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"Seekerville" - 5 new articles

  1. The Weekend Edition
  2. March Contest Update
  3. BETTING ON HOPE and Putting Faith in NEW HORIZONS Along the Road to Becoming a Hybrid Author
  4. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers: Part 2
  5. Connect the Dots: Speedbo and Pickleball and No Limits
  6. Search Seekerville
  7. Prior Mailing Archive

The Weekend Edition

Speedbo Starts Tomorrow. You can do it! We believe in you.

You can sign up now through March 31st by sending an email to with your personal goal listed. Sharing your goal is only for accountability. Seekerville will not be sharing your goal with anyone. Enter by March 1 at 11:59 pm for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. 

Complete rules can be found in the Speedbo 2015 tab above, along with the list of entrants.


  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 our your prize DO let us know after 8 weeks per our rules.

Did you claim your giveaway from LAST WEEK?

Sandra Leesmith helped prepare you for Speedbo by comparing the pursuit of success in writing with the pursuit of success in her favorite sport, pickleball. Winner of an autographed book by Sandra or a Seeker available ebook of choice is Elizabeth Van Tassel.

Wednesday  Love Inspired author and Seeker, Tina Radcliffe brought you Part 2 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers (based on the Stephen Covey best-seller)." Winner of a Seeker book of choice is Sandra Kern.

 "BETTING ON HOPE and Putting Faith in NEW HORIZONS Along the Road to Becoming a Hybrid Author." Debra Clopton visited Seekerville Thursday! Debra discussed her latest endeavors, the cost, the casualties and the rewards of the journey. And the books that make it all worth the trip! Olivia is the winner of one book, winners choice, from her back list.

Friday was the March Contest Update!  Congrats to our DIVA EILEEN BARNES! Winner of a Seeker Book of choice is Melissa Jagears .

Next Week In Seekerville

Monday: Today, Mary Connealy will be kicking off a month of #NO LIMITS SPEEDBO.An uplifting, encouraging, pep-talk to get you going on your word count and an article SHORT enough to give you NO EXCUSES.(and to give Mary no excuses either). There will be a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter.

Tuesday: What's the one thing all successful people have in common? They fail. A lot. They fail more than the average person. Successful people fail more often because they're not afraid of taking risks. They aren't derailed by failure. Instead, successful people use failures as a launching pad to success. Today, visit with an expert on failure, Sherri Shackelford, and learn some tips and tricks to overcome your fears and increase your productivity with her post, "Failing Your Way to Success."  There will be a giveaway of two copies of The Engagement Bargain.

Wednesday:Love Inspired author Carolyne Aarsen stops in to talk about "The Freedom of Chains," how discipline allows you freedom to write. Stop in and chat with this wonderful, hard-working author you'll be entered for one of THREE SETS of Carolyne's newest books Her Cowboy Hero and Reunited With the Cowboy, books 1 and 2 of her "Refuge Ranch" series.

Thursday: Cathy Yardley is back in Seekerville today to discuss revisions: when to do them, and how to do them. Also, why you might not want to revise as you’re doing a fast Speedbo draft! She’ll also give away a copy of her book Rock Your Revisions.

Friday: Tina Radcliffe is your hostess with a Speedbo Appropriate post called, "What Have You Done Today to Make Your Dream Come True."  Stop by for an appropriate kick in the pants and equally appropriate giveaway!

Seeker Sightings

Ruthy's long-awaited "Year of Weddings Novella" is on sale now! TNZ Fiction > A Year of Weddings is just the bounce-into-spring story we've all been waiting for! When high-stakes Philadelphia lawyer Greg Elizondo inherits his mother's vintage bridal salon, he has to face the store's possible demise... until third-year law student Tara Simonetti walks in the door, ready to work. And work she does, leaving the mark of her job on Elena's Bridal... and Greg's heart! And Ruthy's giving away some e-copies on her Blog. Head over, leave a comment about weddings and you're in: Easy-peasy!

 AND Seekerville is giving away  5 copies of All Dressed Up in Love: A March Wedding Story (A Year of Weddings Novella Book 4) - for any e-reader, but you have to say you want it!!!  Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.


Missy Tippens will be featured on Script Chics March 19-25. So mark your calendar, NOW! The Chicks will be reading and discussing her RITA finalist book, A House Full of Hope. Also, Missy will be doing a giveaway that week, so be sure to drop by!

Random News & Information 

 Tying Character Types to Plot, Suspense, and Emotion (Writer Unboxed)

How To Build Your Readership Six Ways (Without Social Media) (the Future of ink)

The Reason Your Author Platform Matters (Badredhead Media)

Getting Your Self-Published Book Into Bookstores And Libraries With Debbie Young (The Creative Penn)

How to Read More Than Three Books A Month (GalleyCat)

The Top 10 Things All Authors Should Know About Amazon (The Passive Voice)

When Discoverability Arrives Too Late (DBW)

 Publishers bypass literary agents to discover bestseller talent (theguardian)

8 Tips for a Successful Booksigning (BookDaily)

Speedbo....24 hours and counting!


March Contest Update

Let's start out the March Contest Update with some fun!!

How about Myra and Janet answering the proverbial question: Should you enter contests?
Oh, YES!
Getting ready for Speedbo? Entering contests? Leave a comment and you can win a Seeker ebook of choice. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Published Contests
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. 
National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award Contest-Deadline April 1. Open to Indies

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

Book Buyers Best-Deadline April 15. Open to Indies.

Unpublished Contests

  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

Linda Howard Award of Excellence. Deadline March 6. First 25 pages. Finalists must submit a synopsis. Cost is $30. OUCH! That's the cost of the Golden Heart.

Short/Long Contemporary (series)
 Final Judge – Michelle Grajkowski, Literary Agent, Three Seas Literary Agency

Single Title
 Final Judge – Alicia Condon, Editor, Kensington Publishing

 Final Judge – Pamela Harty, VP of Sales/Literary Agent, The Knight Agency

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
 Final Judge – TBD

Romantic Sensual and Sizzling
Final Judge – Cheryl Yeko, Acquiring Editor, Soul Mate Publishing

 Fire & Ice. Deadline March 14. Enter the first 6,000 words. Contest capped at 120 entries. 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)

The Rosemary. Deadline-March 31. Published and Unpublished Authors. Published and unpublished authors. Submitted manuscripts must be new, original, YA or NA fiction that has not been published, self-published, or contracted.  First 25 pages of manuscript (manuscript wordcount of at least 40k).
 Final Judges: 

YA Contemporary - Agent Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary, Editor Aubrey Poole of Sourcebooks, Editor Elizabeth Tingue of Penguin/RH 

YA Historical - Agent Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary, Editor Jessica MacLeish of Harper Teen, Editor Robin Haseltine of Entangled Publishing 

 YA Paranormal - Agent Holly Root of Waxman Leavell Literary, Editor Kristin Daly Rens of Balzer & Bray, and Editor Natashya Wilson of Harlequin Teen 

 YA Speculative - Agent Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency, Editor Meredith Rich of Bloomsbury Spark, Editor Vicki Lame of St. Martin’s Press 

 New Adult - Agent Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary, Editor Amy Stapp of Tor Forge, Editor Angela James of Carina Press.


Touched by Love. Deadline April 1.   First 20 pages of an inspirational manuscript, 2-page synopsis.  Eligibility: All authors who have not accepted a publishing offer from a publisher or self-published a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more in the past three years. Final Judges: published authors.  Top Prize: Overall Winner will win $100 for writing-related expenses and an editor critique. This year's editor is Kim Moore of Harvest House. Categories are Historical, Long Contemporary and Short Contemporary.

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

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest has been replaced by Kindle Scout. Check it out here.

Here's the Chicken Soup 2015 Line Up!

Time for our March Contest Diva! Welcome Eileen Barnes!

2015 Finalist for Great Expectations
2014 Florida Romance Writer – 2nd Place
2013 2nd Place winner of the Golden Palm
2013 Suzannah NOLA Stars
2012 2nd place for the Golden Claddaugh
2012 Winner of Celtic Category

 I knew my plot for the historical romance was unique but I needed an encouraging voice, a corrective guide, an experienced instructor. Not only did I not know where to go for writing advice, I doubted that a market for a sweet historical romance about two Irish characters of opposing faiths existed. 

One blest day, I discovered an author by the name of Julie Lessman. When I read her book, A Passion Most Pure, my hope soared. This award winning historical novel shared many similarities with mine—wholesome passion, Irish Catholic characters, historical storyline. I read about her publishers, stopped by her website and linked into Seekerville.

Contest Update was the headline. Hard to believe, but having no previous knowledge about contests, I hesitated about the value. Yet, Seekerville encouraged and, having seen the hand of God in bringing me to the site, coupled with the idea of being read and reviewed by my peers and possible agents/publishers, I was compelled to try.
My first contest score staggered and, honestly, depressed me a little. However, after the initial shock, I realized the comments had merit.  Digesting the criticisms and clinging to the encouraging words such as “a very strong story line” and “wonderful voice” and “I like your heroine” and “Keep working on this. You have talent,” I persevered and entered the next contest.

Absorbing, correcting, rewriting, and resubmitting eventually improved my writing until, at last in 2012, I finaled in the Suzannah. A few months later, I placed 2nd in the Golden Claddaugh.  In 2013 I finaled in the Golden Palm and also won the ‘top of the slush pile’ in the Seekerville Contest.  Seekerville also honored me with a win in 2014 Perfect Pitch Contest resulting in a request for my completed novel from agent Susan Bower and this year, I finaled in Great Expectations. 

So where is the value of these wins and losses? Honing in, tightening my writing, validation that the story is interesting and worthy of publication, notice by other authors, agents and publishers and, most of all, diminished doubt as to my ability to write. 

I am still waiting for that homerun in one of the biggest contests, or a contract by an agent/publisher. One day, God willing, I believe I will be an author in Seekerville advising and instructing others how to get off the island. 

Hey wait.
I guess I am here…

That's it! Now Go Forth and Contest!

P.S. You can still enter Speedbo. Unless you are

Details here.

BETTING ON HOPE and Putting Faith in NEW HORIZONS Along the Road to Becoming a Hybrid Author

Debra Clopton
Hi Seekerville! I’m always thrilled to be here hanging out with all of you! I’m dug in deep right now on a deadline of April 1st so my time is basically non-existent so this is a really a laid back discussion-very loosely created-Basically we’re having a chat with me, Debra Clopton-hey, sounds good to me! I’m praying I don’t ramble J

So this is how it came to this chat-Mary and Ruthy both emailed me moments apart and without knowing the other was doing it and both were asking me basically for the same thing-“Debbie can you come on Seekerville and talk about the changes you’ve made in your writing life this year?” Since yes, there have certainly been major changes in my writing life this year and all by my own careful choice, I said, “Sure, I’d love to chat!”  

Of course once I said that I had to let those two duke it out behind the scenes to see who was going to be my host today-not sure exactly how it went down…I envision a rough fight, left hooks, upper cuts, head locks then Ruthy pulls out the heavy wooden baking spoons and starts swinging hard as Mary runs for the gun closet…as you can see, Mary is my host today! What do y’all think happened?

And now that the dust is settled I’m here to talk. Life, aside from Mary and Ruthy gustily battling over me, has been exciting and full and a sad too…Funny how titles work out to fit this moment. I’m BETTING ON HOPE looking toward NEW HORIZONS and leaving some beautiful SUNRISES behind me.

 Y’all know I’ve always written for Love Inspired and have LOVED the books I’ve created there. My MULE HOLLOW and COWBOYS OF SUNRISE RANCH series have been very good to me in building a loyal readership that sent my LI books to the top of the LI charts and it started with book 1 THE TROUBLE WITH LACY BROWN. THANKS to the amazing readers who have been so very faithful to continue to read them-you blessed me with your faithfulness.

3 years ago I knew I wanted to spread my wings by the year 2015. I wanted to experience the feel of independent (indy) publishing and I wanted to fulfil my dream of writing longer books. However, my writing schedule for Love Inspired tight and demanding so to make a change it meant I had to be strategic and I had to be ready to work harder than I’ve ever worked before (and I am already known for being an over achiever) With my hubby on board I made a plan of action, came up with a new series and with my agent Natasha Kern, we sent it out to a host of CBA and ABA publishers. And low and behold offers came in from both CBA and ABA houses-I was thrilled to choose Thomas Nelson which was transitioning into their new spot under the Harper Collins Christian umbrella. And this month my Feb 17 BETTING ON HOPE, is book 1 in the new Four of Hearts Romance series with them! And it is a dream come true for me as it’s out there looking for some love right now!

It’s my first 80,000 word book and full of my signature fun and laughter, but also mixed with deeper issues, tears and struggles, and packed with a love story that I just had to write. I totally loved creating this book and this series. And praise the Lord, reviews are knocking my socks off. 

Really, I’m just thrilled at the response from reader reviewers and then there’s RT magazine, they actually said, “the writing is moving and masterful”!!!  Okay so that kind of scared me actually. I’ve never been called or thought of myself as masterful so you can only imagine my reaction to those words after being on pins and needles waiting for the first review to come out. I was very grateful and humbled and all I know is that I worked really long, no-sleep laced months to bring my baby into the world and it felt lovely for someone to say such amazing things about my newborn J.  Okay so I may have started rambling.

So, back on track. You get it, this wasn’t an easy journey to get to this spot.

I’ll be truthful, the last 3 years have cost me a lot!

I made the jump to TN/HCC and I also committed to making the jump into Indy Publishing. (on a side note to ensure that dream came true I had to make certain that my contracts left every door open for me to become a Hybrid author. And I had already decided that I would walk away from a contract if it didn’t allow me to self-publish. Thankfully TN/HCC seem to recognize the benefit of me doing both. My indy work will draw attention to my traditional work and visa versa. All ships rise together J

Okay so that being said, I was basically writing for 3 publishers at the same time for 3 years: TN/HCC, Love Inspired/Harlequin and myself-though I was just able to squeeze in only 1 indy novella during 2014 because I was juggling deadlines like a crazy woman, not sleeping, and having to post sticky notes on my computer to keep books straight. I was glued to my computer literally night and day…sleeping maybe 3 maybe 4 hours in spurts for the majority of that time if that much.
When I say glued, you can ask my hubby and my family-if we were in the car going somewhere the computer was in my lap and my fingers were on it! Chuck and I went to California for his work and I holed up in the hotel to finish a deadline then we jumped into the car and drove cross country to Las Vegas for a book signing at the American Library Convention. I typed furiously as he drove through the gorgeous Yosemite National Park among other cool places! (Picture included of me reenacting the “Sound of Music” cover) I kept my fingers on the keyboard except during stops to stretch our legs, get chased by chipmunks and sea gulls at Mono Lake-long story for another time. You get the picture I wrote all the time! Even on our family vacation to the Florida Keys 3 years in a row!

I say this to tell you choosing a new path for yourself does not come without sacrifice and hard work and planning. I had the blessing of many contracts that had to be fulfilled and shifted and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. I could not have done it without planning.  

Any casualties along the way?

Yes, there have been. Thankfully not me but the pace was hard on my health and by the beginning of 2014 I realized I couldn’t do it all. I was exhausted, missed my family time, and play time with my granddaughters! And was making regular visits to the doctor which I had never had to do before. I realized my dreams had to change and had changed!

I wanted my life back-or at least some of it. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have it all, I kind of could if I was willing to kill myself lol and I’m not. I came to understand that for me having it all meant time with my family meant more to me than writing for 3 publishers.

So I had to make some tough decisions and the one I made was to pull back and discontinue writing for Love Inspired. It was a sad decision for a lot of reasons, but it was the right one for me. From here on out the books that I once wrote for Love Inspired will be Indy published by me, utilizing the wonderful editors I’ve been blessed to have come on board with me on the Indy side. I’m looking forward to what’s to come. I’ll be doing both print and ebook forms and audio.

I love the control that I have over these new books and the series I’m working on at the moment is a continuation of Mule Hollow. Book 1 came out last March HER MULE HOLLOW COWBOY, book 2-RAFE: New Horizon Ranch of Mule Hollow is on Pre-order right now and doing great! It goes on sale March 16 and over the next few months the other 3 to 4 books in that series will release CHASE, TY AND DALTON, 1 every 3 months and are connected to my beloved Mule Hollow gang!

And coming in August from Thomas Nelson COUNTING ON A COWBOY book 2 in the Four of Hearts Romance series! You’ll meet the hero of this book in BETTING ON HOPE. Ok I’m rambling and shamelessly self-promoting-which Mary said I could do. lol

Bottom line, y’all this business is tough and can be hard on writer’s minds and health. What I know: we have to protect the muse.

We have to protect the place within us that God blessed us with where the ideas and the desire and drive and passion for our work comes from. And to do that we have to have some rest and a life!

We have to have balance.

All that being said, I am so very excited about the future. 2015 is going to be the year for me to enjoy my life while I’m creating these books I love to create.

Hybrid author-boy do I love the sound of that.

I love the fact that I will have more control of my career. See I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 
Debra's book with
Mary Connealy!
Robin Lee Hatcher
& Margaret Brownley
20 years old and opened my first hair salon. I love business ownership and being an Indy author is very desirable to me and I’m finally diving into the pool to play with ownership and control of one area of my writing career. While at the same time I get the joy and benefit of working with my publisher Thomas Nelson and seeing my work on book shelves across the country and the exposure they are able to give me.     

At the end of the day it’s different for each person what your goals are and your long term plan and only you know what is right for you. Make the plan and don’t be afraid to adapt your goals-each of us have different reasons for choosing what works for our careers so do what is right for you.

My reasons aren’t your reasons.

This is my 10 year anniversary of being a published author!!! Amazing to realize that THE TROUBLE WITH LACY BROWN was released in September 2005! WOW does time fly when you’re having a blast!!!

So it’s about the future now.

Debra, Mary,
Robin and Margaret
Together Again
My joy in writing has always come from creating unique characters and story plots and BETTING ON HOPE filled that joy perfectly. I LOVE creating my new worlds, small towns filled with unique characters who love each other, meddle a lot and sometimes do a little matchmaking and this book has it all. A new ranch and a family of brothers for my readers to fall in love with excites me. I loved digging deeper into the sub-plots in this book that give readers a bigger story to dig into. I hope y’all will grab a copy of BETTING ON HOPE and join me and the town of Wishing Springs as we watch this clutzy advice columnist and this hunky champion cowboy fall in love. As many readers have said, you can’t go wrong betting on hope and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for!

Stepping out and seeking change was hard and exhausting, but I’m completely ready for 2015 and what lies ahead with writing for Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins Christian and Debra Clopton Parks Publishing J.

So, what do you want to chat about? Coming up with your have a plan? Me being chased by a chipmunk? The creating of a new world of characters? The inspiration behind The Four  of Hearts Romance series? Knowing when the time is right to make the move into hybrid? (that is a biggie I think) I’m all yours ask away or let’s just chow down on the gluten free blueberry pancakes I’ve brought and drink pots of hot coffee!

  And Thanks Seekers for having me on Seekerville! Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for the book of your choice from Debra's back list.
A bet gone wrong. A small town’s meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.
Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it’s beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie’s bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career—and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.
Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he’d like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru’s fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do—for her own good.
In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers: Part 2

Last November I shared Habit 1 of The 7 Habit of Highly Effective Writers,based on Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

To review: (you can read that post in its entirety here)

Habit One: Be Proactive.

The underlying principle of this habit is to take individual responsibility for our life and choices.

Your life is a product of your values not your feelings. 

Being proactive means you take the initiative to do whatever is necessary to make good things happen.

Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind.

Covey wasn't referring to pantsers and plotters. 

"If habit one says you are the programmer (you get to choose if you will act or react), then habit two says write the program (the program for your life)."- Steven R. Covey. 

  • Don't live somebody else's writer life.  
  •  Don't measure yourself by someone else's yardstick.
  •  Don't find yourself chasing someone else's vision.

This habit is based on writing the program for your writer life according to your value system, your mission statement. The opposite would be to have no mission statement, thus allowing life to happen with no objective in mind.

What is your life as a writer about? Make sure that what you think you want...what you think you are about, is really what you want and what you value.

Every single decision and goal and plan should be influenced by your mission statement, your personal philosophy, or creed, and that is determined by what is important to you.

Yes, you can say that God is your vision, your mission  and value system, but we all have different missions and gifts from God. Sorry, but you'll have to dig deeper. 

Mission statements according to Covey are not created, they are uncovered. Subconsciously at first and consciously later as we mature as writers and uncover our mission statement, our books will reflect that mission statement.  It will provide a continuing sense of guidance in our writing life.

Let me share some very vivid examples.

Writer Julie Cantrell won the Carol Award last year (When Mountains Move) and her speech profoundly touched me and was in fact, her mission statement. You can hear what she says here at the Live Video of the awards at 58:17. 

Julie Lessman is another very vivid example. A Passion Most Pure is Julie's Mission Statement. She believes it, she lives it and she writes it.  From her webpage:
 Hello ... I’m Julie Lessman, an Inspirational Romance author with a passion for God and a passion for romance. As an adult, I quickly learned that true romance is spiritual as well as physical and emotional. And one pass through the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible told me that God was the biggest romantic of them all, deeply passionate in His love for each of us. Through my love affair with Him, I have discovered that romance can transcend to another dimension where romantic passion and spiritual passion merge, creating a 3-D love story: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. I hope you enjoy my stories ... and may they bring you closer to the Father’s heart.

 Ruth Logan Herne writes about "hope, love and redemption." But you can recognize a Ruthy book right away because she dares to write about real life issues (the uncomfortable stuff) and real people who change and grow and are forgiven and redeemed by a good God.  

These examples aren't simply tag lines. These are truly the guiding mission statements for these writers. Covey tells us that our personal mission statements should focus on what we want to be (our internal character and values) and what we want to do (our contribution to this world). I'm sure you can name other writers that you know personally who live and write their writer mission statement.

So think about it. What is the important contribution you want to make as a writer? What do you need to tell the world through your stories? What do you want your writer epitaph to say?

Creating a mission statement takes time, so the information I am going to share now is for you to print off and think and pray about. You don't rush a mission statement.

Remember that mission statements are timeless. They are not goals and they are not wishes.

This is a goal:

  • Win a contest.

  • Sell a book.

  • Make the Times List.

 This is a mission statement:

 Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." 

-Martin Luther King Jr.
And so is this:

 Norman Schwarzkopf: A man does not get to write his own epitaph. But if I were to write mine it would say the following: He loved his family, and he loved his troops, and they loved him -- period.
 Here are examples of mission statements of five famous CEOs.

I wrote my own personal mission statement for my writer life and my personal life using Michael Hyatt's Creating a Personal Life Plan.  Now available as part of his Platform book on Amazon.

You can also go to the Franklin Covey site and create one. This site also lists mission statements of some pretty famous people who will inspire you.

Eventually the trappings of the writing world fall away, but if you create a personal mission statement you will be left with what really matters.

Leave a comment today. One name will be drawn for a Seeker book of choice! ebook or print. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Connect the Dots: Speedbo and Pickleball and No Limits

Hello Seekerville. Sandra here with more fresh oranges and tangelos from her tree.  So help yourself to some Arizona sunshine as we get set to psych up for Speedbo.

I've already picked a couple hundred and look how many tangelos I still have.

This spring I have been playing in several pickleball tournaments. Last Friday I played in El Mirage, Arizona. Turns out the resort we played at is the same resort Marianne Barkman stays at when she comes from Canada to winter in our lovely state.  Waving at you Marianne.  She and her mom came to cheer me on as I played.

Marianne and her mom 

In case you are wondering what pickleball is you can see videos and learn about the game at So playing all of this pickleball made me think of Speedbo and writing. There are many similarities. If any of you have played a sport you will relate to this analogy.

I have taken the Seeker theme to heart.  NO LIMITS

In pickleball this translates into me playing at a higher level than my rating. I’m rated a 3.0 and have won many medals at this rating.  I could continue to stay here and get more medals, but I want to improve my skills and move up to the next level.

Silver medal in mixed doubles with hubby

How will I improve my skills?  I play with higher level players. My partner, Jacquee, is a wonderful 3.5 level player and she took me on as a partner. I have learned so much from her. I also try and play pickleball with higher ranking players. Its harder on me, but playing with them teaches me new skills and improves my game. I appreciate the fact they will take time to play the game with me and many offer helpful hints and suggestions.

In writing, I got a taste of the bestseller list with the Seeker anthology. I understand that I landed there because of the steller authors I was linked to in that anthology.

I decided I want to be on that list again through my own merits. I want one of my own novels on the bestseller list. No Limits! How will I improve my writing skills? I interact with excellent writers and listen to what they say.

Okay, don’t laugh. I have been with excellent writers for many years, but admit, I don’t always listen.  (Hush up, Ruthy)

So those of you who hang out here in Seekerville are getting excellent craft workshops.  When I started writing, the only way to get this info was through conferences. This is still an excellent way to obtain excellent training, feedback and motivation. Hang with published writers. Go to local RWA meetings, local ACFW meetings, workshops, conferences, etc. You not only meet other authors, you meet all the players in the publishing world like editors, agents, marketing staff, etc.

In pickleball, another thing I have to do is play every day. I sometimes play longer days than others, depending upon what activities are scheduled and where I am. But every day, I strive to play for at least an hour or two. When I am on a trip and don’t have the opportunity to play, it always takes extra effort to get back up to speed. Sometimes it even takes extra effort to get motivated to go out and play. It is easy to rationalize and say to myself  “You are tired from this trip. Take it easy.”

3.5 and 4.0 level players at Voyager Resort

In writing, you also need to write every day. I know you have heard this from all of us Seekers. It is key to becoming a good writer. There come times and circumstances where you might say, “I can’t write today, taking care of this business is more important.”  Well the business is important, but it is always possible to squeeze in at least an hour of writing somehow. I find if I don’t, I end up getting sidetracked and it takes a longer time to get back into the writing.

How does Speedbo help out with this? Speedbo is ramping up your writing so you get a book finished in a month. Well this is great training to becoming a continual winner in finishing those books.  Once you get the hang of it and get in the routine of writing every day, which will happen in Speedbo, it is much easier to accomplish the task . By the way, last Friday, Tina posted a great article about getting started with Speedbo. Check it out here.

In Pickleball, the reason I play every day because as in any sport, what makes you a great and exceptional participant? Practice, practice, practice. Yep, you got it. And the same applies to writing. What will make you great? Practice, practice, practice.

Hubby plays every day.

In Pickleball, I am working on my serve. The serve is important because your team can only make a point when they serve. So if your serves are not making the mark, then your team loses points. I have a fairly average serve, but I need a stellar serve that shows I’m a higher level player. My husband has a dynamite serve and he obtained it by going out every evening and serving over 100 balls. I have been doing that also and it makes a difference. I also take classes or attend clinics that focus on the skill I want to improve.

Clinic on serving here at Voyager Resort

Notice, I’m focusing on one skill. This helps improvement if you focus on one skill at a time. This also applies to writing. Many writers go through their first draft and then go again, focusing on one or two skills at a time. Rather than trying to see all of the elements in one shot, it helps to focus on one or two and then really nail them.

For example, I tend to be wordy. I’m learning to just write the story and then go back and delete, delete, delete.  Hopefully by deleting all of those unnecessary passages, I’ll recognize them as I write them and won’t put them in at all.

Other elements to focus on are show don’t tell, depth of character, back story, character arc, moral premise, GMC (goal, motivation, conflict), etc. These are all elements that the Seekers and their friends have addressed in previous posts. Check out the archives for those you want to focus on.

I want to improve my skills in writing and in pickleball. So how do I determine if I've accomplished my goal?  In pickleball, I enter tournaments. How I place and how I perform with other skilled participants gives me good feedback to how I'm doing.

Darlene and I celebrate and discuss our performance winning silver in Seaside last fall.

In writing, I enter contests to see how I'm doing. In fact, most of you know that is how Seekers got together in the first place was through contest wins. Pre-published contests give great feedback on how your skills are progressing. Pubbed contests help you determine how you rank with other writers in your category.

Playing pickleball with better players does improve my game. But helping beginners and those at lower levels also helps me. Focusing on specific skills brings my awareness of my own performance on those skills to mind and helps me focus on improving them. 

Mentoring the beginners. 

One of the reasons RWA and ACFW are doing so well is they mentor beginners. These two writing organizations are the only two that I know of that dedicate themselves to helping raise the bar in their genre. Critiquing other writers really helps my writing. I can see weaknesses and strengths in other writing projects that I don't see in my own.  We are too close to our own work because what we want to say is in our head. It might not be on paper so you have to really be trained to look for it. 

That is what is so exciting about my participation in Seekerville. We have seen so many friends join us and go on to get published. They really work hard to improve their skills and I would wager they write every day also. Many of them participated in Speedbo.  Yay!

As I mentioned earlier, I was in a tournament last Friday. Well I played poorly and even lost my serve, which is a sign of nervousness in my case. Reflecting back, I did not perform well but I learned two valuable lessons that applies to writing and Speedbo as well.

Not only was Marianne there to cheer me on, but other RV friends that I see during the summer were residing at El Mirage resort as well. They all came to support me. I was so excited to see everyone.

My partner, Jacquee is next to me. In the middle is Diane, who is the craftswoman who made all those lovely kindle bags I've given away as prizes. Next is Pam and Pat who do the craft fairs with me in the summer. 

But because all my friends were there watching me in a tournament, I got so nervous that I lost my serve and missed several balls. I was thinking about what they thought instead of staying focused on my game. Now it wasn't their fault. It was mine. I let their wonderful presence get to me.

As a writer, you need to toughen up as well.  I remember the first time I let a friend read my writing, I was so nervous. When we write, we go deep into ourselves and it is scary to expose all those inner feelings and thoughts. And we're thinking "what will they think?"  If this is too scary for you then you don't want to become a writer. You need to toughen up.

Entering contests, getting rejections from publishers and working with critique partners and editors can become demoralizing if you let it. You have to toughen up and say "hey-good lesson to learn" and then move on.

The other valuable lesson I learned that applies to writing as well is that I lost my focus. I was busy chatting away and having a great time instead of paying attention to the business at hand which that day was playing in a tournament. Now it wasn't their fault because they were there to cheer me on.  It was my fault that I became too busy chatting instead of focusing on my game. 

In writing, we can let distractions take us away from our focus. We get on the Internet and let Facebook or emails interrupt our focus.  We accept invitations to lunch or go shopping instead of staying focused on our writing project. Anyone else have that problem?

If you have committed to Speedbo, then it is like committing to a tournament. Yes, it is nice to see friends, but when you have a commitment and goal--you need to stay focused on that commitment and goal. Tell your friends that you can't visit during Speedbo. Shut off the Internet when you are writing. Stay FOCUSED.

So does this ramp you up for Speedbo?

If not, go out and play your favorite sport and get motivated.

We only have four more days to go to begin Speedbo. You can sign up now so you are ready  on March 1.

You can sign up by sending an email to with your personal goal listed. Sharing your goal is only for accountability. Seekerville will not be sharing your goal with anyone. Enter by March 1 at 11:59 pm for a chance to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card. Complete rules can be found here.

Remember our theme this year.  NO LIMITS!!!

Dream big.

Visualize your dream.

Pray about your dream.

Then JUST DO IT!!!

Yummy Arizona sunshine oranges off my tree.

Don’t forget to grab some fresh oranges and tangelos. We also have a juicer so you can squeeze fresh juice.  There is Chocolate Velvet coffee (would I offer anything else??), hot chocolate and Teavana teas.

So tell us how you are Prepping up for your favorite sport and for Speedbo.

Those who comment have a chance to win a signed copy of one of my books, OR an available e copy of a Seeker book.

Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heartSandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She lives in Arizona with her husband and during the hot summers she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project.

You can find Sandra's books  here on Amazon.  
Two of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible.

You can read more posts by Sandra here. 

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