Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Weekend Edition

Our library pouch winners are: 

Weekend: DebH
Monday: Jamie Adams
Tuesday: Heidi Robbins
Wednesday: Ms. Zey Zey
Thursday:  Pat Jeanne Davis
Friday: Kav
Saturday: Kelly Bridgewater

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. 

Winner of a set of the Historical & Contemporary Collection of With This Kiss is Tracey Hagwood.

Monday Missy Tippens celebrated National Library Week! The theme of the week is  Unlimited possibilities @ your library! Miss shared about Unlimited Possibilities in our writing. Winner of one digital copy of her upcoming Love Inspired book, The Doctor's Second Chance, is Donna. Winner of an Amazon e-book copy of With This Kiss Contemporary Collection is Kav and winner of the With This Kiss Historical Collection is Bettie.

Tuesday Myra Johnson talked about her experiences using library programs for book promotion. She shared some of the things she's learned about working with libraries, including what works and what doesn't. Becky (OhioHomeSchool) is the winner of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection, which includes Myra's novella Settled Hearts.

Wednesday Debby Giusti  discussed Brainstorming--A Great Tool for Writers, with information on both group and solo brainstorming techniques.  Becky Dempsey is the winner of Debby's latest Love Inspired Suspense, Stranded, along with a surprise gift.

Thursday  Victoria Bylin visited to say she wouldn't be an author today without libraries. Hallee Bridgeman and Patti Jo Moore (CatMom) are the winners of Victoria's latest release Together With You.

Friday Seekerville welcomed author Julie Jarnigan! She shared about "The Organized Writer." Rhonda is the winner an e-copy of Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog !  Two winners of With This Kiss, Historical and Contemporary Collections are Beth Writes and Martha Fouts.

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday:Love Inspired Historical author Janet Dean will talk about ways to up the emotion in your stories as she revisits her post “Seven Tools to Add Emotion to your Writing.” Leave a comment for a chance to win With This Kiss historical and contemporary novella collections. That's two winners, one for each collection.

Tuesday: Bethany House author and marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy Melissa Tagg will talk “the talk” with her post “Tips to Take Your Dialogue to the Next Level.“ Stop by for a chance to win Melissa’s latest book, From the Start.

Wednesday: Seekerville is delighted to welcome Heartsong Presents author Karen Fleming back with her post, "Romancing Your Readers Like a Romantic Comedy." And what could be better than a great read (Karen's latest release, Her Hometown Reporter)  and a Starbuck's beverage? Stop by and you could win both!

Thursday: Today we welcome back award winning author Melanie Dickerson, with her post, "Anatomy of an Edit." And one lucky commenter will win her new release from Thomas Nelson, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. 

Friday: Author and editor Sandie Bricker is our special guest today. Sandy brings a very special announcement to Seekerville. Of course the prize vault is open!

Seeker Sightings

You've Got Mail! Tina Radcliffe's 12th Sale to Woman's World Magazine is available now!

Award winning author Debby Giusti will be one of sixty authors hosting tables at Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Luncheon, on April 25, in Milwaukee, WI. The afternoon will be filled with fun, gift bags full of books and door prizes, plus lots of raffle drawings for author baskets. NYT best seller Tess Gerritsen is the keynote speaker and a mega-signing follows that’s open to the public. Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Cancer Society. Debby will also attend the Friday evening Author Q&A, at 6:30 PM, that's open to the public.

Every weekend for the rest of April, 
we're giving away a set (one  copy of each) of With This Kiss-Historical & Contemporary Collections

 Just say you want  one!

Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

 Missy Tippens is taking part  in a Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt,  April 16-19! More info at her blog!

Mary Connealy will be speaking at the Clive, Iowa Library. Clive is a suburb of Des Moines. The library address is 1900 NW 114th St. Clive, Iowa. Phone # 515-453-2221.
She will be speaking at 6:00 pm, Tuesday, April 21st, about what made her start writing to begin with and where she gets her ideas. A bookstore will be there to sell books and Mary will be delighted to sign them.

Random News & Information 

(Contributed by Seekers & Villagers)

Getting Self-Published Books into Public Libraries (PW)

 How Do You Stay Productive Working from Home? (Inkthinker)

Business Musings: The Hard Part (Kristine Kathryn Rusch) 

 A Simple Way to Create Suspense by Lee Child (NYT)

Readers are Smart—Respect What They Bring to Books (The Editor's Blog)

Envisioning a Colorado Haven for Readers, Nestled Amid Mountains of Books (NYT)

The Best & Worst Writing Advice (Writers in the Storm)

How Typing is Destroying Your Memory (The Passive Voice)

Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promo That Actually Works (Whimsydark)

How To Write a Fabulous Proposal by Emily Rodmell (EHarlequin)

 ‘They,’ the Singular Pronoun, Gets Popular (WSJ)

And some Happily Ever After for you here.

That's it. Here's our #NOLimits Quote of the Week:

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Organized Writer

Hello, everyone! Julie Jarnagin here. 

We all have seasons in our lives when we’re B-U-S-Y, and I’m there right now. I have a one-year-old boy and a six-year-old boy, a full-time job in marketing, and book deadlines. On top of that, my husband and I decided to put our house on the market and build a new one. Next on our list of things to do is to get our heads checked out because I think we’ve lost our minds. 

But we’ve all been there--when we feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day.
I’ve always loved learning about time management and productivity (it’s one of my many nerdy quirks), and during this time in my life, I’ve been able to really put the things I’ve learned to the test. 

Here are some of my favorite tips, the ones that have really worked, for getting more done.  

1.    Establish good habits

We don’t realize it, but a lot of what we do each day is determined by our habits. When you woke up this morning, what did you do first? Shower, brush your teeth, put on your shoes? Did you put on the right shoe or left shoe first? We do all these things without even thinking about them. Have you ever taken a wrong turn because you were on auto-pilot and headed down the road to your house or to work by mistake?

Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply train ourselves to do the things that are most important to us--be healthier, write that book, get organized. But changing our habits or creating new habits is hard! Just ask anyone who made a New Year’s Resolution this year. 

One of my favorite tools for managing my time is using mini habits. What are mini habits? They’re tiny daily goals that can help us establish positive routines in our lives. Here are a few of my current mini habits. 

*    Make our bed
*    Write ten minutes each day
*    Read one chapter of the Bible
*    Drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning

They sound easy, right? That’s the reason behind them! They’re supposed to be small enough to not be intimidating. I don’t have to get my entire book edited today. I just have to work on it for ten minutes. But do you know what usually happens? Once I get started, I end up spending way more time than ten minutes on it.

And after I made my bed this morning, I figured I might as well pick up the dirty socks too. Do you see how they work? I definitely need to write more than ten minutes per day to meet my June deadline and I always drink more than one glass of water per day, but these mini habits get my day started right. If I have a busy day, I may actually only finish ten minutes, and that’s enough to keep my momentum going for the next day. Does ten minutes sound like a lot to you? Start with only three minutes.

Some other mini habits you could try are:

*    Do 10 push ups (or sit ups or jumping jacks) each day
*    Walk around the block
*    Read a craft book for 10 minutes a day
*    Choose one thing in your home to give away each day
*    Write down the things you eat each day

That last point leads us to #2 on our list.

2. Write it down

I love a good to-do list, or any list for that matter, but this is about more than writing down your grocery list. Only about 3% of adults have clear, written goals. This means 97% of us are walking around with no goals, even though it’s scientifically proven that we would accomplish more if they were written down. There’s just something powerful about putting it on paper.
But it’s not only your goals that you should write down. Track your progress toward those goals on paper. A recent study showed that people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. Again--there’s power in writing things down. 

If you’re like me and you geek out on this stuff, you may be tempted to make a big fancy spreadsheet with way too many columns. Don’t! Keep it simple. A list of goals taped to your desk and a notebook beside your computer where you track your daily word count or time spent with your rear end in the chair will do the trick. 

3.    Do the hard stuff first

There’s a great book by Brian Tracy titled Eat that Frog. In the book Tracy explains that your "frog" is your biggest, most important task. It’s that thing on your list that you know is a priority in your life but you still seem to procrastinate on it. 

We know we should write that synopsis or finish that proposal the agent requested at conference, but it just seems too big and scary. What if it isn’t good enough? It’s easier to check social media or put in another load of laundry. Resist the temptation to begin with the small things first. When you sit down to write, “eat that frog!”

If you’d like to get more productivity and time management tips sent right to your inbox, sign up for my Girls’ Guide to Getting More Done Newsletter 

So what’s your best tip for getting it all done? And if you had to choose one mini habit to start today, what would it be? 

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.


 The first book in the Taste of Texas series, The Art of Falling, is available for pre-order on iBooks and will be released on April 21.
Heather Tornsten needs a man…a celebrity, more specifically, for a fundraising gala for the Dallas art museum, where she works. And what better headliner than bull rider Wyatt Lawrence? Although why people idolize grown men who make their living falling off animals, she’ll never understand.

When his mom was diagnosed with cancer, Wyatt determined to focus on doing what she wants—like visiting some art museum. But when his mom teams up with Heather Tornsten to get him involved in a fundraiser, he knows he’s been set up. The more involved he gets with the pretty events coordinator, the more he realizes falling off a bull is far safer. Because falling for Heather–who has made it clear that she won’t risk her heart on any man who courts danger–might break a whole lot more than his bones.

In addition to our #LibraryMade drawing today, Seekerville is giving away an ecopy of Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog to one commenter. Let us know you want it! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Tribute to Libraries

Victoria Bylin

By Victoria Bylin

I wouldn’t be an author today without the benefit of public libraries. How many of you feel the same way? I bet a lot of us do. In honor of National Library Week, I thought it would be fun to share some memories and ask a few questions that we can all answer.

1. What was the first book you ever checked out of the library? I was only five when my mom took me to the Granada Hills branch of the Los Angeles Public Library for the first time. I came home with a treasure called Peanuts the Pony. It was square with thick library binding, tattered pages, and pictures of Peanuts with his friends. So cute! The first chapter book I ever checked out was about a pioneer girl named Caroline. That book started my love of westerns.

2. As a child or teenager, did you have a favorite series? What was it? The Black Stallion books by Walter Farley are at the top of my list. I read the first one about twenty times. I also enjoyed the Clara Barton books, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and . . . if you’re a western reader you know what’s coming . . . The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Granada Hills Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library
3. When you visit the library, which section do you hit first? The new releases are usually in front, so I check those out right away. After that, I head for the fiction section. Sometimes I start with “A” and work my way through the alphabet; other times I’ll pick an aisle and start wandering. I like the nonfiction section too, but I don’t browse it like my husband does.

4. What’s the biggest overdue fine you’ve ever paid? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve messed up a few times. The worst was in the neighborhood of $30 for multiple books. It was just one of those weeks, and with two kids, we had a lot of books out on multiple library cards.

5. What’s your best library or library-related memory? This happened at my first RWA conference in Denver 2002. I was wearing my RWA badge with my pink “First Sale” ribbon, standing in line with the crowd for the literacy signing. The woman in front of me looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. We started chatting and it clicked. She worked at my local library back in northern Virginia. Small world!

6. Do you have an all-time favorite library? Tough choice! If I go with the “bigger is better” philosophy, I’d have to pick the Central Library here in Lexington, Kentucky. It’s beautiful with a pendulum, rotunda and ceiling clock. On the other hand, the itty-bitty four-aisle library in Frazier Park, California met my reading needs for eight years. Big or small, I love them all.

Main Library Lexington KY
7. Tell us about a moment of discovery at the library. I’ll never forget the moment I discovered Section 808.11 at the George Mason branch of the Fairfax Co. Public Library in Annandale, Virginia. I was working on my first-ever ms (it later became West of Heaven published by Harlequin Historicals) when I realized I didn’t have a clue how to move past chapter three. The library catalog directed me to the craft book section. Lo and behold! There were dozens of books about writing. The first one I checked out was Jack Bickham’s The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. It changed my life. I devoured everything in that section, but Mr. Bickham’s book was the one that opened my eyes the widest.

8. Did you ever want to be a librarian? Oh, definitely! I can’t think of a more wonderful place to spend the day. A big thank you to librarians everywhere. You have enriched my life more than I can begin to express!

Those are my favorite memories. How about you? When you hear “library,” what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing  for one of two giveaway copies of Victoria's latest release Together With You.
Click to Buy
Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?
Victoria Bylin is a romance writer known for her realistic and relatable characters. Her books have finaled in multiple contests, including the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and RT Magazine's Reviewers Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky, where their family and their crazy Jack Russell terrier keep them on the go. Learn more at

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Brainstorming – A Great Tool for Writers!

By Debby Giusti

Have you looked in your tool box recently? If so, I hope you found a very important tool for writers, namely brainstorming.  

Brainstorming works on the premise that two heads are better than one. Articulating ideas without a censor overrides the negative voices within and allows creativity free rein. It also feeds into the quantity leads to quality theory that I mentioned in my March blog with the ceramics’ class example from Art and Fear (David Bayles and Ted Orland, 1993).

American advertising executive Alex Osborn developed the technique in the 1940s, and since then, brainstorming has been used in business boardrooms, in academia, in the arts and even in the world of romance novels to generate a wide range of new ideas. Known as the Father of Brainstorming, Osborn eventually published his technique in 1953, in a book titled, Applied Imagination, which is still considered a leading work on creativity.

What's in your tool box?

According to Osborn, an important key to success was to “hold back criticism until the creative current has had every chance to flow.” He believed that a greater input of ideas led to a better final solution and encouraged thinking outside the box to free the imagination and open new avenues of thought so innovative solutions could be achieved.

The amazing writers in the class I host in my local community are
hard at work. First they brainstorm a story and then do hands-on
exercises that apply the lessons taught to the storyline they created.
I first learned about brainstorming in a high school leadership group of which I was a member. Our advisor introduced the technique and walked us through a few practice sessions. I quickly saw the benefit of pooling ideas, unleashing creativity in a non-threatening environment and working together to achieve a goal. The process was energizing and often electric as we shouted out our ideas and saw how we could build on previously mentioned suggestions to achieve a creative solution to the problem or question posed. The technique worked, and we used brainstorming to come up with everything from homecoming themes to strategies to enhance student participation in extracurricular activities.

Chocolate always improves creativity!
Fast forward many, many years to when I joined Georgia Romance Writers and came in contact with published authors for the very first time. Until then, I had thought writers worked alone with little or no input from others.  You can imagine my surprise when, after a monthly Georgia Romance Writers’ meeting, I heard published authors mention their quarterly brainstorming retreats. Within that group were such notable writers as Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Nancy Knight, Virginia Ellis, Donna Ball and Deb Dixon of GMC fame.  They talked about building on one another’s ideas to end up with storylines far more satisfying than they could have created on their own.  These were successful women who, at that time, had published more than 200 books with millions of copies in print.

I should add that the six GRW authors mentioned above brainstormed their way into the publishing industry when someone in the group threw out the idea of creating a small press where Southern voices could find a home. The way I heard it, Deb Dixon discussed the feasibility of the project as they drove to the beach for a week long brainstorming retreat. By the end of the week, BelleBooks was born. 

BelleBooks Editor, Deb Smith (L), with Deb Giusti at
the Death by Chocolate Party, RWA 2015.

Seeing the Belles' success, it didn’t take me long to realize I should follow their lead. Soon thereafter, I began to meet with other GRW members to brainstorm stories. At each gathering, creativity was encouraged, and the results were amazing. Whether we were discussing our own books or someone else’s story, we all benefited from the sessions, honed our storytelling craft and became more adept at developing compelling plots and engaging character. 

These days I brainstorm the major storylines for my books with my critique partner, Heartwarming author Anna Adams. Later, I’ll fine-tune specific plot points with my family as we gather around the kitchen table or with my husband when we take our daily walks. 

So how does it work?  Here are some basic guidelines for a multi-person brainstorming session:

1.    Gather a group of folks—three to six people—who are interested in fleshing out story ideas. 
2.    Allot at least thirty minutes to brainstorm a manuscript before moving on to the next one.  Assign a timekeeper so every story gets equal time.
3.    The first writer presents a general overview of how she plans to develop her story and asks for input in certain areas.  For example, if the writer’s having trouble with character development, she might ask for character traits and motivation that would make her heroine react in a specific way.
4.    Criticism or negative comments hinder creativity and should be put on hold.
5.    The group throws out ideas, sometimes in rapid succession.  Often one comment/idea will dovetail with another or will spark a new direction for exploration.
6.    Thinking outside the box should be encouraged. 
7.    If the focus becomes skewed, the writer can redirect the discussion to a path she believes would prove more fruitful, once again, using positive comments rather than anything negative or critical.
8.    At the end of the time period, the writer reviews the suggestions she feels have merit and thanks the group for their help before the next writer takes her turn.

While I find group brainstorming sessions to be highly productive, variations of the technique can also be used for solitary use.

Free Writing

Free writing or stream of conscious comes under the brainstorming header. It’s most productive when we’re writing fast (producing a great quantity of work), not editing (holding back judgements or negative criticism) and allowing our imagination to run free, all of which we did during Speedbo. 

Clustering or Mapping

I use this technique when I need a title for one of my stories. On a large sheet of paper, I jot down a central theme or concept for the story, such as Soldier or Murder. Then I rapidly add words that somehow can be associated with either the story or key word. When I run out of ideas, I circle winning combinations and use lines to connect the various circled words that would work in a title.

Possible Titles: Military Murder, Murder on Amish Road,
Deadly Inheritance, Plain Danger and History of Death.


Listing is another brainstorming tool. Decide on two or three headers that apply to the problem needing a solution. Under each header, jot down words that come to mind, without using a filter. Don’t stop until you have 20 or more words under each header. Now draw lines between words in each column that relate. Can you find an interesting combination that provides a unique answer to the problem at hand?
Listing provided the following title suggestions:
Plain Inheritance, Antebellum Harvest, Community
of Danger, Plain Danger, Lost Treasure,
Old World Danger, Old World Inheritance,
and Lost Inheritance.
Donald Maass in, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, uses a variation of this technique in one of his exercises on story development. He asks those attending his writing workshops to write down a list of story ideas, such as an important turning points in their work in progress. The first ten ideas, or so, will be fairly commonplace, while those at the end of the list tend to be fresh and innovative. Maass suggests that the last few ideas will be unique plot points that are the hallmark of a breakout novel.

Quiet Brainstorming

Folks always like to improve on something good, and there’s lots of talk in industry circles about the downsides of brainstorming, such as participants being inhibited by others or teams moving too far off course during the sessions. To overcome those problems, some companies are inviting their teams to sit quietly with paper and pencil and come up with their own ideas during a certain period of time. The ideas are then passed on to the next person for  additional input. Eventually, the composite ideas are looked at and evaluated for merit. By combining ideas and dovetailing various concepts that overlap, a finished product can be achieved.

Whether brainstorming as a group or by yourself, the technique helps to energize your Muse and enhance your creativity. Need a place to hold your brainstorming session? Consider your local library. Reserve a private room for group sessions or find a comfy chair or nook for your own private creative time.

Leave a comment about how you use brainstorming to be entered in a drawing. I’ll be giving away a copy of my latest Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED, along with a surprise gift for the winner.

In honor of my eldest daughter’s birthday today, I’m serving an assortment of cakes and ice cream: Red Velvet, Chocolate Inside Out Cake, Devil’s Food, Pound Cake, Rum Cake and Carrot Cake along with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. The coffee and tea are hot. Enjoy!

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Leave a prayer request at my blog:


Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer.  But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever.

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Libraries and book promotion: How to make it work for you!

Myra Johnson
Since this is National Library Week, I’m reprising and updating a blog post that originally appeared here a few years ago. Why does this bear repeating? Because readers are an author’s best friend. And where do many readers hang out?

You guessed it—THE LIBRARY!

But . . . library patrons check out books for free, right? How does that help an author’s book sales?

The number one answer is . . . building your readership!

And let’s face it. We want and need those readers. Faithful readers. Readers who tell their friends what great writers we are so their family and friends will look for our books, whether in their local library or favorite bookstore.

And that leads us to the dreaded word promotion, which in turns brings us to one of the primary methods writers use to promote their books.

[Cue scary music here]


When I first dreamed of becoming a published novelist, it never occurred to me that I’d eventually be called upon to speak in front of various sized groups whose interest varied from “You are beyond fascinating!” to “Where’s the nearest exit?” 

My first few post-publication speaking gigs were for church gatherings or my local writers group, where I knew I’d be among friends. For some authors--the extroverts among us--public speaking is a breeze. Others, like introverted moi, need some encouragement.

That’s why I was very grateful after moving to the Carolinas to connect with Dora Hiers, a writer who has developed a real knack for working with area libraries to schedule author events. (Be sure to check out Dora’s guest post from November 2012.)

Although I’ve done several library programs with Dora, I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on the subject. But these experiences have brought a few things to light that I believe are worth passing along to other authors interested in braving the library circuit.

The first couple of programs I shared with Dora were author panels where each author gave a short talk describing our journey to publication, providing background about our novels, and sharing a few thoughts about writing Christian fiction. Afterward, we took questions and then visited with attendees and autographed books.

Sharing the program with one or more author colleagues definitely takes the pressure off! That’s why, when Dora asked if I’d be interested in working up joint programs for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library System Summer Reading Series, I immediately said yes. Our first was a talk on “Writing Inspirational Fiction,” and the following year we developed a program on “Creating Characters that Come Alive.” Both were repeated at numerous area libraries.

We ended our programs with Q&A, which was a great opportunity to zero in on participants’ individual needs and interests. Afterward, we stayed around for book browsing and more casual conversation. Naturally, we provided bookmarks, business cards, and plenty of chocolate, all of which helped make those valuable reader/writer connections.

Now for a summary of some of the things I’ve learned about working with libraries:

People who attend library events are avid readers.

BUT—Library patrons like to check out books, not necessarily buy them.

HOWEVER—Librarians are your friends. Get to know them and they will recommend your books to readers and suggest upcoming releases as possible library additions.

It’s fun and energizing to chat with people who are really interested in books and writing.

BUT—Turnout is unpredictable. At some events we had 10-15 or more in attendance. At one of the summer programs we had only two.

What works: Contacting libraries well in advance of your desired program dates.

What doesn’t work: Expecting the library to get you on the program calendar within a month or two. It can take several weeks to several months to get library approval.

What works: Planning ahead of time whether your program will target readers, writers, or both, and adjusting your content accordingly.

What doesn’t work:
Not clearly advertising your program as Christian or “inspirational” (if that’s the case). People have been known to walk out at the first mention of faith.

What works:
Promoting the event on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. Also ask what forms of promotion the library will be using.

What doesn’t work: Scheduling your program either too early or too late on a weeknight evening.

What works: Arriving early enough to get your table and book display set up, visit the ladies’ room, get some water, and mingle with attendees as they arrive.

What doesn’t work: Trusting your smartphone map app to send you to the right location, then arriving so close to start time that you’re flustered and out of breath. (Yes, this happened to me! App announced “You are here!” at a dead end next to an empty lot.)

What works: Giveaways (bookmarks, postcards, chocolate, etc.), newsletter signup lists, and handouts containing supplemental information related to your program.

What doesn’t work:
Sitting shyly behind your book table and waiting for people to talk to you.

What works: Interacting with attendees, asking them about their reading interests, and suggesting other authors (yes, your competition!) you think they might enjoy.

What doesn’t work: Not verifying whether the library has copies of your books in circulation.

What works: Donating a copy of your book to the library prior to or, at the latest, the day of your program.

What works: Remembering to send a thank-you note to the program organizer and mentioning your interest in working with him or her in the future.

Preparing talks and doing programs definitely takes its toll on your writing time.

BUT—in the end, it’s usually worth the sacrifice!
Have you braved the library program circuit yet? What do you like most about speaking events? What do you find most challenging?

If you’re a librarian, what advice would you offer authors interested in presenting a program to your patrons?

Join the conversation today to be entered in a drawing for The Oregon Trail Romance Collection, which includes my novella Settled Hearts. Be sure to mention in your comment if you would like to be entered in the drawing.

Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.

Settled Hearts
: 1852—Desperate to find her father in Oregon for her ill mother, Emma Clarke teams up with John Patrick, a loyal uncle who is determined to hide his niece and nephew from abusive adoptive parents. Will Emma and John find the hope they seek for their futures along the trail?


Though Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, she now enjoys living amidst the scenic beauty of the Carolinas, but she does miss real Texas beef barbecue! Empty-nesters, Myra and her husband share their home with two pampered rescue dogs. Myra's awards include the 2005 RWA Golden Heart and two ACFW Carol Award finals. When the Clouds Roll By, book 1 of the historical romance series “Till We Meet Again” (Abingdon Press), won the historical fiction category of the 2014 Christian Retailer’s Best Award. Book 2, Whisper Goodbye, and book 3, Every Tear a Memory, both received 4½-star reviews from Romantic Times. Follow Myra on Twitter at @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen, and on her Facebook author page.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Unlimited possibilities @ Your Library® … And In Our Writing

Unlimited possibilities @ Your Library® … And In Our Writing

Missy Tippens

Missy, here. I hope you’ll join us this week as we celebrate National Library Week. Here’s a bit of information taken from the ALA’s website: “First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.”

I hope you’ll all thank your local librarians for all they do!

Speaking of celebrations… We’ve just finished a month of Speedbo. Congrats to those of you who typed ANY new words, even if just a few. And I mean that heartily. Those few words are still more than you had in February. Congrats, also, to those who accomplished edits and polishing—anything you did to make your manuscript ready to submit or publish.

You know, most of us raced through that first draft or edits, creating, revising or editing. But now April is here, and I feel myself slowing a bit. Catching my breath.

Let’s not lose the drive that pushed us to increase our word count. But in honor of National Library Week, let’s also take a moment to breathe and look at possibilities.

Unlimited possibilities.

Yeah, I know. Some of you may be thinking Unlimited Possibilities isn’t much different from our Speedbo motto of No Limits. But I think it is. For me, unlimited possibilities means stopping for a moment to look at all the different directions we can go in our writing. That can be at the level of career/publishing decisions, genre decisions, novel decisions, scene decisions and other decisions (like pacing, structure, and word choice). For this post, I’m talking about plot and scene choices.

Sometimes, all those choices can be paralyzing or overwhelming. This time, though, the thought of many possibilities inspired me. I want to share something I tried a week or so ago.

For most of my writing career, I’ve done most of planning before I write. Then I use Scrivener’s corkboard feature to plan each scene. I usually work a chapter or two at a time, planning three scenes for each chapter. Then I go write those scenes. Then I go back to Scrivener to plan some more. (What I mean by “plan” is: Figure out my pov character’s scene goal, the conflict for that scene, and the change that happens whether positive or negative—ie. the temporary high or the disaster.)

But last week as I was doing major revisions on a proposal (following critique), I finished planning a chapter, then lunchtime hit. So I made my plate and came to the family room. I was going to turn on the TV to watch The Chew for a few minutes while I ate, but instead, I started thinking about the upcoming scene.

Sure, what I had planned would work fine. But what else could happen? With the term “Unlimited Possibilities” in my head, I started picturing potential scenes in my mind like a movie. And you know what? I thought of something better that could happen. I ended up going back into Scrivener and re-working my scenes and changing up the chapters. I think it’s better now.

What does unlimited possibilities mean to you?

As I was discussing this with the other Seekers, I asked for their input so I could share it in my post.

From Ruthy Logan Herne:

I look at the emotion of the moment, and how that character might react. Would he get angry first? Disappointed? A combination of the two? Will mixed emotions hassle him? Or, if he's an easy going type, does he start with a bear hug? A gentle chuck on the shoulder? So much of how the next scene goes depends on the character's arc. If he/she is wounded and has trauma in the past, this incident might stir that. And warrior types will react differently (and spin a different thread) than more thoughtful beta-types. When I let emotion drive the scene, it helps it fall into place more quickly!

From Julie Lessman:

Nothing helps me explore the direction of a scene like dialogue, and nothing helps me explore dialogue like the treadmill. Whenever I’m stuck in a scene or plot, once I get on the treadmill, it seems the dialogue/ideas start pumping along with my legs. I keep a pad and pen handy and scratch them down quickly, then continue exercising with that scene in mind. For me snippets of dialogue is key, often taking me directions I had no intention of going. In fact, the treadmill is so effective in accomplishing this, that whenever I’m stuck in my writing, Keith tells me to go downstairs and exercise. Of course I’m hoping it’s because he knows it helps ideas to flow and not that I need to lose weight. :)

From Debby Giusti:

I write a fast first draft and then slow down to revise. Often that means improving dialogue, adding better action tags and upping the emotion and suspense. The first draft gives me a framework on which to build my story. Having words on the page helps me see the holes and gaps and places that need to be reworked. Revising refines the story and leads to the finished product that’s ready for my editor’s review.

Missy again… So what about you? Do possibilities overwhelm you? I’d like to challenge you to take a moment to look at your story. Try to dig deeper. Think of other possibilities and see if you can come up with something unexpected. Don’t be afraid to make changes! You may just end up with something you like a whole lot better.

I’m so excited that I have a new book from Love Inspired coming out soon! I had so much fun with this book! It’s a fish-out-of-water story about a bachelor whose cousin leaves him stuck caring for a nearly newborn baby. He might just have to ask for help from the last person on earth he wants to talk to—the town’s new pediatrician. :)

You can read an excerpt of The Doctor's Second Chance here at my website!

GIVEAWAY! Lots of excitement this month with The Doctor’s Second Chance coming soon as well as the two With This Kiss anthologies just released! So I’d like to celebrate today by giving away one digital (e-book) copy of each (three winners). Please tell me in the comments if you’d like to be entered.

The Bachelor's Baby...

Jake West's troubled cousin leaves him with a most unusual parting gift—her newborn baby girl! And now the small-town contractor is forced to seek help from the very woman he resents—the new big-city pediatrician who practically stole his uncle's practice, Violet Crenshaw. Violet knows she shouldn't be consorting with the enemy. But she can't resist the adorable baby and her handsome new caretaker. Violet traded her chance at motherhood for her career years ago. But raising a family with Jake could be everything she's ever wanted.

Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, is the author of eight books for Harlequin Love Inspired and was nominated for a Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA®  Award. Her most recent release from Love Inspired is The Doctor’s Second Chance. Visit Missy at, and .