Yeah, yeah, I’m a rebel. I couldn’t think of anything on the topic of No Limits—besides the opposite. Because I’m contrary like that.
So if this turns all Negative Nelly on you, I blame it on Tina.
So, why is ‘No Limits’ bad for you?
#1 - No Limits=Bad Physical Habits
Successful writing takes a lot of time in the chair. If you’re not in a chair more than most anybody in the world, you’re probably not writing enough. But that means we’ve got a problem fitness-wise, bodies need to be active. If you sit and do all your writing responsibilities without limits, you’ll be in trouble.
And if you don’t believe me, would you believe people at Harvard? Too much sitting linked to an early death.
And of course if we don’t limit the chocolate/sweets intake while we’re sitting in that chair infusing emotion into fake people…
You need to set yourself some physical limits. Get up!
#2 - No Limits=Bad Mental Habits
If we aren’t careful with how we spend our time in that wannabe electric chair we write in, we can also gain some bad habits of the mind. Social media marketing can suck you into a black hole of wasted time.
Without time limits, unimportant things can spiral out of control. Our brain needs direction, otherwise it’s going to take the easy way out. Writing is difficult, but liking things on social media is easy. Or perhaps you find editing, reediting, and fiddling with words much easy than writing, or maybe writing that scene in your head for your next book feels easier than fixing that scene your critique partner didn’t buy.
Don’t let your brain get lazy, limit the time sucking activities and get to work on the hard stuff.
#3 - No Limits=Failure
How’s that saying go? ‘If you shoot for the moon and miss, at least you’ll be among the stars?’
Nonsense. In a regular spaceship going 17,600 mph, it would take 165,000 years to get to the nearest star. (I’m not counting the sun since that’s not what the saying means if anyone wants to get technical on me.)
Not to mention that if you shoot for the moon and miss, you essentially failed. Big Fat F for you!
If you believe you have no limits, one day you may be really disappointed to realize you’ve gotten nowhere. Narrow down your targets, then aim, shoot, and move toward the ones that matter most.
#4 - No Limits=Potential Untrustworthiness
Deadlines are Limits. You can’t get rid of them. Even in self-publishing, if you hit that preorder option on Amazon, you’ve got yourself a limit on how much time you can spend on a project.
Ignoring deadlines will not gain you favor in the eyes of publishing professionals. The more times you fail to make your deadlines, the likelihood a publisher will give the next contract to someone else who can be trusted rises.
Constantly pushing back promised release dates will not gain you the favor of readers awaiting your promised book. And the longer it takes you to get out the next book, the likelihood your readers will find another author to patronize goes up.
#5 - No Limits=Exhaustion
I’m not good at this one either. When people ask me how I get everything I’ve got going done, I like to joke that when I had my first baby, I got used to being sleep deprived and just went with it.
Those deadlines can kill you if you don’t set up your time properly.
This is why I’d suggest that no one try to get their first book published until you have a handful of books under your belt. I doubt you sat down with that first book every day and pounded out words systematically. You likely stopped and started while chasing the elusive muse. Hopefully while you wrote that first one, you realized you needed to learn/increase your knowledge of craft and story, then rewrote or moved to the next book with your newly acquired skill set.
So how can you know how fast you can produce a book? The more books you write, the more familiar you are with your writing process. If you’re put under contract with that first book, how confident will you be to say, “Sure, I can turn in a quality book in 8 months”?
You do have limits. Producing a good book in a few short weeks can be possible for some, but are you sure you can do it if you’ve never been limited by time before? You may end up one very, very exhausted writer trying to make that first deadline.
#6 - No Limits=Panic
Practice your limits. When I was writing my first book, I listened to a few published authors and noted that most were writing a book while editing and marketing. So I decided to start then and there by practicing having 4 projects going at once. I was plotting/brainstorming one book, while writing another, while editing another, while working on my marketing platform all at the same time. Could I do it? How long did I need for each task?
I’m very thankful I started doing that early. I don’t think I’d be capable keeping up with my current publishing schedule as well as I am if I hadn’t practiced, because frankly, the publishing schedule is even more demanding than what I demanded of myself. I could have easily become an emotional wreck, sitting in a corner, sucking my thumb with the amount of work expected of me.
My acquiring editor cares about me, sure, but the publishing machine doesn’t hand me exemptions just because I homeschool with three children at home.
I’ve had to drop a lot of things—a lot of good things—from my schedule, like television (though I’m not sure anyone can convince me that’s good anymore), church choir, a particular homeschool curriculum that was too time consuming for me, crafting hobbies, etc. because I indeed have limits. If I thought my capabilities had no limits and tried to do everything, I’d end up in the loony bin.
#7 - No Limits=Unable to handle criticism well
If you believe you can do it all, you’ll be ill-equipped to cope when someone very publically claims you failed. Very few writers are going to put out an award-winning piece on their first try. And even if it is award-winning, some people will still hate it. Actually, my first piece was award-winning (And still free as an ebook!), but it wasn’t beloved by all….
If you don’t realize people’s reading preferences will limit what they enjoy, those one star Amazon reviews can feel like a deflating sucker punch to the gut.
Or you might think you can address ALL. THE. PROBLEMS. in negative reviews in your next book. However if you start fixing everything reviewers hate, you’ll likely lose your voice, your intent, your unique niche in the genre because you’re trying to make everyone happy. Limit yourself to making your target audience happy, not everyone in the world.
Appeasing all of my one star reviewers would be completely impossible, especially since some of them claim that I did the opposite of what another reviewer claims. If pleasing people is high on your list of character attributes, trying to do so writing fiction will likely make you feel like the biggest loser ever.
However, if you realize you have limits, you can focus on the right bits of criticism and focus on one at a time.
Do you hate draggy books and you get a lot of comments that your book drags in the middle? Then on the next book, focus on whittling down that middle. Whittle until it hurts. Then whittle some more. Let it sit and when you return to read it after some time spent away, if the book still works, you can thank your reviewers.
Do people criticize you for being all angsty and letting the romantic tension drive them crazy until the end of the book, but YOU sadistically like it when a book has you in agony with the “will they or won’t they” question? Check if anyone else likes that angst, and if they do, FORGET THOSE CRITICIZERS. They’re not your target audience—you and those 5 star reviewers who liked that about your book are.
#8 - No Limits=Unrealistic Expectations
Do I dare say that if you don’t recognize the limit of the talent you possess, you could waste a lot of time and money on that sky-high goal you’re doomed not to hit?
I can work on dancing all I want—and I will get better—but if I believed that with hard work and determination I could become a world class champion swing dancer, I’m going to waste a lot of time and money. (I found out that I do not have the talent of rhythm when I was required to clap and sing at the same time in show choir, the only possible way for me to do so was to sing while mindlessly mimicking the person clapping next to me. Otherwise, I’d have turned our uptempo version of the Magnificat into the MagnifiCAN’T.)
If you want to write, do so! Have fun! Grow! I don’t even believe you need a lofty calling to write and seek publication. If you want to write, do it.
But if you’re expecting to write something about a snail and produce a poem like Oliver Wendell Holmes’s, The Chambered Nautilus, but your poetry talent is more suited for a piece like Shel Silverstein’s, Warning, you’re going to be disappointed that you never get appointed as Poet Laureate. Or if you’d rather be Silverstein, but your talent lies in intricate poetics like Holmes, then you’ll be disappointed when no middle schoolers ask for your autograph.
Don’t go through life disappointed about your limits, work with them, take advantage of them, grow within them, and if you happen to conquer one, rejoice!
Use limits to your advantage and become the best kind of writer you can be!
Melissa Jagears limits herself to homeschooling, writing, editing, bookkeeping, and keeping the house clean enough that Hazmat suits aren’t required to enter her house. She, however, needs to get out of her chair more often, eat less sweets, and really try to stop writing long before 4 am.....but well, she’s a bit overweight and exhausted at the moment for a reason. You can find her online at melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Here newest book is A Bride at Last, which was written while caring for a newborn—do you know how limiting those are to productivity???? And the next one for up for preorder is with our very own Seeker, Mary Connealy, With This Ring?
Seekerville is giving away an ecopy of the winner's choice of one of Melissa's Unexpected Brides series books. Just let her know how you feel about #nolimits VS #limits in today's comments.
Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!
|Comment today for a chance to win!|
I am a practical person.
I have an analytical nature.
I am a people pleaser.
These things are at odds most of the time. I'm telling you this because I H-A-T-E DRAMA.
And I write fiction.
It's a conundrum of the highest order, it's a Rubik's Cube with missing colored tabs, it's mass confusion, and if it's that way for me, I have to believe it's that way for most of us!
Ruthy here, so excited to be celebrating another birthday in Seekerville!!! Cue the lights! Start the confetti drop! Hit the music!!!!
TIME TO CELEBRATE WITH KOOL & THE GANG!!!!
Our theme is #nolimits.
No limits means that you must be willing to come crawling out of your self-imposed shells and see the light of day to a certain degree to be successful in this business. It means you have to be willing to s-t-r-e-t-c-h to achieve goals.
It doesn't mean that you can't pace yourself.
It doesn't mean you can't do things your way, in your time. That whole tortoise and rabbit moral?
I'm a tortoise, but I'm a tortoise who crawls ahead every day... and that helps ace the goal!
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A RABBIT TO WIN, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORK AT MY PACE.
But you do have to work. And you have to work knowing you can go as far as you want and do as much as you want which equals: No Limits.
Lots of writers/authors are introverts.
If I asked for a show of hands, how many of you would call yourself an introvert?
How many would say "I'm shy." or "I'm not good with people." Or "I'm reserved. I like the sanctity and anonymity of my writing cave, leave me the heck alone, Ruthy!!!"
Honestly, you've come to the right place, because despite the whole social media push these days, and the fact that you can connect with people and other authors in wonderful places like Seekerville, writing is a solitary job. You write it. You fix it. And these days, you can even publish it!
Times have changed my friends, and in light of our NO LIMITS theme, I want to celebrate our 8th birthday with you by doing something I haven't done in a couple of years here... Instant Editing With The Ruthinator!
You haven't lived until you've survived a day with the Ruthinator in the house, with the back-and-forth of this and that as we work to polish an idea, a line, a paragraph or a page... And then you take the advice given by me (and anyone else who wants to chime in, EEEEK!!!!!) and you can take it...
Or leave it!
And don't let this happy Grammy-face fool you! When it comes to critiquing and editing...
The gloves are off.
The gauntlet has been THROWN. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
So here's what we do. You post an excerpt, and we'll talk about it.
And I'll be here all day, all evening, with youse, (except when I have to get my hair trimmed) and we'll talk about the strengths and limitations of that page.
Now you don't have to agree with what I say or with what anyone says, but this will give you an idea of what's working for me and what I'd like to see polished.
"Now, Ruthy," you say. "Why do I care what you think? Why would I do this and risk embarrassment in front of thousands of people?"
To which the Ruthinator responds, "Go big or stay home, Cupcake!" :)
We don't have to be extroverts to be successful authors, but you do have to be willing to take some brave moves. There is risk involved. Your delicate little feelings are likely to get hurt from time to time (okay, TRAMPLED is more accurate, but I don't want to scare anyone! Too much.) and you know what I'm going to say to you, don't you???
It's time to take those forward steps you hear about all the time. So today, I want you to take that forward step here, with me, and any other Seekerville friends that wander by. I want you to be brave enough to post something, courageous enough to take a chance, and then you can see what folks say and either take the advice or don't! No harm, no foul.
Easy peasy, right?
You don't have to be brave to be an author, but you do have to have the courage to try and fail, because that's the most common scenario... and those who end up succeeding are not the best! No, sir!
They're the ones who DID NOT QUIT.
Eventually, the cream rises to the top.
So that's our birthday mission today, my gift to you. I will critique with you for the entire day, and I brought along some very tempting morsels to go with our theme!
Dark chocolate frosted homemade cupcakes, with or without sprinkles!
Hot tea, sweet tea and Snapple for my tea-lovers!
Chicken Salad sandwiches for lunch, with lettuce on toasted, fresh, Manhattan bagels.
Hey, I know how to party, and this is all quick, pick-up food, because when I'm editing or revising, I don't worry about the kitchen... I worry about the page.
And that's what we're going to do today, in honor of this 8th birthday. A day of critiquing with the Ruthinator...
And we'll see who lives when the day is done!
And in honor of blatant self-promotion which I excel at because yes, it's part of the job!!!! Today I want to turn your attention to our newest collections, releasing in TWO DAYS as part of our holiday gift of faith, hope, love and sweet romance!
"A Heart Full of Christmas", a collection of sweet and inspirational romances that assure us we can go home again... and might find a little angelic help along the way! This collection was so much fun to work on that I can't even begin to tell you! So yes, you should run, not walk (well, button push, actually) over to Amazon and grab this one... and while you're at it, grab the historical, too, because I had so much fun being in that one as well!
CLICK HERE FOR "A HEART FULL OF CHRISTMAS"!!!
AND CLICK HERE FOR "HOME FOR CHRISTMAS"
a delightful group of old-time Christmas stories from me, Janet, Pam and Julie! So much fun!!! Old-style fun, and there's nothing wrong with that, is there?
I love this, Tina thought I'd forgotten to add the birthday meme in (AS IF, RADCLIFFE!!!!) so she tucked this here for me....
Thank you, Tina!!!
with guest blogger Raela Schoenherr.
Hi everyone! I wanted to start off by giving Seekerville a big thank you for having me on the blog today. Happy 8th birthday, Seekerville folks!
In a crowded market where readers often say their biggest problem is having too many good books in their TBR piles, it can be hard to create a heroine who stands out. As an acquisitions editor, I see a lot of proposals and manuscripts and can attest to the number of stories where the heroine is fine but not particularly memorable. So, based on what I’ve learned from the manuscripts that cross my desk as well as my own reading, I’ve put together some tips for making your heroine one of the hard-to-forget ones!
1. Real flaws
The rest of this list is in no particular order, but I had to put this tip at number one. I’ve said elsewhere that likability is important in main characters, but I think we can do a disservice when we push this too hard. There’s a balance between making your heroine someone a reader wants to spend her reading hours with and making her someone who’s so perfect the reader leaves the story discouraged at how imperfect she herself is in comparison. And, if we’re being honest, that type of heroine can be just plain uninteresting to read about. Also, the journey a heroine takes throughout the course of a book has nowhere to go if she starts out almost perfect on page 1.
And frankly, some of the most memorable heroines are either solidly in the unlikeable camp (Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara) or at least start out that way (Redeeming Love’s Angel).
Crafting a multi-dimensional heroine isn’t like answering the job interview question “What is your greatest weakness?” Don’t be afraid to give her room to grow! Here are some examples where a heroine’s “flaw” doesn’t feel very flawed:
• Clumsiness (You wouldn’t believe how often this is the heroine’s primary defect!)
• Caring too much
That being said, there are times when a talented author has taken one of these character traits and made it feel unique and fresh. But consider yourself forewarned that these can often feel clichéd to avid readers.
2. Proactive rather than reactive
Another way to phrase this would be to make sure that your heroine is not just a victim of circumstances and other people. One thing I see more often than I’d like is a heroine whose conflicts all stem from other people’s actions. A heroine who merely reacts instead of acting and causing things to happen is much less compelling and can even feel superfluous to the plot. Readers want a heroine who has agency, and her actions should at least play a part in the twists and turns of the story.
3. Complicated emotions
If I asked any men to chime in on this, they’d swiftly agree that women and their emotions can be impossible to understand. And I think most women would agree that we have a hard time understanding our own emotions sometimes! However, it’s surprising how black and white the emotions of fictional women can be in some stories. I don’t think I’m alone in preferring to read about characters who struggle with and are torn between varying emotions.
As the author, it’s easy to have such a clear understanding of how the character is feeling and why at any given time that this shows up on the page in a way that doesn’t feel true to life. In reality, people often aren’t able to instantly and clearly articulate what they are feeling, why they feel that way, and what needs to happen for them to feel differently. It’s good for the author to know, but be aware of how realistic it is for your heroine to have the same clear understanding at that point in your story.
4. Compelling platonic relationships
As I was thinking through some of my favorite books and heroines, I found myself noticing how many of the heroines were equally memorable for their relationships with their friends, family, or antagonists as for their romances. In stories that are primarily a romance, there are times I find myself continually wondering where the heroine’s friends and family are because there’s hardly any attention paid to relationships other than the one with the hero. Not all heroines are going to have lots of friends and family—maybe her conflict is that she’s mostly on her own in the world—but hopefully at some point in the course of the story she’ll develop more than just one relationship that helps to flesh out the world of the story and add color to her personal arc. Some of the most interesting heroines to read about are the ones whose lives are multi-layered and who are juggling more than one kind of relationship.
This remains true with books that aren’t a romance, as well. Whatever the heroine’s primary relationship in the story is, make sure to give her meaningful relationships beyond that main one.
5. Sense of humor
Although the overall tone of many books is not supposed to be funny, a heroine with a sense of humor can go a long way in making her unforgettable to readers. And a sense of humor can manifest itself in a heroine in many different ways. Some authors love writing slapstick, but others are great at creating heroines who deliver killer one-liners. Some heroines have the driest of wits and other heroines have a self-awareness of either themselves or the situation they’re in that can crack readers up. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to humor, but giving your heroine a sense of humor that fits her character, her story, and your writing style is one way to keep her in your readers’ top ten list.
6. More than just skin-deep characterization
Sometimes an author can rely too heavily on superficial descriptors to give readers an idea of what type of person the heroine is.
• Hair color
These are important details to determine, obviously, and they do go a long way in painting the picture of what a heroine is like. However, authors should be careful not to use superficial details as a crutch. For example, I often see red hair as a fallback way of showing a heroine is feisty or not caring about fashion to show that a heroine is a tomboy. Since these are stereotypes, they’re inherently going to make a character less memorable. If you do decide to match a character’s description to a traditional stereotype, you’ll need to be creative in making the heroine stand out from, for example, all the other British-accented female characters out there who are also stuffy and proper. If you really want to make a character unforgettable, flip a stereotype on its head and make the heroine contradict what readers are conditioned to expect.
Don’t be afraid to let the heroine fail. A heroine who makes a decision that creates conflict for her that doesn’t work out perfectly will certainly stand out in the slush pile. It’s a hard balance because most of us want to close the last page of the book and feel happy about where we left the heroine. However, there are too many times when a heroine makes a mistake or is experiencing conflict that never truly jeopardizes her ultimate goal and she ends the story still getting everything she wanted all along. There are ways to make happy endings that aren’t predictable if you are willing to get creative and put in the time to develop a story that takes some surprising but more fulfilling turns. And even if you’re writing the kind of book where the ending is non-negotiable (the mystery is solved, the characters fall in love, the villain is defeated), you can get your readers to that pre-determined end in an unpredictable way that leaves them remembering your book long after they’ve finished.
8. Go for the unexpected
My last tip is simply to go for the unexpected! Perhaps this is a cop out tip because this has pretty much been the theme of all of my other tips. But when you’re brainstorming your next story, I encourage you to think about the rules of your genre and the common denominators in the books you loved and the books you didn’t love. Where can you take those rules and commonalities and spin them in a new way when it comes to your heroine?
• In the type of story you write, who would normally be the typical heroine? Instead of writing that character’s story, choose someone else in that world whose story wouldn’t usually be the focus. For example, in the book Longbourn, the author tells the story of a servant in the house of Pride and Prejudice’s Bennets rather than telling Lizzie’s story.
• Have your heroine make a big sacrifice for something or someone and have it backfire on her rather than magically work out the way she wanted.
• Give her a goal or a purpose that is unique. Use the setting and the time period in a way that is integrally tied to that goal or purpose. If your heroine’s motivation is love or saving her business or protecting her family, how could you approach it in a way that would make it different from other heroines with the same motivation?
• Have your heroine choose or do the exact opposite of what the readers will want at that point in the story. Or rather, what the readers think they want. I think we’ve all had a moment in a story where a character does precisely what we didn’t want them to do and yet the author skillfully manages to completely change our minds by the end of the book.
This was a fun post to brainstorm since it gave me a chance to think through my favorite reads and heroines! Who are some of your favorite heroines and why? Which of these tips do you agree or disagree with?
Raela Schoenherr is a fiction acquisitions editor and has been with Bethany House Publishers since 2008. She grew up reading Christian fiction and enjoys being able to work with the kinds of books she always loved. When she’s not reading (or listening to audiobooks!), she’s probably cheering on the Green Bay Packers, running, or spending time with her wonderful family and friends. A graduate of Bethel University, she makes her home in Minneapolis, MN and is active on Twitter at @raelaschoenherr.
Today Raela is generously bringing with her two wonderful birthday presents!! Leave a comment for a chance to win any 2015 Bethany House Publishing FICTION book. Two winners. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.
with guest blogger Sara Ella.
“If you don’t finish college, you’ll never amount to anything.”
“You need to get a real job, something you can fall back on.”
“Why are you wasting time writing fantasy?
You should be writing about things that matter.”
This is just a sampling of things people have said to me over the years as I pursued a career in writing. I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of two. I don’t have a degree. My writing background lacks some serious credentials. The odds were definitely NOT in my favor. (Can you tell I write YA?)
So I had to make a choice. Writing a novel meant late nights. It wasn’t going to be easy. Not even close. I had to ask myself, “Do I really want this?”
I couldn’t answer that question right away, but then some things happened that caused me to take a serious look at my life. I decided I wouldn’t put it off anymore, I WOULD write a novel. Because despite what so many people said, I COULD write a novel.
And. I. Did.
It didn’t happen overnight, and I didn’t do it alone. It took about twenty versions of my first chapter, countless revisions, awesome critique partners, contest feedback, a mentor who loves red ink, and a no-nonsense freelance editor to get my story into shape. That was over a period of about two years. Surrounding myself with the right kind of people made all the difference. Once my manuscript was ready, the time came to put it to the ultimate test. Despite the odds, I WOULD get an agent.
And. I. Did.
He (my agent) knew he was taking a risk. My story would be a hard sell, but he liked it and stood by it. He believed in me, despite the more likely outcome that he’d never see a return on all his hard work. Having an advocate, once again, made all the difference. So I prayed. And waited. Despite the odds, I WOULD get a contract before I turned thirty.
And. I. Did.
Here’s the clincher: the offer from Thomas Nelson/ HarperCollins for my YA romantic fantasy trilogy came three days before my thirtieth birthday. Isn’t it funny how life works? So many people tried to limit me. Went out of their way to tell me I couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t do it. But when I changed direction and surrounded myself with the right kind of people, my life changed. I defied gravity. The world tried to bring me down, but the right people showed me “everyone deserves to chance to fly.”
Maybe you’re in a similar situation. You’re struggling and wondering if pursuing the author life is even worth it. To that I say, YES! If you are passionate about writing, if you find yourself tapping out dialogue in the Notes App on your phone or perusing Spotify for the perfect theme song for your story, don’t give up. College degree or not, your future is unlimited, but it’s up to you to grab it.
There’s no formula for getting published, whether you follow the indie or traditional route. I can’t tell you that following my suggestions will get you an agent or a contract or on the New York Times Bestseller List. But I can say that one major thing helped me become a better writer. If you’re in it because you love it, paycheck or not, then read on.
• “…if I only had a brain.”—Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz
[Writer’s think differently from the rest of the world. If you don’t have other writers you can connect with in real life, fear not! I don’t either. The online writing community has been a huge encouragement to me. Joining organizations like ACFW or attending a writer’s conference or even just lurking here on Seekerville has made all the difference. I Skype with my critique partners every week. They think the way I do. Surround yourselves with like-minded people, whether you join a critique group where you live or connect with one online.
• “…a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Your work is a reflection of you. So write what you love. Don’t write to the trends. This industry is constantly changing, and no one can predict what will be hot or not next year. Find writers who have a passion for the same things you do. Whatever your genre, it makes a huge difference to have people you can talk to about it, because they’re the ones who will understand and listen without judgement. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will see your heart, the ones who will love your story most.
• “Come on, get up and fight…”—Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz
Whether you’re an emotional sap like me or have super thick skin, rejection is never easy to take. But it does make you stronger. Don’t let rejection stop you from pursuing your dream. Have the courage to keep going, and surround yourself with people who can en-courage you (See what I did there?). Fight for what you want, and find others (writers or non-writers) who can fight alongside you.
You’ve probably noticed an ongoing theme here. Dorothy didn’t make it to Oz on her own. She had help. Her story ended with “acknowledgements” to the friends she made and what they taught her. And those friends ended up being her “home” all along. You may feel isolated and alone in this writing thing. But you don’t have to look far to find your people. If you’re reading this blog, they’re closer than you think.
Not sure where to begin? Connect with me in the comments! I’d be happy to try and answer any questions you have about starting a critique group or finding your own writing community. Thanks to Seekerville for having me on the blog today!
Once upon a time, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is far more swoony than any cartoon character could ever be. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away” for those who put their faith in the King of kings. Sara Ella is all over social media, but her favorite places to connect are on Twitter @SaraEllaWrites or on her YouTube channel.
Seekerville is giving away the winner's choice of any ecopy of any 2015 ACFW Carol Award winning book. Leave a comment to be entered. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!
By Mary Connealy
We are celebrating our BIRTHDAY MONTH!
In addition to these weekly prizes and the iPad Mini grand prize, I'm doing some giveaways too!
A signed copy of my newly released Fire and Ice, also a signed copy of the novella collection (released last year as 12 separate books, so you might have read some of them) The 12 Brides of Christmas, and an Amazon Gift Certificate in the amount of $28 (get it, 28? To celebrate our 8th birthday???)
This is a Bible verse we hear a lot at weddings.
But when you think of the most fundamental building blocks of a story, in the Christian market, you realize our novels are built with a cord of three strands.
Plot. Character. Faith.
Now I’ve had those conversations before—Is your book plot driven or character driven. And I get the difference between the two a little.
But I think, fundamentally, there really is no such thing.
Plot vs Character is just one of those things authors talk about while they struggle to put into words things that are just plain HARD to put into words.
I think of Jack Reacher. Now those stories are all about plot, but the character of Jack Reacher and how he responds to the plot are what make them unique.
How do you separate the two halves of this book. Without Jack Reacher the story would be completely different. But if someone didn’t start killing people right in front of him, I think Jack would honestly be a peaceable guy. I mean it’s not like he actually goes LOOKING for trouble, right? (well, maybe he’s a bit too eager when he finds any little bit of trouble, but still…)
I've you've read a Jack Reacher book, tell me, which are those books. Honestly, bottom line, the plot and character are so intertwined that the book doesn't exist without both.
The Wilde at Heart Series with women disguised as men, now that’s honestly character isn’t it? Their reasons behind it go to backstory, motivation, why they are there, so setting. All of these character traits are so fundamental to the plot -- how do you separate the two?
This leads me to the point of the day!
|I don't blame you for worrying,
sometimes, it is said, Mary never really has a point!
I think Christian fiction can be so much more powerful than secular fiction. And it’s that third strand—Faith—that strengthens it.
Back in the olden days, like 1970—you know the ancient times—romance novels, even without saying so, were guided by Christian principles. Heroines were virgins. Heroes were upstanding and honorable by Christian standards (they rarely even said cuss words).
Those were foundational parts of any book.
I often say that Gone with the Wind couldn’t be published today as a secular book because for all the madness swirling around in GWTG, there’s too much God in it.
The underpinning of faith gives the entire Christian book a depth. The hero is called to save the day, sure, but he has to do it with honor—as opposed to Jack Reacher making himself judge, jury and executioner—which I admit is extremely efficient.
The heroine can be any type of character, a damsel in distress, a feisty lady rancher, a hard working business woman, a sweet, shy widow trying to raise two kids and hold down a stressful job, but she needs to do whatever she does with her Christian values in place (or if it’s a redemption story for either hero or heroine then they need to be moving toward their faith).
And to me, the best of all is that the attraction, the sexual (<<< sorry!) tension still has power.
Remember Moonlighting? Will they/won't they? Remington Steele? Of course Christian fiction ask will they/won't they end up married so that's a little different, but still. As opposed to many books where the tension is 'will they/won't they' wait until the second date!
And you know what? Let's be honest here. There’s a huge market for secular books, I know it. I also know that many of those books have gone too far and that has created a fiction line for us.
Work for people who write books about faith. Books for people who prefer to read books that don’t go against our beliefs…in case our mothers would read it, you know? Or our children?
Who is holding off getting a
new professional photo taken
she is thinner and younger
and maybe a little bit smarter looking
We write a cord of three strands
And it makes for stories that are not easily broken.
Let’s talk about the faith of our characters and how that shapes your book. How would your book be different, weaker, without the faith of your characters.
Because we are giving away a RIDICULOUS number of prizes, to the point almost everyone will win at least one, I hesitate to overdo it, HOWEVER if ever there was a time to overdo things, it’s during SEEKERVILLE BIRTHDAY MONTH!
So today if you leave a comment, you’ll get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Fire and Ice, and a signed copy of The 12 Brides of Christmas. And, I'll toss in a $28 Amazon gift card. Three prizes, three winners.
Let’s talk about the faith of our characters.
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