Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

Melanie Dickerson here. Have you ever started a story thinking you had this amazing conflict that would keep your readers enthralled until the end of the story, only to realize early on that it’s not feasible to keep this conflict going for the whole story? You don't want the story to get boring. 

I used to panic when this would happen, but I realized something. Rather than dragging out a problem beyond believability, why not just let that conflict be resolved—and add a new conflict?

I try to let my conflicts resolve themselves in a believable amount of time. I don't want the story to drag, and it will if there isn't enough believable conflict. The trick is to make sure there are other conflicts that will take prominence as soon as that other conflict, or problem, is resolved.

For example, in one of my favorite movies, Penelope, starring Christina Ricci and James McAvoy, Penelope’s parents hide their daughter from the public, since she has the nose and ears of a pig, as they search for a society blue-blood to marry her and break the curse. This tension of hiding keeps the viewer wondering what will happen if and when people see Penelope's "disfigured" face. But this is resolved partway through the movie when Penelope runs away from home and her photograph is plastered all over the media. She immediately becomes a media darling, beloved by the public.

But there is another conflict that takes that one’s place—the bad guy begins dating her and she gets engaged to him. We knows he’s only doing it as a publicity stunt to repair his reputation--and the hero, who's really in love with her, knows that too. This is a huge point of angst for our hero and heroine, both of whom we have grown to love. There are also other conflicts that were started in the beginning that carry over. So even though one of the main sources of conflict is resolved, there are still plenty of unanswered questions and unresolved conflict keeping us engaged in the story.

In my book, The Beautiful Pretender, which is a Princess and the Pea /slash/ Beauty and the Beast mash-up, the heroine is an imposter. She’s not the daughter of an earl, as the hero supposes, but is actually just a maidservant. In my mind the climax would come when [spoiler alert] the hero chooses the heroine from all the other marriageable daughters of dukes and earls and other nobles—and immediately discovers she has been using a false identity. All manner of sparks will fly.

The problem was that about halfway through the story, I realized the plot would soon start to grow boring if I tried to drag out that "climax/black moment" scene until the end. There were only so many scenes I could write about the hero “testing” the young ladies to see who was the most noble, building up to the moment when he would choose a wife. So I did a bit more brainstorming, even getting my editor on the phone to brainstorm with me. I realized I still had a lot of loose ends that would need to be tied up, not to mention more time for the hero and heroine to fall in love and resolve the conflict caused by her deceiving him.

I went ahead and had the big scene almost two-thirds of the way through the story—too early to be a true “climax/black moment” scene, which the reader was already expecting anyway. However, the reader would not expect me to let that scene come with a third of the story left. This is tricky. On the one hand, I surprised my reader. But on the other hand, I couldn't let that last third of the book be boring because all their questions had been answered. So I created lots of danger, which had already been building and was foreshadowed earlier. Also, my hero and heroine had not declared their love for each other, and the obstacles keeping them from marrying were as great as ever.

I allowed my villains to wreak havoc, making the conflict stronger than ever. The heroine was stranded in the woods where wolves were lurking and the hero had to save her. The villain took over the hero’s castle, and he and the heroine spent several hours hiding from him. This led to lots of lovely scenes of danger and angst and longing. It worked well, I think, because that book has the highest ratings of any of my other books on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. I was able to resolve that major conflict—revealing the heroine’s true identity to the hero and everyone else in the story—because there was plenty of other conflicts to deal with, including the fall-out from the revelation.

I seem to have a lot of stories with characters who are using false identities. In The Noble Servant, both the hero and the heroine are hiding their identities, for different reasons. I was not quite sure when I wanted this to be revealed. The question keeping the reader reading was: When will the hero and heroine discover the true identity of the other? I decided to answer that question fairly early, since I didn’t want to drag it on so long that it lost its tension. But there were lots of other questions to take its place. Will the villain discover that the hero is still alive? Will he see him and kill him? Will the hero and heroine find proof of the hero’s identity so he can resume his rightful place? Why does the villain think the heroine has something valuable enough to kill over? And what is that thing? And there are lots of other questions, hopefully not least of which is, Will the hero overcome his fears about falling in love, fall in love with the heroine, and marry her? (Of course, we know he will, since this is a romance, but hopefully the reader desperately WANTS them to fall in love, and wants to see HOW this lovely event will come about.)

So, it’s time to dish about your own stories, or about the stories you’ve been reading. Are you making sure you’re not dragging your conflicts out too long, afraid of resolving them too soon? Are you making sure you have enough different conflicts so that resolving one of them (perhaps unexpectedly and thus delighting your readers) doesn’t defuse too much of your lovely conflict and tension? And as a reader, do you ever get delighted by a conflict that gets resolved sooner than you thought, only to be replaced by more lovely conflict? Do tell. One lucky commenter will win a copy of your choice of The Beautiful Pretender or The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest.

And I can't help getting excited about The Orphan's Wish, releasing on June 26. Aladdin and Kirstyn . . . sigh. Available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, and all the others. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

One on One with Georgiana Daniels

Hey, Seeker-villagers! Erica Vetsch here. I am thrilled to host my good friend, Georgiana Daniels, on the blog today. Georgiana has a brand new book out called Shadows of Hope, and as someone who has been privileged to read it, I can say, you will not walk away from this story without taking a hard look at your faith and asking some hard questions about what you would do if you were in her characters’ shoes.

Here’s what I had to say about the book: “Georgiana Daniels is a courageous writer. She emotionally takes you to places other authors rarely dare, making you care about her characters while eagerly turning pages. Just when you think you can’t bear the tension and heartache a moment longer, she shows you the true beauty of God’s love. Because she braves taking her characters to the very brink of emotional destruction, the redemption story shines even brighter. Shadows of Hope embroils its characters in an impossible situation that only God could unravel and heal, and only Georgiana Daniels could deliver such a story so fearlessly.”

(As a former critique partner of Georgiana's, I can say that I read her work through my fingers, wincing and laughing and thinking "Oh, no, she wouldn't!" just before she did!)
Georgiana and me at an ACFW Conference Gala
Georgiana and I have been on this writing road for more than a decade together. We met on the blog circuit, noticing that we read and commented on the same blogs, and struck up a friendship. We joined a critique group together, and we laughed and cried and cringed and celebrated our friendship and our writing, even after we no longer critiqued each other’s work.

Georgiana and me in Sedona, AZ. 

We’ve had some good times, and I am so happy Georgiana’s here today to share about her new book and about herself. I thought, rather than the same-old, same-old interview questions, I would borrow an idea from another blogger….my bloggy friend Charity, who did one of the most hilarious interviews I have ever participated in on her blog ATransparentMom. You can read our encounter on her blog here:

I thought it might be fun to interview Georgiana in the same vein, and then answer the questions myself and then let you score us with best answer in the comments! (Winner gets virtual chocolate that is delicious and calorie free!...also we’ll throw some virtual confetti and give you a virtual tiara….obviously all prizes worth striving for!)

From Flickr Creative Commons
No changes have been made. 

Georgiana: First, I want to say how much I appreciate getting to hang out with you lovely ladies today! Much has changed since the last time I was here, but the warmth and friendship are the same. You’re all the best!

1. What is the one thing you remember about when we roomed together at the ACFW Conference?
G: It all depends on which time. The first time we roomed together, the thing I will always remember is when we both realized we felt the same way about something but we’d each been too chicken to speak up. Then we roared until big tears—oh, the tears—were rolling down our faces! That’s when I knew I had a friend for life. I do hope we can room together again one day! There’s much more trouble to be had.

E: I remember rooming in Dallas together and getting absolutely NO sleep! We talked and talked and talked and then it was suddenly 3 am! Then we’d be up and at ‘em by 7 the next morning, and do it all over again the next night. And the last night was the night of the ‘sick out’ by American Airlines pilots, and we were on the phone at 5 am trying to get you a flight home! I think we maybe got 12 hrs of sleep the entire weekend!

2. What song is most likely to get stuck in your head on continuous loop?

G: Whichever song is featured in our youngest daughter’s latest play. Currently “I Like to Move It” is on my mental loop, and now I’m convinced that I do, in fact, like to move it. On a sad note, it’s not such a good song for when I’m reading historical novels…it doesn’t match. Do you ever get ear-worms that don’t match what you’re reading? Pure torture!

On no…there it goes again! What have you done to me?

E: LOL! You’re welcome! For me, it will be a song I only hear part of in a store or in the car on the radio, and I have to go to Youtube and listen to the whole thing before it will get out of my head!!!! At the moment, it's Ed Sheeran's Perfect. Sometimes it's Passenger's Let Her Go. Obviously coffee shop music features largely in my life.

3. What is your guilty pleasure tv show?

G: Ancient Aliens! I once asked on Facebook if it could be used as homeschool history with the caveat I was asking for a friend. I get the feeling people knew it was for me. So yeah, the truth is out there. I was asking for me. Because Mondays.

E: My guilty pleasure tv show used to be Survivor, but now, thanks to another writing friend, it’s The Amazing Race. We watch it at the same time and text each other our impressions. What is it about that show? I usually wait a couple weeks to get to know the players, then pick my team. And I also pick the team I like the LEAST…who inevitably seem to win. Obviously, I need to watch several more seasons so I can perfect my technique!

4. What is your favorite memory of fourth grade?

G: It certainly wasn’t my bell bottom pants! The sad thing is, I’m having a really hard time remembering 4th grade. How embarrassing is that? Let’s see…I had just had a baby sister, just changed schools, and had ginormous cheeks. I’m going with baby sister.

E: A baby sister is a cool thing to get in 4th grade. My favorite memory of 4th grade was when Mrs. Cunningham stood in front of the class and asked who had ‘accordion-pleated’ the filmstrip? And she unrolled a beautifully zigzagged roll of plastic. Someone had sat in the back of the classroom (where we were allowed to watch filmstrips…with the accompanying red plastic square record as long as we had our work done and wore the headphones) and frame by frame folded the filmstrip into a little stack. …There went our filmstrip privileges for the rest of the year. FYI, it wasn’t me! 

5. What fashion trend do you wish would return?

G: The 80’s, the 80’s, anything from the 80’s! Except those Richard Simmons shorts. Those were a bad idea. But what I really miss is having giant hair! Did you have the big bangs that curled over your forehead like a tsunami? Man, I sure did. I was really tall in the 80’s.

E: YES! Bring back the giant hair! I rocked those bangs, and the big curls, and the side-ponytail. And the banana clip. If we could only bring back the banana clip…I still have big hair, even without the hairspray and hot rollers of the 80s. As my son likes to say, “Mom, sometimes your hair OWNS you!” He's such a brat. lol!

6. Salty or sweet snacks?

G: Salty—just like me.

E: Ha! Ha! Salty? You? No!!

Is it wrong of me to say both? I love mixing my snacks…M&Ms with potato chips, Raisins with peanuts. That’s probably why I like Kettle Corn so much! Anybody else like mixing their snacks?

7. Favorite thing about church?

G: Aside from the obvious—GOD!—I love being with His people. Is there anything more wonderful than fellowship? We can see how much He loves us by the people He gives us to journey with.

E: YES! Me too! The people! My little church has the most hilarious, generous, fun people who love Jesus and want to be more like Him. Also, at least one hysterically funny thing happens every week at church, which has us rolling and keeps things lively. What more could you ask?

8. What is your secret talent?

G: I’m supposed to have a talent? Now you tell me! Evidently it’s a well-kept secret, even from me.

But here’s something few people know: I was 2nd runner up in the 1990 Miss Arctic Circle Pageant. For the talent competition I played the piano. I want to say it was a Chopin piece, but I’m certain that if it was I didn’t do it justice! I was never that good and only played for fun.

I was always better at clarinet, and when my kids are getting salty they call me Squidward.

E: Cheeky girls! LOL! I had no idea about any of that! Miss Arctic Circle? Piano? Clarinet? Where have you been hiding these facts??? I want a picture of you in a pageant with tsunami hair!

My hidden talent…hmmm…is it possible that I’ve asked a question that I have no answer to? Okay, I’ll fess up to being able to play the piano. I took lessons for 10 years, and I learned to play Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Rachmaninoff, etc. But I never learned to play hymns. I’m scared someone will ask me to play in church sometime!

9. What unpublished story do you have in your stash that you really hope sees the light of day someday?

G: Ooooo, I love this question, but it’s tough to answer because there are just so many—unpublished stories, that is. Plus I’ve tried All The Genres. You’ve read most of the stories, I think—chick lit, suspense, romance.

I’m going to go with Honey Do, Inc. because I like how the heroine didn’t figure out which man she was truly in love with until the end. Or maybe Shadows of Alaska where no one (including me!) knew who the villain was until the end. Wait….I’m sensing a theme.

E: Um, yes, that used to drive me crazy…I kept thinking “How can she be so adept at keeping readers in the dark about who the bad guy is, or who the heroine will chose?” And all the time it was because you didn’t know yourself!!! FYI, Honey Do, Inc. is my favorite!

For me, my unclaimed treasure is Drums of the North Star, a story set in Minnesota during the Dakota War of 1862. The hero is a missionary to the Dakota, and the heroine is his fiancĂ©e, and when she’s kidnapped by the people he’s come to serve, he has to decide if he’s out for revenge or repentance.

10. What one piece of writing advice to you have for those seeking publication?
G: Run for your life! Mostly kidding….but be ready for all the hard parts. When it came to being prepared for the hard parts, I was clueless.

In light of that, my real piece of advice is to write because you love to write, not only because you’re seeking publication. Also, pursue other areas of interest that will grant you immediate success. It’s good to have something that will give you a quick win on days where writing isn’t going as planned. For me it’s knitting. I can make things—pretty things, all the things—even when my writing life gives me a swift kick.

E: Excellent advice! I would add, build your community of support. Without my writing friends (like YOU, Georgiana!) I don’t know if I would’ve had the fortitude to keep on in this business when things got hard, or gotten the information I needed to make some choices, or been able to celebrate successes with people who really know what the writing journey is all about.

11. BONUS QUESTION: What are some words or phrases that you have USED TO DEATH in a manuscript, that your critique partner had to cull for you over and over???

G: Apparently I have chosen to block it out! For some reason I can remember other people’s really well: leather (cough, cough), peered (cough, cough).

Oh, wait! In Shadows of Hope I seemed to have a penchant for the word “peeled.” Everyone was peeling things, like Tristan peeling the glasses off his face and such. Thankfully it was caught and changed. Mostly.

E: LOL, Leather! Yep, that was me. Everything was leather…leather buggy seats, leather blotter, leather wing-back chairs…Okay, peered was mine, too…Everyone was peering into, over, and around everything! LOL I seem to choose a different pet word or phrase for each story I write. It’s so funny later, but when I get edits back, I am smacking my forehead and wincing! 

Thanks for visiting with us at Seekerville today, and for letting me put you through this ridiculous interview! :) Such a good sport!

Georgiana: Thank you so much for inviting me to Seekerville! I have long admired you lovely ladies. And this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time!

So, there you have it, the silliest, most fun interview format ever. Now it's your turn!

  • Give us your thoughts, answer one or more of the interview questions yourself
  • Score us on who you think answered the questions better
  • Let us know your thoughts of Georgiana’s new book, Shadows of Hope! (Blurb below)
  • Leave us a comment and you’ll win all the virtual prizes, PLUS you'll be entered to win a copy of Shadows of Hope for yourself! 

About the author: Georgiana Daniels resides in the beautiful mountains of Arizona with her super-generous husband and three talented daughters. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor's degree in public relations and now has the privilege of homeschooling by day and wrestling with the keyboard by night. She enjoys sharing God's love through fiction and is exceedingly thankful for her own happily ever after.

About the Book: A story of hope in the aftermath of inconceivable betrayal and broken dreams

What if. . .
. . .you struggled with infertility but unknowingly befriended your husband’s pregnant mistress?

What if. . .
. . .the woman you were seeing behind your wife’s back gets pregnant, threatening your job and marriage?

What if. . .
. . .your boyfriend never told you he was married and you discover you’re pregnant?

Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope.

If you absolutely can't wait to get your hands on a copy, you can purchase your copy by clicking HERE

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at where she spends way too much time!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Where's Your Cherry Tree?

Hello Seekerville! Sharee Stover here, and I’m super excited to be with you all today. A lot has happened since last year when I visited as a Contest Diva. To be specific, in July I received THE CALL. You know the one…Author sends book, editor calls author offering a contract? Yep, that one! And it’s been a whirlwind ever since. As fabulous as it is living the dream, I haven’t stopped dreaming because over a hot cup of coffee or tea (no judgments here, whichever is your favorite is fine with me), I plan. I should mention plan is my middle name. Prior to July, I had a plan and it went something like this:

Write book

Get agent

Get book contract


Yes, in that order. Instead my plan went more like this:

Write book

Respond to editor request for blurbs

Get book contract

See the missing component? That missing thing became my cherry tree. Please allow me to explain through a story.

One spring afternoon my son and I chatted in the garage while he worked on his car, and a robin flew in through one of the open garage doors. The poor bird got flustered and kept trying to get out through the closed side window.

I opened the other garage door to help Mr. Robin with his exit options. It didn’t work.

Even though we had two huge wide-open doors, he was determined to fly out through a closed window instead. Now, in all fairness, there was a cherry tree on the other side of the window. Perhaps Mr. Robin entered the garage with the cherry tree in his sights to begin with? I’m not sure, and he didn’t offer an explanation. Truthfully, I can’t blame the bird. The tree looked appealing and he was taking the shortest route. Mr. Robin’s focus on that tree had him undeterred, and no matter what we did to convince him the garage doors were a far better option, he remained target-locked on the tree on the other side of the window.

Mr. Robin thunked against the glass a couple of times, and I knew he was going to break his neck if we didn’t intervene with more than pep talk. My son gently moved toward the bird so as not to scare the creature more. And the strangest thing happened. Up to that point, I’m not sure the bird realized we were there. He had a goal after all. It wasn’t until my son got closer that Mr. Robin acknowledged my son’s presence and refocused his attention. In an effort to get away from my son, Mr. Robin turned and what do you know? He spotted the open garage doors where his freedom beckoned on the other side.

Mr. Robin needed some help. He was headed toward the right thing, the tree was good for him, but he needed to change direction to get there. Once Mr. Robin got a new view, he saw the open door, and made his way out of the garage safely.

Something about that day has stuck with me because I too have a cherry tree. The thing I’m target-locked on. Maybe you have it too? An agent? A book contract? Financial freedom from debt? A promotion? A baby? I think many of us have cherry trees and they can look very different, but the goal is the same, obtain the THING.

I’ve been called a control freak, and it used to bother me. I’ve come to realize it’s rather accurate. I prefer to be in control because I hate being out of control or being under someone else’s control. So, if I’m in control, I’m not taken by surprise, hurt, disappointed, or anything else unpleasant. But control is an illusion, a state of mind that keeps us hidden behind the real problem…fear.

Are we afraid that we won’t get that thing? The agent? The book contract? The promotion? The baby? So, we face our fear with a take-control-pre-planning attitude, forgetting a huge part of the creative equation…God.

Problem is, it doesn’t take much faith when you’re controlling everything. Like Mr. Robin, I have my cherry tree, the thing I’m so focused on getting, and I forget that God might have another plan. He sees the whole picture, not just the tree on the other side of the window glass.

When I forget God is in this with me and my attention is supposed to be on Him, I get distracted and keep bonking my head against the window trying to get to my cherry tree. The more frustrated I get, the harder I try to control, and I end up exhausted, angry, on the edge of bitterness with a headache, and flat ready to give up.

Aren’t we all like that at times? We’re told to keep our eyes on the prize, go for goal, no pain no gain…so we keep pushing and aiming and going…and still we don’t attain the prize regardless of the best laid plans. Are we in the waiting room or going about it the wrong way?

Please know I’m all for giving your dreams one hundred percent of your effort. If you’re writing, don’t hold back. Dive in. Dig deep into the story. Absolutely, we need to be doing all those things, but a beautiful aspect of being human is that we have God’s help, if we want it. If we accept it.

Just like my son was near Mr. Robin watching him wear his little feathers out, God is standing right there beside us, watching us wear ourselves out, and all the while waiting for us to say, we need Him. As soon as I refocus and remember He’s with me in the mission, He shows me the better way. The wide-open garage door I totally missed, because I was trying to do it my way.

I wish I could tell you that I don’t have those control issues anymore, but that’d be a lie. Especially when those things I’m trying to control are near and dear to my heart or involve the most vulnerable parts of my life.

I’m learning after a lot of headaches from beating my head against the glass, that when I’m most frustrated, it’s probably because I need to refocus and listen for God’s instruction for the way He’s leading me.

Which brings me to my book, Secret Past, and my heroine, Katie Tribani. Katie has control issues when she learns the “truths” she’s believed her entire life are lies. Her world is torn apart by the loss of her mother, a handsome stranger, and the truths many people are telling her. She must decipher the truth from the lies before someone kills her. And like Katie, we’re too have a real enemy determined to destroy us, but we also have God’s truth leading us into freedom.

What about you? What’s your cherry tree? Have you struggled with trying to get to it? Or have you found a way to strive hard and achieve your goals? What would you say to someone you saw beating their head against the window?

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Secret Past!

 (Print copy for US only, Ebook for international).


Colorado native Sharee Stover lives in Nebraska with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and two ridiculously spoiled dogs. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. Her Christian romantic suspense stories combine heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one.  

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Nebraska Writer’s Guild. Sharee is a two-time Daphne du Maurier finalist and the winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable German Shepherd.

Visit her at


She’s not who she thinks she is

With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She’s been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her.  As bullets fly, US marshal Daniel Knight whisks her to safety—but not for long. Captured and held prisoner, only Katie can unearth her secret past…if she can survive long enough.

We apologize for the technical difficulties today. 
Blogger seems to be in a bad mood.
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

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
Ruth Logan Herne offered a copy of "SWEPT AWAY", her newest Guideposts mystery last weekend while she was traveling around NJ, PA and NY... the winner is Jackie Smith! Congratulations, Jackie!!!

Monday: Jan Drexler's winner of "The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart" is Beth Jamison! Congratulations, Beth!

Wednesday: Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Debby Giusti shared photos and info about her favorite writer vaca location and talked about those little getaways that provide research as well as a bit of R&R in a blog titled "Getaways that Prime the Writer's Well!" The winner in a drawing for AMISH RESCUE, the third book in Debby's Amish Protectors series, plus a 2018 Daily Planner is Amber Schamel. Congrats, Amber!

Friday:  Winnie Griggs shared one of the biggest roadblocks writers face to finishing a book is SNIS or Shiny New Idea Syndrome.  If you missed Friday's discussion, it's not too late. Go back and take a peek!!

Monday: Sharee Stover is here to ask...Where's Your Cherry Tree? Sharee will be giving away a copy of her DEBUT NOVEL...JUST RELEASED...Her Secret Past!!!

Tuesday: Tuesday: Bonus Post! Seeker Erica Vetsch is hosting her good buddy Georgiana Daniels in a face off style interview where YOU get to score the answers! There will be virtual chocolate, virtual confetti, and a chance to win a prize!!! Stop by for some "Good times...good times!" as we celebrate friendship and Georgiana's new release, Shadows of Hope.

Wednesday:  Melanie Dickerson is our hostess! She continues her series on Conflict and Tension with Part Three, When to Resolve Conflict. She's giving away a copy of the winner's choice of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest or The Beautiful Pretender.

Friday: Pam Hillman is our hostess today and she's going to share tips gleaned from a recent brainstorming retreat. (Btw, it was awesome!)

Spotted in a southern Illinois Walmart... 
Amish Rescue by Debby Giusti & 
Moutain Country Courtship by Glynna Kaye!
Win a paperback copy of The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy on Faithfully Bookish!

Ruthy Logan Herne is taking the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat Candid Moments blog series to a whole new level on Monday.
watch for it here

Debby Giusti and Patti Jo Moore

Guess who stopped by Debby Giusti's signing of AMISH RESCUE!

Patti Jo Moore, Cat Mom! The two authors took time to pose for a picture!

"Thanks, Patti Jo!" says Debby. "Seeing you at the signing made the event even more special. You're a dear friend and a huge supporter of everyone in Seekerville."

Melanie Dickerson's Goose Girl retelling, The Noble Servant,

is on sale for only $1.99 for your e-reader! But get it while you can. It's only for a limited time. For Kindle, for Nook, Kobo, and on Christianbook's website.

TOMORROW IN SIOUX CITY, IOWA AT THE SOUTHERN HILLS MALL BARNES AND NOBLE--Postponed from last Saturday because of a BLIZZARD. Erica Vetsch was going to do this with us but she heard about the weather and ran!!! Then just REFUSED to drive back.

A flurry of blog activity is coming to launch the release of Cowboys of Summer. Thanks to JustRead Tours.

May 21 Power of Words - Author Interview with Cheryl St. John

May 22 Faithfully Bookish - Author Interview with Lorna Seilstad

May 23 A Baker's Perspective - Author Interview with Mary Connealy

May 24 Sprinkles and Pink - Author Interview with Missy Tippens

May 25 Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic - Author Interview with Sherri Shackleford

May 26 Cafinated Reads -Author Interview with Tina Radcliffe    

Plot Out Your Novel In Just 3 Days by C.S. Lakin from Live Write Thrive

Masterful Telling of Emotion by Nina Schuyler from Live Write Thrive

5 Ways to Structure (and Plot) Your Novel by Janice Hardy from Fiction University

How to Make Killer Promo Graphics in Canva by David Gaughran

What it Takes: Secrets of the Creative Brain by Callie Oettinger at Steven Pressfield's site.

Thanks for the link love!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Battling Shiny New Idea Syndrome

Hi all, Winnie Griggs here.

One of the frequent question non-writers ask authors (including me) is where do you get your ideas from? My writer friends and I have discussed this and we all find this a strange question, because ideas are everywhere - In song lyrics, in a news article, in an unexpected nugget found in research, in movies, in overheard snippets of conversation, even in our dreams. So it seems strange that not everyone can see what we do and begin to play the ‘what if’ game.

Then conversely, there are those folks who tell us they have a fabulous idea for a story and they’ll share it with us if we agree to give them a cut of the take after we write and sell it.

What they don’t seem to understand is that the magic is not in the idea, but in the execution of the idea. Even a high concept, highly marketable premise (Jurassic Park anyone?) falls flat if not executed effectively.

Which is why one of the biggest roadblocks writers face to finishing a book is SNIS or Shiny New Idea Syndrome.

This is how the novel writing process normally works (at least for me.)

I start with an idea that excites me. The opportunities for  rich emotion, fun situations, unexpected plot twists and compelling character arcs unfold in my mind with tantalizing possibility. And that excitement carries me through the first 20-30% of my book.

I’ve reached (or am closely approaching) the middle 50% of the book and much of the shininess has disappeared or gotten tarnished. This is where the hard work happens, where I have to dig deep and figure out how to make this tangle of a story work.

And of course, this is when SNIS hits the hardest. Because starting stories is the easy part – it’s the follow through and finishing that’s difficult.  It’s while you are slap dab in the middle of your WIP, procrastinating working through your plot issues, that you are suddenly hit with an idea for a brand new story, one that has fabulous potential and that seems so much better than this no-longer-shiny story you’re in the middle of. The sheer brilliance (shininess) of it takes your breath away and makes you want to abandon your WIP and pursue something that appears ‘better’. The SNI is a siren temptress, just waiting to lure you away from your WIP.

And being able to play with a nice SNI sounds like much more fun than slogging through, grappling with the hard work of untangling and sorting out the problems of our WIP. Especially when the SNI will lure you into believing that of course it is the best idea ever and is more likely to lead you to publication/best sellerdom/a movie deal/whatever-your-current-dream-is, than what you are currently working on.

If you give in to this impulse, however, you run the risk of going through the same cycle all over again. I have a writer friend who suffers from this syndrome.  She is highly creative, her ideas are so fresh and original, her take on them intriguing. But it never fails that, by the time she gets to the middle, she gets an idea for something ‘better’ and the old project is abandoned for the new one. The result is that in all the time I’ve known her, she has yet to finish even one full length work.
So what is the best way to battle SNIS? Here are a few strategies that might work for you:

  • The method that works for me is to take the time to record this SNI into a document. Set a timer for 20-30 minutes and just go to town. Record everything about the idea that you know – characters, set-up, scenes, conflict, etc. - remembering to include just what about it appeals to you. When the timer goes off, or when you run out of things to write, save your file and turn your focus back to your WIP. I have a dedicated folder on my computer that holds these files, organized by genre. And whenever I’m ready to start a new project, I read through these to see what calls to me.
    If, later on, if other snippets pertaining to that particular SNI occur to you, repeat the process – open your file, set a timer, type out the new information – then once the timer goes off, put it aside.
  • Another thing you can do is take a closer look at your SNI and see if it can be tweaked to fit into your current WIP. The SNI could be your subconscious’s  response to some problem you’ve been struggling with in your current project.  Or it might point the way to a fabulous twist you could add in. Or a turning point to take your story in a surprising new direction. Or perhaps a subplot that could add depth and richness to your story.
  • If the SNI is really calling to you, and if you’re good at multi-tasking, you can use it as a reward for yourself. IF you meet your daily/weekly goals, you can give yourself permission to spend xx amount of time to work on fleshing out the SNI. Just make certain you maintain focus on your goals for your WIP and don’t cheat!

So is it ever a good idea to abandon a WIP for a SNI, either temporarily or permanently? The answer is, of course. And here are a few examples:

  • If the SNI is time-sensitive, if it pertains to something currently ‘hot’ that you need to jump on before the opportunity passes, then go for it.
  • If your WIP is just not going to work out – either you realize the idea itself is too flawed to make for a fully realized story, or something in the political, environmental or social climate has occurred that makes your story untenable at this time (for instance a terrorist hijacking story right after 9-11)
  • If you feel the need to step back from your story temporarily, and your SNI is for a quick project – short story, novella, collaboration, etc) then perhaps going for it as a sort of ‘palate cleanser’ would be a good idea.

HOWEVER, the assumption that the SNI would be a lot more fun to work on than pushing through your problems with your WIP is definitely NOT a good reason to abandon your current project.

If your sole goal in writing is to do it for the pure pleasure of the experience, than of course go wherever your muse leads you. However, one of the marks of a professional writer is the ability to finish a project. – to get through that murky, difficult middle and bring your book to a satisfying conclusion.  Having one completed work does much more for your career as a writer than having dozens of wonderful, evocative, intriguing openings.

The bottom line – never be too quick to abandon a WIP for something shiny and new. Whenever you’re tempted to do so, think about the amount of time (always a key resource!), thought, creativity and energy you’ve put into it and would be tossing away. And also keep in mind, that once you started in on the SNI, chance are, by the time you got past the first 25% or so, it too will have entered the murky-middle stage and another SNI will present itself. And now it has the potential to become a vicious cycle where you are always chasing the next SNI rather than doing the hard work of finishing your WIP.

So now it's your turn. Have you ever suffered from Shiny New Idea Syndrome? Do you have ideas for battling it that I haven't listed here? Or do you believe you SHOULD battle it at all, rather than just going with the flow?