Friday, January 30, 2015

February Contest Update

Welcome to the February Contest Update. 
A dedicated chocolate edition.
Writers-What are your contest goals this month? 
Readers-What's on your TBR pile?
Let us know for a chocolate giveaway surprise!
Be sure you tell us if you want to be entered 
by indicating your favorite. 
White, Milk, or Dark.
Published Author Contests:

Reader's Choice Bean Pot Award. Deadline February 1, 2015. Open to Indies.

The Carolyn Readers Choice Award. Deadline February 14. Open to Indies.

Inspirational Reader's Choice. Deadline March 1, 2015.

Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Deadline March 2, 2015. 

ACFW Carol Award. Opens January 2, 2015. Deadline March 15, 2015. See Indie 

Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for Published Authors. Deadline March 15. 

 The Unpublished Maggies. Opens January 2, 2015. Deadline April 3. Open to Indies. 

 Unpublished Author Contests:

The Pacific Northwest Literary Association Contest is now accepting entries. Contest closes February, 2, 2015. Cash prizes.
Categories include: 
1. mainstream
3.romance/women's fiction
6.young adult
7.middle grade
10.short story
11.children's picture/chapter book short topics (articles/essays/memoir) 

 The Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. Opens January 1, 2015. Deadline February 14, 2015.  For  Novella category, submit the first 2000 words of an unpublished work of fiction.For all other categories, submit the first 5000 words of an unpublished work of fiction.A one to two page (max 500 words) synopsis is optional and will not be counted as part of the entry. The synopsis will not be judged.

2014 Categories and Final Judges:
Contemporary Romance–Adrienne Macintosh (Harlequin) & Kathleen Rushall (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency)

Historical Romance–Erika Tsang (Avon) & Elaine Spencer (The Knight Agency)

Paranormal Romance–Mary Altman (Sourcebooks) & Miriam Kriss (Irene Goodman Agency)

Erotic Romance–Nina Gooden (Ellora’s Cave) & Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency)

Mainstream with Strong Romantic Elements–Leis Pederson (Berkley) & Courtney Miller-Callihan (Greenberger Associates)

Young Adult/New Adult–Heather Howland (Entangled) & Becca Stumpf (Prospect Agency)

  Fabulous Five Writing Contest opened for enteries January 1. Deadline March 1. An entry consists of the opening pages of your unpublished novel, up to 2500 words. Categories capped at 35 entries this year. Get your entry in early.

The top five entries in each category will move to the final round.

Finalists in each category will be ranked by the following editors and agents:

Erotica:Cheryl Yeko, Soulmate Publishing-Jessica Alvarez, Bookends, LLC

Historical:Laura Plude, Grand Central Publishing-Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen Pomada Literary Agents

Inspirational:Giselle Regus, Harlequin-Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency

New Adult:Nicole Fischer, Avon Romance-Patricia Nelson, Marshal Lyon Literary Agency

Futuristic/Time Travel:Brenda Chin, Imajinn Books-Shira Hoffman, McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Romantic Suspense:Madeleine Colavita, Grand Central Publishing-Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency

Series Contemporary:Christina Brower, NAL/Penguin Random House-Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Single Title:Mercedes Fernandez, Kensington Books- Courtney Miller-Callihan, Greenburger Associates

Women’s Fiction: Jennifer Herrington, Lyrical Press-Victoria Lowes, The Bent Agency

Young Adult: Alycia Tornetta, Entangled Publishing-Taylor Haggerty, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency

 Fire & Ice. Deadline March 14. Enter the first 6,000 words. Contest capped at 120 entries. Did you know that Rachel Renee Russell (on the cover of this month's Writer's Digest) and author of the Dork Diaries entered this contest and said, “Participating in Fire & Ice was the motivation I needed to take my manuscript and writing to the next level. I received excellent critiques from your judges and a lot of encouragement. That manuscript evolved into Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life. It spent seven weeks on the NYT Bestseller List and my publisher, Simon & Schuster, just purchased Books 3 and 4.”

Each finalist will be judged by both an editor and a literary agent.  2015 final round judges are:

Contemporary Romance-Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks (editor)
 Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (agent)

Historical Romance-Debby Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing (editor)
Sara Megibow, kt literary (agent)

Women’s Fiction With Romantic Elements-Gabrielle Keck, Harper Collins (editor)
 Melissa Jeglinski, Knight Agency (agent)

Young Adult/New Adult Romance-Tera Cuskaden, Samhain Publishing (editor)
 Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (agent)

Paranormal Romance-Mary Altman, Sourcebooks (editor)

Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management (agent)

 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for Unpublished Writers. Deadline: March 15, 2015.  Entry consists of prologue/first chapter up to 5,000 words. 

Susan Litman, Harlequin Special Edition
Scott Eagan, Greyhaus Literary Agency

Alex Logan, Grand Central Publishing
Cassie Hanjian, Waxman Leavell Literary

Andrea Doering, Revell Books
Steve Laube, The Steve Laube Agency

Kristine Swartz, The Berkley Publishing Group
Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Paula Eykelhof, MIRA
Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

Kristen Sevick, Tor/Forge
Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary Agency

 ACFW Genesis.  Contest closes: March 15, 2015 at 4:00 PM central time. All contest entries and contest fees must be received by that time. Entry consists of the first 15 pages and a single spaced, one page synopsis. Finalist judges announced in January.
Historical Romance
Romantic Suspense
Short Novel
Young Adult

The Royal Ascot. Opens February 16, 2015. Entries must be received by March 27, 2015.Open to unpublished authors and published writers seeking representation and/or a publisher.  All entries must have at least partial Regency (Late Georgian) setting, broadly defined: within the United Kingdom between 1780 and 1840. Judges to be determined. 

Categories are used to determine first round judges only, and include:
Regency Historical (longer Regency or Mainstream Regency-set)
Hot Regency (Very sensual to Erotic Regency, at author’s discretion)
Wild Regency (Paranormal, Time Travel, other similar Regency)
Sweet & Mild Regency (Traditional, Inspirational, Young Adult or other without explicit sex)

Unpublished Maggies.  Deadline April 30.  Entry consists of first pages and synopsis, not to exceed 35 pages. 

 Single Title Romance-Madeleine Colavita Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing

Contemporary Category Romance-Ann Leslie Tuttle-Senior Editor, Harlequin

Inspirational Romance-Stephanie Broene-Senior Acquisitions Editor, Tyndale

Historical Romance-Gabrielle Keck-Editor, Avon

Paranormal Romance-Rose Hilliard Editor, St. Martin’s Press

Young Adult-Candace Havens Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements -Sarah Murphy Editor, Ballantine Bantam Dell

Erotic Romance-S.N. Graves-Senior Editor, LooseId


Other Writing Opportunities:

Ever want to write for BBC Radio? Here's your chance. Deadline February 13. Once a year a window opens for new writers with no experience of radio to submit a short story  to Opening Lines – BBC Radio 4’s showcase for short stories.  Send one story which must be between 1,900 and 2,000 words long to fill a 14 minute time slot.

Now we welcome our February Diva. 

I began my contest journey perched on a high horse, from which I was immediately relegated to a wooden pony. After completing a novel in 2012, I entered it into Operation First Novel, all but certain of victory. The judge congratulated me on finishing a manuscript, then went on to encourage me to learn how to write. Ouch.

Though humbling, that experience became one of the best things to happen to me as a writer. I amassed a collection of writing books such as The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King, and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I learned to read as a writer, taking note of what authors did well and why their books resonated with me. And I discovered the value of contests.

After much study on the craft of writing, and despite a jumble of nerves, in 2013 I entered ACFW’s First Impressions and Genesis contests. Becoming a finalist in First Impressions encouraged me. Though I didn’t place in Genesis, I received great feedback from three helpful judges. Each provided a unique, eye-opening perspective.

In 2014, I re-entered First Impressions and Genesis with two manuscripts, nerves still buzzing. It’s hard to offer up my work for critique, and even harder still when the feedback is unfavorable. This time, however, I won the First Impressions contemporary romance category, and achieved a spot as a Genesis semi-finalist in the contemporary genre. Both full manuscripts have been requested by agents. In addition, the judges still pointed out how to make the stories even better.

Through personal study, a critique group, constant reading and writing, and entering contests, I’ve learned (and am still learning) to do well what that first judge insisted I do—write. My pony now has a pulse, and on it I follow behind the high horse, whose rightful rider is the Most High.
And I’m thrilled to see where He’ll take me. 


That's it for this month, Villagers! 
Now go forth and contest!~

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Best of the Archives: Endurance to Cross Your Own Finish Line

This post first appeared in Seekerville in October 2013. We're bringing it back to start the new year. 

In Seekerville we talk a lot about our journey from the island to the mainland. Call me idealistic, but I believe that everyone who wants to can make that trip. I also believe that being a writer isn't necessarily about being fair or even being talented. Sometimes it's just about determination and preparation.

 Here's a shocker for you..maybe you better sit down. I used to run. In fact, thirteen years ago, I was running seven miles on my speed days. I love running. Maybe as much as writing. 

I don't run anymore.

What happened? 

I stopped.

I remember talking to my doctor about my frustration a few years ago. She said to start again. 

Right. HOW?

One step at a time.

And that's exactly how it is with writing and your journey to the mainland. It begins one word at a time. One paragraph at a time. One page at a time.

Runners World Magazine has this advice for new runners: 

"The first 2 miles are the hardest 2 miles you will ever run. Once you have reached this level of fitness, it's relatively easy to do more. You simply have to budget the time, and be patient and disciplined in your training."

The same is true of writing your first book. The commonality here is that both of these efforts level the playing field. No matter how exalted you were in your previous life as a teacher, a brain surgeon, a real estate magnate or an artist, we all start out at the same starting line when we lace up those sneakers begin our running/writing journey. Sure some of us are blessed with long legs, or maybe the gift of storytelling, but we all must run the race.

  •  "Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."   - Doug Larson, English gold-medalist runner

  • "Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic." - Tim Noakes  Professor, runner in more than 70 marathon and ultra-distance events

  •  "Without patience, you will never conquer endurance."-Yiannis Kouros, holder of multiple world ultra records

 Endurance is built by patience and training.

So, I've created some island training plans to meet you where you are as a runner/writer. The most important thing about any training plan is to avoid setting yourself up to fail. 

Evaluate what you've been doing for the last thirty days and pick an appropriate training plan that will produce success.

After you reach your consecutive day goals feel free to move to the next level or adjust the plans to your individual needs.  An example would be writing six days per week or two sessions daily.

You don't have to move up a level.  

Beginning Writer Training Plan

 This 30 day plan is designed to get you in the habit of daily writing.

Your only goals are the beginning word count and ending word count. Weeks 2 & three are the same. It doesn't matter if it takes you all day to reach your daily goal or thirty minutes. One writing session or three. You must meet your daily goal.

Anytime you lapse, you must start over at day 1. So if on day 3 you get sick, then on day 4 you are back on day 1. If you are on day 29 and life gets in the way, you start over at day 1. Continue until you make it through 30 days. Use the goal numbers provided if possible. You can switch to different projects for the 30 days. But if you do not meet your daily goal you must always go back to the starting line. You may not edit. At the end of thirty consecutive days of writing you will have a minimum of 21,000 words.

1. Week 1 - Write 500 words seven days consecutively.

2. Week 2 - Write 750 words seven days consecutively.

3. Week 3 - Write 750 words seven days consecutively.

4. Week 4 -Write 1000 words seven days consecutively.


Intermediate Writer Training Plan

Pick a project. Any project. This is the project you'll stay with for six weeks. No excuses. You may not edit this project. Strive for reaching your word count goal in one session (no matter how long that session is) with breaks. Ideally, after six weeks you can maintain your goal and then add an editing session later in the day. If you do not meet your daily goal you must always go back to the starting line. Your six week goal is 42 consecutive days and a minimum of 63,000 words.

1. Week 1 - Write 1000 words seven days consecutively.

2. Week 2 - Write 1000 words seven days consecutively.

3. Week 3 - Write 1500 words seven days consecutively.

4. Week 4 -Write 1500 words seven days consecutively.

5. Week 5- Write 2000 words seven days consecutively. 

6. Week 5- Write 2000 words seven days consecutively.

Advanced Writer Training Plan 

Do not begin this plan unless you have successfully trained through the beginner and intermediate plans. No editing. Editing is done in another session during your writing day. Break as needed during sessions.

Adjust this plan to meet your needs and lifestyle.

DAY 1 Session-Average pacing 1000 to 2000 words

DAY 2 Session-Average pacing 1500 to 2000 words

DAY 3 Session-Average pacing 2000 words

DAY 4 Session-Speed day-Push toward doubling your regular daily output

DAY 5 Session-Slow day- goal is 1000 words.

DAY 6 Session-Average pacing 1000 to 2000 words



 Crossing your own finish line isn't about's about crossing the finish line.  It's all about one word, one paragraph, one page.  These plans are suggestions. Make your own plan. 

And then...

Don't ever stop!

Do share which training plan you're claiming or share your own training plan. If you're a reader share how many books you read a month.

BTW, here's some trivia for you. Did you know that if you write 2,000 words a day that equals 12 Love Inspired contemporary romances a year? -Thank you to Rogenna Brewer for that math.

Today in Seekerville we're giving away a big gift card. Comment to be entered. Winner  announced in the Weekend Edition.

Tina Radcliffe writes inspirational romance for Love Inspired. She is currently moving one step at a time toward her own finish line.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

FLYING THROUGH THE FOG: Tips to Discovering Your Story Idea

Are you ready for SPEEDBO?“
YIKES!” you’re thinking. “Give me a break. It’s only January!”
As long-time Seeker Villagers know, SPEEDBO is short for “speed book.” Each March Seekerville hosts a month-long write-a-thon where we write our little hearts out for 31 days. We draw encouragement from each other and push ourselves to one more word, one more sentence, one more paragraph, one more chapter. Maybe an entire rough draft!
And...Speedbo is ONLY 32 days away!
Are YOU ready? Have you given any thought to where your focus will be or do you plan to sit down on Sunday, March 1, grab any idea that comes to you out of the blue, and write through the fog?
Due to exceedingly limited time available to write to a contracted deadline, I can’t be an into-the-fog writer. Between turning in one finished book and a proposal for the next, I try to allow myself about eight weeks to complete a beginning-to-end synopsis (12-15 double-spaced pages) and the first three chapters for my editor’s approval (an additional 50 pages).
As I begin that proposal package, I can’t afford to take off totally into the fog without a plan -- “instrument back up.” I can’t leisurely fly this direction, then that, hoping for clear skies out there somewhere before I run out of time and “fuel.”
Did you know that when flying through thick fog, a pilot without (or disregarding) a working instrument panel can become so disoriented that they believe they’re parallel to the earth but are, in fact, flying their plane straight into the ground?
In order to avoid that and get moving on my proposal, I have to quickly lay a foundation. I can’t just launch into writing a proposal for something I’ve given absolutely no thought to. Not, at least, if I hope to make it through the fog and in for a happy landing!
Unlike some writers who are gifted at pulling an idea out of a hat (with all the full-blown GMC trimmings), I MIGHT have a “spark” for the next book -- maybe a “what if,” a situation or a character who lodges in my brain. Or not.
I’m sometimes at ground zero in the idea department. Flying into the fog with the clock ticking...ticking...ticking.
So where do I start? How do I find an idea I can build on to discover a book-length story that engages me, my editor and my readers?
For years I’ve kept a checklist that serves as a runway, a launching pad to help me get my story off the ground and through the murky realms to clearer sailing.
So today I’m sharing the checklist I use (mingled with a HUGE helping of prayer!) to get my brain rolling. Please note that I don’t follow it in chronological order if one point or another captures my imagination first.
So see if any of these ideas help fly YOUR Speedbo project out of the fog!
- Peruse papers, magazines and on-line or TV news for stories that spark a “what if” (or review ideas previously gathered--I keep a running list).
- Find photos of who you imagine your hero/heroine to be. (I’m constantly “snipping” face photos from the web or magazines and putting them in a folder or electronic file for future reference.) Sometimes a face will jump out at you, almost as if you recognize your character! And their personality and background suddenly kindles in your mind.
- Come up with one- or two-word descriptors of the hero/heroine (their core essence).
- Brainstorm themes and “hooks” this story might embrace (e.g., opposites attract, girl-next-door, friends-to-lovers).
- Brainstorm one-line concepts of what the story is about. Getting something down on paper solidifies your fledgling ideas.
- Expand the one line to a one-paragraph “blurb.”
- Brainstorm a moral premise to see if one might give your story direction. Is there a Bible verse or saying that concisely nails what this story could be about?
- Brainstorm titles.
- Brainstorm opening lines.
- Brainstorm opening scenes.
- Brainstorm goals, motivations, conflicts (GMC).
- Brainstorm hero/heroine backstory.
- Brainstorm who the heroine/heroine is at the beginning and how they will change by the end of the story.
- Brainstorm scenes that will SHOW this change.
- Brainstorm what the hero/heroine is most afraid of.
- Brainstorm a lie the hero/heroine believes about themselves -- and each other.
- Brainstorm what most deeply hurt the hero/heroine in their past.
- Brainstorm possible big black moments based on the above ideas.
- Brainstorm story climaxes and resolutions.
- Scene storm how to ILLUSTRATE and build escalating conflict to reach this climax/resolution.
- Create a rough draft “calendar of events” as plot points come to you. Yes, ON a calendar so you get  feel for the story's timeline.
- Research locale, occupation, story “issues,” etc. (But don’t get bogged down in this so that you never start the story!)
- Sketch a map of the setting or a key building to firm it in your imagination.
- Locate photos that illustrate locales or scenes.
- Build a photo collage to capture the essence of your story as it comes to you. (I’ve never tried this, but was intrigued when I heard several years ago of authors doing it--have any of you tried it?)
The results of any one of these brainstorming endeavors -- or a combination of several -- can grab my imagination and send it hurtling through the fog. That sparking idea then draws -- magnet-like -- other ideas I can use to build my proposal as I continue through the various brainstorming points.
I find, too, that setting a timer to brainstorm helps immensely. Rather than “dreamily” letting my mind wander (although that can occasionally help IF I can find the time), a timer helps me focus. How many ideas for a given point can I come up with in, say, ten or fifteen minutes?
It’s also helpful when the essence of my story finally begins to emerge (but I still feel like I’m in foggy regions), if I begin writing the opening scene. Get a feeling for the conflict and characters. Because I always start my synopsis with a few pages of hero/heroine background before launching into “as the story opens,” developing that background in the fledgling synopsis while at the same time working on the opening scene often begins to clear the fog me.
So how do YOU kindle that idea spark? Share with us today where your ideas come from and the steps you take to build it into a full-length story concept that flies you out of the fog and into blue writing skies!
If you plan to give Speedbo a shot and would like to be entered in a drawing for one of two copies of Jeff Gerke’s “Write Your Novel In a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What To Do Next,” mention it in the comments section, then check the Weekend Edition to see if you’re a winner!
Glynna Kaye’s debut book “Dreaming of Home” was a finalist in the ACFW Carol and Maggie awards, as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her 4 1/2 star “At Home In His Heart” was chosen as a Reviewers Choice finalist by national magazine RT Book Reviews. The first book in her Love Inspired “Hearts of Hunter Ridge” series debuts in October 2015!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Autographed Bookplates: Are We Famous Yet?

Pam Hillman Bookplate
(Actual plate wouldn't have a border)
by Pam Hillman

A few weeks ago the authors of The Homestead Brides Collection mailed bookplates round-robin style so that we could all sign them. The set is still making the rounds among the nine authors, but when we’re done, we’ll all have bookplates signed by all of us to either mail to someone or put in books at book signings.

I thought that was kind of cool, and I realized this is a topic that we hadn’t discussed in Seekerville. So here goes... :)

In its most basic form, autographed bookplates are labels signed by an author and mailed to readers when the reader owns a copy of the book, but distance prevents the author from signing the book for the reader face-to-face.

The Homestead Brides
bookplates making the rounds
to all nine authors.

Pros of Bookplates

Obviously, the nine authors in The Homestead Brides Collection are not all likely to ever be at a book signing together as a group. So, if you are part of a collection, having some bookplates signed by all the authors is a neat way to offer added value to your readers.

It's also a good idea to have your own personal bookplates on hand at book signings. When I asked the Seekers for examples or tips, Mary Connealy remembered being at a book signing with a man who ran out of books but offered signed bookplates to send home with his fans who didn’t get a copy of the book that day. Also, if someone forgets their book(s) at home, then a bookplate is the next best thing if they won't have the opportunity to see you again.

Julie Lessman's Daughters of Boston bookplate designed
for use with the four books in the series. Stunning!

Cons of Bookplates

I read one article where a reader spotted “signed by author” stickers in her local bookstore. Excited, she purchased the books and only discovered after she’d gotten home that the books weren’t actually signed but had bookplates in them. She was disappointed, and I can certainly understand why.

I’ll admit that I’m not one to write in books. I shudder when someone turns down the corner of a page. I go into convulsions when I see a book that’s been dropped in someone’s bath water (the ewww factor is only part of my revulsion).  So maybe I’m not the best advocate of signed bookplates. But I do like tastefully done bookplates (like Julie’s) and would very carefully adhere those to a beloved author’s book.

Julie Lessman's Personalized Bookplate
The Heart of San Francisco Series

I would caution to not ever adhere a signed bookplate to a book unless you are the owner of the book. That bookstore would have been much better served to offer the bookplates in conjunction with the books, but not actually stuck to the pages.

Along that line, VJ Books, a purveyor of signed bookplates, recommends, “A bookplate laid-in (simply placed, not using adhesive), enhancing the value of a collectible book, when a direct signature is either impractical or impossible. We do not recommend attaching these directly to a book. By gently laying them in the book you do not risk damage to a book, and should an opportunity arise where the book actually gets signed, the bookplate can be easily transferred to another title by the same author.”

Interestingly, the most expensive bookplate on VJ Books' site was one by Elmore Leonard (Justified) for $35.99. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a photo available of this prized bookplate.

Bookplate design by Pam Hillman
Suitable for Contemporary Romance or Women's Fiction

Types of bookplates

~ Bookplates can be very simple with just a small, elegant design in black and white, or very elaborate and in color.
~ They can be generic, or book/series specific like Julie's gorgeous examples.
~ Themed bookplates that match the author's style or genre could be fun and sometimes quirky.
~ Bookplates tend to be 3”x4” or 4” x 4”, but can be any size.
~ They can be on any color label with a border or with a faded edges so that it’s less noticeable where the bookplate ends and the book begins.
~ Even better, order or print bookplates on clear labels, and then the actual book page shows through.

Bookplate Design by Pam Hillman
Ideal for a Suspense Author :)

Should You or Shouldn’t You

I suppose having a large selection of bookplates isn’t really a big thing, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have some on hand if you plan to have a book signing. In addition, I've had people across the country ask how they can get a signed copy of one of my books, so a bookplate would be one option in that circumstance. Karen Kingsbury has a good example of how to offer signed books and/or bookplates to her fans.

So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of a bookplate? Would you stick one in a book, or simply put it between the pages? Or are they just not your cup of tea at all?

Bookplate Design by Pam Hillman
Simple, elegant, timeless design

The Homestead Brides: Promises of free land lured thousands to stake their claim to the vast American plains. They built make-do homes and put all they had into improving the land. Readers will enjoy nine adventures as God helps homesteaders find someone with whom to share the dream—the work—and the love.

To celebrate the release of The Homestead Brides Collection on February 1st, we’re giving away another copy TODAY! Let me know in the comments if you'd like to be in the drawing.

Also, since we’re talking bookplates, if you’d like a signed bookplate, go to and send me a message along with your mailing address. Specify if you want one for The Homestead Brides Collection (signed by all the authors), or one for signed by me only. If you want it personalized, please specify that as well.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Good Morning.  Sandra here with a pot of chocolate velvet coffee, Teavana teas and hot chocolate. Grab a cup and lets talk miracles.  I picked oranges and tangelos off my tree this morning and they are juicy and sweet. So please help yourself to some Arizona sunshine.

Photo A

Have you ever pursued a project or a dream and all of a sudden the people you need appear or the information you need falls into your lap? Some would call this coincidence. There are even scientific studies where they have proven that your brain tunes into things when you have a goal.  Their example showed how you decide you want a certain type of car and suddenly you are seeing that car everywhere, ads for that car, information for that car. I'm sure these rationalizations can be proven, but personally, I believe they are miracles. I believe they are divine intervention and support for my work in progress.

Photo B

Let me give you some examples.  When I finished my first draft of DREAM SONG, one of my earlier novels for Warner, I got called to give some seminars on the Navajo Reservation. The setting for DREAM SONG is Northern Arizona. Debra, the heroine, is searching for her roots. Debra was adopted by Anglo parents but her mother was Navajo. Several ladies I met at the seminar gave me some valuable assistance in developing the characters in DREAM SONG. They even offered to be beta readers which was great, as they found things that would have been inconsistent with Navajo culture. Now I had never worked on the reservation before nor since. Was that coincidence? Did I go looking for that job? No. I was asked by ASU to go because of work I had done as a teacher. But did I need that information? And was it provided in a beautiful way?  You bet.

Photo C

By the way, I'm working on getting DREAM SONG back out there. Hopefully it will be on Amazon some time this spring.

Another example: Have any of you read LOVE'S MIRACLES?  I was spending the summer at Lake Tahoe when I was writing that novel. The hero in LOVE'S MIRACLES is a Vietnam Vet dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome.  I joined the closest RWA group which was in Reno, Nevada and met a woman looking for a critique partner. Guess what her day job was? She was a psychologist at the Reno VA hospital. Now was that coincidence? Did I go looking specifically for a psychologist? No. And was I there all summer to work with her?  Remember that was written in the 80's way before the Internet and online crit partners. So what a miracle that we were able to work together because she provided me with amazing information.

Photo D

CURRENT OF LOVE was written because hubby and I went on a cruise up the Mississippi on a riverboat cruise. And being a writer I interviewed the crew and the story brewed in my mind. It was a year later that I started writing this novel so I did not have contact with the crew members. The hero nearly drowned as a child so is not really happy on the water. This is why he is going with his father on a river boat cruise instead of a sea cruise. So of course, we had to have a huge storm, flooding and boat evacuation. I needed to know what they did in that situation. We were camping in our RV and guess who is camped near us? Yep. A retired river boat captain. Now is that coincidence? Did I go to an RV park to find one? Nope. But guess who provided one for me?  Yep. Our Father.

Photo E  (black and white)

My hero in my current work in progress is a retired Army Colonel.  One of the gals I play pickleball with is married to a retired Army Colonel. I have already been interviewing him and getting some great information that will ramp up my plot. Now is that coincidence? Did I go to an RV park looking for a retired colonel? And do I need to know one?  You bet.

Photo F  (sepia)

Not only do these miracles happen in my writing, but in all things related to writing. Many of you know that I signed books in November at the Scottsdale Library. Well book selling was a wash. Who goes to a library to buy books?  LOL   But God makes good out of all things. I met a publicist and since Amber was hired by a publishing house, I needed one. Nanci advised me that I need to update my photos. Well I am presently RVing in a resort on the outskirts of Tucson and its pretty isolated out there. But guess what? The RV resort features a photography club and I met Linda Needham. She took these photos and wow did we have fun. Not only did I get photos, but met a new friend. Oh yes, one of my pickleball friends is an actress and she had fun putting on the makeup and fixing my hair. (something about which I am completely hopeless)

So this brings me to the PHOTOS. Have you been thinking that I'm getting vain? Or losing it?

Photo G

These are some of the headshots. What I need is help with picking out the best ones for my profile shots. I like the black and white. (shows less wrinkles) There is the sepia.  And color shots.  Also we tried some without the glasses which looks better, but hey, I do wear glasses so what is your opinion? Should I have them on or does it really matter?

I have numbered each photo. Please pick your favorite and you will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of one of my books or your choice of an available Seeker ebook.

Also, PLEASE SHARE any miracles you've witnessed along your writing path. I love miracles. I believe in miracles. And I love hearing about them.

If you don't have any to share,  start looking for them. Seeing the big and small miracles that happen every day are what build your faith.  And they bring you joy because they are reassurances that the Lord is with you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Weekend Edition

As all of you know, the 20th of January was Penguin Awareness Day. This weekend we'd like to salute the penguin. Be sure to hug one today, and don't be afraid to add a penguin to your novel!

We have a jam packed Weekend Edition. Read slowly so you don't miss any giveaways!

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!

Did you claim your giveaway from LAST WEEK?
Winners of Homestead Bride are Keli Gwyn, Wendy Newcomb and Dawn Leonard.

Winner of Mending the Doctor's Heart are Wilhani Wahl and Becky Dempsey.

 When is my manuscript done? On Monday, Seekerville welcomed back Ruth Kaufman who shared tips when she blogged with us on Monday. Becky Dempsey is the winner of an e copy of the inspirational version of At His Command.

Tuesday we were delighted to welcome Love Inspired Historical author and Indie author, Naomi Rawlings back to Seekerville with her post, "Using Real Life Trials to Grow our Writing." Chill N is the winner of her latest release, Falling for the Enemy.

Wednesday, award-winning author, Debby Giusti, talked about finding writing success, even without publication, in her post entitled, "For Writers: When Less is More." The winner of an advanced copy of Debby's March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED, is KAV. Debby also gave away five print copies of The Writer's Prayer. Those lucky winners are: Melanie Dickerson, Meghan Carver, Pat Jeanne Davis, Deanna Stevens and kaisquared. 

Seeker Tina Radcliffe sat next to an amazing woman on the flight back from the ACFW conference-Elizabeth Van Tassel. Friday she was our guest blogger with her post,"The Power Of The Right Turn." Winner of a twenty minute coaching session is DebH. Winner of a Bath and Body Works gift card is Gabrielle Meyer.

Next Week In Seekerville

Monday: Seeker Sandra  Leesmith blogs today, and she will talk about the miracles that happen when she is writing. Are they coincidence or God's perfect timing? What miracles have you noticed? Those who comment will be eligible for a a signed copy of one of her books or an available e-copy of a Seeker book of their choice.

Tuesday: Pam Hillman is your hostess on Tuesday, discussing the pros and cons of author book plates with advice on when and when not to use them. She'll be giving away a signed copy of Homestead Brides and bookplates on request!

Wednesday: Love Inspired author Seeker Glynna Kaye shares her thoughts on “Flying Through the Fog” – tips to finding your next story idea and getting it off the ground.  In anticipation of Seekerville’s March “Speedbo” challenge, Glynna will be giving away a copy of Jeff Gerke’s  Write Your Novel In a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What To do Next.

Thursday: Today we bring you The Best of the Archives and two super special giveaways so you can buy whatever wasn't under your Christmas tree.

Friday: Time for the February Contest Update. Stop by to meet our February Diva or Divo and we've also got some chocolate giveaways! 

Seeker Sightings

Love Our Readers Lunch
Kennesaw, GA
February 14, 2015 at 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Click here to purchase tickets.

Register by midnight January 25, 2015 and you'll automatically be entered to win a Kindle Fire!! *You must be present to win.*

Join us for an eclectic style lunch with NYT Bestselling Author Karen White, Missy Tippens, Meg Moseley, Lindi Peterson and Ciara Knight. This will be an intimate gathering of approximately 35 readers and five authors. You'll be able to meet ALL the attending authors!! Thank you to FoxTale Book Shoppe for being our bookseller for this event!

CHRISTIAN FICTION ROCKS!! Vote for your favorite book of 2014 in Family Fiction Magazine’s TOP TEN LIST contest and be entered to win your choice of FIVE MORE!! Check out Julie Lessman’s “Christian Fiction Rocks” giveaway HERE, and let your voice be heard! Note: You do not have to vote for Julie to enter the contest.


Just in Time for Valentine's Day! FREE DOWNLOAD of Julie Lessman’s award-winning Irish love story, A Light in the Window (178 five-star reviews on Amazon!) for five days only — February10-14, 2015, so mark your calendars now and spread the word!! And be sure to check out the ALITW video starring Julie’s daughter HERE!!

It was so much fun giving away copies of Homestead Brides with THREE Seekers in the collection of nine novellas,  that we're doing it again this week.  That's right! THREE copies to three lucky commenters this weekend. BUT YOU HAVE TO TELL US YOU WANT IT! Lots of other great authors are included in this collection. You can purchase it HERE-it releases February 1.  Winners announced in the next Weekend Ed

Random News & Information

Thanks to everyone who sent links! 

 How Are You Celebrating National Readathon Day? (GalleyCat) BTW, Seekerville is celebrating by giving away a prize package of books. Just let us know you want your name in the draw. Winner announced next Saturday.

Tweet of note: Emily Rodmell ‏@EmilyRodmell  · Jan 21 
If you don't know who you're submitting to and what they acquire, you're wasting your time. Research editors and agents before hitting send.

4 Steps to Happy Writing Productivity (Writers in the Storm)

In Defense of Editing (PJ Media) 

 Don't Start Your Story Unless You Know These 5 Things (Novel Rocket)

 4 Ways Besides Query Letters You Can Contact Literary Agents (Writers in the Storm)

The 2015 Edgar Award Nominees have been announced. 

Kindle Unlimited December payout to authors rises to $1.43 as KDP Select total royalties double (rogerpacker)

How To Set Writing Goals For The New Year In Six Easy Steps (the Future of ink)\

Two Red-Flag Sentences in Publishing Contracts (Writer Beware)

We Leave You with the  No Limits Quote of the Week: (because every step counts!)