Monday, June 25, 2018

What Goes On A One Sheet?



As we enter conference season, one thing writers who are pitching their work to editors and agents at face-to-face appointments stress about is their ‘one sheet.’

If you’re new to this writing lark, you’re probably stressing right now over the fact that you didn’t know there was such a thing, much less that you should be stressing about it! 

Never fear. And don’t stress. One Sheet creation isn’t scary. It isn’t a great mystery. And it can be fun!

First of all, what is a One Sheet? (Also known as a Pitch Sheet.)

The is the one sheet for my first published novel! White space
is not a bad thing! Though there is a lot to pack into a
one sheet, don't make it so cluttered that the reader won't
know where to look or what's important.


Basically, it’s a mini-proposal. With pictures, colors, and fancy font, all the things you’re not supposed to use in a full-length proposal. It's an aid to you and to the agent/editor when discussing your story.

The backside of my one-sheet...don't waste all the space
on the back of the page. Fill it with cool stuff! Because I
was targeting a specific line, I included information that
the editor would be looking for, such as a state emphasis
and Scripture verses for each character. (Heartsong Presents)


Second, what goes on it? Lots of fun stuff, some strongly recommended, some optional.

Third, how do I make one, and how can I make one that will grab an editor’s eye and mind and really showcase my story and myself? 

Stress, stress, stress!

Deep breath. We’re going to break it down into bite-sized pieces, and thanks to the generosity of some friends, there will be lots of examples! 

From Jaime Jo Wright! (She wanted me to tell you that
she had this made by a friend who is a graphic artist.) I love the
background picture which is of Split Rock Lighthouse, one of my
favorite places to visit! The photograph gives a hint of the genre.

What information goes on a one-sheet?


(These are not hard and fast rules, but rather they are guidelines. If you see the examples in this post, you'll note that they are all a bit different...just like writers.)

1. Contact information. Name, email, phone.

2. Agent information. (If you have one. Name/Agency, email, phone.)

3. Title of the story.

4. Genre of the story

5. The elevator pitch. (30-50 words to hook the editor.)

6. A brief summary of the story. (Think back cover copy.)

7. Author bio. (Brief, but put in the writer stuff that makes you awesome.)

8. The status of the manuscript. (Is it complete? How many words is it? Are sample chapters available upon request?)

9. If the book is meant to be part of a series, one paragraph descriptions of subsequent books.

10. Brief character bios.

11. Brief marketing/historical relevance/platform ideas

That’s enough to be going on with, isn’t it? But before you go back to stressing, most of these things are EASY-PEASY, and you already have the information you need, it just needs to be organized.  So let's take each of these items individually and break them down.

Contact Information – simple enough, since you know your name, phone, and email, right?

Agent Information – also simple. If you have an agent, put his/her contact info here. If you don’t, leave it out. If you’re pitching to an agent, they’re going to know you don’t have an agent yet, and if you are pitching to an editor, it is okay to tell them you are un-agented at this time.

Title – This might only be a working title, but you have to call the story something, and here’s a chance to showcase your creativity. Shorter is better, but do a little research. Go to amazon.com or christianbook.com and search for your title idea. You don’t want to accidentally give your book the same title as one that’s already been a blockbuster. I mean, technically, you could call your story about a boy who loses his homework in a hurricane “Gone With The Wind” but I wouldn’t recommend that.

Genre – This is important. You must identify a genre for your story. Mystery, historical romance, suspense, women’s fiction, thriller, horror, young adult. Pick something that will give the agent/editor somewhere to start. Don’t try to be too weird or creative or out there on this one. The agent or editor wants to know where in a bookstore would your title be shelved. If they take your story to the publication board, marketing and publicity will want to know what it is they’re supposed to be selling to bookstore buyers. Clarity is important on this one.

Elevator Pitch – In 30-50 words what is your story about? Short and to the point. Give the main conflict of the story.

Examples: (Can you guess the movie?)

Imperial Forces hold a princess hostage in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Empire. An orphan and a mercenary work together to rescue the princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy. 

When a young woman is killed by a shark near the tourist town of Amity Island, the police chief, an ichthyologist, and a grizzled ship captain engage in an epic battle of man vs. shark. 

A super hero is forced to assume a mundane life after all super-powers are banned by the government. He longs for adventure, and he gets a chance when summoned to battle an out-of-control robot. Soon, he is in trouble, and it's up to his family to save him.

From Lorna Seilstad. This was a one-sheet she
gave to her agent to use at appointments. The agent
had all the rest of the info, but it gave her a
visual reminder of Lorna's story when she
was meeting with various editors.


Brief Summary – Expand your elevator pitch to 100-300 words. Here you can use character names, occupations, and the unique situations in your book. Give the main goals of your characters, and the conflict that will keep them from getting to that goal.

Examples:

Sophie Edwards is doing just fine alone, until a strange-yet oddly familiar-man rides into her life, insisting on rescuing her and her four daughters. Can she find a way to love a headstrong mountain man? When Clay McClellan discovers his brother has been murdered, he's bent on finding the killers and seeing them properly hung. But first his Christian duty demands that he marry his sister-in-law. After all, Sophie needs someone to protect her - right? Faith and love help unruly wed newlyweds find common ground and a chance at love on the Texas frontier. Petticoat Ranch – Mary Connealy

Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts. The Cactus Creek Challenge – Erica Vetsch

From Renee Yancy. I love the color on this one! Nicely laid
out, easy to read, and the truck picture is memorable!
 

Author Bio – Make it fun, make it interesting, make it uniquely you! Read examples online and pick out the things that intrigue you or that you find interesting and see what in your own life you can single out that make you different from other authors. Include a photograph of yourself…a headshot preferably! You want the agent/editor to be able to make a connection between your story and yourself after the conference when they are sorting through the things they brought home and all the people they met.

Examples:

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, www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time! 

Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920's mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street (February 2017, Blink/HarperCollins). Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. You can learn more about her on her author site: www.StephanieMorrill.com






Brief Character Bios – (Optional and if you have space.) Here’s where you list your characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts, along with personality types, unusual occupations, or character-forming backs-story events that make your hero and heroine unique. Keep this succinct, just giving enough information to hook the reader.

Manuscript Status – Here’s where you tell the editor/agent if the story is done or not. FYI, if you are pre-published, you MUST finish the manuscript first. Agents and editors want to know that you can finish a book, that you can deliver on a story’s promise. List the manuscript’s word count in this section, as well as note that sample chapters are available upon request.

Series potential – Is this book meant to be the first in a series? If so, give a brief overview of subsequent books. Most series are three books. If you have a 20 book saga series planned, just give the overview of the next two in line, and mention the potential for more. If your book is meant to be a stand alone, that’s okay, too. Instead of talking about spin offs and sequels, you can state in this section that you have finished X number of manuscripts, give an elevator pitch for a couple of them you feel are your strongest works, and mention that they are available upon request.

Marketing/Promotion/Platform – Here’s where you can put all the things that give you selling clout. Your social media reach, your newsletter subscribers, podcast followers, etc. More and more, publishers want to know what your ‘warm market’ is. How can you help get the word out about your story?

Once you have all this information gathered, now it’s time to get your artist hat on. Now, you might be groaning that you have no artist hat, no graphics design ability, and no talent for assembling visually appealing designs. That’s okay, because there are lots of folks out there who do have that ability, and they would be happy to put it to use for you.  I use Microsoft Publisher, but there are lots of programs you can use to create one sheets. Be creative, try different layouts, use templates or free form it. Remember white space is not a bad thing, but pictures can lend a lot of interest. 

Created by Lorna Seilstad. I love the way the
design conveys the vintage feel of historical fiction.


When you've created your one sheet, (and be sure to let some beta readers look at it and give their impressions, check for any errors, etc.) what do you do with it? When you go to your pitch session, take a couple of copies, that way, the agent/editor can have one, and you can have one to hang onto, and then you won’t wonder what to do with your hands during the appointment. You’ll have a ‘cheat sheet’ to refer to while you talk, too. J Sometimes the agent/editor will make notes on your page. Most times, they will take your one-sheet with them. Sometimes they won’t though, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t. Thank them for meeting with you either way. And if they ask to have sample chapters and a proposal sent to them, then DO IT! Follow through. Make your own notes as soon as you’re out of the appointment, and then, when you get home, send them the requested proposal as soon as you can (in an email, with the subject line REQUESTED PROPOSAL, and thanking them again for meeting with, naming the conference where you met.) 

From Savannah Keiser, the stars were added just to keep
her personal contact info confidential. 



So, have you ever created a one-sheet? Is there anything you put on it that isn't covered here? 

Many thanks to Lorna Seilstad, Jaime Jo Wright, Renee Yancy, and Savannah Keiser for letting me use examples of their one sheets. Thanks to Stephanie Morrill for letting me use her author bio and photo.

Lorna Seilstad, who graciously volunteered some examples for this blog post loves to help new writers by creating one-sheets for them. Check out her webpage here: http://www.lornaseilstad.com/forwriters.html  for her rates and samples of her work.

Leave a comment, and be entered to win a free one-sheet design from Lorna Seilstad! Lorna's graciously offered to create a one sheet design for ONE SEEKER! Comment below, and be entered to win! 

Saturday, June 23, 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 Seekerville2@gmail.com





Monday:  Jan Drexler invited us to daydream about our story worlds to make them a place where readers can feel at home. Winner of her choice of 2-in-1 Love Inspired releases is kaybee!!!

Wednesday: Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Debby Giusti shared travel tips and packing suggestions in her blog, "What Debby's Packing in her Suitcase...for the RWA National Convention."  Winner of AMISH RESCUE, the third book in Debby's Amish Protectors series, is Glynis. Congrats. Be sure to email Seekerville2@gmail.com with your snail mail address.

Friday: Pam Hillman shared her experiences with Research. Result? Always expect the Unexpected!



Monday:  As we enter Conference Season, it's time to polish up and/or create your pitching One Sheet. Don't have one? Don't know what one is? Never fear! Erica Vetsch will post all the particulars about What Goes On A One Sheet - and you can enter to win a FREE One Sheet design! 

Tuesday: Sherri Shackelford is here talking about Continuity Series including her latest Legacy of the Heart. There will be prizes.


Wednesday: Melanie Dickerson is our hostess as she shares some of her favorite inspirational quotes and encouragement for writers. She plans to give away copies of her book The Orphan's Wish that releases on the 26th, her 14th published novel!

Thursday: Sandra LeeSmith is our hostess. 
  
Friday: Jennifer Slattery is our guest!!








Mary Connealy's latest release, The Accidental Guardian, made the Christian Booksellers Association bestseller list (do NOT ask how come they listed the top SEVEN, but The Accidental Guardian came in at #7 so YAY!)








Cover reveal for book #3 of the High Sierra Sweethearts series, The Unexpected Champion.
Tough frontier woman Penny Scott gets kidnapped with a Pinkerton Agent who's never been in the wilderness. She needs to get him to civilization and then he can show her  he knows a few tough guy tricks.

Mary Connealy issued a re-release of a previously published book, Ten Plagues.
A demon possessed serial killer acts out the Ten Plagues of Egypt on the city of Chicago. He's focused his rage on an inner city mission pastor. A Chicago cop with the spiritual gift of discerning spirits gets the case and is confronted with an evil unlike any she's ever known.





AND available now for pre-order, releasing July 2nd, indy pubbed contemporary romantic suspense!!!
Loving the Texas Lawman...Book #1 of the Garrison's Law series.
Garrison's Law begins. A family of alpha Texas lawmen (and women) bring their own brand of justice to law and order in Texas.
Trudy Jennings, is a college professor with a string of bestselling pop psychology books about answering all of life's troubles with love.
Ben Garrison is her student. He's a hardened cop who needs this class to get his degree, but he can't keep a straight face. He tells her she's right, as long as she lives in her cushion, safe life. But for him, using her philosophy, he'll be dead by the weekend.
A stalker is coming after kindhearted Trudy and Ben is there to protect her. Trudy faces her first true challenge to turning the other cheek and feels like a failure that she can't help her confused and desperate and frightening stalker.
Ben has to keep Trudy safe until the escalating stalker can be stopped and as Ben gets to know Trudy better, he recognizes his own callus behavior at the same time he finds out everyone in Trudy's life takes advantage of her.
She's got to get tough.
He's got to find a kinder way.
Together they have to take down a wealthy, obsessed man who knows how to play the system, because he's done all this before.


The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman giveaway



Carrie Schmidt is the new 'book girl' (aka book reviewer & coordinator) at Hope for Women magazine.


Jan Drexler and Erica Vetsch are at the beautiful Linden Hill Retreat Center in Little Falls, MN at a writer's retreat! A lovely setting, twenty writers, and lots of inspiration. This sign was posted

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Sign up for Pam Hillman's Natchez Trace Takeover Tour for both The Promise of Breeze Hill and The Road to Magnolia Glen AND Melanie Dickerson's The Orphan's Wish with JustRead Publicity Tours!  Click on the images below to take you straight to the sign up forms for more info.


https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfD0OERRTlZd-chn9Q86UK7OdW1TFxc9GZEI71gmR2_1YKIsw/viewform


Grab your Kindle copy of Ruth Logan Herne's bestselling novel "Welcome to Wishing Bridge" right now! On sale for one more week, it's the story so many are laughing about, sharing and remembering while anxiously waiting for book 2 in October!  Grab your copy for $1.99 and make Welcome to Wishing Bridge one of your favorite 2018 Beach Reads! 





The Introvert's Guide to Launching a Book by l.l. Barkat at Jane Friedman's blog.

How To Make Your Sentences More Descriptive by Jordan Conrad at Live Write Thrive

Create Drama with Your Character's Desire by Jim Dempsey at Writer Unboxed

6 Ways For Writers to Find Inspiration in A Graveyard by Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn

Can You Guess the Day Jobs of These Famous Authors? by Jess Zafarris at Writers' Digest

Writing: A Multifaceted Business by Karen Van Den Heuvel at Thyme For Writers




Friday, June 22, 2018

Research: Always Expect the Unexpected

Pam Hillman
When I first started plotting my Natchez Trace Novel series, I decided to make a trip to Natchez. I live about 2-3 hours away, so it was a great day trip, except my mother and I took two days to tour the area and walk some of the old trace that still exists along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

But one of the most interesting (and looking back, strange) things I did was tour King’s Tavern. Believed to be the oldest building in Natchez, it was built in 1789 and as various times operated as a tavern, stage stop, and a mail station.

Knowing my mother would likely balk at eating dinner at an establishment called a tavern, not to mention that it’s still fairly dark and seedy looking, we opted for something a little less risqué and pricey.

After dinner, though, I was dying (no pun intended) to see King’s Tavern, where Madeline the ghost lives. We found the tavern easily enough on a narrow, dark street. Mama was not impressed. I told her to just stay in the car, and I wouldn’t be long. I just wanted to see the building.

So, off I go to this tavern, which in reality is now a very respectable restaurant.

This is where my tale becomes a bit eerie.

When I waltzed in with my camera, the hostess on duty said that she wasn’t supposed to let people tour the building if they weren’t dining. But, she said, since they weren’t very busy that night, she’d make an exception. She pointed me to the stairs and away I went, feeling very adventurous and a bit nervous that the manager was going to find out and throw me out.


So, there I was, creeping around upstairs taking pictures and getting a feel for what the sleeping rooms and taproom of an 18th Century tavern looked like.

Not wanting to overstay my welcome, and a bit afraid that Madeline would make an appearance and I’d make a fool of myself by screaming, I didn’t stay long. I made my way downstairs and back toward the entrance.

And there, scowling and looking a lot like the ghost from the past with his tails and top hat (not really!), was the manager. I’m sure the hostess was on pins and needles, so I just smiled, sailed on by, and said, “Thank you so much. I enjoyed it!”



“It” is relative, if you’re vague enough. :)

Anyway, it was all quite fascinating and enlightening. I don’t know what I expected to find at the tavern. I mostly wanted to get a feel for such an old building, one built a couple of years before my series starts.

What I didn’t expect was the tension I felt. Not because of the place exactly, or the stories of ghosts that roam the tavern, but because of my covert trip up those steep, narrow stairs and the floorboards creaking under my feet that might alert the manager that someone was upstairs.


I had to write several tavern scenes in the series and I think I channeled that feeling of tension in each and every tavern scene, so the trip up those creaking stairs was totally worth it.

So, tell me the most memorable (scary? Funny? Interesting?) research trip or situation you ever found yourself in?


Pam's latest release, The Road to Magnolia Glen, book #2
in her Natchez Trace Novel series, released June 5th.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Debby Packs Her Suitcase…for the RWA National Conference


By Debby Giusti

Have you ever played the children’s word game about packing a suitcase? My grandchildren and I play it when we’re riding in the car. The basic idea is for players to take turns mentioning items they would add in alphabetical order to a suitcase. To increase the challenge for older children, each player repeats the entire list that continues to grow as items are added.

I’m attending the Romance Writers of American National Conference in Denver this July and wanted to share some of the items I’ll pack in my suitcase as well as travel tips for first-time conference goers or anyone planning to attend a conference in the not-too-distant future.

Let’s see what’s in my suitcase.

I found the luggage at Stein Mart.


Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts an…AlphaSmart!

I write my rough draft on the small word processor that runs on 3 AA batteries and was initially designed for special needs children. The AlphaSmart is sturdy and durable and has a screen that shows only four lines of text and has limited editing functions. Each of its eight files holds 25 pages of text when downloaded into a computer. The Alpha allows me to work on my current manuscript when I travel or have free time at the conference.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Books.

Seeker books are included in my suitcase for end-of-the-day reading and relaxation. I also tuck a few copies of my latest release into my carry-on to give away as I travel.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Coffee Creamer.

I brew coffee in my room each morning, and because I prefer liquid creamers to powdered products, I pack a box of individual serving creamer cups and my favorite sweetener in my suitcase. Chocolate gets packed too.

Travel Tip: A few years ago, my roommate packed powered Coffee-mate in a plastic baggie. TSA opened her suitcase and may have thought the white powder was an illegal drug. Someone sliced through the baggie, and the Coffee-mate spilled all over her clothes. What a mess!

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts a…Devotional.

I use a monthly devotional that includes scripture passages for each day—an Old Testament reading, Psalm and New Testament reading—so my Bible, which is heavy, stays at home. 

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Earbuds and Earplugs.

If you enjoy listening to music, pack your earbuds or headphones in your carry-on to tune into the airplane’s sound system immediately upon boarding your plane. Earplugs help to drown out ambient noise whether in flight or in the hotel.

Such cute luggage.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Favorite mix and match outfits for daytime wear 

And a party dress or two for evening events, such as the RITA Awards Ceremony and after-party Thursday night.

Travel Tip:  With the current airline luggage weight requirements, I try to pack light—or a light as possible—and stick with basics on the road. Black slacks are a must and can be worn with various tops or jackets. Daytime dress for most conferences is business casual, although in my pre-pubbed days, I included a business suit for pitch sessions with editors or agents. 

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Glasses. 

Extra reading glasses and a second pair of contacts are a must as well as a reading light that could double as a flashlight in case of emergency.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Hangers. 

Yes, the hotel provides hangers but never enough, especially if I’m sharing the room. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes travel with me as well.

Travel Tip: Keep wet wipes in your purse or carry-on for quick clean ups while traveling. I often find crumbs from the previous passenger’s meal on the fold-down airplane tray. Call me a germophobe, but I wipe the tray before enjoying an in-flight snack.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts an…iPad

To check email and access the web. If I’m on a tight deadline and need to work while at the conference, I’ll take my laptop, otherwise, it stays safely at home.

Travel Tip: To lower the odds of having TSA rummage through my suitcase, I pack electrical cords, battery chargers, umbrellas and curling irons—items that could look suspicious when scanned--in my carry-on bag. Going through security, I place those types of items in a plastic bin to be screened separately.

This set of luggage is lightweight and so cute!

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Jewelry. 

An unusual pin or necklace can be a conversation starter. Some writers wear unique jewelry that ties in with their brand or genre to stand out from the crowd. Check to ensure you pack the right accessories for each outfit. Don’t forget an evening handbag for the Awards Ceremony.

Travel Tip: If you’re flying to the conference, remove jewelry, belts and sweaters or jackets prior to going through security and store them in your carry-on tote.  Before being scanned, you’ll need to remove your shoes. If you’re not wearing sock, take a pair to slip on to protect your feet.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Kleenex tissues. 

I always go through a lot of tissues and include a number of packs in my purse, makeup bag and carry-on tote.

Lots of color selections.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Lip balm. 

A lint remover roller too, and a TSA approved lock to secure my suitcase during travel and in the hotel when I'm away from the room.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Money. 

Namely dollar bills for tipping housekeeping, taxi drivers and bellboys. Rule of thumb for the cleaning staff is $3-5 a day as a thank you. I leave the tip on the bed in plain view with a note saying it’s for the housekeeper.  Tip cab drivers fifteen to twenty percent of the fare. The customary tip for bellmen is $1 to $2 per bag. Add more for extra help, such as filling the ice bucket.

So Bright. So Lite!

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts a…Notebook 

And pen. Sometimes they’re provided in the conference handouts, but not always. If you plan to take notes on your iPad or laptop, remember your battery may run low so include paper as a backup. I’d rather be prepared than unable to take notes in the various workshops.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Oils, 

Creams, lotions and other toiletries. Although soap, hand cream and shampoo are provided in most hotels, I have a few allergies and always bring my own products. Hotel air can be drying and my skin requires a little more TLC when I’m traveling. Invariably, my eyes become bloodshot so VISINE comes in handy as well.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Promotional Items 

For the Goody Room. Heavier giveaways can be mailed ahead to the hotel, although check hotel fees for holding boxes until your arrival. Print outs. Don’t forget to make copies of your hotel and conference registration forms, special event tickets and any other paid admission forms.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Quick Snacks.

Power bars, chips, cookies as well as breakfast on-the-run items, like granola bars or pop tarts. Dried fruit, crackers, gum and mints as well. Lunch is provided Thursday and Friday at the RWA conference, but attendees are on their own for the rest of the meals.  

Blue's my favorite color.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts a…Rolling Bag 

Or carry-on tote with wheels. I use my carry-on to haul promotional items and giveaway books to the Goody Room instead of having to carry heavy items through the hotel.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Shoes. 

Some cute, some comfy. Conference hotels are large and require lots of walking. Be good to your feet. Break in new shoes ahead of time. Add bandages in case of blisters.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Tea bags 

For an afternoon cup of hot tea. Add ice to make iced tea.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts an…Umbrella. 

A small travel size fits nicely in my carry-on.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Vitamins 

And other supplements. Lots of folks take Airborne when they travel. Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C also boost the immune system. Cough drops, throat lozenges, pain relievers and antacids are good to take as well.

Darker colors don't show the dirt!

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts a…Warm Sweater,

Or a stole or jacket. Conference rooms can be extremely cold. Dress in layers and always include a wrap.

Travel Tip:  Be sure to check your airline’s suitcase weight requirements, and weigh your luggage at home so you can shift heavy items into your carry-on if you’re over the maximum weight allowance.  Hotel fitness centers often have a scale that you can use to weigh your luggage for the return flight. I have a hand-held luggage scale that I take to ensure I don’t exceed the weight limit.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Xenagogy. 

What’s that? A guidebook of the local area. This month’s Romance Writers Report published an excellent article on Denver, “Getting the Most Out of the Mile High City,” by Mariah Ankenman. A google search can provide information about local attractions, restaurants, shopping, churches or tourist attractions. Do the legwork before you leave home for a more relaxed and rewarding conference.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts a…Yellow Highlighter 

To mark and easily identify workshops and meetings listed in the conference program. A lot happens each day and it’s easy to miss a workshop or publishing industry event. Marking my conference program helps me remember the programs and talks I don’t want to miss.

Debby packs her suitcase and in it she puts…Ziploc Bags. 

I pack my clothing in large-size Ziploc bags to keep the fabric from wrinkling or balling up in the suitcase. I can easily slide the bags back and forth as I search for items in my suitcase. Include an extra bag or two for dirty clothing and wet bathing suits or damp workout outfits. I have a number of nice makeup totes, but I routinely keep my toiletries and hair products in Ziploc bags for easy packing and retrieval.

Travel Tip: I carry 3 ounce or smaller containers of important liquid items in a quart-size plastic bag and pack that in my carry-on tote. Items such as contact solution, shampoo, cream and hair products, in case my checked suitcase gets lost. I also pack a change of clothing in my carry-on.

Freshly baked scones and blueberry muffins are on the breakfast bar. The coffee’s hot. So is the tea. Grab a cup of your favorite brew and let’s talk about what’s in your suitcase. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for the third book in my Amish Protectors series, AMISH RESCUE, which is Sarah’s story.

Happy Writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


Amish Rescue
By Debby Giusti

Hiding with the Amish
Englischer Sarah Miller escapes her captor by hiding in the buggy of an Amish carpenter. Joachim Burkholder is her only hope—and donning Plain clothing is the only way to keep safe and find her missing sister. But for Joachim, who’s just returning to the Amish, the forbidden Englischer is trouble. Trapping her kidnapper risks his life, but losing Sarah risks his heart.

Order HERE!






Monday, June 18, 2018

Welcome to My (Story) World!

by Jan Drexler

“How long does it take to write a book?” is a question that Louis L’Amour said people often asked him.

He thought the question was ridiculous.

In his introduction to “The Sackett Companion,” the great storyteller elaborated on his point. “If the questioner stopped to think, he or she would understand that it takes as long as is necessary.”

That started me thinking about my own writing: How long does it take me to write a book?

My daily word count – while important – doesn’t account for the hours I’ve spent developing characters and plot lines. It doesn’t touch the time I’ve spent letting the story wind its way through my head while I’ve washed dishes or cleaned the bathroom.

And it doesn’t account for the time I’ve spent building my story world.

How do I build a story world?


There – that’s the secret.

If I want my readers to be drawn into my story so completely that they forget the outside world, then I need to be saturated in the background of my story world. 

How do I saturate myself in my story?

Two ways: Research and day-dreaming.

Let’s think about that for a minute. I spend a lot of time doing research. I’m a voracious reader. My bookcase full of research materials is only a slight glimmer of the depths of the information I dive into to create a story-world in my mind. 



This extensive research – this living in our story world – isn’t something that only historical authors do. Contemporary and speculative writers need to know their own story world just as intimately!

We need to create a fictional world that welcomes the reader in as if they’re coming home to a place they’ve never been before. A place that resonates with the familiarity of a long-forgotten dream.

To communicate a world like that to our readers, we need to know every nuance of our setting’s history, terrain, animal life, plant life, sounds, and sights. We need to know the humidity (a hot day in Mississippi feels much different than a hot day in the western Dakota prairies!), the strength of the sunlight, and the bite of the wind.

We need to know the specifics of the region we’re writing about. The Kansas Tall Grass prairies are different from the Dakota Short Grass prairies. The Appalachian Mountains are a world away from the Canadian Rockies. Lake Superior, as vast as it is, has a completely different feel than the Atlantic Ocean.

What if you’ve never visited your story location? Talk to people who have been there. Ask specific questions, like, “What does rain feel like on a summer afternoon?”

Then we need to hone the fictional setting. Create roads, buildings, farms, and churches. I like to draw a map of my specific setting to use while I’m writing. When Katie is standing at the end of her farm lane looking east, what does she see? My crude map helps me keep that information consistent through an entire series.



But the physical aspects of our story world are just the beginning. Each of our characters will add their own emotional perspective that will show our readers a particular view of their place in our story world.

If you didn’t read Winnie Griggs’ wonderful post on perspective last Friday, do it now!

Our readers will also bring their own experiences to the story, enriching the story world differently for each person.



Part of being a writer is giving ourselves the time and space to read and dream. Live in your story world every chance you get. You have my permission!


What is your favorite method to develop your story world? Or what are some of your favorite story worlds? 

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for your choice of one of these double book re-releases of some of my Love Inspired books!







Jan Drexler writes historical fiction with Amish characters for Love Inspired Historical and Revell. When she isn’t writing, she spends much of her time satisfying her cross-stitch addiction or hiking and enjoying the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of more than thirty-five years. Her writing companion is her Corgi, Thatcher, who makes life…interesting.

Twitter: @JanDrexler