Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Promotion Doesn't Have To Cost A Fortune

with guest blogger, Amy Brantley.

Hello, everyone! ~waves~ My name is Amy Brantley and I own the book promotion company Book Promos by A Girl and Her eBooks. I'm also a fellow author, writing under the pen name Cora Maxine. As a fellow author, I greatly understand the need to find affordable promotion methods. Whether you're self-published or traditionally published, the need for promotion remains the same. While promotion may be a necessary task for all types of authors, not all authors have a lot of money to spend. The good news is there are a number of ways to promote your books without spending a fortune. I hope the following methods are useful to you and that you consider visiting my website for affordable promotion.

Free Promotion Sites

Whether your book is free or discounted, you can find several companies that offer free promotion. The downsides are that it will require you to fill out forms and there's no guarantee the company will promote your book. These sites get flooded with promotion requests. That's why it's essential that you choose your best book and offers to promote. For example, free books are going to be a big hit, but if you can't mark your book down to free, $0.99 priced books can also be big, especially if your book is normally priced much higher. Lastly, books that have hit bestseller lists or won awards will also capture a promo site's attention (be sure to mention any awards). In other words, these companies want to give their followers the best of the best.

Guest Blog Posts

Another free method to use is free guest posts. Again, this does require some work on your part. Most blogs are going to want original content that is at least 400 words long. While this can take a bit of time away from your book writing, it can prove beneficial, especially if you team up with a very popular blog. It's your chance to reach new readers.

Social Media Engagement

Facebook can be your best friend or a huge waste of time. The biggest mistake many authors make with Facebook is choosing to only use the site as a way to push their books. For real engagement, you want to connect with your readers and provide them with a source of entertainment. This can be done by providing funny pictures, making personal posts about what you're up to, and sharing content and articles that will appeal to your target audience. The more enjoyable the content, the more apt people are to share your posts and your page with friends.


Chances are you may already have a newsletter, but what do you say in it? Do you use your newsletter simply as a way to update readers about an upcoming book or do you give readers something more? Again, you should use this promotional method as a way to entertain your readers so they look forward to each issue. For example, provide exclusive excerpts to upcoming books, do giveaways, include character Q & As, etc. It's also nice to include something personal, like photos from a recent trip. Readers want to know the person behind the book, even if it's a made-up persona.

Street Teams

A street team is another affordable promotion tool that will cost you very, very little. Of course, the more you're willing to spend, the more successful the team will be. A street team is a team of readers that work to spread the word about your books. This is done through sharing your books with their friends, writing reviews, doing blog posts on their personal blogs, etc. You'll need to provide your street team with copies of your books for review and it helps to run small contests that will encourage them to participate. For example, you might ask them to share a post and then choose someone who shared the post at random to win a $5 Amazon gift card or book swag.

Book Swag

There are two approaches to book swag you should definitely consider. First of all, you can have bookmarks, jewelry, etc made to give out in giveaways or at conventions. These are great for capturing the reader's attention because everyone loves freebies. Another method is to create products for sale through a company like CafePress. These items will be purchased by your loyalest fans, but a cool design can capture the attention of other readers who will want to learn more about you. In other words, you can turn your readers into walking billboards through t-shirts, hats, tote bags, etc. It can also be another source of income.

These methods cost little to nothing to implement. They only require your time. However, you can also hire someone to do the legwork for you. Of course, if you're interested in spending just a bit more money, you can find a number of affordable services on my website starting at only five dollars!

Have you used any of the methods listed above? Were they successful?

Hi Everyone, Audra here. Isn't Amy amazing? She has so many ideas for book promotion and, if you choose, she'll do a fantastic job of promotion for you! I guess I'm a bit bias since she's done a wonderful job on Rough Road Home for me. I hope you take the opportunity today to chat and ask questions. I told her we were a chatty bunch : )

Also, don't miss the awesome giveaway Amy is offering. One Full Promo Pack will go to a could be you!!! There's more! Amy is offering an additional 10% off any order when you contact her.

Can a writer's life get any better than this? This could possibly be a close second to CHOCOLATE!!!

About Book Promos by A Girl and Her eBooks

Books Promos by A Girl and Her eBooks is a promotion company that caters to anyone who needs to see a boost in sales. Whether you're an indie author or an author working with a publishing company or even a publisher, I'm here to help you get your book in front of a larger audience.

As the owner of A Girl and Her eBooks, I've spent the past two years building a website and social following that now has over 10,000 followers. The services offered on this page share your books with those followers. I offer invaluable services that are priced for almost every budget.

Through Books Promos by A Girl and Her eBooks, I offer everything from services that share your book with 10,000+ followers to full promo packs to assistant services. You can see everything on the Services page. Do note that I also offer custom services. Whether you need help boosting your social network accounts or need a beta reader, I'm at your service. All you need to do is email me with your requests and I'll provide a timely quote.

About the Girl

My name is Amy Brantley and I've had a love of books since early childhood, but I feel that what makes me a superior book promotion consultant is my own work as an independent author. In other words, I know how important it is to see a boost in sales. I also understand the value of one-on-one service. I pride myself in providing personalized service and working to make your experience the best it can be. More importantly, I will never charge you excessive fees for the work I do. My services are priced well below the competition because I honestly care about helping authors meet their goals. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sneaky Ways to Write More Each Day

with guest Jill Kemerer.

The alarm goes off and another day begins. I’d love to tell you I immediately get excited about what I’m going to do, but the only thing I’m really thinking is COFFEE. My day will be packed with promotion, writing, plotting and family stuff. I always, always want more hours to get things done.

You’ve heard it before—I’ve heard it a million times—we’re all busy and we all have the same 24 hours in each day. But did you ever notice some writers seem to get more done in their hours? A lot more?

As much as I try not to, I can’t help but compare myself sometimes. I have several friends who write jaw-droppingly high word counts each day. I’d love to tell you they have fewer responsibilities, but I would be lying. They have just as many, if not more, responsibilities as the rest of us.

I don’t know how anyone else does it, but here are some of the sneaky ways I write more each day, and I mean, write more of what counts each day.

Prioritize. If I have two hours, I devote it to my most important project. I don’t spend an hour writing a blog post for next week or exploring the idea that popped into my head last night. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the pages add up when you prioritize.

Set weekly goals. Every Monday I get out my calendar and quickly review the next seven days. I estimate what days I’ll be able to write and how many words I’ll get down during each session. Then I add them up. If the number seems low or high, I readjust if the goal isn’t realistic.

Set daily goals. The word count estimates I just made? I write them on the calendar. If I estimated 750 words on Monday, I do whatever it takes to actually write 750 words on Monday!

Use a timer. How many words can you typically write in 30 minutes? An hour? Set the timer. It forces you to GET TO IT. Do this for several writing sessions and you’ll get an idea of how many words you average in a set time. You can plan your week better with this knowledge.

Add a paragraph here and there. I have a smart phone. Typing on the tiny keypad isn’t ideal, but it allows me to work on projects at odd times. I use Google Docs, but you can get Microsoft Word or any app that works for you. I don’t add to my novels this way, but when I’m waiting for an appointment or at one of my kids’ practices, I’ll add to my nonfiction work-in-progress, or start a short story for my newsletter, I’ve even written a guest post for a blog. A few weeks ago, I wrote three paragraphs of a short story while waiting for a pizza!

Keep blank paper or a cheap notebook handy. After my writing session, I write a few notes about what should happen next. If I’m not sure what needs to happen next, I jot down two or three possibilities. This gets me in the groove faster the next time I write. When I get into the groove faster, I write more words. Go figure!

Be aware of where you’re at in the story. If I’m writing a 55,000 word novel, my proposed midpoint needs to happen around 27,000 words in. If I’m at 25,000 words and the midpoint is still several scenes away, I find a way to get the characters there quicker. I do not want to write scenes that will need to be cut. Deleting words is just as painful, if not more, than writing them in the first place. 

It’s not the writing pace that counts; it’s the quantity of words I write. I used to write fast. I don’t anymore, but I write my novels in less time than when I wrote fast. How? I’m deliberate about each scene, and I spend more hours writing each day. When I take the time to verify the plot, characters and story arcs on track in the first draft, revisions don’t take as long. 

The sneaky ways I add to my word count aren’t all that sneaky, but they work.

Prioritizing, setting goals, using a timer, writing notes for the next session, and being aware of where you’re at in the story will help you finish your book faster. For smaller projects, I really do recommend something portable, like a notebook or an app. The Google Docs app has changed my life. I used to think about all the short pieces I wanted to write, but I never had time to pursue them. By giving myself permission to add a paragraph or two at a time, I’ve finished two short stories, and outlined a future book. Nice!

How do you get your word count in? I’d love to hear your tips! 

Leave a comment today for an an opportunity to win a copy of Unexpected Family. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


His Surprise Daughter 

After five years apart, Tom Sheffield is shocked to find his ex-wife, Stephanie, on his doorstep. The news that they share a child he's never met sends him reeling. Four-year-old Macy has his eyes, his mouth and, from their first encounter, his heart. Things with her mother are much more complicated. He doesn't understand what went wrong between them or why she kept their daughter a secret. And he's afraid of falling in love all over again. Yet he feels a glimmer of hope that somehow he can convince Macy and Stephanie to stay in Lake Endwell—and with him—for keeps.

About Jill

Jill Kemerer writes contemporary romance novels with love, humor and faith. A full time writer, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules. Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&Ms, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website,

Seekerville has an extra give away for one commenter. A little timer to help you get in your daily word count. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

T-Minus 24 Hours and Counting …

with guest Davalynn Spencer. 

As if authors didn’t already have too little time, we lose nearly an hour of daylight in August. Fifty-four minutes to be exact, at least in North America. September is worse.

I learned this depressing fact when I was a cub reporter for a daily newspaper. In those pre-automated days, I had to find the information for, and enter on each front page, the exact times for sunrise and sunset, as well as how many cubic feet per second (CFS) the Arkansas River was running.

In a tourism- and agriculturally driven economy, those were important numbers.

Since July loses only thirty minutes of daylight during its thirty-one day cycle, and June loses even fewer minutes (about seven), we feel the crush at the end of August and respond accordingly: 

“What happened to summer?”

If you’re into numbers and want to see these facts for yourself, check out this website: Sunrise and Sunset.  

The bottom line: There is never enough time.

Or is there?

When I became a published author, life got crazy(er). Of course giving birth to a book baby was exactly what I’d dreamt of. But babies keep you up at night. And then they become toddlers. 

I was running out of time – that ethereal commodity we cannot create, hold, or harness yet we insist on measuring, saving, or killing. Gone were the days of leisurely reclining with my muse at my workstation to expand glorious images into a manuscript.


Because once you write a book, you must write others. It’s simply a matter of addiction. 


Or contracts. 

“We’ll take your book. Sign on the dotted line and give us two more in the next six/nine/twelve months.”

Wait. What?

And as everyone knows who reads or writes for this blog, we’ve gotten ourselves into way more than simply writing stories.

Social networking.
Crafting newsletters.

All while keeping our “regular” life nailed down. If we’re not careful, we’ll never see our muse again, not to mention our family.

I had to get organized on two fronts: Time and Thoughts.

There is a time for every purpose. (Eccl. 3:1)

I’m a morning person. I like to do everything in the morning: read my Bible and pray—aka listen to Him. Walk our Queensland heeler, Blue. Take photographs of every cool thing I see along the way. Water my giant sunflowers. Check email, read blogs, visit Facebook, Tweet. Write my column for the local daily newspaper. Work on my weekly blog. Make breakfast burritos and homemade caramel macchiato (every morning). 

And write. 

Yeah, right.

Trouble is, morning is over at noon where I live and I get really frustrated if I don’t accomplish a big chunk of my manuscript-writing goal before the big hand and the little hand meet at the top of the clock. 

In a perfect world, I’d write all day, every day, and hire someone else to do all the rest. But then I’d probably write boring stories.

At least I’m in good company. Christy Award-winning author Randy Ingermanson (the Snowflake Guy) recently shared his time-dissection method in one of his Advanced Fiction Writing E-zines.  He sets aside Wednesday for what he calls Administration. You can read more about his plan here.  

I liked his idea and tried it and it wasn’t bad. Give up what you love most just one day a week and focus on administrative-related tasks. The stack of stuff on my desk actually shrank.

But it wasn’t a perfect fit, so I tweaked Randy’s idea into what has become Maintenance Mornings.

Lately I’ve been limiting maintenance to ONLY mornings, and even if I don’t get it all finished, I stop. Discipline is key because I’ll never finish it all, and that fact will eat me alive if I let it. 

Now I work on my manuscripts all afternoon with a couple hours off if I have an assignment from our local newspaper editor. (Gotta pay the bills.)

But the good news is, this delegating of time-specific tasks is working!

We take captive every thought. (2 Cor. 10:5)

As I shared in a previous Seekerville post, (check it out here) I’m a binder babe, and I like to keep an organizational binder for each work-in-progress. Yup, still there and loving it. But life doesn’t fit in a binder.

When I was a young wife and mother, grocery shopping required a list if I didn’t want to make five follow-up trips to the market for things I forgot.

When I progressed from cub- to crime-beat reporter, I took copious notes and learned the value of records. “If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.”

These acquired tendencies transferred to my book writing, but there’s only so much room on a desk/wall/computer for sticky notes. Binders saved me to a point, but what if I wrote down a really cool idea in a binder. Which one?

So I designated a document on my computer that I keep at the top of my Recently Opened list. It’s called TO DO because that’s how it started out—my to-do list. However, it has evolved into a catch-all, and I’ve simply kept the original name. 

My TO DO document is a Quick-Drop Site for ideas, notes, quotes, upcoming guest post topics, or anything I saw and liked and want to remember.

Okay, so it’s 14 pages long now, but still. I have the tendency to forget where I file an idea or quote or whatever when I’m in a hurry, so I put them in there. Perusing one long document with the “Find” feature still beats visually rifling through dozens of files or handling possibly hundreds of pieces of paper.

At first I tried separate documents for separate things like Blog Posts, Guest Posts, Newspaper Columns, Devotionals, and Story Ideas. However, many of these quick thoughts cross over to more than one area. It was easier to dump them all in one place, use the “Find” function with a key word to locate what I was looking for, and then transfer what I wanted to another specific document in files such as Books, Columns, Blogs, Marketing, etc.

(Confession: I have a particularly touching email from a reader copied into my TO DO document. Every time I scroll by it, I’m reminded why I write.)

By the way, my novella releasing today, The Columbine Bride, continues the family tale I began in last year’s Christmas novella. It started out as a “thought” in my TO DO file.

Best-selling author and editor Erin Healy said in a recent workshop on self-editing that the system she proposed was “not a new religion” so don’t treat it that way. Neither is my current organization method. I may change things up in a month or so. But for now, it works for me.

Everyone has a personal system for organizing time and thoughts. Some authors write only in the morning, at night after a full-time job, on commuter trains, or while the baby naps. Some use legal pads and pencils or smartphones and tablets. But for me for right now, Maintenance Morning and my TO DO document are my go-to structures.

Whether you are an author or not, what organizational techniques have you borrowed or developed to make your life easier during these ever-shortening end-of-summer days?

Today I'm giving away an e-copy of Book 4 of The 12 Brides of Summer with my story “The Columbine Bride.”

The Columbine Bride 

Lucy Powell is on a path not of her choosing: widowhood.  But she’s determined she doesn’t need anyone’s help to get her neglected ranch back in order and running right—especially the neighboring rancher who keeps showing up at the end of her shotgun. Buck Reiter can’t leave Lucy and her two young’uns alone. It’s just not in him to sit by and watch while someone struggles. But he ends up as the struggler, searching for a way to let Lucy know there’s a whole lot more going on in his heart than just being neighborly. 

Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and worked several years as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter, winning awards in both arenas. Her fiction has finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion and the 2014 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, Selah, and Holt Medallion. Davalynn makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and their Queensland heeler, Blue. Connect with her online at and or Twitter, @davalynnspencer

Seekerville has an extra give away for one commenter. A little timer to help you get in your daily word count. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Monday, August 31, 2015

September Contest Update

Thanks to this month's diva for our theme...

Attention all divas and divos! This month we're excited to have Divas and Divos Paying It Forward. We've invited some of our past Divas and Divos to critique the first five pages of willing and eager Villagers. If you are in for a first five page critique of an inspirational romance (any subgenre) go ahead and toss your name in the diva doggie dish. Four winners will be pulled

Your critiquers include: 

Walt Mussell

Susan Anne Mason

Annie Hemby

Meghan Carver

  And for you readers out there we have a $9 Amazon gift card ( 9=September) up for grabs.

Published Contests

Here's your  early warning. The 2016 RITA Award opens on October 22. Plan your time accordingly! September 22, 2015, Online sign-up to judge the contest opens at 9:00 a.m. CT.  October 22, 2015, RITA Contest opens for entries at 9:00 a.m. CT.  You must judge to be eligible for entry in the RITA.

No guts, no glory, baby!
Unpublished Contests

Hot Prospects. Deadline September 1. The Hot Prospects Contest is open to any romance work uncontracted and unpublished at the time of entry. Entry consists of 25 pages and a 3-5 page synopsis.

 Senior Editor – Leanne Morgena, The Wild Rose Press
Associate Editor – Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks, Inc.

Romantic Suspense-
Editor – Amy Stapp, Tor/Forge
Editorial Director - Angela James, Carina Press

Assistant Editor – Kristine Swartz, Berkley Publishing
Senior Editor - Jess Verdi, Crimson Romance

Associate Editor – Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press
Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant – Dana Hopkins, Harlequin

 ACFW First Impressions. Opens September 2. Deadline October 15.  Submit a back-cover copy type blurb of 200 words or less AND the first five pages of the manuscript.  (Note the correlation to the first five page critique giveaway today!)

Categories. The finalists judges are agents.
Historical (through Vietnam era)
Historical Romance (through Vietnam era)
Romantic Suspense
Speculative: Novels
Short Novel
Young Adult

Melody of Love. Deadline September 7. Author may be unpublished or published. Manuscript being entered cannot have been published and cannot be currently contracted to be published via any means at any time, including self or subsidy publishing. Entry consists of the first 25 pages.


Mary Altman - Acquiring editor at Sourcebooks


Cindy Brannam - Acquiring editor at Soul Mate Publishing


Angela James - Acquiring editor at Carina Press

New Adult

Heidi Moore - Acquring editor at Samhain Publishing

Young Adult

Victoria Lowes - Agent at The Bent Agency

Fiction From the Heartland. Deadline September 7. Entry consists of: Prologue/First Chapter/Synopsis (not to exceed 10,000 words).


Category Romance
Gail Chasen - Harlequin

Contemporary Single Title
Elle Keck - HarperCollins Publishers, Avon

Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks

Romantic Suspense
Dana Hamilton, Grand Central Publishing

Kristine Swartz, The Berkley Publishing Group

Erotic Romance
Heidi Moore, Samhain Publishing

Young Adult Romance/New Adult Romance
Mary Altman, Sourcebooks

David Long, Bethany House


Sara Negovetich,  Corvisiero Literary Agency
Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
Victoria Lowes,  The Bent Agency
Cori Deyoe, 3 Seas Literary Agency
Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency
Linda Scalissi, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Gateway to the Best. Deadline September 12. Entry Consists of : Up to 7000 words of the beginning of the manuscript, approximately 25 standard manuscript pages.The Grand Prize winner will receive a 2-hour coaching session with writing coach Michael Hauge, valued at $700. 

Single Title/Contemporary Series - Sue Grimshaw, Editor, Penguin Random House


Historical - Kathryn Cheshire, Editor, Historical Team, Mills Boon/Harlequin

 Women's Fiction with strong romantic elements - Katherine Pelz, Editor,  Berkley
 Romantic Suspense - Esi Sogah, Editor, Kensington

 Young or New Adult - Megah Parekh, Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Paranormal - Kerri Buckley, Editor, Carina Press

Bradford Literary Agency – Pitch Contest. Deadline: September 14, 2015. Sponsored by  Contemporary Romance Writers. This contest is free!   Published and non-published authors. Pitches must be for books not under contract as of September 14, 2015.

Final Judge is Literary Agent Laura Bradford.  The agent will select winners to submit partial and/or full manuscripts.

The Suzannah. Deadline October 1. Entry consists of  a maximum of 7,200 words, including synopsis. Fee: $30 prior to Sept. 1st, $35 on or after Sept. 1st. Members receive a $5 discount.
The Suzannah is different from most other writers’ contests in that  published authors and unpublished writers compete against one another in a single pool of entries without categories.  Six finalists. The only criteria required is that the manuscript fit within the romance genre and that it be unpublished and uncontracted. Finalists will be determined by a panel of at least six  agents and editors.
    Gabrielle Keck, Assistant Editor Avon Harper Collins
    Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
    Erin Niamata, Folio Literary Agency
    Kim Lionetti, Bookends Literary Agency
More TBA

Emily Contest. Deadline October 4. Entry: First 5600 words, no synopsis.
Contemporary – Long.
Agent – Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management
Editor – Tara Gavin, Executive Editor, Kensington Books

Contemporary – Short.
 Agent – Jess Dallow, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
 Editor – Elle Keck, Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins / Avon

 Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal
Agent – Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Editor – Allison Carroll, Associate Editor, HQN, Harlequin Enterprises

 Historical Romance
Agent – Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Literary Agency
 Editor – Tara Gelsomino, Executive Editor, Crimson Romance

Romantic Suspense
Agent – Shira Hoffman, McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
 Editor – Kristin Sevick, Senior Editor, Tor / Forge (Macmillan)

Young Adult
 Agent – Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
 Editor – Alex Sehulster, Editorial Assistant, St. Martin’s Press

Best of the Best is a competition between the first place winners of each category. The winner will receive $100.

Best of the Best Judge:
Former RWA Bookseller of the Year – Kay Meriam, Barnes & Noble

 Four Seasons. Deadline October 10. First twenty-five pages.

The Four Seasons Contest is open to both unpublished and published authors. Unpublished authors may enter any category. Published authors may enter any category in which they’ve not been contracted or published for three years in any novel-length work of fiction (40,000 + words) in any format (e-book, mass market, etc) to include self-published works. The contest is open to RWA and non-RWA members.
 2015 Final Judges:

Editor: Nicole Fischer, Avon
Agent: TBA

Single Title Contemporary
Editor: Michelle Meade, MIRA
Agent: Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Editor: Deborah Nemeth, Carina Press
Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, Three Seas Literary Agency

Young Adult
Editor: Amy Stapp, Tor/Forge
Agent: Marisa A. Corvisiero, Corvisiero Agency

Editor: Elizabeth Mazer, Harlequin Love Inspired
Agent: Lane Heymont, Seymour Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Mercedes Fernandez, Kensington
Agent: Vicoria Lowes, The Bent Agency

New Adult
Editor: Kristine Swartz, Berkley Publishing
Agent: Veronica Park, Corvisiero Agency
What Have YOU done to make your dream come true?
Other Writing Opportunities

Harlequin's SYTYCW Contest is open between now and September 21st for posting entries on Wattpad. See the timeline here.

The Eight Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Real Simple Magazine. Deadline September 21, 2015. What Single Decision Changed Your Life?

Would your world now be completely different—even unthinkable—if, at some point in the past, you hadn’t made a seemingly random choice? Tell us about it. Maybe you stayed a few extra minutes at a party—and met your soul mate. Maybe you decided to have lunch with a friend or quit a job or just took the long way home. If you can’t imagine the rest of your life without what happened next, write it down and share it with us.

Enter Real Simple’s eighth annual Life Lessons Essay Contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple and receive a prize of $3,000.

Coming to Denver, Colorado, November 6-8, 201, Nourishing the Writer's Spirit Retreat. 

And, if you live in the Indianapolis area, do not miss this free workshop with Liliana Hart!

Liliana Hart—The Future of Self-Publishing

Sponsor: Indiana Romance Writers of America
Location: Indianapolis Central Library, 40 East Saint Clair Street, Indianapolis, IN
Fee: Free (BUT YOU MUST REGISTER).Date: September 12, 2015, 12-4

Topics included: Algorithms, Backmatter, Social Media and Marketing That Works, Street Teams, Foreign Translations, Audio, Diversifying Your Books, Moving From Small-Time Writer to Big-Time Corporation, and much, much more.

Introducing our September Contest Diva: Kelly Goshorn

Unleash Your Inner Diva!

Yes, I’m a Diva.

No, not the kind with a quirked a brow, hand on her hip, wagging her finger in your face. More like the dog with a bone kind—tenacious.

A few years ago, when I thought I’d written the greatest historical romance novel EVER (roll eyes here), I entered my first contest—the TARA. After sending my manuscript off to the judges, I joined ACFW and immediately became active on their Scribes critique loop. It didn’t take long to realize I still had a lot to learn, like the hero and heroine should meet way before chapter nine. Who knew? Apparently everyone but me!

I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I did not advance to the final round of the TARA. Ok, true confession and hoping Tina won’t unfriend me on Facebook, but I didn’t even look at the first round scores for months. I didn’t dare. Putting yourself out there to be “judged” is hard and I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning. And I don’t mean only the winning part, but receiving constructive criticism.

Eventually I did learn the secret to opening crits and contest scores, PRAYER. Prayer prepares my heart and mind to receive the comments in the spirit in which they were written—to help me improve as a writer. My attitude about critiques and judges’ comments changed dramatically. I began looking for the suggestions for improvement more than the compliments I had clung to for dear life in the beginning.

I knuckled down, read books and blogs on the craft, revised and resubmitted. I learned and I grew as a writer. I read, revised and resubmitted. On and on again like a needle stuck on an old 45 rpm vinyl record.

I decided to brave the contest waters again and entered ACFW’s First Impressions and finaled. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I shared scores and comments with my crit partners and read Seekerville posts on problem areas pointed out by the judges. I entered my polished first few chapters in the Clash of the Titles Olympia. This time, I won! To date, this is my only contest win, but my manuscript went on to semi-final in the Genesis and place second in the Fab Five contest, with partial manuscript requests from both final round judges.

When I went to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference this past May, I had confidence my manuscript was ready to shop. I proudly listed my contest results on my one-sheet. After my first pitch, I mentioned that I had recently semi-finaled in the Genesis. The editor held out her hand for my sample chapters and commented, “That’s all I needed to know. You should have led with that.” Needless to say, I tweaked my pitch for future appointments.

I’m thrilled to tell you my story is under contract with Prism Book Group whose editor I met at the conference.

Be Brave!

Unleash your inner diva!

That's it divas and divos. Now go forth and contest!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Weekend Edition

This weekend we're celebrating a double release from Franciscan Media.

Leave a comment and you could win a copy of Refuge of the Heart or The Sweetest Rain. We have three print copies and one Kindle copy of each book to give away. Let us know you want a chance at your very own copy! Winner announced in the next Weekend Edition.

We Have Winners

Giveaway rules can be found here. Please drop us a line to claim your giveaway at All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books! And P.S. - if we forget to send  your prize DO let us know after 8 weeks per our rules.

Thank you for sharing your cookie recipes last weekend! They look amazing!!! Winners of a bag of books are: Kelly Blackwell, Sierra Faith, Rachel Koppendrayer and Deanne Patterson. 

Tuesday  Sandra Leesmith hosted a delightful day filled with our love of animals in our stories. Winner of the glass chocolate kiss and their choice of one of Sandra's books is Becky of Ohiohomeschool.

Wednesday  Dina Davis, assistant editor for Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired Suspense, shared her tips for creating interesting characters that really grab a reader’s—and editor’s—attention.  Book winners are: Ruthy's "Healing the Lawman's Heart" Elva Cobb Martin and Helen Gray, Glynna Kaye's "Rekindling the Widower's Heart" Becky B. and Sherida, Missy's "The Doctor's Second Chance" Jackie and Unknown, and Deb Giusti's "Person of Interest" Barbara Scott and "Stranded" Suzanne Baginskie.  And $8 Amazon gift card winners are: Bettie, Kathryn Barker and Wilani Wahl!!! Congratulations and thank you for making Dina's day so wonderful!

Thursday Love Inspired Historical author Jessica Nelson dropped by to chat about "Butterflies, Godiva and Other Writerly Metamorphoses." S. Trietsch is the winner of  The Matchmaker's Match, Jessica's September, RT Book Review's 4 1/2 Star TOP PICK! release,and Godiva chocolate.

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday: Yes, it's time for the September Contest Update. Stop by to meet our contest divo/diva. The prize vault is open and we have some F.U.N for you!

Tuesday: We're bringing in September with one of our favorite guests, Davalynn Spencer with her post, "T-Minus 24 Hours and Counting …"  And she's giving away an e-copy of Book 4 of The 12 Brides of Summer that includes her novella, The Columbine Bride.

Wednesday: Seekerville is delighted to welcome back Love Inspired author Jill Kemerer, with her post, "Sneaky Ways to Write More Each Day." Stop by! You could win a copy of Unexpected Family, her September release!

If you haven't noticed, look closer, both Tuesday and Wednesday's guests are offering you time and organizational tips. So pay close attention, because on both days,  Seekerville is going to toss in an extra giveaway! A digital timer to help you get in your daily word count. 

Thursday: Aside from writing the book, PROMOTION is the name of the game. Amy Brantley offers great advice on how "Book Promotion Doesn't Have To Cost A Fortune." The giveaway she's offering will make you drool...

Friday: Best of the Archives:  featuring Ruth Logan Herne and her post: Erotic vs. Evocative, how to write a feeling-packed scene that doesn't need to delve too deeply into physics... because it layers emotion onto the page in ways to tug the reader's heart... and maybe their soul. 

Seeker Sightings

The Love Inspired Facebook page featured Glynna Kaye's October  cover-Rekindling the Widower’s Heart!

Winter or Spring??

Sandra Leesmith is excited about her cover for her new release Love’s Dream Song.  Are there any bloggers out there interested in participating in a cover reveal? If so, contact Sandra through her website. 

Random News & Information

Thanks to Seekers and Villagers who shared links.

The September Calendar is UP!

Nourishing the Writer’s Spirit Retreat  (Danica Favorite)

 Adult Fiction Print Units Bouncing Back in 2015 (PW)

 What are the Most Popular Title Trends in Your Genre? (Book Bub Partners)

How Can You Entice Teens to Your Library Programs?(School Visit

Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say to Authors (and Ten You Should)  (Bethany Fiction)

How to Get Blurbs for Your Book & Use Them In Your Marketing (BookBub Partners)

How to Price Kindle Books to FREE without Exclusivity (Smashwords Blog)

 Hiring an Editor or DIY? (DIY Author)

Create Sounds to Work By (Defonic)

Why Broken Sleep is a Golden Time for Creativity (Aeon)

That's it. Have a great reading and writing weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Best of the Archives: How I Build a Story!

By Debby Giusti

This blog post ran in 2012, and the book that resulted was published in September 2013. I hope you enjoy a second look at how I came up with the story line for THE SOLDIER'S SISTER.

I love kids and kids’ toys, especially building blocks.  Recently I watched a group of young children stack the wooden squares and rectangles and cylinders, one atop the other, and realized playing with blocks is similar to constructing a story.

THE COLONEL’S DAUGTHER, the third book in my Military Investigations series comes out in August, and having just completed the fourth story in the series, THE GENERAL’S SECRETARY, I was ready to come up with a new tale to tell.     

I always think creating a proposal will be easy, but the opposite is usually the case. I start with an idea that forms the foundation for the book and build upon that initial concept by adding various “blocks,” such as an inciting incident, black moment and climax that fit together to move the story forward.
One of my reasons for writing the Military Investigations series is to showcase various aspects of military life, and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) is a success story I wanted to feature in this next book.  The program started after 9/ll to help soldiers seriously injured in the line of duty.  Each wounded warrior is assigned an AW2 advocate as a liaison, of sorts, between the soldier and the military.  The advocate helps with paperwork and medical care, career counseling and the soldier’s transition to civilian life.

Like many writers, when I begin a new story I start with the standard what if.  What if my heroine accepts a position as an advocate in the Army Wounded Warrior Program at Fort Rickman, GA, the fictional army post I created for the series?

More what ifs. What if my heroine, Stephanie Upton, is from the nearby small town of Freemont?  Her younger brother Will enlisted in the army after graduating from high school along with two of his high school buddies. Will and a friend were injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan and were reassigned to the Warrior Transitional Unit at Fort Rickman.

When a killer comes after the high school buddies, the hero—Criminal Investigation Division special agent Brody Goodman—is called in to investigate. (The book is a romance so Brody and Stephanie eventually fall in love and live happily ever after.)

With the basic foundation in place, I focused on coming up with an incident in the past that played into the heroine’s internal conflict.  Had there been a car crash that resulted in the death of one of her brother’s friends?  Was Stephanie at fault? Was her brother driving? Did the boys enlist in the army as a result of what happened on that summer night?  
What if the incident caused friction between Stephanie and her brother?  Perhaps Will transferred his own guilt to his sister who, he believed, was the catalyst that started the string of events that eventually leads to the story’s climax.

The villain needs to be a worthy adversary with his own GMC.  I wanted his motivation to stem from what happened in the back story. The car crash didn’t work so I added and discarded “blocks” until I came up with a new solution.

Needing a high-action opening scene to hook the reader, I decided the villain would attack one of Will’s buddies. The CID hero investigates the crime and becomes suspicious of the brother, which increases the conflict between the hero and the heroine. Stephanie wants to protect Will. As much as she’s drawn to the CID agent, she is also worried about her brother.
After writing eleven Love Inspired Suspense stories, I’m always searching for new ways to place the heroine in danger. The nightly news and Metro section of the Atlanta newspaper are great resources that provide new and devious tricks for the villain to use to up the suspense.
I needed the back story to be resolved in the climax and revolve around the hero and heroine’s internal conflict as well as their external goals.  Each time I checked, my GMC seemed a bit off center, which, in my opinion, caused the plot to fall flat. I took long walks to clear my mind and discussed a number of different options with my daughters and husband until they rolled their eyes and backed away whenever I asked them to listen to my new ideas. Night after night, I would awake to weigh various scenarios and finally came up with a satisfying back story. 

After focusing on the heroine, I changed directions and looked at my hero’s internal journey.  Brody wasn’t as difficult as Stephanie, and I soon had a situation in his past that worked. Then wanting to up the tension, I tweaked his back story to make it more intense and personal.
The black moment occurs close to the climax when the problems between the hero and heroine seem insurmountable, and the reader wonders how they will ever be able to resolve their differences and end up together. Working on the black moment exposed how the conflict between the hero and heroine  needed to be more compelling.  I made some changes until what started out as mild disagreements morphed into significant differences that made me wonder how they could ever fall in love.
Once the story was in better shape, I added the faith journey for my two main characters and established how their relationship with God played into each character’s internal conflict, the black moment and the climax. 
I established turning points for the romance and ensured the black moment was adequately motivated. I included the hero and heroine’s worst fears, reviewed the pacing and plot progression and ratcheted up the danger.

I rechecked characters’ ages, the dates and the years that had passed since the back story incidents.  In order to learn more about the AW2 program, I interviewed the Atlanta AW2 advocate and arranged to talk to her counterpart at Fort Benning as well as the Fort Benning executive officer for the Warrior Transition Unit.

At long last, my story construction seemed sound with all the building “blocks” in place.  

There are no comments on Archive Fridays, but I hope you'll think about how you create your story structure and the important elements you consider when coming up with a new idea for a novel.

Happy writing! 

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
Love Inspired Suspense ~ August 2015

While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting  Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.
Still available: STRANDED