie, and the Shenandoah Valley lingered in my mind.

In 2015, here on Seekerville, I read about the Blurb to Book Contest sponsored by Harlequin. Initially, I hadn’t planned on entering. What was the point? I’d never advance. But a last minute decision had me writing a blurb and submitting the first page of that old NaNoWriMo project. My only expectation was the opportunity to have a professional editor, provide feedback.

On May 15, 2015, when I got home from work, I checked the contest announcement. I had advanced. With disbelief, I scanned the list again. From that day forward, I wrote like a crazy person to rewrite the entire book by the July 15th deadline.

A month later, on a rainy Monday morning at the day job, I got the call from my lovely editor. She asked if I knew why she was calling. “I think so.” I squeaked. That’s it. That’s all I remembered about the call. Thankfully, everything she’d said after my response was typed in an email, for my review.

I’ll never forget that day. Never—ever!  When I participated in NaNoWriMo, I just wanted to write a book, but God had bigger plans for me. And that’s what I’ve learned during this journey, GOD HONORS PERSEVERANCE.

So, are you ready for your payday? Share in your comment a time when persistence paid off. Today, I’m giving away two copies of Second Chance Romance. Let me know if you’d like your name in the dish. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Second Chance Romance

Small-Town Daddy 

Jackson Daughtry's jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him busy—but the single dad's number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner's hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie's pretty brown eyes. Now it'll take all his faith—and a hopeful five-year-old—to show the city gal that she's already home.

By day, Jill Weatherholt works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, but her heart belongs to Virginia. She holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University. She shares her life with her real-life hero and number one supporter. Their relationship grew on the golf course, and now they have one in their backyard. Jill believes in enjoying every moment of this journey because God has everything under control.

Day 23 of Speedbo!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Long Highway Home

My Long Highway Home

by Elizabeth Musser

I’m home now. After almost twenty-five years on this writing journey, I’ve finally found my way home.

I certainly don’t mean I’ve found my permanent publishing house. I’ve had four different American publishers and four different international publishers along the way, and the book I just launched was my first indy novel.

I don’t mean I’ve finally settled into the perfect routine, finding the way to balance my 30+ year career in missions with my calling as a writer. I still juggle, after all these years.

Nor do I mean that I’ve become a savvy marketing-social-media-writing genius.

What I mean is simply I’ve come home to accept that my writing life will always be on a roller-coaster. And I’ve come home to embrace the simple truth of receiving what has been given me to do each day, John-the-Baptist-style. He said it first. “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3: 27)

He made his home in the desert and refused to play the comparison game with his godly God-like cousin.  He did his job, and he let Jesus do His. John the Baptist lost his head along the way, doing his job. But he didn’t lose his heart. His heart was Christ’s. All along.

I hope it doesn’t sound heretical to use John the B as an example, but he’s helped me so very much these last months as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into all the craziness of launching a book in this slot of space during the 21st century.

He’s led me home, back to Jesus. Not just back to “Hey, Jesus, help me write this next scene,” but a desperate, “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”

It’s embracing every aspect of the life I’ve been called to live and living it moment by moment with Jesus.

Oh, I know I was supposed to be doing this all along, from that Sunday morning when, at nine years old, I walked down the red-carpeted aisle to the front of the big Baptist church and gave my life to Jesus.

And admittedly, this 40+ year journey has brought me further and further along the road to total dependence on Him. But it’s brought lots of brokenness too.

Love, love, love this Persian Proverb:

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? He keeps shining His truth into all the dark places of our heart until we break, we confess, we repent and we cling again to Him. He tears off the layers of pride, one-by-excruciatingly-painful-(at times) one.

Ever since I was six years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. When at nine, I grabbed onto Jesus, my prayers to Him were often, “If you’ve given me this gift of writing, show me how to use it for You.”

Always, always, Jesus put others in my life to keep the dream alive: my grandmother, my teachers and professors, my husband, our prayer partners who received my quarterly letters from France and wrote, “You have a gift; you should write a book.”

And then, at my first writers’ conference, I re-met a friend and former fellow missionary who was now an editor at a publishing house. He believed in my first story. So after almost thirty years of praying that prayer, from little-girl dreams to young-adult ministry, I received my first contract to write a novel. The year was 1994, and sitting down at my computer to write felt like getting a hug from the Lord. Every day.

I got to do what I had longed for and dreamed about ever since I was a small child.

But I was also living my other dream as a missions’ worker, helping to start a French evangelical church. And that job was not all croissants and cathedrals, wine and cheese. It was so, so very heart-breakingly hard, pouring ourselves out in a land filled with fascinating culture and breath-taking beauty and deep, deep disappointment with God.

I had a husband, two young sons, a missionary team, hundreds of prayer partners to correspond with, a fledgling church and my first contract. Perfectionist that I was (am?), I determined that I should be a full-time wife, mother, missionary and novelist. I literally almost worked myself to death. I got sick. For three long and extremely painful years.

I was broken.

When people used to ask my advice for getting published, I’d say write, write, write and pray, pray, pray.

I still give this advice. But I add, Cling. To Jesus. Like those grapes on a vine. Tenaciously. Please don’t let your dreams outsmart you, so that you think it’s being done for the Lord but it’s really just a lot of stuff being done.

That only leads to me and you being DONE.

I had to choose to be true to my callings, day after day after day, which meant some days were spent writing, some days spent with a struggling young believer, some days were spent in bed, recovering from illness. Some days were so dark that I could only thank Jesus that so many others were interceding for me.

But I held on. Tight. To Jesus.

Finally, after I had clung (clinged??) to that Vine long enough, well, I began to bend, bend, bend.

My most recent part of breaking, bending, clinging and coming home was admitting that, in this slice of life on earth, I had to accept the blood, sweat and tears of the business side of writing as simply a part of the job. Everyone who works has parts of the job that are enjoyable and other parts that aren’t. Did I think I could somehow skip (or at least skimp) on the parts I disliked?

Coming home has meant embracing social media, little by pulling-my-teeth-out little, realizing that although it is crazy time-consuming, it does give even more interaction with my wonderful readers. On my long journey home, I don’t think I would have persevered if it hadn’t been for my readers. “Your books have drawn me closer to Jesus.” “I had strayed far from Christ. Your novel helped bring me back.” “Thank you for writing stories with a soul.”

And in this season of writing, coming home has meant being inspired by true stories of our colleagues pouring out their lives for refugees, and of refugees finding Jesus at a ministry center near Vienna called The Oasis that serves up coffee and Christ.

So I penned The Long Highway Home.

Right before the novel went to print, I found the perfect verse to start with (you know, after the title page). “A highway will be there. It will be called the Way of Holiness.” Isaiah 35: 8.

I also came across another quote from the Persian poet Rumi that seemed absolutely PERFECT to add under the Isaiah verse:


I googled the quote again, just to make sure
Sigh. (And you can go ahead and google the quote to find out his name, but please finish reading this post and commenting first.)
Rumi had actually written it. He didn’t. A really weird (living) guy who believes in a lot of weird stuff said it. I couldn’t start the book off with him.

But it’s true, isn’t it? In the body of Christ, we are all just walking each other home.

So today, I want to ask you this: How has Jesus broken your heart and helped you bend thankfully to Him in praise? Are you clinging to Him? Who on this journey of life in Christ has helped walk you home? Anything you need to give up to Him during this Lenten season?

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5

Leave a comment answering one of Elizabeth's questions above or just to welcome her, and you will be entered to win a copy of her latest novel, The Long Highway Home.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years.  All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.

Back Cover Copy for The Long Highway Home:

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.

When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier.  Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger.  Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time?  And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.