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"Seekerville" - 5 new articles

  1. BEST OF THE ARCHIVES: The Perfect Pickup Line (Or How to Hook a Reader!)
  2. Meet The Crew of the Yankee Belle Cafe
  3. February Contest Update
  4. Find Your Genre…The Groundhog Way
  5. Twenty Things I Learned in Twenty Years as an Author
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search Seekerville
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

BEST OF THE ARCHIVES: The Perfect Pickup Line (Or How to Hook a Reader!)

Best of the Archives. 
First posted in 2010. 
Comments are closed today. 

Hey, beautiful, is it hot in here,
or is it just you?

Hello, gorgeous—you must be tired
‘cause you've been running through my mind all day.

Ouch, babe—did it hurt? You know,
when you fell from heaven?

Okay, I don’t know about you, but if I were young and single and a guy approached me with one of the lines above, they would be dead in the water. And let’s face it—“dead in the water” is not where you want to be, whether you’re a guy looking to hook up with a girl … OR an author looking to hook up with a reader.
A guy has only one chance to make a first impression on a girl … and a writer has only one chance to hook a reader or an editor into the story of their heart. Now, honestly, do you really want to blow it on a lackluster first line?
When I walk into a bookstore to buy a book, I am drawn first by the title, the cover, the jacket blurb and then finally the first line or paragraph. If the first line or paragraph doesn’t reel me in, I put the book back on the shelf. Why? Because I am a first-line freak who wants to be wooed into the book by a “pickup line” that grabs me by the throat and says, “Hey, baby, take me home.”
But, don’t take my word for it—Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor of Steeple Hill said this in her Seeker guest blog two months ago Joan Marlow Golan Guest Blog: “What grabs me in a proposal is a great opening line—I find dialogue especially effective, or a sentence that propels me into the middle of some drama. ‘Setup’ openings and descriptions of the setting do not grab my attention.” Joan went on to say that one of the major reasons manuscripts are rejected by editors are because “the opening wasn’t compelling, so we didn’t read any further.”
So … what exactly makes for a great opening line? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, it’s any number of the following things for which I have many examples, courtesy of the Seekers and a few of my own favorites. Keep in mind that I have broken them down into categories, but many of the following first lines incorporate a number of the categories, which, in my opinion, strengthens the line all the more:
1.) BREVITY: Yeah, yeah, I know I write 500-page books, so brevity is not exactly something Ruthy and I know a lot about, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love it—especially in other people! Here are some examples of brief first lines from the “100 Best First Lines of Novels” 100 Best First Lines of Novels as chosen by the editors of American Book Review. Notice that they are short and sweet and sold a ton of books:
Elmer Gantry was drunk.
Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis, 1927

It was a pleasure to burn.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know."
The Stranger, Albert Camus, 1942

And now a few fun examples from modern-day authors:

This was not the smartest way to die.
A Soldier’s Family, Cheryl Wyatt, March 2008

I would rather boil in oil than marry Noah Brenin.
Surrender the Heart, MaryLu Tyndall, August 2010

The sharks were circling.
Bobby Patterson had been at the party a total of three minutes.
But half that time was all it took for the smell of fresh blood
to circulate among the single women.
Love Remains, Kaye Dacus, August 2010

2.) DIALOGUE: Dialogue is always a winner because it automatically demands attention … you know, the old E. F. Hutton commercial that “when E. F. Hutton speaks, people listen”? Well, it’s the same with dialogue in the first line or paragraph—I instantly engage when I see quotes indicating somebody is talking to me, such as in the following examples of great first lines:
“Broken! It can’t be broken.”
Jilly Gardner squinted toward the light box where three X-rays
of her left ankle glowed in haunting shades of gray. “Take another look, Doc.
Maybe it’s just a smudge on your glasses.”
Where the Dogwood Blooms, Myra Johnson, July 2010

“You look awful.”
Will Sullivan shoved his hands into the back pockets of his Wranglers
and continued his intense scrutiny.
The Rancher’s Reunion, Tina Radcliffe, January 2011

3.) THOUGHTS: Ah … now THIS is my favorite, and many other writers as well, apparently, because when I polled the Seekers, the majority of them kick off their books with a thought, including me. That’s because a character’s thoughts are like a window into their soul and into the story. Not only do they carry the drama and appeal of dialogue, but they are usually both dramatic and practical, not only hooking a reader, but imparting insight into the character(s) or foreshadowing the problems ahead for that character. Here are some great Seeker examples:
Drop down and pretend to be dead.
Yeah, right. Samantha Reynolds took a tentative step backwards,
aware that tall sandstone buttes towering behind could trap her.
New Horizons, Sandra Leesmith.

Eat and leave. That’s all she had to do.
If Grandma didn’t kill her first for being late.
Sushi for One?, Camy Tang, September 2007

Cowboys ain’t nothing but trouble.
Second Chance Courtship, Glynna Kaye, February 2011

Ironically, I begin every one of my novels with the heroine’s thought. I guess this is because when I sit down and write a book, I become that character in my mind, so I just naturally pop out a thought. Somehow for me, this not only captures the essence of my character, but foreshadows the trouble ahead for her, such as in the following:
Sisters are overrated, she decided.
Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it.
A Passion Most Pure, Julie Lessman, January 2008

Poor, unsuspecting Mitch.
The dear boy—well, hardly a boy—doesn’t stand a chance.
A Passion Redeemed, Julie Lessman, September 2008
Sweet Thunderation—deliver me from pretty men!
Love at Any Cost, Julie Lessman, April 2013
I hope you’re hungry, Mr. Caldwell, because I’m serving up crow.
Surprised by Love, Julie Lessman, October 2014
When it comes to burning bridges, I am the Queen of Kerosene.
Isle of Hope, Julie Lessman, November 2015
4.) HUMOR: Now, when we talk humor in the Christian historical romance genre, for me, Mary Connealy is the queen, although Missy Tippens’ sweet, Southern style gives Mary a run for her money with her killer first line below in her contemporary novel, as does Betsy St. Amant. A reader automatically engages when an author makes him or her smile in the first line or paragraph, so if you have the knack … go for it!

The five horsemen of the Apocalypse rode in. Late as usual.
Calico Canyon, Mary Connealy, July 2008

If there was one thing Josie knew, it was the smell of a rich man.
And whoever had just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox.
Her Unlikely Family, Missy Tippens, January 2008

Unemployed. Single. And out of brownie mix.
A Valentine’s Wish, Betsy St. Amant, February 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged that
a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

5.) SHOCK: As a romance writer, shock is not exactly my thing, but there’s no denying its power in a first line as evident in the following examples.
Don't die, little girl.
Critical Care, Candace Calvert, May 2009

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie.
I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold, September 2009

I was six years old the first time I disappeared.

Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult, November 2005

6.) SUSPENSE: I always contend that it takes a smarter person to write romantic mystery or suspense because over and above the research, romance and engaging plot, you have the extra task of keeping your reader on pins and needles and surprising them at the end—not an easy thing to do. Here is an example from Seeker Debby Giusti who does this really well:
“Kate. I need your help.”
The urgency in the caller’s voice made Kate Murphy’s heart race.
“Who… Who is this?”
MIA: Missing in Atlanta, Debby Giusti, March 2008

7.) ACTION: Without question, action is a bona fide way to jerk your reader right into the story because it’s almost as if they are no longer just reading about someone else—they are actually experiencing the same thing too. For some reason, I didn’t have a lot of examples for action, so in addition to Seeker Pam Hillman’s action-packed first lines, I included one of my own from a prologue, which is a little long, but then what’s new?
Amanda Malone slammed into something hard and unforgiving.
The collision sent her cane flying. Strong arms wrapped around her,
keeping her from falling on her backside.
Eyes of the Heart, Pam Hillman.

She heard it before she felt it.
Harsh air sucking through clenched teeth, the grunt
of an arm raised, the soft swish of a hand slicing the air. “I want the truth—”
And then she felt it. The crack of knuckles when her jaw met
the back of his hand,  the thud of her head against the wall,
the putrid rise of nausea as it climbed in her throat.
“Did you sleep with him?”
“No, I swear—”
A Heart Revealed, Julie Lessman, September 2011

8.) INSIGHT INTO THE CHARACTER/STORY: To me, this is actually a lot like “thoughts” because it gives the reader a glimpse into the hero or heroine, but it’s done through action or the author’s description of the character. Anytime an author imparts insight into their character, it revs me for the story, such as in these excellent examples.
Elizabeth Manning had examined every option open to her.
But in the end, she had only one. Her heart lurched. She had to run.
The Substitute Bride, Janet Dean, February 2010

Charlotte Hale’s legs, hidden beneath her long serge skirt,
wobbled like a newborn colt’s.
Love on Assignment, Cara Lynn James, January 2011

Returning to Hawk Ridge pasted Zac Davidson smack in the middle
of a Hallmark movie, complete with endless commercials and burned popcorn.
Unfortunately, he'd never had use for idealized propaganda
and the notion of happy ever after.
Well, not in this lifetime.
Take Two, Audra Harders

He stood hard and unyielding,
one arm stretched across the entry as if to block Kayla’s approach.
Light spilled from the angled door of the old farmhouse,
warming the mold-hashed porch with a splash of gold,
backlighting his rugged frame.
Winter’s End, Ruth Logan Herne, March 2010

Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful,
but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm
as the Tarleton twins were."
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The Bible, God, 1384 AD

Okay, there you have it—my suggestions for coming up with great “pickup lines.” And remember … “pickup lines” are not just a handy tool for a guy who wants to hit on a girl in a bar … they’re a must for the writer who wants to hit on the hot button of an editor or reader … an editor or reader who, if you get lucky, just may take you home.

GIVEAWAY: Unfortunately, since this is an archive post with comments turned off, I can’t do a giveaway, but I can TELL you about giveaways going on right now, along with a preorder sale on my novella prequel, A Glimmer of Hope, so be sure to check out the graphics below for a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE, GIFT BASKETS, GIFT CARDS, FREE BOOKS, AND A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK! Hope to see you there!

 February 10-29, 2016:

Join Debbie Lynne Costello, MaryLu Tyndall, and me as we celebrate the release of our latest books with some fabulous prizes, including 2 Kindles, Amazon gift cards, gift baskets, and books galore! 


Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016
Friday, February 19, 2016
Friday, February 26, 2016
Monday, February 29, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016 — Winner’s Announced

A prequel novella to Isle of Hope?? Yes, it’s true, A GLIMMER OF HOPE is on sale for only 99 cents until it’s release date of March 1st, 66% off of the release-day price, so take advantage!

She’s a wounded girl serving up trouble.
He’s a pastor’s kid bent on serving God.
But can they find a glimmer of hope for a future together?

Come help me celebrate reader friend/blogger Jasmine Augustine’s birthday with a giveaway of A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK and your choice of an ecopy of Isle of Hope or A Glimmer of Hope! Contest starts today, February 5 through February 11, so come on by! Here’s the link:

February 7-13, 2016:

Win TWELVE signed paperback books by TOP CBA authors such as:

Hannah Alexander, Tamera Alexander, Colleen Coble, Robin Lee Hatcher, Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Julie Lessman, Cara Putman, Deborah Raney, Beth Vogt, Becky Wade, Susan May Warren




Meet The Crew of the Yankee Belle Cafe

When we first started Seekerville, we had no idea how it would grow and expand. It was just a sweet blog of writers helping writers, with no money involved... And it became a village.

Well what kind of village doesn't have a cafe or it's own town diner? 

And so began The Yankee Belle Cafe, a wonderful internet gathering spot for the other side of us: The side that cooks, cleans, works, nurtures, washes, shops, swats flies, scolds, bakes and runs whatever form of business we can... aside from writing! 

Today I am delighted to introduce all the gals who make the Yankee Belle Cafe a fun "go-to" place on the web... I'm Ruth Logan Herne, but at the cafe? They just call me "The Yank" because that's what I am! Youse all know me, so lets meet the rest of the cooks in the kitchen and below each cook's message is a glimpse of what they're giving away today! Leave a comment and we'll toss your name in the cake dish!

Monday's Hostess, "The Midwesterner" Jan Drexler!

Hey, everybody! Jan Drexler here, the Midwesterner at the Café. You’ll find my posts on Mondays.

In the thirty-plus years my husband and I have been married, we’ve lived all over the Midwest, from Michigan to Texas, Kentucky to South Dakota, and points in between. As much as we hated moving, we loved learning about our new homes and the local cooking. At the Café I share my favorite recipes – new and old – that I’ve collected along the way. I also throw in a healthy number of Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch recipes, passed down from my grandmothers. And since we live in the Black Hills of South Dakota now, I share a bit of cowboy cooking from time to time.

It was hard to find my favorite post to share, but since spring is coming (It is, I promise!) I thought I’d share this recipe for my favorite spring tonic – Rhubarb Custard Pie. Enjoy!

Jan Drexler grew up surrounded by books and storytellers. With pastors and teachers populating both sides of her extended family, we aren’t surprised that she wanted to be a first-class storyteller herself. She writes for Love Inspired Historical and Revell Publishing.

Born and raised in Michigan, Jan is the descendant of Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants who settled in Berks, Somerset, and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania in mid-1700.

Her first love was homeschooling, but when her youngest son graduated she asked God to give her something useful to do for the next phase of her life. The answer was a computer and the deep well of family stories handed down from her parents and grandparents.

Autographed copy of "Hannah's Choice" and a copy of "Amish Cooks Across America"

Tuesday's Barista "The Texan" Mindy Obenhaus:

Howdy, y’all! Mindy Obenhaus, aka The Texan, coming to you every Tuesday at the Yankee-Belle Café.

Cooking is my love language. Whether it’s whipping up a batch of homemade biscuits to start your day, tantalizing your taste buds with some yummy Tex-Mex or smokin’ a big ol’ brisket, I’ve got you covered. But why stop with these regional favorites when there’s so much food to be explored? And the Yankee-Belle is definitely the place to do that. If you like food, the Yankee-Belle is the place to be.

It’s hard to nail down just one favorite recipe, so I’ll settle for sharing a staple. This biscuit recipe was passed down from my girls’ great-grandmother. Let me tell you, there’s nothing better on a cold winter’s morn that a pan of piping hot biscuits.

Prep dishes, spice collection and "A Father's Second Chance"!


Wednesday's Hostess, "The Healthy Writer" Cate Nolan:

Hey everyone, Cate here. I'm the newest member of the cafe staff. I write for Love Inspired Suspense but I promise there's nothing deadly in my cooking. Actually, I'm the "Healthy Writer." We all know that writing is not the most healthy, weight-friendly occupation. Too much time sitting in a chair, too much chocolate and coffee (Okay, there's no such thing as too much chocolate and coffee if you're trying to make a deadline!) Every Wednesday, I try to bring a recipe or a food to prove that it's possible to cook healthy foods that taste great too.

Two of my favorite posts have been Chocolate-dipped fruit (all those anti-oxidants!)  and a recent one - sweet potatoes cooked in orange juice with pomegranates and pecans. So good!

Just yesterday I was sharing healthy alternatives for Super Bowl snacking! I hope you'll come on by and visit for some fun and healthy eating. 

I'm giving away my all time favorite gadget - the coolest garlic press. How to get perfect, fresh garlic without making your hands stink!

Cate Nolan lives in New York City, but she escapes to the ocean any chance she gets. A devoted mom, wife and teacher, Cate loves to leave her real life behind and play with the characters in her imagination. She’s got that suspense writer gene that sees danger and a story in everyday occurrences. Cate particularly loves to write stories of faith enabling ordinary people to overcome extraordinary danger.

A copy of Cate's debut novel "Christmas in Hiding" and her garlic press!
Thursday's Gal "The Yank" Ruth Logan Herne
Ruthy's got the sweet tooth working, she's been a professional baker and loves to sugar things up north of the Mason/Dixon line, but she has to cook standard fare, too, so it's anybody's guess what she'll bring to the table! A born northern girl, comfort foods are a family favorite, and if it can hold gravy, the only question is: How much? One of her favorite posts is this crazy popular "Patriotic" Berry pie:

Baking fun! Cupcake corer, cupcake wrappers, decorating tips and bags with a signed copy
of "An Unexpected Groom"!

Friday's Barista, "The Belle" Missy Tippens 

Missy Tippens, here. I was born and raised in Kentucky and have been in Georgia ever since I met my future husband in grad school. I'm the Belle part of Yankee-Belle. Ruthy and I joined together several years ago to provide a Cafe when Tina developed the village for the Seekerville website. And we're still going strong! 

We have such good time together, sharing recipes and other fun times. I try to bring southern favorites but often end up sharing recipes that I throw together with the ingredients on hand. :) Today I thought I'd share one of my favorites that a couple of you mentioned this past weekend on the blog. :) 

Fried Okra with The Belle

A signed copy of "The Doctor's Second Chance" and Missy's favorite potato masher!

Weekend Barista and Chief Cook "The Fresh Pioneer" Mary Jane Hathaway:

"I love anything fresh!  My husband does a wonderful job of growing delicious edibles on our little acre of land in a valley renowned for its long growing seasons. (I try to do my part and not burn the food when I cook it. No promises.) My posts run the gamut from simple heirloom tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar to individual triple layer chocolate mousse cakes to fresh grilled cactus. I believe in enjoying all the deliciousness that this world has to offer, especially the natural foods that come right from my own backyard. Pop on by Saturday or Sunday to check out what's on the menu!
I couldn’t pick one single recipe so here’s a post where I moved to the weekends (from Wednesday, I think it was) a few years ago. I link a whole bunch of different recipes, with pictures. There are recipes for fresh fruit smoothies, pesto, baked chicken and mushrooms, mulberry sorbet, tarte tatin, ratatouille, enchilada soup, salsa, lilac jelly, etc., etc.!
Mary Jane's Bio:
Mary Jane Hathaway is an award-nominated writer of Christian fiction and a home schooling mom of six young children who rarely wear shoes. She holds degrees in linguistics and religious studies from the University of Oregon and lives with her habanero-eating husband, Crusberto, who is her polar opposite in all things except faith. They've learned to speak in short-hand code and look forward to the day they can actually finish a sentence.

In the meantime, Mary Jane thanks God for the laughter and abundance of hugs that fill her day as she plots her next book. She also writes under the pen name of Virginia Carmichael and loves to meet readers on her facebook page of Mary Jane Hathaway, on the weekends at the cooking blog Yankee Belle Café, or over at Huffington Post where she blogs about all things books.

E-copies of the Cane River Romance series and the cute measuring jar set!
Come on inside, there's coffee, tea, and all kinds of good things to eat... nobody does it better! Leave a comment to have your name tossed into the cake dish... and thanks so much for stopping in, we are delighted to have you!

February Contest Update

Welcome to the February Contest Update. This issue is jam packed, so grab a beverage of choice and let's get going. Remember that this update is easily available all month under the Contest Tab at the top of the Seekerville blog, and on our website here.

Bookreviewers! Here's another opportunity for books for your reviewing pleasure! BookGrabbr! Check it out!

Published Manuscript Contests

Carolyn Readers Choice Award is open. Deadline February 14, 2016.

Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards Opens January 1. Deadline March 1, 2016.

ACFW Carol Awards. Opens January 2. Deadline March 15, 2016. 

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

Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest. Opens February 15. Deadline March 31. 

Published Maggie's. Opens January 1. Deadline April 2, 2016.

Unpublished Manuscript Contests

Great Beginnings Contest. Opens January 1. Deadline February 14.   Enter the opening five (5) pages of romance novels of all sub-genres (projected length of at least 50,000 words).Eligibility: Contest is open to published and unpublished authors. Published authors may submit only unpublished, uncontracted manuscripts that will remain unpublished until the contest has concluded.NOTE on Judging: Every entry will be judged 3 times, at least once by a PAN member.

Contemporary: Single title, category, mainstream, or inspirational.
Historical: Single title, category, Regency, suspense, mainstream, or inspirational.
Paranormal: Time travel, ghost, futuristic, inspirational.

Romantic Suspense: Single title, category.

Final Judges:
Contemporary: Karen Solem, agent with Spencerhill Associates
Paranormal: John Scognamiglio, senior editor, Kensington Publishing
Romantic Suspense: Nicole Resciniti, agent with the Seymour Agency
Historical: Danielle Egan-Miller, agent with Browne and Miller Literary Associates

Cleveland Rocks Romance. Deadline February 14. Entrants must be unpublished in book-length fiction (minimum 40,000 words) in the last five years. For the purpose of this contest, unpublished means the author or authors have not accepted a publishing offer for, or self-published, a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more. Entry consits of the first chapter up to 5,000 words for all categories except novella category (first chapter up to 3,000 words).

Contemporary Long Romance–Mary Altman (Sourcebooks), Laura Kelly (The Wild Rose Press), and Elaine Spencer (The Knight Agency)

Contemporary Short Romance–Adrienne Macintosh (Harlequin), Jill Marsal (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency), and Latoya C. Smith (Samhain Publishing)

Historical Romance–Allison Byers (The Wild Rose Press),  Heidi Moore (Samhain Publishing), and Kimberly Lionetti (Bookends a Literary Agency)

Paranormal Romance– Cat Clyne (Sourcebooks), Trisha Skinner (Fuse Literary), and Debby Gilbert (Soul Mate Publishing)

Novella–Tara Gelsomino (Crimson Romance), Vicki Selvaggio (Jennifer De Chiara Literary), and Editors from Boroughs Publishing

Mainstream with Strong Romantic Elements–Bethany Blair (Penguin Random House), Char Chaffin (Soul Mate Publishing), and Kerry D’Agostino (Curtis Brown Ltd)

Young Adult/New Adult– Rachel Brooks (L. Perkins Agency), Jennifer Herrington (Bookfish Books), and Lydia Sharp (Entangled Publishing)

Fab Five. Opens January 1-Deadline (received) March 1. Entry: First 2500 words of ms. No synopsis. Unpublished authors only.Categories will be capped at thirty-five (35) entries. Any submissions received after a category has been capped will be returned.

Historical: Elle Keck, Avon & Abby Saul, Browne & Miller Literary Assoc.

Inspirational: Raela Schoenherr, Bethany House & Claudia Cross, Folio Literary Management

P/F/F/TT: Chris Keeslar, Boroughs Publishing Gp. & Laura Zats, Red Sofa Literary

Romantic Suspense: Amy Stapp, Tor Books & Lane Heymont, The Seymour Agency

Series Contemporary: Alexandra Sehulster, St. Martin's Press & Rachael Dugas, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Single Title: Lydia Sharp, Entangled Publishing & Jessica Watterson, Sandra Dijkstra Agency

Women's Fiction: Kate Seaver, Berkley Publishing Group & Carly Watters, PS Literary Agency

Young Adult/New Adult: Elizabeth Lynch, HarperCollins & Whitley Abell, Inklings Literary Agency. 

ACFW Genesis. Opens January 2. Deadline March 15. Unpublished authors only.Entry consists of a one page, single-spaced synopsis, followed by the first 15 pages of your manuscript.The top 7 semi-finalists in each category will be announced by May 5, 2016.The three finalists in each category will be announced by June 15, 2016.Winners will be announced on August 27 during the Awards Gala at ACFW's national conference in Nashville.

Historical Romance
Romantic Suspense
Short Novel
Young Adult 

Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense Unpublished Division. Deadline March 15. For each entry, entrants will electronically submit the FIRST 5,000 words of the manuscript with a synopsis of no more than 675 words. The synopsis is not judged but included for the judges’ reference.

AGENT: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
EDITOR: Patience Bloom, Harlequin Books

AGENT: Maria Carvainis, Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
EDITOR: Esi Sogah, Kensington Publishing Corp.

AGENT: Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency
EDITOR: Raela Schoenherr, Bethany House

AGENT: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger, Inc.
EDITOR: Tracy Bernstein, NAL

AGENT: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
EDITOR: Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin's Press

AGENT: Christine Witthohn, Book Cents Literary Agency

EDITOR: Michelle Vega, The Berkley Publishing Group

Fire and Ice. Deadline March 18. Manuscript must have a projected word count of at least 50K. Entry consists of first 3,000 words.New this year! Include an optional QUERY LETTER as the first page of your entry. Never fear, the query letter will not be included in your final score, but by submitting one, you’ll get the chance to find out if preliminary judges would request to read more. All finalists will have the option of including their query in the final round to be read by our final agent and editor judges.
Contemporary Romance:

Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks (editor)
Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management (agent)

Historical Romance

Julie Mianecki, Penguin Random House (editor)
Daniel Barthel, New Leaf Literary (agent)

Romantic Suspense

Peter Senftleben, Kensington (editor)
Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (agent)

Young Adult Romance

Suzanne Evans, Entangled Publishing (editor)
Elizabeth Copps, Maria Carvainis Agency (agent)

Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal Romance

Allison Carroll, HQN (editor)
Jessica Sinsheimer, Sarah Jane Freymann Agency (agent)

Royal Ascot. Deadline March 27. Entry consists of the first 7,000 words. Open to unpublished authors and published writers seeking representation and/or a publisher. All works entered should be unpublished (self or traditional) and uncontracted. All entries must have at least partial Regency (Late Georgian) setting, broadly defined: within the United Kingdom between 1780 and 1840.

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)

Final Round Judges:

Allison Byers of The Wild Rose Press
Brenda Chin of Imajinn/Belle Books

and more to come!

 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest. Opens February 15. Deadline March 31. 

An entry in the unpublished book category consists of a one-page synopsis  and the first 15 pages of the manuscript for the following categories:

Contemporary Fiction Book
Historical Fiction Book
Speculative Fiction Book
Nonfiction Book: Note: The nonfiction synopsis may be written in either paragraph form or chapter-by-chapter outline, depending on the type of book.
Memoir Book
Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction Book
Children’s Chapter Book (ages 6–8) and Picture Book (ages 2–10+)                         

Fiction and Nonfiction: Entry consists of a one-page synopsis and the first 10 pages of the manuscript for Chapter Books. But for a Picture Book – submit the entire text of the book with no synopsis and without illustrations or artwork. 

Romance Through the Ages. Contest Opens February 15. Deadline March 31. Entry consists of 25 pages max, plus optional 1-2 page synopsis (unjudged).Unpublished authors may enter any category.Published authors may enter any category in which they’re not published, or in which they’ve not been contracted for publication within the past five years.

Final Judges

Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance: TBA
Georgian/Regency/Victorian: TBA
Colonial/Western/Civil War: TBA
Post Victorian/World War II: Amy Sherwood, Samhain Publishing
Time-Travel/Historical Paranormal: Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
Historical Erotic: Jennifer Glover, The Wild Rose Press
Historical Novella: TBA
Historical YA: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

Legends Award – A Man For All Reasons: Gabrielle Keck, Harper Collins

Fool For Love. Opens March 1. Deadline April 1. Contest is open to published and unpublished authors. Published authors may submit only unpublished, uncontracted manuscripts into the Published Category only. Enter the opening pages of your unpublished/uncontracted manuscript, not to exceed 7,500 words (approximately 30 pages).

Categories and Final Judges: 
Short Contemporary – Michele Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency; 
Long Contemporary – Isabel Farhi, Berkley Publishing; 
Historical – Rebecca Strauss, DeFiore & Co.; 
Dark Paranormal – Tricia Skinner, Fuse Literary Agency;
Light Paranormal – Madeleine Colavita, Grand Central Publishing; 
Romantic Suspense – Allison Lyons, Harlequin; 
New Adult – Amanda Leuck, Spencerhill Associates; 
Young Adult – Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Agency; 

Published Author – Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin's Press.

Other Writing Stuff

Time for reviewing a post called 
as we feature short story markets this month.

Big News at Woman's World Magazine. Fiction editor, Johnene Granger, has retired after 16 years of reading our fiction and mystery submissions. Patricia Gaddis has taken over and there is no second reader. As always Patricia sends all stories on to the Executive Editor for final approval. More news: submissions are electronic as are contracts.  If you submit via snail mail, your submission will still be read. Save trees , time and stamps and consider submitting electronically. For authors who have sold to WW in the past, send your submission to - for authors who have not sold to WW yet, submit to

If you do not hear back, re: print or email submission, you can consider that your story has not been accepted. More good news. Patricia Gaddis is now a member of the Woman's World Yahoo Loop and available to answer your questions. So do consider joining. Send an email to  No changes to word count or payment has been mentioned. 

Looking for some other ways to make money writing for Woman's World? Check ou this information:

True Story and True Confessions Magazine.  Join the Yahoo Group to stay informed. Editors are active on the loop.  Along with stories which are 3-7K, they also pay for feature columns. They accept sweet stories! Guidelines are available here. 

Another terrific paying market for your short fiction is Splickety Magazine. Check out the guidelines here.

Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. Deadline February 15. Personal essay must be 450 words or less. Cash prizes! “Hook ’em with the lead. Hold ’em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won't forget." ˜ Erma Bombeck 

WOW! Women on Writing. Winter 2016 Flash Fiction Contest with guest Judge Brooke Warner. The Winter Contest is open to all genres of fiction between 250 - 750 words. Only 300 stories are accepted, so enter early to ensure your spot in the contest. Deadline: February 28, 2016. Cash prizes.

Florida Keys Flash Fiction Contest. Deadline March 31. Submit your finest flash fiction story, 500 words or less. Enter the Florida Keys Flash Fiction Contest to win a three-week Key West residency at the renowned Studios of Key West between July 5 and July 31, 2016. Inspire your creativity by spending up to 10 days writing in Ernest Hemingway’s private study at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum — and experience Hemingway Days 2016, celebrating the iconic author who called Key West home in the 1930s. Accommodations, an air travel card and a meal gift card are included as part of the prize as set forth in the official contest rules.

The Chicken Soup upcoming topic line up can be found here.

And just for fun, enter the Harlequin Valentine's Day Contest here.

Seekerville is delighted to introduce the February Contest Diva!

2013 My Book Therapy’s Frasier - Bronze Medalist
2014 ACFW-Central Florida’s Sonshine Scribes “Save Our Synopses” - Second Place
2014 My Book Therapy’s Frasier - Finalist
2014 ACFW First Impressions - Winner, Historical Romance
2015 My Book Therapy’s Frasier - Bronze Medalist
2015 ACFW First Impressions - Winner, Historical Romance (Agent Request)
2015 Promising Beginnings - Finalist

Imagine my surprise when I placed in the first contest I entered in 2013. Perhaps stunned is a better word for my shock. I joined ACFW in 2009 to learn how to write novels, participating in several online courses and a young adult critique group. During this time, I devoured craft books and did more critiquing than writing. It wasn’t until I became a member of My Book Therapy that the information I had acquired began to make sense. When the critique group disbanded, three of us remained craft partners. And I followed my heart to write adult Christian historical romance novels.

While I’ve experienced some success, my revised MBT 2013 Frasier Bronze Medal entry didn’t find traction in the ACFW 2013 First Impressions contest. Nor did another submission earn favor in the 2014 Phoenix Rattler. But submitting my work has allowed me to test my story ideas and evaluate my writing skills before I write the full manuscripts.

After each contest, I create a table comparing the judges’ scores and note where they’ve made comments or suggestions in my entry. For the most part, the feedback has been very consistent, enabling me to see exactly what I need to change. Thank you, judges, for sharing your expertise with me!

Contesting is teaching me how to silence my internal editor to meet deadlines. Great preparation for meeting a future publisher’s deadlines. I’m meeting new writing colleagues and learning more about the book publishing industry. But the biggest blessing of all is I’m discovering I possess a God-given gift to write!

If you are thinking of entering a contest, do it! Take this opportunity to submit your writing and receive advice from professional authors, agents, and editors. Let God lead you toward publication, one entry at a time.

A Washington State native, Deb Garland is a pastor’s wife, avid sailor, and is writing several Christian Historical Romance novels in Timepieces of the San Juan Islands. She is a member of ACFW, My Book Therapy, and Stitches Thru Time Writers. A reading specialist, she wrote short stories and articles published in Good Reading for Everyone, Guide, High Adventure, Jr. Trails, Young & Alive, and Stanwood-Camano News. She earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary because her passion is to teach God’s truth to all ages. Connect with Deb at, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

You made it to the end of this month's Contest Update! Well done. Now go leave a comment for a chance to win Valentine's Day Chocolate, courtesy of Godiva and Seekerville. Let us know if you like milk, or dark.

Let's throw in two 15 page critique prizes for the Genesis too!! Let us know you really want it!

That's it! Now go forth and Contest!

This contest update was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Check out the Weekend Edition here, for opportunities to win her January release from Love Inspired, Rocky Mountain Reunion. Find her at and

Find Your Genre…The Groundhog Way

with guest Meghan Carver.

What an honor to be a guest on Seekerville today! I feel like I’m sitting at the banquet table with the royalty of writing. I’ve been reading and commenting here for quite a while, but to actually guest post? What a thrill!

Happy Groundhog Day! Will it be six weeks of winter or six weeks of spring? Here in Indiana, it’s more like two days of winter, four days of spring, a week of winter, a day of spring…. Well, you get the idea. 

In case you need a reminder, Groundhog Day is the day that Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his hole in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with great pomp and ceremony. We’re talking men in tuxedos and top hats! If the groundhog sees his shadow and pops back into his hole, that means we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then we get an early spring.

For some of us (ahem…me), seeking publication can be a bit like Punxsutawney Phil popping out of his hole year after year. I’ve flopped around from genre to genre until I discovered what fit best. (And I’m guessing it fits since my debut novel, Under Duress, comes out this month! )

My first pop out of my hole was to try children’s picture books. I have six children, so I was spending an extraordinary amount of time reading children’s books. I can do that, I thought. I set out to write a picture book for each of my children’s birthdays, each at the requisite thirty-two pages and illustrated by my then eleven-year-old. The children were thrilled, but it didn’t take much reading of writer and agent blogs to realize how incredibly difficult it is to find a publisher for children’s literature. Back into my hole I went.  

The next time I showed my head above-ground, I had written a legal suspense. My dream since grade school was to write a novel, and my dad, a lawyer, had hooked me on John Grisham and Scott Turow. I have a law degree, so I can do that, I thought. I pecked away at my laptop and finished my first novel. I did have an agent write that I had a voice that made him want to read on, but it was still a rejection. A couple more rejections later, I retreated into my hole.

My next pop out of my hole was with women’s fiction. I had always enjoyed women’s fiction, and I had a great idea for a series. I’m a woman, so I can do that, I thought. I completed Book One, entered a contest…then saw my shadow and popped back into my den. 

Time-slip novels. I like those! They’re a nice blend of contemporary and historical, not too much research but enough to keep it interesting. I can do that, I thought. I went to work in my den on a time-slip novel, this one relying heavily on the life of my paraplegic father. I tapped away until The End, edited, then submitted to contests and agents. A few rejections later, I retreated underground again, thinking I should just shelve that one as a tribute to my father’s unparalleled life.

Okay, what next? I scratched my furry little groundhog head and wondered what I could write that might hasten the advent of spring. Since speculative fiction was out for me, I was quickly running out of genres. Romance? Romance was popular, always is popular, but who wants to write kissing scenes? Eeew! (Says the writer with six children.) Well, at my first ACFW conference ever, the Lord brought into my life a sweet and encouraging Love Inspired Historical author who had just sold her first book. (Hi, Angel Moore!) I left that conference energized, thinking I can do that! I got right to work, but I never did pop out of my hole with that one. The Love Inspired editors announced a search for suspense stories. 

When I did finally pop out of my hole with romantic suspense, I knew I’d found my genre. With my second romantic suspense manuscript, the winter of waiting was over. 

So, what’s a groundhog to do while in the hole? How do we find the genre that fits us best? 

Read widely. Read lots of different genres to see which resonates with you. Which is most interesting? Which fits your voice? Your personality?

Pray. Seek God’s wisdom about the opportunities before you. He will guide you if you’ll listen.

Seek Godly counsel. Talk to friends, both writers and readers, who know your writing. 

Write widely. Try your hand at different genres that interest you. You’ll know best how much time to spend. It may not be an entire novel but a short story or flash fiction.

Study the industry. So much of what I’ve learned about writing and publishing (which really isn’t that much, despite my masquerading here on Seekerville as a guest) comes from reading blogs and attending conferences. You have a good start by being here at Seekerville! Agent blogs provide much education as well as editors on Twitter, and it’s hard to go wrong with time spent with your ear to the ground at a good writing conference.

So, let’s talk! What’s your genre? How did you discover it? What advice would you share for finding the right place in the publishing landscape?

By sixth grade, Meghan Carver knew she wanted to write. After earning a degree in English from Millikin University, she detoured to law school, earning a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University. She then worked in immigration law and taught Comp 101 at the local college. Now, she home schools her six children with her college professor husband. When she isn’t writing, homeschooling, or planning the family’s next travel adventure, she is active in her church, sews for her kidlets, and reads. 

Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win a print copy of Under Duress. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Family on the Run

Criminals are trying to kidnap attorney Samantha Callahan's adopted daughter, Lily—and she has no idea why. So when bullets start flying, Samantha and Lily speed off in her car…and crash right into help. Ex-cop Reid Palmer is shocked when former law school classmate Samantha rear-ends his car and then climbs in with her daughter and begs him to drive. Now they are on the run, and Reid will do anything to protect them and figure out why kidnappers are after Lily. As they struggle to evade capture, Reid begins to realize that Samantha is more to him than just a woman in trouble. But with the enemies closing in and their motives finally revealed, will Reid be able to make sure justice is served?


Twenty Things I Learned in Twenty Years as an Author

Victoria Alexander
Twenty Things I Learned in Twenty Years as an Author
By Victoria Alexander

Hi, Mary Connealy reporting in but I'm letting someone else do the talking today. No, NYT Bestselling author, Victoria Alexander is NOT my guest today on Seekerville. But she is in my Omaha chapter of Romance Writer's of America and she gave this speech as the keynote at our January writer's retreat and I was just struck by every word of it being true. And counting the ten years I spent trying to get published, the list works perfectly for me, too.

I asked her if I could use it and she graciously said yes.

She sent me the list and added five more things, which are also true. But she didn't change the name of the list which is classic, funny Victoria. She said to call them Bonus Lessons.

And, Victoria said, a couple of them aren't really writing related they're more like LIFE LESSONS.

1. Publishing is a business and writing is a job.

2. Regret your mistakes but don't dwell on them, and don't dwell on those things you cannot change.

3. Keep moving forward.

4. There is no right way or wrong way to publish. There is no right or wrong way to write.

5. Be willing to try something new, embrace opportunity when it comes along, and now and then, take a chance.

6. Read.

7.  No matter how beautiful the aging cover model is, the product she is selling—with the secret formula developed by a top skin expert—is really not going to make you look like her or make you look younger.

8.  A fabulous writer is not necessarily a fabulous story teller.

9. Inspiration is everywhere you just have to be open to it.

10. Every book should be the book of your heart.

11. Use post it notes.

12. If writing doesn't get harder with every book, you're not doing it right.

13. Listen to legitimate criticism, ignore bad reviews, don't believe everything you read on facebook, Amazon, the internet.

14. A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold.

15. You probably won’t win powerball.

Click to Buy ebook on Amazon
16. Make writer friends.

17. Your agent works for you. You do not work for her.

18. Get everything—every promise—in writing.

19. Muster your courage and don't be afraid to move on when you need to. From an editor, publisher, agent.

20. Educate yourself.


21. Pick and choose what you do for free.

22. Writing is the hardest thing in the world.

23. Staying published is harder than getting published. Getting published is only the beginning.

24. Never miss an opportunity to promote your latest book.

25. The 2 best words in the English language are The End.

Mary again: What do you think? Do any of these ring true for you? Any additions? This list can be as long as we'd like.
Giveaway today, a signed copy of With This Ring? A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry (my novella collection with Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings and Seekervillager Melissa Jagears) A signed copy of Lassoed by Marriage, a nine author novella collection that includes me and Seekervillager Rose Ross Zediker,
AND a copy from me of Victoria Alexander's Same Time, Next Christmas. It's not Christian fiction so know that, but I love her work.

Click to buy ebook on Amazon

About Victoria Alexander
New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was much more fun than real life. She has written thirty-one full length novels and six novellas. The Perfect Wife—originally published in 1996 and reissued in March 2008—hit #1 on the New York Times list.  Sixteen of her books are bestsellers hitting the New York Times, USA Today and/or Publishers Weekly bestseller lists and is a 2 time RITA award nominee. In 2008 she was the keynote speaker for the Romance Writers of American annual conference in San Francisco.

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