Thursday, November 26, 2015


The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord.  Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.”   (2 Chronicles 5:13)

Seekerville is closed today as we celebrate the Thanksgiving Day holiday with our families and friends. We wish you and yours a special day dedicated to reminding us of our many blessings.
Please join us here again tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

with guest Helen Gray.

In January I dived into the Indie Ocean. Oh, my, what a BI-I-I-I-I-G place this is! 

I started rowing by publishing two books. Row, row.

In the spring I contracted with Forget-Me-Not Romances, a publishing company run by Cindy Hickey, and published four more. 

Row, row, row, row.

The first of October I had a novella published that is to be part of a state flower collection next spring. Row.  

This past week I published a three book series. I did them myself, but Cindy designed my covers. Row, row, row.

I am working on another novella. Row.

I have some more stand-alone manuscripts on my hard drive that I plan to rework into a series. Row, row, row.

And that’s how indie publishing works. I’m too far out in the middle of the ocean to turn back, so I just keep rowing.

Things That Have Worked For Me

1. As a former accounting teacher, I treated indie publishing as a business from the beginning. The first concept in accounting is to not mix personal and business funds. With my very first advance money from my Heartsong series, I opened a separate account. I had a little seed money left in it when the line was cut, and I determined that I would operate—sink or swim—on that capital. I keep receipts for everything from computer repairs, paper and ink, to conference expenses and postage. I also keep a record of all revenue, have a sales tax license, and submit a quarterly payment. This information is compiled into a Schedule C at tax time. I have practiced fiscal responsibility and am slowly seeing my efforts rewarded.

2. I had done my homework about manuscript preparation, covers, and formatting—I wrote about it in my last post—and am rowing along with those. I’ve had my covers designed for me—and have had favorable reactions to them.

3. I’ve done series rather than stand-alone books. We’re told by the veterans to do this. Getting people invested in a series builds a following.
A Christmas Potpourri

4. The biggest success I’ve had has probably been getting included in some boxed set collections. I’m in a Christmas collection, a contemporary collection that has been at or near the top of the bestseller list for the past several weeks, another contemporary collection, and a historical collection

I also have sets of my own historical series and contemporary series. KU is good for these because readers buy a batch of stories (inexpensively) and produce a high pages read count. In addition to reaching a wide audience, they help author rankings and build teamwork. I’ve read predictions that this trend might change—but for now I’m in and ready for more.

5. Another thing that has been successful for me is print books. No, they don’t sell on Amazon. But I sell enough print copies locally to pay my up-front expenses. Since I have been asked how I sell them, I’ll try to describe my process .

Because Wal Mart stocked my Heartsong books, had me do book signings, and sold about 200 copies of each of those three books, I have some readers who have told me they want copies any time I have books released.

 Last Friday afternoon I received my order of 60 copies each of my new three book series. I immediately went to the library, scheduled book signings, gave them a complimentary set, and sold a set to the head librarian. The next morning I delivered 5 sets to the funeral home (the two co-owners buy copies for themselves and their daughters), 5 sets to Wal Mart (clerks who met me at the store signings and always want them), and two sets to the Dollar Store (clerks with standing orders). 

The next day (Sunday) I delivered twelve sets to church members after church on the parking lot. Yesterday I sold three sets at the library. Last night we ate at the local restaurant, and I sold four sets while there, depleting the bag I have started keeping in my car. This morning I sold three sets at the library, then went to the beauty shop and sold three more sets. Then I got groceries and had a lady in the store ask for a set. When I got home, a lady from a neighboring town who had already bought a set called and asked for two more sets for Christmas gifts. I think I have a dozen copies each left. I never planned to become a peddler, but it seems to have evolved into that. Are you getting the idea?

Things That Have Not Worked For Me

I STINK, STINK, STINK at social media and would starve to death if I had to make a living at selling. So lack of promotion skills is the failure that makes me less than an ideal candidate for indie publishing. 

I can’t remember to update my web page. I created a Twitter account, but can’t think to tweet, or of anything to tweet about. As for Facebook, I only think to post when I have books out or something major is happening within the family. (I can’t imagine anyone being interested in whether I clipped my toenails or bought groceries this week.)

I set up a newsletter on my web page, but have collected only a few subscribers.
I’ve been approached about a couple of speaking engagements, but they haven’t materialized yet. I don’t solicit them.  

I have done some posting to FB groups, but I haven’t seen any significant results from them. I haven’t been consistent, though, so I need to keep trying.

What I've Learned From These Experiences

Paid ads are good! 

I’ve copied lists of promo groups from various postings, joined them, and have culled them as I’ve learned which ones suit my needs best. These groups are primarily for free promotion and reviews. If you’re looking for such lists, you might like this link where Sherri Wilson Johnson shares her marketing spreadsheet. It is a list of groups, with membership numbers, and any stipulations for posting. And here is an interactive list of book promo sites.

The paid promo sites tend to require a certain number of reviews before you can purchase an ad. For me it is TOUGH to get those first reviews when the new book is just out—unheard of and unheralded. I’m still working on the ten I need for Bootheel Bride so I can buy an ENT (Ereader News Today) ad. I’ve heard others talk about having difficulty getting accepted, but so far I’ve never been turned down when I’ve applied for an ad.

ENT is the only paid ad site I’ve used, but I assume the process is similar with others. To apply for an ad, simply go to their submission form and provide info and links relevant to the book you want to promote. State your preferred date for a promotion and whether you’re willing to accept alternate dates. 

The cost of such an ad varies with the genre and book price. You can view those prices here. The other paid ad site I’ve heard a lot about is Bookbub, but it’s much pricier.
Making the first book of a series free for a particular time can result in sales of the other books, but .99 ads also work. I’m still experimenting with both.

I also have learned to ask questions. The CIA (Christian Indie Authors), a private FB group for Christian indie and hybrid authors to discuss writing, publishing, and marketing, is a valuable resource if you’re considering taking this route.  

Suggestions for Staying on Track as an Indie

1. Remember that indie publishing is a marathon. It’s not for the quitter. 

2. Treat it like a job, with you as the boss. Go to work every day, and write or edit your daily goal. Set your deadlines and meet them. Only YOU can do it.

3. Keep the quality of your work high. Always strive for improvement.

4. Don’t blame others when things don’t work. The load lands squarely on your shoulders. Do it—or quit.

5. Share information. In traditional publishing, no one talks facts and figures. Indies share what works and what doesn’t for them. And much more.

6. Be flexible. Life happens. For instance, these past several weeks have been very stressful for me because of a personal situation, making it hard to be creative. So I have pushed ahead with editing/publishing tasks and only written when I could relegate the stressful issue to the back of my brain. It doesn’t produce as much word count, but work still gets done.  

7. Work, work, work. All the time. Persevere. Don’t lose momentum. Row, row, row!!! Write another book.


I may not be a top best-selling author, but I’m building my business and working my way upward. 

I have control.

I make mistakes—correct them—and learn from them.

I’m rowing along, gaining in earnings, and enjoying the ride. I like being in control, having access to information. It’s scary at times—and a lot of hard work and struggles. But the control, freedom, and perpetual earnings possibility outweigh those things.
Row, row, row!!!

The question I’m wrestling with now is about writing in multiple genres. If I publish in another genre, should I use my own name? A pen name? Forget it?

Also, I would appreciate any helpful suggestions you can offer to make social media easier for me. 

Give me your thoughts.

As a giveaway, I’m making Bootheel Bride free today. Help yourself. If you enjoy it, a review would be appreciated.

Returning to the Bootheel is Bittersweet for Jessie Stevens.

When she and her brother come back to the home they fled years earlier, they find Gabe Kirby, their neighbor who was kind to Jessie as a girl, guarding the farm. 

Successful cotton farmer Gabe remembers Jessie fondly from childhood, but the grown up Jessie takes his breath away. He thought his life would be devoted to helping others and would not include marriage, but now he questions that. Can he convince her--and himself--that they can find happiness together?

Bootheel Bachelor

Jason Stevens is a Bad Risk for Marriage

Fear of repeating his father's abusive behavior toward his mother has him convinced he will live his life as a bachelor. As a Missouri Highway Patrolman, he certainly doesn't need the complications of fiery Veda, the sister of the man his sister married, stirring up his emotions. 

All young widow Veda wants is to start over and run a business of her own, in a location distant from the Kirby family's illegal activities. 

Can these two opposites find common ground and happiness together?

Bootheel Betrothal

Lynn Buchanan is Looking for Her Birth Mother.  
After losing her parents and learning she is adopted, Lynn travels to the SE section of Missouri known as the bootheel to search for her mother. When she tangles with handsome Mitch Stratton, her plans and dreams are thrown into a tailspin. 

Mitch must focus on keeping his cotton gin operating and providing jobs for his employees. Meeting the newfound sister of his best friend is a complication to his plans—and his heart.

Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. While working alongside her husband in his ministry, she had three children, taught school, directed/accompanied church music programs, and became an amateur ventriloquist. Now retired, with the children gone from the nest, she and her supportive husband still live in their native Missouri Ozarks where he roams the woods, hunts and fishes, and she weaves stories meant to honor God and depict Christian lives and problems as she knows and observes them. Helen thanks God for the time and opportunity to write, and considers it an added blessing if her stories touch others in even a small way.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Perfect Place to Write

Sandra here with a steaming pot of chocolate velvet coffee and some lovely hot chocolate with whipped cream. Come chat and let’s talk about the best place to write.

Bigstock photo

Years ago, when I took a sabbatical from teaching and wrote some novels, I arranged my life to what I thought was the perfect set up for writing. My office was pristine, quiet and I had all day to myself. I had cleared all responsibilities, hubby was at work all day and I had no interruptions.

Guess what?  It was horrible. All of a sudden I had nothing to write about. I wasted an incredible amount of time. With no structure and responsibilities, time can just dwindle away. You know the old adage: "If you want something to get done, ask a busy person." Well in my case that is true.

Right now, hubby and I are taking advantage of our good health and our freedom and are living in our RV.  The kicker is, we are staying in an RV Resort for 55 plus and it is only 17 miles from our house.  Is that hysterical?  We get the strangest looks when all the other residents from Canada, The Pacific Northwest, the Northern Midwest, etc. ask us where we are from.   (btw we call them snowbirds)

A Tower Point snowbird dressed for Halloween party

Well our response is “We don’t go home because there are chores.” There is yard work at home and none in the RV resort. (Okay, I might have to sweep off the patio once in awhile) It takes four to six hours to clean the house. And something about the motorhome being a vehicle, hubby helps clean it. Once a week, we invite someone over and then he pitches in and we have a clean motorhome in less than half an hour.

Goldfish pond in the entrance way to Tower Point RV Resort

And the other response is, “This place is like Disneyland for adults.”  And it is.  There are hundreds of activities here. We could participate in one every hour 24/7 and still not do everything.  But Tower Point RV Resort is really a fun place to be. Check it out. Click on the webpage and see the list. Now doesn’t that sound like a hoot?

So you might ask, “How on earth do you get any writing done?” Surely if you live there, you aren’t going to have time to write.

Well, actually, living here stimulates my writing.

For one thing, I save hours a day by not having to drive to places. I bicycle to the pickleball courts, which saves me forty five minutes every day. (Forty five minutes to write)

Pickleball courts, Bocce ball and horse shoes in the back.

I bicycle to the pool and spa every day, which is only a block away. From my house it is a two-mile bicycle ride one way to the YMCA. So that saves me an hour.

I have my choice of three or four Bible studies and I can pick a time I don’t like to write, like the evening. And I don’t have to drive there either.

With all this free time, residents get involved in a lot of philanthropic activities. There are drives for all kinds of charities. One of my favorites is Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan Purse. You fill shoeboxes with gifts for children and Samaritan Purse sends them all over the world. I have been doing this for years. One of the residents here collects the boxes so that saves me the time that I used to take to find a drop off center and the long trip there to deliver the shoe boxes.

I go to crafts workshops and make my Christmas presents instead of having to go out and spend hours shopping. (I really dislike shopping btw). Right now I’m taking stain glass workshops and am making some lovely stained glass window hangings for Christmas.  (Sure hope my family doesn’t read this blog. LOL)

I still can't believe I made this - smile

And there are always happy hours, social activities, programs, plays, and just visiting with the people around here.

They have live bands and dancing by the pool every evening

So guess what?  I have more time to write.  And I have tons to write about because all of these people from so many different places have really interesting life stories and do they ever love to talk about them. Every time there is an event, we meet more people.

Living in an RV resort is not only great for writing but it also is great for reading. The time savers I use for writing, are great times to read. One of our Seeker friends, Marianne Barkman and her mother are snowbirds from Canada and they fly south to stay in a Senior Resort similar to the one we are in. In fact, hubby and I stayed at her resort, Pueblo El Mirage  for a short visit last spring.

Here is what Marianne told me:  I would have to say that many of the things Sandra has pointed out about the RV community being a great place to write also holds true for me as a reader. Although I don't get inspired in quite the same way as a writer does, in a close community of active seniors, mostly, I get lots of book recommendations from my friends and since where I am, we have an extensive library, as well as access to more, I have found many new authors. Having less responsibilities in the way of housework and yard work helps. There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting in the sun with a good book and a cup of coffee, chatting with friends as they walk by.

Marianne reading in her lovely park model home.

So what is the perfect set-up for you to write?  What is the perfect set-up for you to read?

In reality, we all have to make it work where we are at, don’t we?  Hubby wants to be in an RV resort, so I look for the good side and I found it.

An Arizona sunsset at Tower Point RV Resort

When I was working, I used to write in the morning before work and then take the bus to work and edit what I wrote while riding the bus. That saved time and it made the commute into the city much more interesting.

Hubby is a night owl and likes to stay up late at night. Because of that, he loves to nap in the afternoon. This is the perfect time for me to write. It is quiet. I have been stimulated with good exercise and fellowship. And I get right to it. (no pun intended - smile)

So let’s talk about other ways to set up the perfect writing situation.

What works for you?

What doesn’t work?

Those who comment and share will have their names put in the cat dish to win a surprise package from Arizona.

This surprise package is to celebrate my latest release: Love's Dream Song which is available on Amazon and is set in Arizona's amazing color country. A second winner will receive an ebook or print copy of Love's Dream Song.

Before you go, Sandra wants to jump up on her soapbox for a minute. Christmas is coming and I want to remind you that autographed books make delightful gifts. We are writers. We need to support our industry. Go to your local author groups and get signed books to give as gifts. If you see an author's book in the store that you know, buy it for a friend. Support the authors in your community and buy their books as gifts. A book is a priceless gift. It not only is a lovely present to unwrap, but it opens up a whole new world for your family members and friends. Happy shopping.

Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tigger, The Muffin Man, and Me

By Pam Hillman

Tigger bounced into the front office, hand outstretched, an infectious grin on his face. “How are you today, Ms. Johnnie?”

The receptionist couldn’t help but respond to his energetic step, his jovial manner, and his wide grin. He even kind of looked like a Tigger. He was tall and lanky and middle-aged, and just bouncy. But the similarity ended there. He was a cardboard box salesman.

But he acted like a Tigger, and he brought a smile to the entire office as he peddled his wares. And over the years it became apparent that he wasn’t friendly and bouncy and interested in us just to sell boxes. No-siree!

He genuinely cared about people.

These two adorable babies aren't Tigger, but goodness, if anything reminds me of Tigger, they do!

One time my husband had a life-threatening injury that kept him in the hospital for ten days. Tigger dropped by the office while I was out. He was so concerned for my husband (whom he had never met), that he got the number to the hospital and called to check on us. You don’t forget Tiggers like that. I haven’t seen Tigger in several years, but I will never forget him, and I’ll always think of him as Tigger, and when I do, I will smile.

The Muffin Man was another one of our favorite salesmen. I dubbed him The Muffin Man because he brought us to-die-for muffins from The Beagle Bagel Café.


They were the size of dinner plates and so moist, they just melted in your mouth. One would hold you all day…if you could manage to stop at just one. If The Muffin Man visited in the morning, forget about lunch. I just skipped the healthy stuff altogether and ate a Beagle Bagel Café blueberry muffin with a fresh-brewed cup of coffee. Yum!

The Muffin Man shared pictures of his beautiful daughters, his latest hunting escapades, and his turkey calls and always asked about my boys. Eventually we got around the purpose of his visit, talking about stainless steel.

Good men, good salesmen who took the time to get to know their customers, who sometimes came bearing gifts, and always came bearing smiles, the gift that keeps on giving.

I’ve met more Tiggers, Muffin Men, and friendly Winnie the Pooh types over the years, but I’ve met a few Eeyore types as well. Don’t get me wrong, Eeyore is so cute and cuddly, and we want to fix him, and make him feel better about life.

But in real life, having an Eeyore around who never, ever has a good thing to say about anything would put a damper on things for sure. I don’t know about you, but I like to be encouraged. A bit of encouragement goes a long way. But on the flip side, discouragement and a toxic attitude does as well.

The very un-remarkable un-memorable salesman who replaced Tigger was the exact opposite of Tigger. He talked slow, he walked slow, and he acted like he was selling something as bland and unappetizing as a cardboard box. Well, he was selling boxes, but still, he was the closest thing to an Eeyore salesman that I’ve ever seen. I literally dreaded to see him coming. No personality, no excitement about anything. Just ho-hum, do ya wanna-buy-a-box boring.

Now, I’ll be honest. Having a hard-core Tigger bouncing around me all the time would drive me insane, but on the flip side, I’d go bonkers and have to be in a strait-jacket with Eeyore as a side-kick as well. In the words of Goldilocks, I relate more to someone with a “just right” personality. Maybe someone more like Pooh Bear.

If our attitude is so easily swayed in one direction or another by someone else, then it stands to reason that others react to our attitude the same way. One character can be swayed by another. Our readers can be swayed by our characters. A good story has a well-rounded cast of characters, some Tiggers, Eeyores, Pooh Bears, Piglets, and even a few Muffin Men. Are the Tiggers in your story that way simply because it’s his personality? Is there an underlying reason Eeyore seems depressed all the time?

Those characters need concrete reasons for being that way. So give ‘em reasons. And your readers will love your stories just as much as they love Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Weekend Edition

This weekend we're going back into the archives for some of our favorite inspirational writerly quotes to make you smile. There's also two bags of reads to give away to a reader and/or writer-two winners. Leave a comment with your favorite inspirational quote this weekend.

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.

Weekend Edition celebrating the release of Myra Johnson's new Love Inspired contemporary romance, Rancher for the Holidays. Winner is Heidi Robbins. 

On Monday  Janet Dean talked about alpha heroes, those hard-nosed, strong-minded, dangerous men that are fun to write. But when they threaten the heroine, readers are likely to be upset. And the heroine can't fall in love with a jerk. Janet shared some tips for softening the alpha hero in her post “Tips for Making the Alpha Hero Lovable.” Marianne Barkman is the winner of The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption, LIH, January 2016.

  USA TODAY bestselling author, Rachel Hauck returned to Seekerville Tuesday, with her post, "The Beauty of the Reader." This was release day for The Wedding Chapel!   To celebrate the release of this RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 Star Top Pick there are copies to give away! Breeze Henke is the winner of a print copy and Rachel McDaniel is the winner of an ecopy!

  Debby Giusti promised something intriguing with her  Wednesday blog post "Mission Impossible."  KC Frantzen is the winner of her latest release, Person of Interest, along with a surprise gift.

Thursday we we're delighted to welcome back New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell to Seekerville. She shared a thoughtful post, "Imperfect People. Imperfect Christians." The two winners of their choice of an ecopy of When Mountains Move or Into the Free are Vince and Terrie Coleman.

Next Week In Seekerville

Monday: When people see you coming, do they already wish you were going? Pam Hillman talks about the Tiggers and Eeyores in our lives and how to be an encourager in spite of our Eeyore tendencies.

Tuesday: Sandra Leesmith will talk about the "Perfect Place to Write."  Join her and discuss what works for you. Commenters will receive a surprise box of Arizona goodies in honor of her latest release, Love's Dream Song.

Wednesday: Helen Gray is back in Seekerville today, with her post,"Row, Row, Row Your Boat." The keeper of the coffee urn has been busy and she's got a new series out. One commenter can win a copy of Bootheel Bride, the first book in that series.

Thursday: Seekerville is Closed to Give Thanks

Friday: Best of the Archives: Featuring Myra Johnson and a reprise of her December 2009 post on staying motivated during the busy holiday season. Comments are closed so you can enjoy a day of reading, writing, or whatever is on your agenda.

Seeker Sightings

"Come on, Jack, I dare you ..." And Julie Lessman dares YOU to check out the website page for her new contemporary, Isle of Hope, where you will find celebrity pix for her hero and heroine, Jack O'Bryen and Lacey Carmichael, reviewer's quotes, book quotes, excerpts, the first chapter of Isle of Hope, AND a contest to have a character named after you in her next book, along with a signed copy. So here's the ISLE OF HOPE link, and GOOD LUCK!!


Random News & Information

Congratulations to the 2015 ACFW First Impressions Finalists (with a special shout out to Seekerville friends Janet Ferguson, Susan Hollaway, Jennifer Smith & Tanya Agler).

Business Musings: Getting in Touch (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)

10 Top Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Book Publicist (BookBub Partners)

A Visit to the Amazon Bookstore (Bookriot)

20 Powerful Marketing Words & Phrases That Sell or Repel (Vertical Response Blog)

The Fatal Flaw in Weak Descriptions (Jane Friedman)

 NaNoWriMo: 5 Steps to building the right SCENE FOUNDATION (MyBookTherapy)

 How to Go #BeyondMarketing on Twitter (PR By the Book)

 How to Write Through Trout Syndrome and Electric Shocks (Writer Unboxed)

 Understanding Copyrights for Anthologies (Writers in the Storm)

Writing And Editing Fiction: 7 Things To Fix In Your First Self-Edit (The Creative Penn)

10 Online Writing Tools to Make Your Experience Nice and Smooth (Where Writers Win)

Romance Writers of America is proud to announce the special speakers for RWA2016 in San Diego, California, July 13–16, 2016. Click here.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Best of the Archives: Handling the Letdowns

Myra Johnson
Myra here, welcoming you to another "Best of the Archives" Friday. Today's post originally appeared on August 12, 2008, but dealing with rejections, harsh critiques, and other writing disappointments is a fact of this life that isn't going away.

If you're struggling with how to handle your latest disappointment, I hope you'll find some encouragement in this post, along with helpful advice about facing those negative feelings and doing something positive instead.


A few weeks ago the local newspaper ran a feature describing do’s and don’ts for dealing with the breakup of a relationship. It struck me that some of these (or variations thereof) could also apply when we get a rejection, bad review, or painful contest critique. Here are Myra’s suggestions for handling the inevitable writing disappointments:
  • Do not, under any circumstances, make any life-altering decisions (such as throwing out your computer or burning all your manuscripts) until at least two weeks have passed. If you still don’t have any perspective, wait another two weeks. Or a month. Or a year.
  • Stay away from sharp objects. (Ask my kids about this one if you dare!)
  • Don’t post a YouTube video of you dissing the editor/agent/judge/reviewer.
  • Don’t send a hate e-mail or text message. Even anonymously. Tech experts have ways of finding out who you are. Just watch CSI or NCIS if you don’t believe me.
  • If you must blog about your disappointment, thoroughly disguise the details and certainly don’t name names! The Internet has a long, l-o-o-o-o-n-g memory. Better yet, avoid any kind of Internet-related commentary. Eat chocolate until the urge passes.
  • Don’t badmouth editors, agents, or fellow writers to your writers group. You will be the one who ends up looking like Miss (or Mr.) Whiny-Pants.
  • Vent only to someone you are absolutely 310% positive would never, ever reveal a confidence, even if tortured with chocolate deprivation or offered a three-book contract if only she will reveal your secrets. And then think twice about it.
  • Mailing anthrax will get you 20 years to life. Mailing chocolate makes friends. Unless it melts.
  • Don’t try to change your detractor’s mind with pleading, wheedling, begging, or threats. See chocolate advice above.
  • If you run into this person at a writers conference, be polite, friendly, and professional. Your reputation is on the line at this point, not theirs. You never know who may be watching. Like maybe the agent who was seconds away from signing you.
  • Send a gracious thank-you note, no matter how badly you’re hurting. As the Bible says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you” (Prov. 25:21-22). If not with a six-figure contract offer, at least with enough $$ to buy yourself a grande mocha latte.
Okay, readers, anything you’d add to the list? Any blunders you’d like to confess? Any public apologies you feel compelled to make, anonymously or otherwise?

While you’re thinking about it, I’ll pass around this mega-sized box of Godiva chocolates I just opened. Help yourselves . . . especially anyone I may have inadvertently whined about at some point in my career.


Comments are closed today! 
Enjoy the post and spend the day writing and reading.
- See more at:
Comments are closed today.
Enjoy the post and spend the day writing and reading!

(And if you happen to pick up one of my latest releases, 
I would be very, very happy!)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Imperfect People. Imperfect Christians.

with guest blogger Julie Cantrell.

When I was younger, I looked at the members of my church as fine, upstanding Christian folks. They were the morally upright. The light in the darkness. The clean, sober, freshly-pressed, Rated-G version of humanity. And that was the way we were all supposed to behave. Christ-like. Holy. Sinless. 

But then I grew up, and I realized that all those shiny, perfect people were not so perfect after all. Some were closet drinkers and backyard swearers. Others were wife beaters and porn addicts. A few were substance abusers. A lot were cheaters, liars, and cons. None were without sin.

Some had no more love in their hearts than the devil himself. And this realization left a sour taste in my mouth for the church. Were Christians a bunch of hypocrites? Shouting Amen on Sunday morning after all commandments had been broken the other six days of the week? If so, I wanted nothing to do with such falsities and bigotry. I turned away from the church for many years, and my stomach churned each time I’d hear a Hallelujah!

But then I grew up some more. And I came full circle. I came to realize that, yes, our pews are filled with imperfect people. We are sinners, all of us. Some drinkers, some cheaters, some liars, some abusers, but what a wonderful thing that the church opens its doors to such messy, broken, lost souls every week!

We are, in fact, broken and lost. The whole bunch of us. Even those of us who think we have it all figured out. We are seekers. We are all still searching for answers, truth, hope. For love.

As I’ve matured beyond the age during which I judged those well-intentioned hypocrites in the pews, I’ve come to accept a hard truth about myself. I’m not perfect either. I’m a sinner too. 

I may not have a porn addiction. I may not abuse drugs. I may not steal or cheat or beat my loved ones. But I fail daily to live as Christ intended us to live. I make mistakes and missteps, and for that I need a daily dose of Grace.

I do sometimes hurt people with my words, even if I don’t mean my sentences to be interpreted that way. I sometimes exaggerate, even when I intend to be completely honest. And I have been known to raise my voice when I get pushed too far. I always feel like a horrible human being when I yell at someone I love. It is horrible. It’s beyond horrible. I know better. I want to do better. But sometimes,  I yell. 

Maybe this means I have no right to sit in that pew on Sunday mornings at the Oxford University United Methodist Church. Maybe that bad word I let slip last week is enough to have me banned. Maybe that comment I made to my best friend tilted just a little too much into the realm of gossip, and for that, I have no right to call myself a Christian. Maybe that second scoop of ice cream made me a glutton. Yes, I’m sure. It did.

Where do we draw the line? 

I want and I NEED to be in that pew not because I am perfect. But because I am IMPERFECT. I am flawed and flailing and I need all the help I can get as I carry this little soul through this great big world. 

Life is hard, and if it hasn’t swept the floor out from under you yet, just wait. It will. Why?
Because that’s what this journey is about. We suffer. And in the suffering, we discover our true selves. We ache and we lose and we grieve and we struggle, and it is in that horrifically painful crucifixion of our souls that we get to choose. We can choose God (love), and therefore be redeemed. Renewed. Reborn. Or we can chose hate (evil), in which case we stay lost. Dead. Empty.

To every lying, cheating, stealing, drinking, drugging, gambling, back-talking, foul-mouthed, hateful-hardened soul, I hope to see you in church this Sunday. And I hope you’ll choose love. 

And to all you perfect people who never have sinned, I hope you’ll welcome us there with a great, big soulful Hallelujah. And I hope you’ll chose love, too.


Let’s chat: How has your view of the church changed throughout your life? Have you ever been discouraged by the church community? Encouraged? Do you view organized religion in a positive or negative light? Why?

Today Seekerville is honored to give two readers the chance to read their choice of an ecopy of Into the Free or When Mountains Move. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

In January, The Feathered Bone releases. You can preorder it today!

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They're soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She has contributed to more than a dozen books in addition to her two children’s books and award-winning novels.

Her debut novel, Into the Free, received the Christy Award for Book of the Year (2013) as well as the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. It earned a rare starred review by Publishers Weekly and was selected as one of five finalists for the University of Mississippi Common Reading Experience 2014. It also was selected as a Best Read of the year by LifeWay, USA TODAY, and many bookclubs. 

Cantrell’s sophomore novel, When Mountains Move, is the sequel to her debut. Since its release in September 2013, it has been named a 2013 Best Read by LifeWay, was shortlisted for several awards, and won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will release January 2016.

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