Monday, August 19, 2019

Using Humor to Bring Life in Your Fictional World

By Guest Blogger Matt Mikalatos 

My main character, Madeline, was dying. The novel, The Crescent Stone, was told completely in her point of view, and to be honest, the constant reminders that she was having trouble breathing were dragging down the narrative. Her best friend, Jason Wu, brought some much needed comic relief, and my editor suggested I add him in as a point-of-view character. Suddenly the whole book felt lighter. It wasn’t just that we needed a break from the pain of Madeline’s experience, it’s that Jason was genuinely funny. Here are a few tips on how to bring more humor into your story.

Every comedian seems to do a bit about their family, about sitting next to strangers on the plane, or about politics. There’s something about someone standing on stage and saying something we’ve all thought that makes us feel included and makes us laugh. In my books, Jason Wu has taken a vow to never tell a lie. Not only that, but he also volunteers the truth whenever he gets a chance. He’s the sort of kid who gets on the school loudspeaker and points out the obvious toupee that the principal wears and then gets confused when he gets in trouble. One of my favorite bits in The Crescent Stone is when Jason asks something that you just don’t see mentioned much in fantasy novels: where do these people go to the bathroom? Other characters are baffled by his preoccupation with the magical plumbing, but it’s a pretty funny scene when he’s sitting on the floor, dropping stuff in the magic toilet and trying to figure out where it goes when he closes the lid.

There’s a reason so many of us love sitcoms. I was watching a situation comedy the other day where the irresponsible teenagers are being shown a priceless religious artifact being hosted by their Catholic high school, and I just knew they were going to accidentally break it. I like to throw my characters into the deep end. With Jason, I wanted to give him a comedy bit that had nothing to do with his truth telling, so I threw him into an unfamiliar culture where he was making hilarious (to the audience) mistakes, including accidentally going through a cultural ritual that leaves him with an entire desert tribe called the Kakri trying to ritually murder him for a year. We connect back to this moment again and again as Jason makes a run for it every time he sees a Kakri warrior for the rest of the novel.

In a YA fantasy series there are plenty of opportunities to point out the ridiculous and crazy things happening around your characters. Some novels are satisfied to have characters flying around on giant birds without comment, but there’s potential for a lot of humor there, too. What does it feel like to fly on a giant bird? Is it warm with all those feathers? What if Jason’s allergic to feathers? A giant bird obviously breaks the laws of physics, so maybe Jason’s going to talk about that. Winking at the audience to let them know that you know what’s happening is a little ridiculous is a lot of fun for everyone involved.

I love making my audience laugh with something that’s been hidden in plain sight all along. For instance, in The Heartwood Crown, I have a character named Hanali who is terrible at identifying Earth animals. He calls them all the wrong names. He keeps telling Jason there are no dragons in the Sunlit Lands, and it’s making Jason increasingly agitated because clearly Hanali thinks cats are called gryphons and hippogriffs are llamas. So when we finally discover that there’s a “dragon” waiting somewhere off in the northern reaches of a certain forest, we’re primed for the surprise reveal along with Jason.

There’s a unicorn in the Sunlit Lands named Delightful Glitter Lady (because of course that’s a real-life consequence of real-life unicorns—they will have beautifully complex names like that). There’s also a magical device that allows Jason to shrink or grow Dee by turning a certain dial. The only catch is that every time she shrinks, there’s a pebble somewhere that turns into a boulder. And every time she grows, that boulder turns into a pebble again. So of course in the midst of a pitched battle, Jason, who’s not exactly a warrior prince, has the bright idea of tossing a pebble to one of the terrifying enemy warriors. He picks up the dial, grins at his unicorn, and shrinks her to kitten size. It’s a beautiful moment that the readers are ready for and find both entertaining and funny.

One thing I love about humor in fiction is that the funny moments contrast with the tragic moments to make them even more meaningful. Goofy Jason is close friends with Madeline, and her descent into illness isn’t played for laughs at all. I like to have people laughing and crying in the same chapter if possible!

* * * * *

Thank you, Matt!

Matt and Tyndale House are graciously offering a copy of his new release "The Heartwood Crown" to one commenter! I know I'm anxious to read the whole series!

So let's talk about humor in fiction. Do you enjoy reading it? Do you love to write it?

And what do you think about Matt's comment: "I like to have people laughing and crying in the same chapter if possible!"


After destroying the Crescent Stone, Madeline returns home, bringing Shula and Yenil with her. As her health continues to deteriorate, Madeline feels the Sunlit Lands calling her back. Meanwhile, Jason, Darius, and the rest of the inhabitants of the Sunlit Lands fight for survival and freedom. The magic that fuels the land is failing, threatening to destroy them all. Will Madeline’s return save the land and its people? Matt’s signature humor and epic storytelling are once again on full display in The Heartwood Crown.


Matt Mikalatos is the author of ten books, the most recent of which is The Heartwood Crown, book two of a YA fantasy series. You can learn more at

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Weekend Edition


If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to

Monday: We had a wonderful visit with one of the original Seekers, Cara Lynn James, discussing the importance of setting.

Tuesday: We had a great post about building blog readership from guest Jennifer Slattery.

Wednesday: Ruthy Logan Herne was our blog hostess on Wednesday and she strolled in with coffee and a bunch of friends to talk about what it takes -- the "dos and don'ts"-- to be an author. Winners of e-book of choice from guest authors are Samantha and  Sandy Smith. Winner of a copy of Ruthy's latest mystery from Guideposts "Just Over the Horizon" (from the top-selling Mysteries of Martha's Vineyard series) is Kathryn Barker!

Friday: Debby Giusti shared news about SUMMER OF SUSPENSE making the USA TODAY BESTSELLER LIST in a blog entitled, "The Making of a Bestseller." Debby and Ruthy were two of the 16 authors involved in the anthology. Debby gave a shout out to all the wonderful readers who ordered SUMMER OF SUSPENSE and pushed the anthology into the bestseller realm! She also hosted a drawing for a copy of AMISH SAFE HOUSE...and the winner is Lisa Sapp!

Monday:  We will have guest Matt Mikalatos with us!

Wednesday:  Winnie Griggs swapped spots with Debby Guisti, so she'll be bringing us her previously scheduled discussion on how to Elicit Emotion in your writing.

Friday: Pam Hillman will be posting.

OH MYLANTA!!!!!!!!

The Summer of Suspense anthology that Debby Giusti and Ruth Logan Herne are in with 14 other delightful Christian Suspense authors, hit the USA TODAY BESTSELLERS LIST at #28!!!!! Thank you to the amazing readers who preordered and to the wonderful authors who put forth a wonderful effort to get this book out and noticed! You guys ROCKED IT!!!!!

JustRead Tours will host a social media takeover for REUNITED IN THE ROCKIES by Mindy Obenhaus starting on Wednesday. There's a great giveaway up for grabs too!

Coming Soon: Big Facebook Ads Changes by David Gaughran

Author Income Diversification by guest Susan U. Neal at The Write Conversation.

Encounter: A daily podcast of sacred and mindful meditations to help you encounter the divine presence of God throughout your day.

Women Finishing Well (weekly podcast and blog) by Chris Syme and Diane Bradley

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Making of a Bestseller

By Debby Giusti

Dreams do come true.

Have you ever dreamed of having your work appear on a bestseller list? I’m sure most authors would say “YES!” Four of my books have been Publishers Weekly Bestsellers, but I still dreamed of making the USA TODAY Bestseller list.

Then fellow Love Inspired Author Mary Alford emailed me. Mary and I were online friends and had worked together on the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog.  Mary had wanted to publish an anthology of Christian novellas. When she learned Ruth Hartzler and Samantha Price had the same desire, the three writers joined forces to make their “dream” come true. Mary’s email included an invitation for me to join with fifteen other Christian suspense authors in creating an independently published anthology. Seeker Ruth Logan Herne was in the group as well!


I was honored to be included and excited to write my story, “On the Run.” We hired our own editors and then submitted our stories for formatting. We pooled resources, shared the cost of having a cover created and purchased ads to spread the word about the anthology.

In May, I hosted Mary, Ruth and Samantha on Seekerville. They provided a step-by-step guide on how their initial concept came to fruition in a blog titled, The StoryBehind Creating The Summer of Suspense Anthology! What It Takes to Put Together A Multi-Author Anthology From Start to Finish.Check it out, then be sure to come back so you can learn the rest of the story.

SUMMER OF SUSPENSE released on August 6. For a number of months prior to the release date, we encouraged readers to pre-order the anthology on Amazon, Barns & Noble or Apple. The price during the first week of release was 99 cents--a fantastic buy for more than 800 pages of reading enjoyment. The authors promoted THE SALE OF THE YEAR and so many wonderful folks took advantage of the great buy.

An extra bonus was working with Ruth Logan Herne on this project!

We regularly updated readers about our progress in newsletters and created memes about our individual stories that we posted on social media. We blogged and chatted and shared Facebook messages and Tweets so the word would spread…which it did. To add to the fun, we hosted a Summer of Suspense Release Party on Facebook that ran from August 6 to August 9 with lots of giveaways, including books!

In case you aren’t aware of the process, both Publishers Weekly and USA TODAY compile the number of books sold during a one week period. The top sellers that week make the list. The New York Times format includes other variables, but number of books sold is key to their selection process as well.

USA TODAY publishes their list on Wednesdays. Many of us kept checking the paper’s online site this week until the new list finally appeared. We were thrilled to see SUMMER OF SUSPENSE made the bestseller list and ranked  #28 out of all the books sold last week.

 The authors worked hard writing stories and promoting the anthology, but making the USA TODAY BESTSELLER LIST was due to our wonderful readers—TO ALL OF YOU—who ordered SUMMER OF SUSPENSE. 

You are the reason we write and we appreciate 
your support!

Readers often ask how they can help their favorite authors. Buying books, especially the week they release, posting reviews and spreading the word about the stories you love can propel a book and author into the bestseller status.
The 99 cent sale is over, but SUMMER OF SUSPENSE is still
available on Amazon for $9.99 and on Kindle Unlimited.
Readers, how do you spread the word about your favorite stories and authors? Do you enjoy posting reviews? Do you follow any bestseller lists? How important are the NY Times, Publishers Weekly or USA Today lists when you select a book to buy? Writers, do you review the lists? How can readers help you promote your stories? I'm giving away a copy of AMISH SAFE HOUSE to one lucky person who leaves a comment. Let me know if you want to be in the drawing!

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


She can’t remember who she’s running from.

Is she safe with the Amish?
Someone wants Becca Troyer dead, but who or why is a mystery to her. Seeking refuge at the home of Amish farmer Zeke Hochstetler is her only hope to stay one step ahead of the killer. With every clue she finds about her past leading to more confusion, Becca and Zeke must untangle the truth before her pursuer discovers where she’s been hiding.

Releases 1 NOV 2019
Pre-Order at Amazon HERE!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What Writers Do... and Don't Do

By Seekerville Blogger Ruth Logan Herne 

 Last week I asked some very successful authors what they do... and what they don't do. How do they balance their careers and their lives, their families, their homes, their commitments? How often do we hear aspiring authors or newly published authors fret/worry over having so much to do? Fairly regularly, and these established and money-making authors have taken time to advise us. Their common denominator?


Now if you cannot handle that, we understand. We get it. No one said it's easy! It is not. But if you're still reading and not faintly or heartily disgusted with me as I tell you that one doesn't become an author: One makes themselves an author by repeated effort, day by day..

Read on, then tell me in the comments where you think  you could improve and what you think you're doing right. With over fifty published books to my credit, and more to come, I can tell you I absolutely copy-catted Margaret Daley, Lenora Worth and Linda Goodnight when I was pre-published because they were:

     By that I mean these women are relatable, they talk like normal people, they never talk down or act pretentious and they really long for others' success. I wanted to be like them in proficiency and attitude. They kept it simple and set a great example!

     I respect hard work. I am the Mike Rowe of the publishing industry in my mental attitude, I like to see people succeed, but I'm not a big fan of hand-outs because we do better when we have to expend effort and work toward something. Hard work isn't a bane. It's a blessing and we could use more of it.

     It's hard to emulate, copy or be affected in a good way by work you don't like or admire. I like being able to talk to the race that knows Joseph, the simple people, the everyday Joes of this world. The ones pulling a grocery tote down the streets of Brooklyn or tying up a baby swing in a tree in central Iowa. The ones stopping to pick up their mail at the miniscule post office in a Midwestern town and the ones getting 17 boxes from Amazon a day. I like people and I like to uplift them, and these ladies were accessible with work I liked. #HUGE  I'm going to pick two names from the comments and those two people will be able to pick any book from these authors (kindle edition) and I'll send it right out to you.

From Award-winning, bestselling romantic suspense author Lynette Eason:

I found that I simply had to make a choice. When I wasn't spending time with my family, I had to choose between writing or scrapbooking, writing or television, writing or......fill in the blank. Most of the time I  chose writing. Unless there was something on television that I was just dying to watch, I spent the time writing. Often, I got up earlier than everyone else and wrote. Or, I stayed up an hour or two later than everyone else and wrote. If I was going thru a drive thru line, I never minded if it was long. I'd write on the notes app on my phone or a scrap of paper in my car. I found the word, "no" really was in my vocabulary. I said no to a lot of things. They weren't bad things (like teaching Sunday school! LOL--after all, think of the prep work that goes into teaching!), but they weren't things that would move me forward in my pursuit of publication. I think people just have to find what works for them and do it. :) NOW, after seeing the reward of my perseverance, I could say yes to teaching a Sunday school class. If I felt God leading me to do so. :)

Lynette's newest release is available from AMAZON:

From Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight

During my day job years especially, I gave up a lot of things, though I prioritized for two things-God and family. Everything else could go by the wayside. I do mean everything--social events, committees, whatever. I quickly learned to say no in a nice way.

For years, I was clueless when people discussed TV, movies, or "stars". I simply didn't see them. That was writing time.  I kept to a strict schedule of writing from 7-9 every night and all day Saturday and most holidays. I didn't even answer the phone. And I squeezed in other writing time
 where I could.(Early on, I promised the Lord that I would not work on Sunday unless it was truly a deadline emergency.)  Now that the day job is a memory, I have more flexibility, but building a career takes discipline, determination, and sacrifice.  Ugh. Not fun, but necessary.

One more thing I put aside at first was reading, and I do NOT recommend this insanity. Writers must read. Reading stretches us, makes us strive to be better.  Iron really does sharpen iron.  And besides reading is wonderful!

Here's one of Linda's wonderful novels linked to our friends at Amazon: 

And here you're going to find a similar track from NYT bestselling author Lenora Worth:
 I have given up lunching with friends, committee work (after years of being on church and organizational and writing committees I suddenly realized that's not my thing.) So I gave it up. Whew! More time to write, less time worrying and fretting about committee work.

I sometimes give up evening tv to go back into my office to edit or work and I've sometimes had to say NO a lot. A really LOT! No, I can't make phone calls for you. No, I can't baby sit since I work at home. No, I can't drop everything to help you today (unless it's an emergency and someone is in real need.)

This might sound selfish but as I told my husband once when he didn't get it-Would you walk off the paint line at GM and come home to help me? No, he would not!

I learned early on before I was published to pretend I was published and to set deadlines. I set aside time to write. A couple of hours here and there, even when I worked full time, trained me to be disciplined every day. Ten pages or at least a thousand words per day. Some days, I'm at six pages and want to stop. I tell myself just four hundred more words and before I know it, I've written fifteen-hundred words!

If you want to write, you will find a way to write. That's what I tell myself every day. I want to write. My house doesn't have to be perfect, my hair doesn't have to be perfect, the dinner doesn't have to be gourmet. But the writing has to come as close to perfect as it can.

Oh, and my one rule--Never ever give up holiday time or weekend time with your family. Work for a while and then live life!! Love to all of you!!! (Thanks, Ruthy!)

Lenora's July Love Inspired Suspense is available here! 

And here are tips from Award-winning author Pepper Basham. Pepper's still raising a family, working and writing, so her words are a real uplift to all of you who are in constant balance mode:

When my kids were young, the only time I had to really write was after the kids went to bed at night because I worked a day job. Even if I only wrote 15 minutes and then passed out for the night from exhaustion, I still chose those 15 minutes. Also, something that I've found INCREDIBLY helpful with a busy schedule (both as a mom of young-ones and now), is to daydream about the story when you can't write about it. For me, that primed my brain for writing when I did have a few minutes here and there.

Now, with kids who are older, I have more writing time, consistently, in the evening. I also, now, have occasional time to write during my lunch break. Daydreaming about the story is still a mainstay, but I'm also extremely thankful to work 4 days a week instead of 5 now, so I have a WHOLE DAY to...,do all the mom-kid appointment stuff, but also spend more time learning about the whole author-marketing stuff, actually READ books, and keep writing. 

I also RARELY watch t.v. Occasionally, I'll need brain-break from writing, so I'll watch a fav movie or join hubs watching the Hallmark channel (yeah, I got him stuck on it), but t.v. is not something I do a lot.  (Learning to say "no" is a good thing too ;-) and knowing WHEN you need to say yes.

A link to one of Pepper's wildly popular novels!

 You know how to find whales in the ocean?

Follow the food.

Same with writing. Follow the successful authors. They may not be the most talkative, or the most hands-on, or the most flamboyant. I've watched a lot of flamboyant authors crash and burn and/or die a slow, drop-in-sales death.

Don't do as some say: Do what others do. Write the books and keep on doing it.

Hey, leave the comments below and we'll chat. I'm farm-crazy right now, but coming inside and chattin' with all y'all is the best break ever!

Multi-published, bestselling and award-winning (Whew!!!) author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great books and growing pumpkins.

What more could anyone ask???? :)

You can find Ruthy on her pumpkin farm in Western New York and on the web at or friend her on facebook or follow her on Twitter (where a lot of folks do not behave nicely. I'm just sayin'....)

And Ruthy's latest mystery is out from Guideposts!!!!!

One person will be drawn to get a hardcover copy of this mystery, but ya gotta tell me you want it....

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Blogging is Dead-Four Tips to Increase Your Blog Readership

You may have heard authors say that blogging is dead. Perhaps you’ve said this yourself.

If so, consider these statistics, found on

Blogging ensures marketers are 13X more likely to see positive returns on their investments.

Researchers have found direct correlations between the number of posts organizations (or authors) publish each month and their overall website traffic.

When one’s site includes a blog, they are likely to see 67% more leads than they would otherwise.

Over half of consumers (including readers) feel more engaged and positive toward a brand (or author) after reading blog content.

But perhaps the most compelling: The majority of marketing experts prioritize blogging over their other inbound marketing efforts.

Therefore, if our blog isn’t getting read, the problem likely lies with us more than our potential audience. Could it be were not utilizing this medium effectively?

When I first began blogging in 2009, I didn’t know anyone outside of the publishing industry who blogged, though people were making great money at it. In fact, professional bloggers were brining in an annual income of $75,000, with one third of them making six figures. Soon, everyone wanted in on this seemingly easy income stream. As a result, the number of blogs grew from 127 million worldwide to over 440 million located on Tumblr, Squarespace, and Wordpress alone. (Read more stats HERE.)

Our goal, then, is to do what we can to make our content stand out.

Here are some ways we can do so:

1. Use strong, clear, attention grabbing titles

We’re writers. We likely being cutesy and clever with our words, but if our reader doesn’t know what a post is about, why will they feel compelled to stop scrolling through Facebook to click on your link?

They won’t likely click if you simply state your topic either. You want to do so in a way that makes the reader feel as if they absolutely need to read whatever you’ve written about.

For example, consider the two titles, written about the same topic.

“Building a Strong Marriage”

“How God Brought Us Back From the Brink of Divorce”

Both provide an indication as to your post’s main focus but the second is likely to get more clicks. (Bonus: Readers love transparency. Share how you’ve blown something related to the topic and even your second cousin four-times removed will be likely to click.)

2. Start with a “bam” opening.

I’m often surprised how many blog entries begin similar to how one might start a daily journal:

The other day I was out running errands with my kids.
Lately I’ve been contemplating what it means to surrender.
I’ve always struggled to understand what Jesus meant when He told us to carry our cross.
I love reading books with strong female leads.

When considering the strength of your opening line, ask yourself, “If someone were to read this first line alone, would they feel compelled to keep reading?”

If the answer is no, revise.

3. Avoid reader whiplash.

I’m borrowing from Andy Stanley here. In his book, Communicating For a Change, he discusses the importance of providing your audience (or in our case, readership) a clear roadmap so that they don’t think they’re heading one direction then feel a jolt when they realize we’ve been discussing something else entirely.

When I edit content from my ministry team, I encourage them to provide a hint by the first line. I don’t want them to provide the solution or main takeaway just yet, but I do want them to awaken reader hunger. For example, if their post is on loving others as themselves, they could begin with a line that points to self love: I can become quite self-obsessed. Or, My self-obsessive tendencies nearly destroyed my marriage. If you want to talk about generosity, you could start with: Greed cost me my house, my kids, and my self-respect. Or, my struggles with generosity suggest I don’t believe God’s as good as the Bible makes Him out to be.

4. Build tension.

Often, we provide the solution before we’ve taken the time to build reader hunger for it. How we do this will vary based on our type of content. Since my blog posts are almost always devotional in nature, I’ll share how this looks for me. I like to start with a personal story showing my life when I lived in rebellion to our outside of whatever truth I’m espousing. For example, if I’m writing about lasting friendships, I’ll start with a story of a time when unloving behavior led to loneliness. If I want to talk about biblical finances, I’ll begin sharing how my husband and were once over $35,000 in debt.

Blogging isn’t for everyone. Some of you may get more traction through podcasts or simply pumping one book out after another. But before determining this free tribe-building medium isn’t for you, I encourage you to evaluate your time and effectiveness. Might you receive better results if you were to practice the above tips? And if you found doing so helped consistently increase your readership, would you then deem it worth your time?

Join the conversation! Do you blog? If not, why? If you do blog, what tips would you add to the one I mentioned here? How do you strive to stay relevant and competitive in today’s super noisy Internet world?

Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who has addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She maintains a devotional blog found at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud and on Crosswalk. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Love Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and
live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Contact her HERE to book her for your next women’s event.

Hometown Healing:

She’s home again, but not for long…
Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Buy it HERE.


Monday, August 12, 2019

The Importance of Setting with Cara Lynn James

We're so glad to welcome back one of the Seekerville Blog's founders today! Cara Lynn James, take it away...

The Importance of Setting

It’s great to return to Seekerville! I’ve been away too long. Life happened and I didn’t write too much during the last few years, but now I’m back in the swing of things.

I want to talk about setting today because it’s such a fun element for me to read and write about. It helps create a picture in my mind where the characters can live and breathe and act out their parts. I can travel to places I’ve never been before, learn about the culture, cuisine and customs.

Simply put, setting is about time and place. It’s a crucial component of every story, but it’s sometimes overlooked or at least brushed aside because characters and plot seem more important. It’s often the forgotten stepchild. But all three elements are necessary, and work together to create a wonderful book. 

I write stories set in New England because I grew up there and spent a large portion of my life in Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I’m familiar with the differences among those states—and there are big differences, although they’re situated close together. 

It’s easier to write about places you’re familiar with, but sometimes it’s fun to research other locations and learn new things. And if you’re lucky, maybe you can take a research trip and have some fun.

I’ve listed below some of the elements we should be aware of when we consider where to set our stories.

There are certain fundamental components that make up the setting:

Locale. Obviously, this is where the novel takes place. It’s in a particular country, state, city or town, neighborhood, street, house or apartment. A book set in New York City will be different in many ways from one set in the rural town of Greenville, Florida where my late husband grew up. It’s also the childhood home of singer Ray Charles and it has a population of 843. Can you picture a story set there? It won’t be like a town in Washington state or Ohio, although they’ll all have certain commonalities. 

Time of the year.This includes the seasons and the holidays. I live in northwest Florida and to me the seasons blend together. That’s because the weather doesn’t change much during the entire year, although some people may disagree. When I lived in Vermont, I found the seasons to be more distinctive. Cold, snowy winters and warm summers separated by spring called mud season and crisp, dry autumns. 

Even holidays are celebrated in unique ways in different places. Washington, D.C. celebrates Memorial Day with concerts and spectacular fireworks displays while Derby, Vermont has a tiny parade with local politicians and fire trucks, a barbeque on the green with booths selling fried dough and cotton candy. City verses rural. But cities differ from each other depending on location just as rural areas differ. A Midwestern town will have a flavor unlike a town in southern California or Mississippi. 

Time of day. Scenes occur at a specific hour of the day. Dusk and dawn have their own look and feel and so does mid-day when the sun is bright and hot. 

Mood and atmosphere. Like us, our characters respond to weather, temperature and lighting and those variables influence the characters’ moods. Sitting by a crackling fire with snow falling outside evokes a much different mood than a hike in a hot, dry desert. The air feels different than the humid sea air of the Gulf Coast. Extremes in heat and cold effect how we feel and can make us comfortable or uncomfortable, happy or sad. That can also influences our character’s disposition.

Climate. Knowing the geography, and topography, ocean currents, prevailing winds, air masses etc. are important because they all influence the climate. If you’re setting your story in a real place, make sure you understand the climate. Tornadoes are common all over the country, but they’re especially prevalent in the mid-west. We think of California earthquakes and hurricanes along the coasts and blizzards up north. 

Geography. A mountain, a river, a forest can provide obstacles to the characters that they have to overcome. Think also of the soil, plants and wild animals they may encounter. What are the effects of people using the land? Are they strip mining, clear cutting the woods, grazing cows? What do others in the community think about that?

Eras of historical importance. Wars, important events and important people who lived during that era can be linked to the plot. For example, Susan B. Anthony can make an appearance in the story or even become an important part of it. Popular time periods might include the Civil War, World War Two, southern slavery, pioneers moving west in a wagon train.

Social/political/cultural environment. These aspects of a character’s environment contribute to her beliefs and the actions that follow. Her faith and religion may be affirmed by the people in the town, or they may be ridiculed. How society treats her faith will influence her feelings and her actions in the book.

Ancestral influences. The culture and values of immigrant groups will add local color to a town which sometimes lasts for a generation or two. I came from Hamden, Connecticut, a town with a large population of elderly Italian immigrants and their descendants. We had the best pizza in the country! On school days I’d stop on my way home for lunch at a garage bakery and buy the most delicious Italian bread you can ever imagine. Even though my English/Irish American mother couldn’t make Italian food, my friends’ mothers and grandmothers’ did! 

New Orleans has a Cajun French and Creole flavor that could never be mistaken for New York Chinatown or a Mexican American area of Texas. I guess I’ve been carried away by the topic of food!

Additionally, different languages, styles of architecture, and kinds of entertainment give us fascinating settings for our stories. Even though America is a melting pot, we still have very distinct regions with their own proud history and culture.

In The Fabric of Lovemy historical novella, Eliza Baldwin, a young, bereaved widow and mother of three, struggles to support her family and save enough money for her son’s private school tuition. To earn more income, Eliza wants to take the job offered by Clark Henderson, the handsome, new owner of Whitfield General Store. But she refuses because the headmaster’s wife won’t allow her to work for a living. 

Right from their first meeting, Eliza and Clark feel a strong attraction toward each other. Yet despite their growing feelings, Eliza believes any romantic relationship would show disloyalty to the memory of her late husband. When Clark offers Eliza love and a chance to shed her widow’s weeds and genteel poverty, she’s unsure about what the Lord has in mind for her. 

Will she reject Clark’s love and his kindness or hold fast to her old life and the rules society has imposed upon her?


Cara Lynn James lives in northwest Florida with her daughter, grandson and two exceptionally lovable dogs, a Papillion and a lab mix. She’s busy with her family, church and two writers’ groups. She also finds time to write (but not quite as much as she’d like to) and read lots of novels. Her published books are “Love on a Dime,” “Love on Assignment,” “Love by the Book,” and“A Path toward Love.”

Two more novellas, “The Innkeeper’s Promise,” and “Staging a Romance” will be released soon!
Per Cara: This is Cara Lynn the way she looks and the way she wishes she looks. :)

Visit Cara on Facebook.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Weekend Edition


If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to

Last week Cate Nolan Recapped RWA19 with a little help from generous friends. Winners of books are: Lucy Reynolds, Patti Stephenson, Samantha, Denise, Gail H., Joy, Lori Smanski, Paula Shreckhise, Maryann (marypopmom), and Lee-Ann B.

Monday: Mary Connealy posted about Idle Hands and how to handle having a break between deadlines.

Wednesday: Mindy Obenhaus brought us great tips for juggling the writing life. The winner of a copy of her soon-to-be released book, Reuninted in the Rockies, is Amy Anguish!

Friday: Beth had fun with the topic of using real-life stranger than fiction experiences in stories.

Monday:  Welcome back to Seekerville, Cara Lynn James!! We're so excited to have an update from Cara who has big news. She has a new book that just released from Winged Publications, The Fabric of Love! Please join us as we give a hearty welcome back to one of the founders of the blog.

Tuesday: We have a Tuesday post today! With guest Jennifer Slattery!

Wednesday:  Ruthy Logan Herne is coming on board today to talk about the work behind the joy in her normal snarky way... because the joy, joy, joy, joy is definitely worth it in her opinion! So come on over, let's chat about what you might have to give or give up to make this career work for you!
Friday: Winnie Griggs will be giving us her take on how to Elicit Emotion in your writing.



The countdown is on for Mindy Obenhaus's latest release, Reunited in the Rockies, on August 20th!
Read a free preview here.
Preorder your copy here.

Another new Seeker release is from Jan Drexler on September 3rd! It's time to start thinking about Christmas!
Preorder your copy here!

And Jan isn't done - coming October 1st!

Preorder your copy here!

Golden Tips from RWA 2019 by Fae Rowen  

New CEO Wants to Make Barnes & Noble Your Local Bookstore - WSJ

How to Write a Great Author Bio That Will Connect with Readers by Chris Robley