Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Seven Secrets to Success for Writers!

By Debby Giusti

Since we're only a few weeks into the new year, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the Seven Secrets to Success for Writers I penned more than a decade ago. I hope you'll add some of the secrets to your own success in the comment section so we can learn from each other. What works for you? What doesn't? Grab a cup of coffee and let's share tips and techniques for the new year!

 A few writing Secrets to Success for the New Year:

1. Put God First

Everything goes more smoothly, including the writing, when I start my day with prayer.  I think of it as giving Him my “first fruits” before the hustle and bustle begins.  Similarly, I “bookend” my day by spending time in prayer before I fall asleep. Often I may be struggling with a character or plot point, but when I make time for God, the problems resolve and the story gets written.

2. Know why you write

For financial gain, notoriety, fame? (Are you laughing?) Maybe your goal is to bring joy to your readers’ lives or spread God’s message of love or show how good can triumph over evil. Whatever the reason, it should be important to you, important enough to keep you writing when you’re tired or sick or frustrated with the story. Once you determine the why, you can accept projects that advance that vision and reject those that don’t.

3. Learn How to Say No

This dovetails with knowing why you write. Say no to the things that don’t fit into your plan or your reason for writing. For me that includes social functions that keep me from my computer, such as lunch dates or shopping sprees. I still have a life, but I don’t overschedule my week with events that keep me from working.

 4. Study Story

Learning to see the big picture is important. Often we focus on the bits and pieces--the plot, the characters, the conflict—instead of the story as a whole. We need to know how the parts fit together into a seamless tale that transports readers to another world. Studying the greats who “get” story helps me. Some of my favorite gurus include Christopher Vogler, author of The Writer’s Journey, Michael Hauge, who wrote Writing Screenplays that Sell , and Donald Maass, with his Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

5. The Synopsis is Your Friend

I’ve never known anyone who enjoys writing synopses, but I have learned to use them as a tool. If I can’t get the synopsis to work, my story won’t work either. Finding the flaw—the weak plot point, the limp conflict, the lack of motivation, or even the wrong villain—in that early story overview saves times and keeps me from writing two hundred pages that head in the wrong direction. Embrace the synopsis as a friend and an important first step in your writing process. 

6. Guard your Health

Sitting at a computer for long periods of time is detrimental to your health. Take frequent breaks when you’re working. Exercise daily. Get adequate rest. Drink lots of water. Health is one of our most important assets. Take care of yourself so you can enjoy the long writing career God has planned for your future.

7. Ignore the Negative Voice

You know what I’m talking about—that small internal voice that says hateful things about you and your writing. My negative voice can be very vocal…and very mean. “You can’t write,” she often taunts. “This story stinks. Give up now!” Early on, I waged an almost endless battle to squelch the negative and focus, instead, on what I got right. These days, my internal voice is a bit more subdued, although when I’m tired or overworked, she frequently makes herself known. My advice? Turn down the volume and don’t let her sap your confidence. Remember you are a writer. Ignore the criticism and just write!

The coffee's hot. Grab a cup, and let's discuss our own personal tips for writing success!

Wishing you a productive and successful 2022! 

Happy writing, dear friends!

Debby Giusti

www.DebbyGiusti.com

Smugglers in Amish Country

 Uncovering secrets in this Amish town

could deliver deadly consequences.

When the robbery suspect she’s tracking begins attacking delivery girls in Amish country, officer Marti Sommers must go undercover as bait. With ex-cop Luke Lehman’s niece as one of the targets, this case is personal. After all, Marti’s rookie mistake ended with Luke injured and another officer dead. But can the two former colleagues stop a deadly smuggling ring…before Marti becomes the next victim?

Releases March 2022

Pre-Order on Amazon!

 




Monday, January 17, 2022

Three Steps to Becoming a Successful Author

 


Really? Can it be that simple? Only three steps?

Seekervillagers aren’t that gullible! You know that becoming a successful author is a long, laborious process.

But these three steps are key to getting you to where you want to go.


First, be teachable.

Being teachable means that you are willing to learn...even if that learning comes after an ouch of a critique, or you feel like your toes have been stepped on.

Being teachable means that you are willing to open your eyes to a new way of looking at things.

Being teachable means that you ask for advice, then consider that advice, and follow it if it's valuable.

Being teachable means being willing to change your opinion. And I know how hard that can be!

An example? I'm in the process of developing covers for my soon-to-be released cozy mystery series (and my first venture into Indy publishing!) I designed a few covers that I liked. In fact, I liked them a lot. I ran them past a few people that I could trust to be honest with me, asking for feedback.

I got the feedback! Especially from my daughter. My other friends (thank you Seekerville ladies!) were polite and they gave some useful suggestions. My daughter didn't worry about being polite. She told me point-blank what she thought. (Both approaches are needed and appreciated!)

I took all the suggestions - the polite ones as well as the not-so-polite - and went back to the drawing board. And I LOVE the result. It's much better than my first fifteen or so versions!

I'm so glad I remained teachable throughout this process, and I'm pleased with the final (or nearly final) version of my cover. You'll have to wait a couple months for the official cover reveal, but here's the series logo to give you a taste:


Second, be gracious.

Being gracious means promoting other authors as often as you can.

Being gracious means NOT responding to that unfair and wicked negative review, no matter how much you want to.

Being gracious means meeting deadlines and responding to your business emails in a timely fashion.

Being gracious means extending grace to others in all circumstances.

This is one of those things I'm constantly working on in myself. I don't think any of us are naturally gracious (although Debby comes close!) and learning to be gracious is harder to learn for some of us than for others.

Graciousness is a close cousin of humility. It's easier to be gracious when we're humble.



Third, be an active learner.

Being an active learner means that you seek out places to learn your craft - and Seekerville is a good place to start.

Being an active learner means that if there is a skill set you don't have, you learn it. (Although at times what you learn is when you need to hire someone else to do that particular skill!)

Being an active learner means that you don't rely on others to spoon-feed you. There are basic skills an author has to have - negotiating the internet, knowing how to use Word, knowing how to write a synopsis/blurb/back cover copy/etc. Learn those things for yourself. Don't rely on someone else to do them for you. 

Being an active learner means that you are constantly learning. You're reading new releases in your writing genre. You're researching details for your next WIP. You're reading a craft book that an author you respect has recommended. You're reading blog posts by agents and publishers. You're listening to podcasts on every subject from how to structure a story to how to build your website.

Something else being an active learner does for you is to keep your mind young and your life engaged. Studies have shown that learning something new is the best way to keep the synapses in your brain active and pliable, so keep learning! 


This short list is just a beginning. There is much more to being a successful author than what I've mentioned here, but it is a start. And if you keep these things in mind, you're on your way!

What do you think? Are there steps that you would add to move us along the path to success?

And be sure to come by Seekerville on Wednesday to catch Debby Giusti's list for a successful author - the two of us were thinking along the same lines this week!


One more thing! The re-release of A Home for His Family is coming next week! Click on the picture above to preorder from Amazon, or head over to my website for ordering links: www.JanDrexler.com 




Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests

The Wedding at Cana, Paolo Veronese, 1562-1563, Louvre.
[PD-US]


There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it. 
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

John 2:1-11


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

Please join us in praying for our country!
God Bless the USA!

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

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe.   

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Weekend Edition


  






If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Please send to Seekerville2@gmail.com. If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected.


Monday: Emilie Haney discussed being genuine on social media in Carrie's One Thing That Works for Me segment.

Wednesday: Ruthy shared her process of Letting the Story Unfold. The winner of a copy of Jesus Calling and one of Ruthy's Wishing Bridge books is...

Friday: Richard "Doc" Mabry shared about his writing journey. The winner of one of his books is...Karen Jennings



Monday:  Jan Drexler will be sharing her thoughts on three steps to take to become a successful writer. 

Wednesday:  Debby Giusti will be posting this day and reflecting on her "Seven Secrets of Success."
  
Friday: Winnie will be here to talk about blurbing your story.







A March Release by
DEBBY GIUSTI

Pre-Order from AMAZON now!


 An Amish Spring Anthology and Debby Giusti is one of the authors.

To learn more join the FB Reader Group


On January 25th, Jan Drexler will be celebrating a re-release from Love Inspired!


Preorder HERE!







Six Tips for an Unforgettable First Line by Rachel D. Russell at Learn How To Write A Novel

6 Typography Tips for Graphics and Book Covers by Teresa Conner at Book Brush Blog

A Writer's New Year Reflections by KM Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors


A Speaking & Writing Schedule in Uncertain Times by Yvonne Ortega at The Write Conversation

How to Find Time to Write
by Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur

What is the Climax of a Story by Gloria Russell at Write To Done

What do You Need to Write Regularly? by Julie Glover at Writers In The Storm

The End of Self Doubt by William Kenower at The Creative Penn









Friday, January 14, 2022

 

MY WRITING JOURNEY

by guest blogger Richard "Doc" Mabry

I retired from medicine almost 20 years ago. The death of my first wife was devastating, but God blessed me once more with the love of a wonderful woman, and within less than a year, I planned to retire. I had been a solo practitioner for 20 years before joining the faculty of a med school for the final 10 years of my practice. I missed my patients, of course, as well as the daily contact with my colleagues, but I looked forward to time spent writing. 

I had been working on a book detailing my experiences after the death of my first wife, and through a number of fortunate experiences, it was eventually published as The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. This non-fiction book is now in its second edition, and I looked upon it as the ministry I was called to by that event. But there was more to come.

At the urging of several writers to “try my hand at fiction,” I began to write novels. I tried forty times, but that door seemed closed. Then, when I had given up, an agent said she’d represent me, and she presented my book to an editor who’d just been charged with starting a fiction line. That book, which I called Run Away Home, was published as Code Blue, and I entered the whirlwind that was the life of a published author.

I won’t detail the ups and downs of the next several years. But suffice it to say that fame and fortune did not automatically follow. Then came the pandemic, and I didn’t write during (or after) that time. My dear, sweet wife had been both my most ardent supporter and my severest critic since I first started writing, and it didn’t escape her notice that I had not written anything since my last work, Critical Decision, was published in the spring of 2021.

I had (really, without conscious thought) concluded that it was time for me to lay down my pen. She disagreed. She suggested several ideas to me, but I couldn’t get them to work. While her idea of a medical person trying write a mystery didn’t pan out, in my writing I developed two characters who seemed to show promise—a nurse with a bad experience after an almost-marriage and a widower doctor who had never given thought about another marriage. Then I brought them together through the heart trouble of the nurse’s mother.  Soon I had populated the story with a few additional characters, and eventually I had a novella written. There were edits—lots of edits—after that, but I’m now ready to announce that Medical Mystery is available for pre-order.

Until its “official” release on January 18, 2022, the Kindle version of my newest novella will be available for 99 cents. Also, if you haven’t read it, my “Christmas novella,” Silent Night, Deadly Night, is also available in Kindle format for 99 cents until Christmas. And for whoever wins the print copy (when they are available), if you’ve already pre-ordered the Kindle version of Medical Mystery, I’ll give you a copy of one of my previous books. Sound fair?

If there’s a moral to this tale, I guess it’s this: despite age, or infection, or political upheaval, or whatever—if you’ve been given the gift of writing, it’s for a reason. Don’t argue with God. Use the gift.

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for ACFW’s Carol Award, both the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and Reviewer’s Choice Awards, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award. He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the International Thriller Writers, and Novelists Inc. Emergency Case is his latest novella.
He and his wife live in north Texas, where he writes, works on being the world’s greatest grandfather, and strives to improve his golf game. You can learn more about him at his website, and via his blog and Facebook page.

 

Ruthy here: I loved that Doc reached out to me! It had been too long since he'd written another wonderful story, and his last line reminded me of one of my life mantras, a quote from the late and great Erma Bombeck, a woman who made the world smile with thought, hope, laughter and promise...

"When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say I used everything you gave me." 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Letting the Story Unfold

 I've often called myself a "pantser".

Once published, you have to come up with plans for stories to gain contracts... unless you're like Super A-List Author Person but for us normals, you need a plan and it was in coming up with those plans that I realized I'm not a pantser... or a "plantser", putting together plans and seat-of-the-pants writing.

I'm an inspired author. Most (not all) of my books flow from an idea that kind of overtakes my brain and I let it simmer.... or the whole stinkin' idea falls into my lap and I hit the "take-off" button and go for it.

And now I'm wondering where others fall on that spectrum.

I've talked before about how stories unfold in my head... It's not a muse. I believe it's a Holy Spirit blessing that my head clears cobwebs overnight and I've often awakened with how to solve my plot problems. Like Sleep Sorting System, right? And sometimes with a whole book/plot/series that's righted itself overnight.... but it's not always a sleeping thing, often it's a wherever I am thing and that's what happened with this future mystery series.

When it happens I actually see the story, the characters, the premise, as if it's one idea blossoming in a bubble while other bubbles or pages pop up and intersect. Only there are no bubbles, it's not visual, it's there, in my head and I see and feel the story.

Maybe weird... maybe innate "talent" or gift from God? That's my guess, that my mother probably had this quirk and I know one of my daughters has this gift... so it's clearly written in our genes. (One of the good things written in our genes, the strong thread of mental illness from my mother's side is also there, so we're living proof of the power of dominant genes... or recessive gene mash-ups. But that's a whole other blog.)

Here's the difference feels between plotting out/working a story and being blessed with it:

I was working on a profile for an independent mystery series set to launch in 12 to 18 months. I'll write these stories between contracts and Wishing Bridge 5 "Reclaiming Hope in Wishing Bridge", and I want at least four mysteries done before I release book one.... I wanted light, warm, poignant, fun and fast-paced mysteries and I set up the series, wrote the opening chapters, edited, then set them aside for holidays.... 

And then I got an idea.

An amazing idea. It was a combination of things people said and did that made me think of it and I loved it. LOVED IT! 


I could see these characters, these mysteries, the progression of the series, the openness, the warmth of history blended with modern times, the growth of industry like I saw in Ken Burns "Baseball" documentary, how history affected far more than those living it... 

And book one is almost writing itself. 

There was such a difference in the linear path of the story, the characters, the series projection and how smoothly it went that I decided to blog about it because writing isn't easy. When you're heading toward book/novella #70 and ideas have been used and re-used and re-structured, you want to hit the ground running with something that not only excites  you but will excite the readers! 

And this will... because it's quirky enough, fun enough, warm and inviting enough and threaded with enough mystery to make you wonder.... and enough history to make you appreciate what's gone before you.

I may never write that other series because it doesn't have these elements, not in the same way... and yet, it might roll over me at some point, as part of another plan, another day, another time. I've done that with books before and it's amazing how no good work goes to waste if you're actively writing!

This was like technical elements waging war against inspirational elements. 

Or maybe it's just easier for me to write this one because I can envision it?  I'm not opposed to that possibility! 

So that's what I want to talk about today. Do you work on waves of inspiration? Or do you story-build like I see in so many workshops. (Which, most of you know, I avoid because I'd rather write... but again, that's another blog. :)

Let's chat it up and I have a blessing for someone today....

A copy of Jesus Calling, going out to someone. Just mention you'd love to have it in your comment because I know some of you already have it....

And a copy of Embracing Light in Wishing Bridge, book four of my "Wishing Bridge" series. 


Let me know if you already have it and I can sub in a book of your choice that I have in stock here.

Sending blessings of winter.... snowy here, finally, and cold... and that's way better than mud, my friends! 


Bestselling author Ruthy Logan Herne is loving the quiet of winter on her crazy busy pumpkin farm in Western New York because she actually gets time to write more than once a day and that's not a bad thing! She loves God, her family, her country, dogs, chocolate and Diet Mtn Dew... and is regularly seen with coffee. She's the co-owner and manager of Blodgett Family Farm and she loves sharing the crazy parts of farm life and writing and family with her Facebook friends. She loves hearing from readers and writers so email her at loganherne@gmail.com. 


Monday, January 10, 2022

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media

 


Good Monday morning, Seekerville! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author, photographer, and graphic designer, Emilie Haney, as she shares about being genuine on social media!

When I talk to authors, one of the things we usually end up discussing is social media. Often this focuses on Instagram. Whether that’s due to my presence on the app as a content creator, or just the fact that I love books and photography and IG combines both of those loves, it’s always a fun topic. When asked my “secret” to growing and maintaining my following, I’ve come to realize my answer hovers around the same things: being consistent, being creative, being genuine. 

I’ve decided to further boil this down to my heart for social media: being genuine. 

Before we go any further I want to make sure you know this is not a ‘get followers quick’ scheme. It’s not a magic bullet, a recipe for growth, or a way to beat the algorithm. It’s my personal approach to social media that I have found to generate real community.

When I started my Instagram account I didn’t think “how can I get a bunch of followers.” I did it because it was fun and I wanted to connect with other book nerds. As my writing became a constant, I realized I needed an “audience” if I wanted to go into publishing someday. Rather than gather a group of people around the idea of “my book,” I drew them with common interest: books, reading, bookish things, and writing. This not only gained me an audience, but it also helped me connect with that audience. My focus then (as it is now) was one thing: to be myself.

Now, I don’t think you need to share everything to be an honest content creator, but I did come up with two aspects that I think require you to be genuine.

Being genuine in your post content: 

When I say you can be honest without sharing everything I’m talking about finding a balance with your audience. I think it’s important to ask yourself what you are comfortable being vulnerable about on your social media platforms. Your honesty in this will help you connect to others, but that doesn’t mean that you share everything in your personal life online.

I like to ask these questions when thinking about what to post:

What is the purpose for wanting to share this personal thing?

Could this help someone else?

Do I have solutions or helpful tips to share?

If I can see why I want to share something personal, I’m more willing to post it. My goal is not to garner sympathy or draw attention to myself; instead it’s to either help with useful tips or open up a window into my life that can let others know they are not alone.

Being genuine in your presentation:

I don’t believe that you have to post unfiltered photos or messy photos to ‘prove’ that you are human, but I do think it can help to share struggles behind a curated facade. This goes along with the point above, but if you want your social feed to be curated and color-coordinated, great! Do it! I don’t think you have to ‘ruin your aesthetic’ just to appear honest. But I do think it helps to have moments of honesty – perhaps in your caption or in your stories. These moments help your readers (or potential readers) to see you as a person and can often make them more willing to support you and buy your books.

Again, the goal is not to get something from your audience, but it is often the result. 

To condense this—my honest approach to social media is built on the fact that my brand is me. It means posting captions that detail my struggles in addition to my triumphs. I don’t try to sugar coat some of the more difficult aspects of publishing, but instead pair those hard truths with encouragement. I also show my face (not often, but sometimes) via my Instagram stories—no matter my ‘state,’ camera ready or lazy day—in an effort to make a personal connection with those who follow me.

For those of you who may struggle with some of this: keep going. I know that it’s hard to put yourself out there. No matter how many followers I have or how much I may ‘influence’ others, it’s not easy to admit I struggle with feeling accepted or that I often experience fear over putting my writing, artwork, or photography out there. But every time I’ve been honest with my followers about my struggles, I’ve had an overwhelming positive response from them. 

The truth is that we’re all human—writer or reader or whatever—and social media connects us in a way that makes it possible to appear very different than we are. Breaking down those barriers with your genuine interests, appearance, struggles, successes, and quirks can be one of the best ways to ‘market yourself’ in a world filled with feeds. 

~*~*~*~*~

Emilie (Hendryx) Haney is a self-employed freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California with her husband. She’s a member of ACFW, writes adult romantic suspense and young adult fiction, and spends more time on Instagram than she probably should. With a degree in music and youth ministry, she has heart for youth and a love of genuine social media connections. She has built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand CreateExploreRead, with a focus on bookish merchandise sold on Etsy and Society6.

Connect with Emilie on her website and Instagram


What questions do you have for Emilie about being genuine on social media?
What are some things that have worked for you in building community among your readers?