Monday, July 19, 2021

What Story Do You Need to Tell?

 


 Nearly every day for the past sixteen months, I’ve taken Sam for a two-mile walk.


Samwise the border collie

Early morning is our time – before six o’clock is my sweet spot in the summer, and after seven in the winter. I try to walk when most of the rest of the neighborhood is still at home and off the roads.

(Blame Sam. He thinks his job is to control all the cars on our road, and all the deer he can see. That herding instinct is strong!)

But even during this peaceful time, I’ll meet neighbors who are enjoying the same early morning routine as I am. And since we’re fairly new in our little community, some will strike up a conversation.

It usually goes like this:

Neighbor: “I’ve seen you walking your dog.”

Sam lays on the gravel road, waiting for a treat. Or a pat. Or anything.

Me: “He needs his road work every day.”

Neighbor: “You live down there?” (she points)

Me: “We bought Fred’s place and moved in a couple years ago.”

Everyone knows Fred.

Neighbor: “How is he doing?”

Me: “I haven’t heard, but I know he’s living in town now.”

Then comes the ultimate question…

Neighbor: “What do you and your husband do?”

Me: “My husband is retired and I’m an author.”

And then the response…

Neighbor: “Oh.” She looks down the road. “Well, I had better finish my walk.”


I don’t need to ask my neighbor any more questions. I know where she lives – she waves when I walk by with Sam in the morning as she has coffee on her front porch. I know she and her husband leave together every morning at 7:10. I know she likes to feed the deer.

I also know she is not a reader.

 
Because if she WAS a reader, her response would have been something like…

“I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t know where to start.”

And the hopeful look. The questioning glance. After all, I’m an author. I must know the secret.

Jack the corgi

 Well, yes, I do know the secret. If you’ve been reading the Seekerville blog for very long, you know the secret, too.

Writing a book is work. Hard work. Work that demands perseverance and determination.

  

Sometimes, though, you meet that person who is challenged when you tell her that writing isn’t easy. She is enthusiastic about visiting the blogs I mention (including Seekerville,) and then follows through and actually looks up the blog.

I recently met a young woman on my walk who is house sitting for our neighbors (hi, Shana!) The next time she saw me she said she had stopped by to visit Seekerville.

That is the kind of person who may actually write a book and may actually finish it. And may actually have it published.

Because that kind of person won’t let anything stop her.

Her story will become her life. She’ll think about the next plot point while she’s cooking dinner. She’ll talk to her characters when no one else will listen to her. She’ll be surprised to see green grass in the yard in July because her story is set in the mountains in December.

She will stay up late into the night researching a quirky allergy her character has and rise early in the morning to write five hundred words before work.

Weather won’t stop her. A pandemic won’t stop her. A boat-load of zucchini in the garden will only delay her for a few hours. And a border collie puppy? No problem. The book will still be written.


 
Because when we have a story to tell, we have to tell it.

Is there a story you need to tell?

Whether you're a writer or a reader,
whether your story is written down or it's still in your head,
tell us a little bit about it in the comments,
(100 words or less – practice your “elevator pitch”) 
 and you’ll be entered to win a copy of “An Amish Christmas Kitchen.”

Because we all need a bit of Christmas in July!

(US only for paperback, e-copy wherever Amazon will send it.)


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.



 

 

29 comments:

  1. Good morning, Seekerville!

    The coffeepot is on, the tea is brewing, and we have fresh cinnamon rolls from my favorite Amish bakery on the buffet.

    I'll start the ball rolling with the "elevator pitch" from my current WIP:

    A down-sized hotel executive working at a Black Hills B&B finds herself in the middle of a cozy mystery when she discovers a local geologist in her suite, the victim of a clever murderer. As the bodies pile up, will her skills help turn the focus of the police inquiry from herself and toward the correct suspect?

    Have fun!

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    Replies
    1. Can't wait to read this cozy when it's done!

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    2. Hi Jan: How many bodies are you allowed to have in a cozy?

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    3. Vince, I don't think there's a rule. I have...um...several in this one. Midsomer Murders is my inspiration - it seems like they usually have at least four.

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  2. Thank you, Jan. This is fun!

    A woman loyal to the Crown takes a position of spying on the Patriots in Colonial Boston. A young British soldier sympathetic to the Patriots uses HIS position to gather intel against the British and for the Sons of Liberty. But both are running from tragic pasts and dealing with the guilt of past actions. Can they find not only physical freedom, but complete freedom in Christ? "If the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed."
    Been busy. Signed contract for second local history book with Arcadia Publishing, waiting for my edit letter for Redemption's Hope and planning for the fall launch of my first Arcadia book. Wrench in the works, also have to sell my father's house, 75 years of pack-ratting if not outright hoarding. He saved the instructions on how to build a fallout shelter. You gotta love it. I don't love it, but you can if you want to.
    It is raining here. Has rained almost every day this week.
    Jan, this is a good post. Yes, we have to Stick With It. Nobody's going to make it easy for us, but the reward is all the sweeter.
    May be back later,
    Kathy Bailey

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    Replies
    1. Your WIP sounds great, Kathy. And I'm sorry to hear about the work involved with your dad's house. That's so hard!

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    2. KB, congrats on your contract with Arcadia!

      I cleaned out my dad's house but he hadn't lived there for 75 years. I did the same for my aunt's house with a week deadline. Oh my! That was tough. So I'm feeling your pain! Take it step by step, if possible.

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    3. Thank you, Glynis. This is not the one you're launch-teaming for, but if it works out, I will ask you.

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    4. Thank you, Debby. Step-by-step is good advice for anything.

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    5. That's an intriguing pitch for your story, Kathy! I've always enjoyed Revolutionary War stories and I will be looking for this series when it gets published.

      You are keeping busy! Congratulations on the new contract! *cheers!* *confetti!* *applause!*

      And clearing out a house? That's work, but instructions to build a fall-out shelter could be valuable. It seems like some people love ephemera from past times. :-)

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  3. I seem to always struggle with your basic question: what story do I need to tell? I have always wondered if this means I'm not meant to write. God and I are working on answering those questions right now, so as always, these posts come right when I need to hear them.

    Thanks for sharing and no need to put me in the drawing--I already read and loved this sweet book!

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    Replies
    1. Your story may take you by surprise, Glynis. My first story was based on memories of my grandmother and loosely based on her life experiences. Nostalgia was my impetus!

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  4. A lovely post. This last weekend I was at the Northwestern Christian Writers Conference, and the place was chocka with people who had a story to tell! It was so refreshing!

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    Replies
    1. Chocka is new to me, Erica! Thanks!

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    2. That writer's conference sounds fabulous! And chocka is a great word...so many stories charging the atmosphere!

      By the way, as I'm writing this comment, your sweet daughter is sitting across the room from me with her cross stitch project. Lovin' it!

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    3. Hi Erica: I never heard 'Chocka' used by itself. I've always heard 'chockablock'. Is 'chocka' common where you are?

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  5. I'm always surprised to meet folks who don't read. How sad not to enjoy a good story.

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    Replies
    1. I know. I'm always surprised when people say they don't read. I wouldn't know how to live if I didn't read!

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    2. I can't understand people not reading. I wouldn't know how to enjoy life without it.

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  6. I guess the story I need to tell is always, the NEXT ONE. I've got the next series buzzing in my head even while I'm finishing this series.

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    Replies
    1. Me, too! Just today a new series started circulating in my brain!

      So many stories, so little time.

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  7. I love looking forward to the next one, always! It spurs my impetus to finish the current project because the reward is playing with the next one!!!

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  8. Jan, thanks for this.... Strong insight and great work ethic.

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  9. Not the best elevator pitch, but here is a bit about the book I'm writing.

    How will residents of Middleton, Nebraska, recover after a tornado devastates their town? TV meteorologist Rick Montgomery becomes a hero after his warnings save lives and opportunity arises to move to a bigger market. His wife, Beth, stressed with a young daughter and preemie newborn twins, wants to stay. Courtney Olsen left college to care for her ailing grandmother. Angry at God because her alcoholic father left her, how will she cope when tragedy strikes? Recently widowed pastor William Webster struggles to serve his congregation and decides to retire. Can he step up when his church needs him the most?

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    1. It sounds like an exciting book, Sandy!

      The only thing I would add would be a hint of what genre the story fits into. I'm guessing women's fiction?

      I know you're working hard on this story! Can't wait for you to finish it!

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  10. Can I just say "Amen" to your statement:
    "Writing a book is work. Hard work. Work that demands perseverance and determination."

    I've worked on mine off and on for years, and wanted to quit so many times. But, I'm ecstatic to say...I have completed it, and it is now in the process of cover design, etc.

    However, it is non-fiction. It is mainly a Bible Study written for women on the subject of prayer entitled "In the Kitchen of Prayer" with lots of resources (based on an acronym of A.P.R.O.N.), and also has stories of inspirational women of the faith, part memoir of growing up around a family-owned diner, and recipes.

    This is my first book...and I'm slowly learning as I go step-by-step in the whole writing/publishing process. (I'm almost 68 years old ~ so, it's never too late.) Seekerville is a wealth of knowledge and encouragement. So, THANK YOU!

    I also started a middle grade historical fiction that I am excited to delve into once my other book is actually in print. (Sorry, I know none of what I said is elevator pitch material, haha. Yikes.(Insert: crazy face emoji)

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations on your book finish, Becky! It sounds like a great Bible study. :-)

      And also congratulations on pursuing your dream at a (ahem) modestly mature age. I was over 50 when my first book was published, so I'm familiar with that feeling of accomplishment!

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