Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Cate's Favorite Craft Books Series # 6

 I had intended to bring you the next in my favorite craft books series today, but I'm in the middle of an interstate move and all my books are packed away in boxes awaiting the moving men.

Instead of doing a repost, I decided I wanted to focus on craft books in a different way.

The best and most frequently given advice is if you want to be a writer, you must read. Read the kinds of books you want to write, read research books, read the kinds of books you don't want to write because they will help stretch your mind.

One way to use books you love as "craft books" is to deconstruct them. I recently heard someone give advice about this as if it was some big secret. Really? I've been doing it for ages as have many other authors I know. If you're not familiar with the idea, it's basically figuring out why you love the books you love so that you can learn to replicate the result in your own work. 

(NOTE: I'm not talking about copying work. I'm talking about studying it.)

I really do believe that reading is the best training for writing, because avid readers absorb style details without even being aware they're doing so. They develop a sense for how the story should unfold, for what makes a good story.

You can set about this "research"  in many ways. Maybe you just want to reflect on what it is about a certain book that makes you love it. Maybe it's the characterization. Maybe it's the clever plot twists the author is known for. Maybe it's the language. You're just getting a general sense. That's an informal use.

But you can also take a more formal approach to breaking a book down to study the structure. This is particularly helpful if you're trying to break into a line. Take Love Inspired or Love Inspired Suspense, for example. When I was first trying to sell to LIS, I took books by some of their best-selling authors and took notes scene by scene to see what I needed to do. How is the pacing handled? How do the hero and heroine's points of view alternate? When do they meet, have conflict, kiss? When (with regards to chapters) does the black moment occur? How many chapters? How many scenes per chapter? How long is each chapter? And so on....

On the flip side, there is also value in deconstructing books you disliked. Why did you dislike it? Were the characters unlikable? Was the setting or plot off? Was it the pacing or the dialogue? All of these questions can give you valuable insight into your own work.

So let's talk. Have you ever deconstructed a book to see how it works? Did it help you?

I'd also love to hear any good moving stories! Friends keep telling me there's a book in this experience!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Populating Your Story with Background Characters


We all enjoy the secondary characters in stories, right?

The heroine’s best friend, the hero’s fun younger brother, the sidekick, the pal, the mentor.

These characters are necessary to your story. They provide someone for your characters to confide in and someone to push your hero or heroine to make the move toward romance or toward the next plot point in your story.

But what about the background characters?

First, let’s define what a background character is.

These are characters who populate the third circle of your cast. They are more than a part of the community, but they don’t have as much of a relationship with your hero/heroine as your secondary characters.

But what purpose do they serve?

Unlike the secondary characters, background characters aren’t there to influence the story or your main characters. They provide a balance, a mood, or sometimes a way to ease or increase the tension of a scene.

They can also be a vehicle to give your story a reason to progress through the next scene, like an older couple in my Christmas novella, “An Amish Christmas Recipe Box.”

Let’s look at a couple background characters from fiction as examples.

First, there’s Rosie Cotton from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you’ve read the books or seen the movies, you know Rosie. Sam is in love with her – we know that from the beginning – but he doesn’t feel that he can “speak” for her quite yet. Her character is part of the community, and yet a little bit more. She doesn’t influence the story like a secondary character would, but she influences Sam. In a very subtle way, we know that she is his unstated and secret motivation to come home from the quest, and his hope for the future.

Another one is Mrs. McGregor from Peter Rabbit. She doesn’t play an active role in the story, but she is there. She is pictured in the third illustration in the book, along with Mrs. Rabbit’s ominous warning to Peter: “Your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.” That seemingly innocent act of fixing dinner for her family immediately cast Mrs. McGregor as the accomplice to murder! From that point on she isn’t mentioned again, but she is there, symbolizing the fate of careless rabbits who wander into the wrong garden.

Background characters are important to your story, and they should be crafted with care. You don’t need to develop them with the same depth as your main and secondary characters, but they should have their own lives and personalities.

I’d like to introduce you to a background character in my Work-in-Progress, the second installment in my Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries. Her purpose in the story is simple – I have two artists who are at odds with one another as secondary characters, and neither one is very likeable. This character, Debbie, is also an artist, but I made her the kind of person you could sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with. She’s the counterbalance to the other two characters.

Here’s her introduction in the book:

“Good afternoon,” I said to the older couple. “You must be Rick and Debbie Harris.”

“That’s right.” Rick smiled at me, his graying beard unable to hide the friendly gesture. “We’re sorry we’re late, but we hadn’t expected the Dignity statue in Chamberlain to be so captivating.”

“Have you seen it?” Debbie asked. When I shook my head, she went on. “You have to. It is so beautiful and conveys the dignity of the Native Americans perfectly in the graceful lines of the woman. Like a dancer captured in motion.”

Her hands fluttered in the air as she spoke as if she was trying to express the movement that the statue could only represent. Her gently curled silver hair with strands of gold lowlights added to the ethereal quality of her description.

“I’m sorry.” She laughed as her hands dropped to her side like birds coming to roost on a branch. “I get carried away sometimes.” She shook her head as she laughed again.

We will see Debbie often as the story progresses since she and her husband are guests at the bed and breakfast where the book is set. She is part of the background and provides texture to the cast of characters. She might even provide some insight into the motive for the murder.

The inspiration for my fictional Sweetbrier Inn

Have you given a thought to the background characters in your story?

Tell us about your favorite background character, either in your own work or in a favorite book or movie in the comments.

One commenter will win a copy of “An Amish Christmas Kitchen,” the collection of novellas that includes “An Amish Christmas Recipe Box.” That’s the story I mentioned earlier where I use background characters to move the story along. You’ll have to see if you can spot them as you read the story!

As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen.

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman's unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.

The giveaway is for a physical copy of the collection (US addresses only) or an e-copy of either the collection, or Jan's story alone (wherever Amazon will send the e-book.)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests

Christ with children, Carl Heinrich Bloch
1800s, Museum of National History, Denmark. [PD-US]

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it. 
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” 
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?” 
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest. 
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” 
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Mark 9:30-37

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, September 18, 2021

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 If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected.

Monday: Roseanna White shared her 'surprise and delight' technique for reader engagement. The winner of a gift card to her store is Mrs. Tina!

Tuesday: Julie Lessman Here is my grand-prize winner of her choice of a signed paperback copy of The Secret of Emerald Cottage OR an e-copy along with three other e-copies of my books, AND a character named after you in my next book, A Hope and a Prayer (book 2 in The Cousins O’Connor series), which releases early next year: MALLORI NORIS

AND And my three winners of an e-copy of The Secret of Emerald Cottage are: Angela Johnson, BN100, and Melissa.

Wednesday: Debby Giusti provided a motivational post: I AM A WRITER! Thanks to all those who stopped by and left a comment.

Friday: Winnie asked for opinions on whether or not to reimagine her book The Heart's Song as an historical before she reissues it. Thanks to all those who stopped by to offer feedback. The winners of a copy of her book The Heart's Song are JCP, Jeanne Takenaka, Lee-Ann B, Linda and Roxanne C. Congratulations!

Monday:  Jan Drexler will be talking about background characters. What are they? Stop by and find out! And there will be a book giveaway!

Wednesday:  Cate Nolan is back with the next in her favorite craft book series.
Friday: Pam

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

To learn more join the FB Reader Group

Jan Drexler's An Amish Christmas Recipe Box novella is free on Kindle Unlimited!

Writing Spies: How to Bug a Room by Piper Bayard at Writers In The Storm

6 Tips to Make Your Scenes Visually Dynamic by CS Lakin at Live Write Thrive

What if Platform is a Goal by Dan Balow at Steve Laube Agency

A Layered Method for Creating Consistent Characters by Ann Harth at Fiction University

Writing Between Deadlines by Tari Faris at Learn How To Write A Novel

The Heartbeat of a Good Writer by Katy Kauffman at The Write Conversation

Take the Mystery Out of Writing a Novel by Julie Hennrikus at NaNoWriMo Blog

Anatomy of a Meet Cute by Angela Ruth Strong at Learn How To Write A Novel

Writers, Do You Struggle with the Learning Curve? by Angela Ackerman at Writers Helping Writers

Friday, September 17, 2021

Opinions Please - The Heart's Song


Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today I’m coming to you with a question.


I recently acquired the rights back to the one and only contemporary novel I wrote during the nine years I was with Love Inspired. The book is called The Heart’s Song and this one really holds a near and dear place in my heart. For one thing, it’s  the only book I’ve written that’s set in my home state of Louisiana. It also features a handbell choir which is something I’ve always enjoyed listening to. But my favorite thing about this book is that the story line allowed me to explore the various ways Christians react to the loss of a loved one. Reeny lost her husband in an auto accident. Graham lost his wife and newborn daughter due to complications from her pregnancy. These characters both come from strong Christian backgrounds but the way they faced their losses was very different.


Anyway, as I said above, I now have the rights back to this book and plan to reissue it on my own at some point, but first I need to update it – after all this originally came out in 2010, eleven years ago. But as I was thinking about tackling the revisions, I had an idea that I wasn’t sure was inspired or just plain crazy.  Since the majority of my books are nineteenth century Americana historical, what if I reimagined this book in that genre? 

On the plus side I think I could make it an even stronger story and it would be more along the lines of what my readers normally look for from me. And it would be a fun exercise, I could even see how it would be easier to spin off additional stories in that world if it were historical rather than contemporary.

On the other hand, it would take a lot longer to get it revised, would require a stronger edit and at the end of the day it would still be the same story at its core.

What do you think? Would such a reimagining be worth the effort required? Or would I be just as well served to do some minor tweaks and get it back out there?

 I have several author copies of this book still in my book closet so leave your thoughts in the comments below to be entered in a drawing to receive a signed copy.


Widower Graham Lockwood hasn't stepped foot in church since he lost his family. So he can't possibly say yes to his new neighbor's request that he lead the handbell choir. But widowed mother Reeny Landry is so hopeful—and her fatherless children so in need—that Graham agrees to help. 

Suddenly, the man who closed himself off is coming out of his shell. And he finds himself acting the father figure to Reeny's sweet mute daughter and loner son. 

But going from neighbor to husband is another matter altogether. Until a loving family teaches Graham to hear the heart's song.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

I am a Writer!


By Debby Giusti

I am a writer.

Characters live in my mind and tell me their stories. I bring them to life on the printed page so others can delight in their antics, learn from their mistakes and celebrate their triumphs.

Sometimes I create worlds that have never before existed, but more often, I reveal something new about that which seems ordinary or commonplace.

No matter the genre or the setting, stories teach, inspire, affirm and entertain. They underscore truth, expose darkness and bring the hidden to light in unique ways that grab the reader’s imagination.

In addition, they reveal the depths of human suffering and the heights of human achievement.

I don’t work alone. The spiritual realm encourages me, and the Lord God Himself directs my hands to ensure the words, seemingly pulled from thin air, have meaning and merit.

I’m blessed to share in the creative process in such a simple yet challenging way, and I invite each of you to follow me on your own writing journey.

Write stories, write articles or editorials, how-to books or memoirs and journals. Pick up your pen or turn on your computer, and begin today to create that which needs to be told.

Ignore your insecurity, still the negative interior voice that says you cannot write, and step boldly onto the creative path. Remember, once you begin to write, you are a writer so give your Muse free rein to explore the stories buried deep within you. Write about fear to become brave, write about heartbreak to appreciate love, write about death to embrace life more fully.

You have something important to say, and by pulling from the kaleidoscope of your thoughts and actions, both past and present, you’ll breathe life into a new reality seen through your own personal lens. Then you, too, will encourage and uplift someone, somewhere and somehow, who needs to read what you have penned.

Come write with me, dear friend, and allow the sparks of your imagination to ignite the world.

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti

Her temporary Amish homecoming

could get her killed.

Julianne Graber left her Amish life behind after a family tragedy, but now she’s back to sell the family home— and someone’s dead set on getting rid of her. With her neighbor William Lavy by her side, Julianne must uncover dangerous secrets to make sense of the past and present. Can she find justice for her family—and a future with Will—before the killer hits his target?

Order on Amazon!


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Julie Lessman is BACK and she's writing mysteries!





By Julie Lessman


HELLO, SEEKERVILLE! It is soooo good to be back with you, both as an alum and a guest blogger. When I first became one of the original Seekers way back when (uh, we won’t go into how far back that was, all right?), I always liked to do teaching blogs because there was SO much I had to learn as an author, that I truly appreciated when seasoned authors shared their insights.




But … I just wrote my very first “cozy mystery,” so when it comes to romantic suspense, trust me, I am anything but “seasoned.” Which is why I am asking for input from you—truly seasoned readers—in a quick survey that will not only enter you to win your choice of a signed paperback copy of my new cozy mystery, The Secret of Emerald Cottage OR an e-copy along with three other e-copies of my books, BUT a character named after you in my next book as well, A Hope and a Prayer (book 2 in The Cousins O’Connor series), which releases early next year.


So, I need your help. Because you see, I was the one arguing with my husband because I did not want to watch the Hallmark mystery movies since I like the accent mark on romance, not mystery. But when we ran out of regular Hallmark romance movies, I was forced to watch things like—horror of horrors—Aurora Teagarden and Murder 101 (can anyone say, “hubba-hubba, Polaha-ha-ha,” as my hubby calls him?).  And you know what? I found out that I actually really liked them!


But … (knee-knocking here) … could I write one??


Okay, sure, maybe I can write a pretty mean kissing scene (I invite you to check out the KISSES, KISSES, KISSES tab of my website to see how “mean”) because back in the day when CBA kissing scenes were far tamer than mine, some even tossed the nickname, “The Kissing Queen” my way. But I’m happy to say that today in the CBA, there’s an entire royal kingdom of “Kissing Queens”—thank God!—many of whom are right here on Seekerville.


And no question that after writing 25 “passionate” family-saga romance books, I can certainly share a thing or two about how to get more passion power into your prose, such as in this Seeker blog I wrote entitled, “More BANG for Your Buck: Making Your Words Work for You!”


But romantic suspense?


Gulp. Not easily, trust me. Suddenly I found myself happier when I was writing romance scenes over the mystery ones because, hey, romance is my lifeblood as an author. So what did I do? The only thing I could do—I ditched the 80/20 formula for 50/50.


So … are you ready for 50/50? There’s only way to find out. By taking the following survey:




1.)    Are you primarily a romance reader or a suspense reader?


2.)    If both, what percentage of each?


3.)    If you are a die-hard suspense reader, would 50/50 turn you off?


4.)    If you are a diehard romance reader, would 50/50 be enough? 😍



Just copy and paste the questions above into your comment and answer each one. If you do, you will automatically be entered into my contest to win your choice of a signed paperback copy of The Secret of Emerald Cottage OR an e-copy along with three other e-copies of my books, AND a character named after you in my next book, A Hope and a Prayer (book 2 in The Cousins O’Connor series), which releases early next year..



Watch the “killer” video/trailer below that my talented hubby made for The Secret of Emerald Cottage, let me know what you think via comment below, and I’ll enter you to win one of three e-copies of my very first mystery.


So, what is The Secret of Emerald Cottage all about? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a short blurb:




An international soccer-star playboy butts heads with his aunt’s pretty prude of a nurse when he discovers not only did somebody try to murder his Aunt Lilly, but her Emerald Cottage home contains a secret that might just kill them all.


And HERE’S the “killer” VIDEO/TRAILER!



For a sneak peek at the first chapter AND more pix of the smokin’ hot hero, hop on over to my BLOG. Then let the survey begin and GOOD LUCK!







A lover of all things Irish, Julie Lessman writes close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.


Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, Isle of Hope, and Silver Lining Ranch series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 21 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017-2020, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction.


Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website at