Saturday, April 21, 2018

Weekend Edition

   If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to
Ruth Logan Herne offered a copy of "SWEPT AWAY", her newest Guideposts mystery last weekend while she was traveling around NJ, PA and NY... the winner is Jackie Smith! Congratulations, Jackie!!!

Monday: Jan Drexler's winner of "The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart" is Beth Jamison! Congratulations, Beth!

Wednesday: Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Debby Giusti shared photos and info about her favorite writer vaca location and talked about those little getaways that provide research as well as a bit of R&R in a blog titled "Getaways that Prime the Writer's Well!" The winner in a drawing for AMISH RESCUE, the third book in Debby's Amish Protectors series, plus a 2018 Daily Planner is Amber Schamel. Congrats, Amber!

Friday:  Winnie Griggs shared one of the biggest roadblocks writers face to finishing a book is SNIS or Shiny New Idea Syndrome.  If you missed Friday's discussion, it's not too late. Go back and take a peek!!

Monday: Sharee Stover is here to ask...Where's Your Cherry Tree? Sharee will be giving away a copy of her DEBUT NOVEL...JUST RELEASED...Her Secret Past!!!

Tuesday: Tuesday: Bonus Post! Seeker Erica Vetsch is hosting her good buddy Georgiana Daniels in a face off style interview where YOU get to score the answers! There will be virtual chocolate, virtual confetti, and a chance to win a prize!!! Stop by for some "Good times...good times!" as we celebrate friendship and Georgiana's new release, Shadows of Hope.

Wednesday:  Melanie Dickerson is our hostess! She continues her series on Conflict and Tension with Part Three, When to Resolve Conflict. She's giving away a copy of the winner's choice of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest or The Beautiful Pretender.

Friday: Pam Hillman is our hostess today and she's going to share tips gleaned from a recent brainstorming retreat. (Btw, it was awesome!)

Spotted in a southern Illinois Walmart... 
Amish Rescue by Debby Giusti & 
Moutain Country Courtship by Glynna Kaye!
Win a paperback copy of The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy on Faithfully Bookish!

Ruthy Logan Herne is taking the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat Candid Moments blog series to a whole new level on Monday.
watch for it here

Debby Giusti and Patti Jo Moore

Guess who stopped by Debby Giusti's signing of AMISH RESCUE!

Patti Jo Moore, Cat Mom! The two authors took time to pose for a picture!

"Thanks, Patti Jo!" says Debby. "Seeing you at the signing made the event even more special. You're a dear friend and a huge supporter of everyone in Seekerville."

Melanie Dickerson's Goose Girl retelling, The Noble Servant,

is on sale for only $1.99 for your e-reader! But get it while you can. It's only for a limited time. For Kindle, for Nook, Kobo, and on Christianbook's website.

TOMORROW IN SIOUX CITY, IOWA AT THE SOUTHERN HILLS MALL BARNES AND NOBLE--Postponed from last Saturday because of a BLIZZARD. Erica Vetsch was going to do this with us but she heard about the weather and ran!!! Then just REFUSED to drive back.

A flurry of blog activity is coming to launch the release of Cowboys of Summer. Thanks to JustRead Tours.

May 21 Power of Words - Author Interview with Cheryl St. John

May 22 Faithfully Bookish - Author Interview with Lorna Seilstad

May 23 A Baker's Perspective - Author Interview with Mary Connealy

May 24 Sprinkles and Pink - Author Interview with Missy Tippens

May 25 Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic - Author Interview with Sherri Shackleford

May 26 Cafinated Reads -Author Interview with Tina Radcliffe    

Plot Out Your Novel In Just 3 Days by C.S. Lakin from Live Write Thrive

Masterful Telling of Emotion by Nina Schuyler from Live Write Thrive

5 Ways to Structure (and Plot) Your Novel by Janice Hardy from Fiction University

How to Make Killer Promo Graphics in Canva by David Gaughran

What it Takes: Secrets of the Creative Brain by Callie Oettinger at Steven Pressfield's site.

Thanks for the link love!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Battling Shiny New Idea Syndrome

Hi all, Winnie Griggs here.

One of the frequent question non-writers ask authors (including me) is where do you get your ideas from? My writer friends and I have discussed this and we all find this a strange question, because ideas are everywhere - In song lyrics, in a news article, in an unexpected nugget found in research, in movies, in overheard snippets of conversation, even in our dreams. So it seems strange that not everyone can see what we do and begin to play the ‘what if’ game.

Then conversely, there are those folks who tell us they have a fabulous idea for a story and they’ll share it with us if we agree to give them a cut of the take after we write and sell it.

What they don’t seem to understand is that the magic is not in the idea, but in the execution of the idea. Even a high concept, highly marketable premise (Jurassic Park anyone?) falls flat if not executed effectively.

Which is why one of the biggest roadblocks writers face to finishing a book is SNIS or Shiny New Idea Syndrome.

This is how the novel writing process normally works (at least for me.)

I start with an idea that excites me. The opportunities for  rich emotion, fun situations, unexpected plot twists and compelling character arcs unfold in my mind with tantalizing possibility. And that excitement carries me through the first 20-30% of my book.

I’ve reached (or am closely approaching) the middle 50% of the book and much of the shininess has disappeared or gotten tarnished. This is where the hard work happens, where I have to dig deep and figure out how to make this tangle of a story work.

And of course, this is when SNIS hits the hardest. Because starting stories is the easy part – it’s the follow through and finishing that’s difficult.  It’s while you are slap dab in the middle of your WIP, procrastinating working through your plot issues, that you are suddenly hit with an idea for a brand new story, one that has fabulous potential and that seems so much better than this no-longer-shiny story you’re in the middle of. The sheer brilliance (shininess) of it takes your breath away and makes you want to abandon your WIP and pursue something that appears ‘better’. The SNI is a siren temptress, just waiting to lure you away from your WIP.

And being able to play with a nice SNI sounds like much more fun than slogging through, grappling with the hard work of untangling and sorting out the problems of our WIP. Especially when the SNI will lure you into believing that of course it is the best idea ever and is more likely to lead you to publication/best sellerdom/a movie deal/whatever-your-current-dream-is, than what you are currently working on.

If you give in to this impulse, however, you run the risk of going through the same cycle all over again. I have a writer friend who suffers from this syndrome.  She is highly creative, her ideas are so fresh and original, her take on them intriguing. But it never fails that, by the time she gets to the middle, she gets an idea for something ‘better’ and the old project is abandoned for the new one. The result is that in all the time I’ve known her, she has yet to finish even one full length work.
So what is the best way to battle SNIS? Here are a few strategies that might work for you:

  • The method that works for me is to take the time to record this SNI into a document. Set a timer for 20-30 minutes and just go to town. Record everything about the idea that you know – characters, set-up, scenes, conflict, etc. - remembering to include just what about it appeals to you. When the timer goes off, or when you run out of things to write, save your file and turn your focus back to your WIP. I have a dedicated folder on my computer that holds these files, organized by genre. And whenever I’m ready to start a new project, I read through these to see what calls to me.
    If, later on, if other snippets pertaining to that particular SNI occur to you, repeat the process – open your file, set a timer, type out the new information – then once the timer goes off, put it aside.
  • Another thing you can do is take a closer look at your SNI and see if it can be tweaked to fit into your current WIP. The SNI could be your subconscious’s  response to some problem you’ve been struggling with in your current project.  Or it might point the way to a fabulous twist you could add in. Or a turning point to take your story in a surprising new direction. Or perhaps a subplot that could add depth and richness to your story.
  • If the SNI is really calling to you, and if you’re good at multi-tasking, you can use it as a reward for yourself. IF you meet your daily/weekly goals, you can give yourself permission to spend xx amount of time to work on fleshing out the SNI. Just make certain you maintain focus on your goals for your WIP and don’t cheat!

So is it ever a good idea to abandon a WIP for a SNI, either temporarily or permanently? The answer is, of course. And here are a few examples:

  • If the SNI is time-sensitive, if it pertains to something currently ‘hot’ that you need to jump on before the opportunity passes, then go for it.
  • If your WIP is just not going to work out – either you realize the idea itself is too flawed to make for a fully realized story, or something in the political, environmental or social climate has occurred that makes your story untenable at this time (for instance a terrorist hijacking story right after 9-11)
  • If you feel the need to step back from your story temporarily, and your SNI is for a quick project – short story, novella, collaboration, etc) then perhaps going for it as a sort of ‘palate cleanser’ would be a good idea.

HOWEVER, the assumption that the SNI would be a lot more fun to work on than pushing through your problems with your WIP is definitely NOT a good reason to abandon your current project.

If your sole goal in writing is to do it for the pure pleasure of the experience, than of course go wherever your muse leads you. However, one of the marks of a professional writer is the ability to finish a project. – to get through that murky, difficult middle and bring your book to a satisfying conclusion.  Having one completed work does much more for your career as a writer than having dozens of wonderful, evocative, intriguing openings.

The bottom line – never be too quick to abandon a WIP for something shiny and new. Whenever you’re tempted to do so, think about the amount of time (always a key resource!), thought, creativity and energy you’ve put into it and would be tossing away. And also keep in mind, that once you started in on the SNI, chance are, by the time you got past the first 25% or so, it too will have entered the murky-middle stage and another SNI will present itself. And now it has the potential to become a vicious cycle where you are always chasing the next SNI rather than doing the hard work of finishing your WIP.

So now it's your turn. Have you ever suffered from Shiny New Idea Syndrome? Do you have ideas for battling it that I haven't listed here? Or do you believe you SHOULD battle it at all, rather than just going with the flow?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Prime the Writer’s Well!

By Debby Giusti

In Seekerville, we talk a lot about writing and how to create stories. Today I want to focus on something that seems counterproductive, yet plays into the writing process in a very real way. Let’s talk about excursions, those short trips to fun or interesting destinations that provide rest and relaxation and an opportunity to prime our writer’s well.


Remember the old saw, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…or Jill a dull girl.” Those of us who produce art need to keep our creativity flowing. Too much time at the computer for weeks--if not months--on end can tire our Muse and drain our inspiration. Over the years, we’ve had blogposts on the benefits of eating right and getting a good night’s sleep to stay focused on our craft. We’ve learned how some folks unwind with a good book, often outside the genre they write, to counter writer fatigue. Others might watch a movie or a favorite television show. Exercise, whether a short walk or 5K jog, a neighborhood bike ride or a dip at the local pool, also boosts creativity and production.

Another way to combat writer burn out is to travel. A day trip to a local historic sight, a hike in a nearby state park, a scenic mountain drive or a longer trip to an interesting destination provide a change of pace that can jump start our stalled writing engines.

My family and I recently spent a few days in Charleston, South Carolina. We have visited the “Holy City,” as Charleston with its 400 churches is called, a number of times and always enjoy the beauty and charm of the historic district. I wanted to share a few photos from our trip. Hopefully, you’ll see why I’m drawn to the unique setting that not only nurtures my spirit but also provides fodder for future stories.

We spotted dolphin in the water near this spot.

The stars on the side of this home are decorative ornaments that
cover earthquake bolts installed to
shore up homes damaged in the huge 1886 quake.

The area was first settled in 1670 and was named Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England. At the end of the Revolutionary War, the name was changed to Charleston.

Rainbow Row--13 Georgian row houses painted
in pastel colors that were saved by the newly formed
Preservation Society of Charleston in the 1920s.

The Edmondston-Alston House is open to the public
and was built in 1825.

In 1920, a group of concerned Charlestonians formed the first historic preservation society in the United States. Thanks to their efforts, Charleston retains some of the look and feel of centuries past.

This corner shop was a tavern in the 1600s
when pirates such as Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet
sailed in Charleston Harbor.

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon was built in 1721.
The British imprisoned American patriots here
during the Revolutionary War.

The stone outside this historic home
served as a step for those entering or leaving their

Historic homes vary from early “single houses,” one room wide, to three-story mansions surrounded by lush gardens and decorative wrought iron fences. Expansive piazzas, or porches, catch the sea breezes and provide idyllic spots to sip a cool drink on a hot afternoon.

Two Meeting Street Inn, dates from 1892, and is now a B&B.

The Nathaniel Russell House, 1808.

The City Market offers an eclectic assortment of wares—everything from sweetgrass baskets made in the Gullah tradition, to benne wafers, a sesame-based cookie, to watercolor prints and oil paintings that capture the beauty of the historic sights.

Sweetgrass baskets made by the lady in the baseball hat. The small
baskets sell for over $100.

One of the expansive homes that overlook
Battery Park.

The port of Charleston, located at the confluence of the Ashely, Cooper and Wando Rivers, is known for its seafood and restaurants abound. Oysters on the half shell, she crab soup, low country boil, crab cakes and shrimp and grits are just a sampling of the epicurean delights. Pralines made at the Charleston Candy Kitchen located across from the City Market are a local favorite, as well.

Oysters on the half shell served at The Oyster House.
We ate our oysters charbroiled instead of raw.

Everyone loves to sample pralines at the
Charleston Candy Kitchen.

The entire Charleston experience transports me to another world where I’m rejuvenated and inspired, whether I’m touring the city in a horse-drawn carriage, walking along the Civil War seawall at Battery Park, admiring the stately old residences that date back to the 18th century or enjoying breakfast in our hotel courtyard. On the drive home, I thought of new stories to write and characters to develop. My well was primed and I was eager to return to my writing.

We ate breakfast here in the courtyard of our hotel each morning
and returned in the late afternoon for an assortment
of cheese and crackers, fresh fruit and crab dip.

Other favorite historic destinations on the East Coast that provide relaxing getaways include Savannah, Georgia, and Saint Augustine, Florida. A trip to the beach – any beach – in the summer as well as a mountain retreat in winter offer short respites that refresh and inspire.

Do you recognize this Charleston church from the movie,
"The Patriot," staring Mel Gibson?

Do you have a favorite location in your part of the country that provides a refreshing oasis where you can prime your creative well? Share the ways you relax and unwind whether it’s a staycation at home or long distance travel.

I had to have my picture taken with Max, a retired Amish draft horse,
who pulled our carriage as we toured the historic area. 

AMISH RESCUE, the third book in my Amish Protectors series, is in stores this month and features Sarah’s story. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for AMISH RESCUE and a 2018 Daily Planner.

Breakfast is served. This morning’s fare includes omelets, bacon, cheese grits, fresh salmon, fruit and biscuits. The coffee’s hot, so is the tea. Grab a plate and pour a cup of your favorite hot beverage as we talk about writer getaways and how you prime your inspirational well.

Happy traveling!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Amish Rescue
By Debby Giusti

Hiding with the Amish

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

Order HERE!

For those in my local area:

will sign her new Love Inspired Suspense

The Avenues, Peachtree City
Thursday, April 19, 3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

~Proceeds benefit Pregnancy Aid Clinic~
PAC provides life-changing and life-saving services 
free of charge to women in the Atlanta area.

Free drawing for author Gift Basket.
Long distance phone orders taken.
Books will be signed and mailed.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Taking Advice Like a Pro

by Jan Drexler

When we first start out writing, we usually grab the pieces of advice that come our way as if they're the gospel truth. They become “rules” for our writing. After all, we’re trying to learn, right? And we all know that learning to write is hard. It has a steep learning curve, so every bit of information we can glean along the way is valuable.

But once we start writing that story of our heart, we find that not every piece of writing advice works. Well, at least not for us.
And then doubt begins to creep in… if I don’t do it the way Super Author does it, does that mean I’m not really a writer? I’ll never get published!

I’m here to give you one rule to cover all the other voices you hear: 

I don’t know any two writers who approach their work in the same way. The key is to find what works for you.
Let’s look at a couple pieces of writerly advice you’ve probably heard, and whether you need to listen or not.

I’m sure you’ve heard that real writers write every day.
Let me change that a bit: 

I know some wonderful writers who do write every day. (Raise your hands, Seeker-sisters!). That works for them and works very well.
I don’t write every day. I almost always take Sunday off, and unless I have a looming deadline, I take Saturday off, too. I need my weekends to connect with my family and recharge my creative battery.
For some people, writing is what charges their creative battery. For me, it’s getting away from the manuscript, breathing different air, letting the story simmer on the back of the stove for a while. Then I come back on Monday morning ready to dive in again.

Do I do it wrong? I don’t think so.
Do I do it right? It works for me.

Do you do it wrong?
Ask yourself: Is my writing schedule working for me? If it is, then don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. But if it isn’t, try changing things up a little. Experiment. Find your sweet spot.

Another piece of advice I’m sure you’ve heard is: Never use the word “was” in your writing.
There’s a good reason for this piece of advice. Many beginning writers have trouble keeping their writing out of the passive voice. “Was” is one of those words that you find in the passive voice, and it can signal trouble.
What is the passive voice? Here’s an example: 

In the passive, the object of the sentence (flea) is the one acting rather than the subject of the sentence (dog). Here’s an example of the same sentence in active voice: 

Do you see how the word “was” shows up in the passive sentence but not the active one? Yes, you want to avoid that use of “was!”

However, sometimes you want to use “was,” but in a different context.
“Was” is also used in a verb that’s showing continuing action. It’s called the “progressive tense.” Sometimes you want to use that verb tense, like in this example: “She was eating hot dogs through the entire baseball game.” Or this one: “Andrew was eating his lunch when he heard a car drive in the yard.”

I read a book recently that never varied the verb tense, and it was painfully obvious that the author was following the “never use was” rule. What happened to her writing? It was stilted and boring. I never finished the book.

So rather than the “never use ‘was’” rule, I have a different piece of advice:  

Be aware of verb tenses, active vs. passive voice, etc., and keep your writing fresh by varying the tenses when your story calls for it.

What does this mean to you? Maybe you need to brush on your grammar (don’t groan!). 
Or maybe you need to give yourself this homework:  

You can find great lists of well-written books when award finalists are announced. I make it my habit to read the finalists from the Christy Awards, the Carol Awards, and some of the categories of the Rita Awards. Those books are some of the best from the current year.

What you read affects your writing. Whether you are aware of it or not, your writing will echo the books you’ve been reading. That can be a good thing when you’re reading the best books in your genre. What you take in will affect what you produce in your writing.
Am I telling you to throw out every rule or piece of advice you’ve ever heard and strike out on your own?
No way. We need rules. Boundaries. Guidelines.
But I love this quote from Pablo Picasso:

So, tell me, what are some rules you find difficult to follow? And what are some of your favorite pieces of advice?

One commenter today will receive a copy of my latest release, "The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart."

Love in Plain Sight 

As nanny for her nephew, Judith Lapp’s finally part of a vibrant, joyful Amish community instead of living on the outskirts looking in. But teaching her neighbors’ Englischer farmworker to read Pennsylvania Dutch wasn’t part of her plan. And the more time she spends with Guy Hoover, the more he sparks longings for a home and family of Judith’s own.

Guy figured he would never be truly accepted by his Amish employers’ community—even though the Mast family treats him like a son. But Judith’s steadfast caring shows him that true belonging could be within his reach…if he and Judith can reconcile their very different hopes—and hearts.