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"Seekerville" - 5 new articles

  1. September Contest Update
  2. How to Be a Fabulous Writer in Three (Not-So) Easy Steps
  3. Cinderella to her Fairy Godmother – “Thanks for the dress, lady, but where were you ten years ago when I was enslave by my stepmother?”
  4. The Weekend Edition
  5. Best of the Archives: Pam's Writing World
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search Seekerville
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

September Contest Update

Back to school and back to the contest circuit!
It's been an AMAZING year for our Villagers who entered contests.
If you entered a contest raise your hand!
Leave a comment today and get your name on the chalkboard for one of two giveaways! A Super Hero Mug and a surprise book package. 
Two winners announced in the WEEKEND EDITION.

Published Manuscripts

Cover the WordsDeadline:  September 4, 2016.

Unpublished Manuscripts

 The Beacon. Deadline August 31. ENDS TODAY! Open to non-RWA writers. Published authors are eligible to enter any category in which they have not been contracted and/or published in book-length fiction (40,000 words and over) in the last 3 years.  (Self-published authors are considered published.)  Entry: First 25 pages of the manuscript. The entrant may also include an optional 5-page synopsis for a maximum of 30 pages. (Synopsis will not be judged.)  


Category or Series Romance (Short Contemporary Romance)
 Agent: Scott Eagan-Greyhaus Literary Agency
Editor: Kathryn Lye-Harlequin

Contemporary Romance (Single Title)
Agent: Rebecca Strauss–De Fiore & Co. Literary Agency
Editor: Elizabeth Poteet of St. Martin’s Press

Erotic Romance
Agent: LaToya C. Smith, Lori Perkins Agency
Editor: Toni Kelley – Acquisitions Editor eXtasy Books

Historical Romance (Including Regency)
Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan-Handspun Literary Agency
Editor: Elle Keck-HarperCollins (Avon)

Romantic Elements
Agent: Shannon Hassan, The Marsal Lyon Agency
Editor: Susan Litman-Harlequin

Romantic Suspense
Agent: Laurie McLean – Managing Partner; Fuse Literary Agency
Editor: Nicole Fischer-HarperCollins (Avon)

Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic Romance
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Agency
Editor: Tera Cuskaden, Editorial Director for Entangled’s Select Otherworld

Young Adult
Agent: Jessica Errera of Jane Rotrosen Agency
Editor: KC Mead-Brewer, Developmental Editor for Bancroft Press

Inspirational ***OPPORTUNITY!!!
Agent: Melissa Jeglinski-The Knight Agency
Editor: Shana Asaro-Harlequin Love Inspired

Heart to Heart. Deadline August 31. ENDS TODAY! Open to non-RWA writers. Enter the scene(s) in which the protagonists meet for the first time or for the first time in the book, if previously acquainted, up to a maximum of 15 page.Open to all writers unpublished by an RWA-approved publisher as of the entry deadline. Prospective entrants may be published with a non RWA-recognized publisher. However, they may not enter books/manuscripts that have been professionally edited or have ISBN numbers. 

2016 Final Judges
    Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency - Agent
    Elle Keck, Harper Collins - Print Editor
    Toni Kelley, Extasy Books - E-Pub Editor 

    Sarah Bush, Trident Media Group - Agent
    Adam Wilson, Gallery/Simon and Schuster - Print Editor
    Tera Cuskaden, Entangled - E-Pub Editor

    Tamar Rydzinski, Laura Dail Literacy Agency - Agent
    Nicole Fisher, Avon - Print Editor
    Alycia Tornetta, Entangled - E-Pub Editor

    Lane Haymont, The Seymour Agency - Agent
    Bethany Blair, Berkley - Print Editor
    Stephanie Doig, Carina Press - E-Pub Editor

    Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary - Agent
    Michael Strother, Harlequin - Print Editor
    Samantha McMahon, SoulMate Publishing - E-Pub Editor

Hot Prospects Deadline September 1. Open to non-RWA writers. The Hot Prospects Contest is open to any Romance work uncontracted and unpublished at the time of entry. Entry consists of up to the first 30 pages to include a 3-5 page synopsis and up to 25 pages of your manuscript.

Single Title Contemporary-
    Senior Editor – Johanna Raisanen – Harlequin
    Editor – Victoria Curnan – Harlequin

Romantic Suspense:
    Editor – Stephanie Doig – Carina Press
    Agent – Melissa Jeglinkski – Knight Agency

    Editor – Rhonda Penders – Wild Rose Press
    Editor – Kate Seaver – Berkley

    Editor – Melissa Singer – TOR
    Editor – Michelle Klayman – Borroughs Publishing

Young Adult/New Adult Romance:
    Editor – Annie Berger – Source Books
    Agent – Michelle Grajkowski – 3 Seas literary agency

Inspirational Romance****OPPORTUNITY!!!
    Editor – Giselle Regus – Love Inspired Harlequin
    Editor –  Raela Schoenherr – Revell Bethany House

Erotic Romance:
    Editor Brenda Chin – Entangled
    Editor  – Kate Brauning – Entangled

Phoenix Rattler Contest (Christian Writers of the West). Deadline September 3. Submit the first ten (10) contiguous pages of your novel plus a one-page synopsis of the whole book. Completed manuscript no required to enter. THIS IS A GREAT CONTEST TO GET YOUR DIVA/DIVO FEET WET!!
Contemporary (includes Contemporary, Women's, Romance)    Michelle Grawkowski    Agent, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Historical (before 1960, includes Historical Romance)    Tamela Hancock Murray     The Steve Laube Agency

Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense    Elizabeth Mazer    Editor, Harlequin Love Inspired

Young Adult (for under 18)    Rachel Kent    Agent, Books & Such Literary Management

Speculative Fiction    Susanne Lakin    Copy Editor, Writing Coach, Owner-Live Write Thrive

Fiction from the Heartland. Deadline September 7. Open to non-RWAwriters. Entry must have a projected minimum length of 40,000 words. Contest will have no more than ten overall finalists from all categories. Manuscripts must achieve 85% or greater of
the total points possible to qualify as a finalist. Finalists will be judged by an industry editor AND agent.

• Category Romance includes all novels intended for series lines
• Contemporary Single Title
• Historical Romance
• Romantic Suspense
• Paranormal Romance includes time travel, fantasy and futuristic
• Erotic Romance
• Young Adult Romance / New Adult Romance
• Inspirational Romance

 Elle Keck, Assistant Editor, Harper Collins
 Patience Bloom, Senior Editor, Harlequin
 Theresa Cole, Editor, Entangled Publishing
 David Long, Bethany House

 Shira Hoffman, McIntosh and Otis
 Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency
 Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Literary Agency
 Nicole Resciniti, Seymour Agency

Gateway to the Best. Deadline September 9. Open to non-RWA writers. Entry consists of up to the first 7000 words of manuscript. The Grand Prize winner will receive a 2-hour coaching session with writing coach Michael Hauge (valued at $700), the Gateway Charm, and a certificate of achievement.

Contemporary Single Title/Series
Final Judge:  Diana Steger, Editor, Evernight Publishing

Final Judge:  Kathryn Chesire, Editor, Historical Team, Mills Boon/Harlequin

Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel/Alternate Reality
Final Judge:  Stephanie Doig, Assistant Editor, Carina Press

Women's Fiction with strong romantic elements
Final Judge:  Kristine Swartz, Editor, Berkley

Romantic Suspense
Tera Cuskaden, Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing

Young or New Adult
Final Judge:  Megha Parekh, Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Suzannah. Deadline October 1. The Suzannah is different from most other writers’ contests in that  published authors and unpublished writers all compete against one another in a single pool of entries without categories. Entry consists of maximum of 7,200 words, including synopsis (there is no restriction on length of synopsis, so long as the entire entry does NOT exceed 7,200) *not a cheap contest, but cash prize for the winner*

All six finalists will have their entries evaluated by the full panel of agents and editors. Our 2016 panel of final round judges includes:

Linda Scalissi, Three Seas Literary Agency
Sharon Pelletier, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
Jessica Errera, Jane Rotrosen Agency
Victoria Curran, Sr. Editor, Harlequin Heartwarming and Superromance
Lexi Smail, Assistant Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Editor#3 – TBA

The Emily. Deadline October 2. No synopsis!First 5,600 words, end on a hook, so less may be better.Open to published authors (you cannot have published in any form or length a title in your entry category during the 3 years prior to the contest deadline).Three first round judges for all entries. Lowest score dropped.

Long Contemporary –
Editor: Danielle Marshall, Amazon / Lake Union Publishing
Agent: Paige Wheeler, Creative Media Agency, Inc.

Short Contemporary
Editor: Brenda Chin, Entangled Publishing LLC
Agent: Carrie Pestritto , Prospect Agency

Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal
Editor: Angela James, Harlequin Enterprises
Agent: Moe Ferrara, BookEnds Literary Agency

Historical Romance 
Editor: Janet Clementz, Soul Mate Publishing
Agent: Patricia Nelson , Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Elaine Spencer, The Knight Agency

Young Adult 
Editor: Alice Jerman, Harper Collins
Agent: Tricia Skinner, Fuse Literary

Best of the Best is a competition between the first place winners of each category. The winner will receive $100. Best of the Best Judge:2016 RWA Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year: Anna Brown, Katy Budget Books

Joyce Henderson. Deadline October 9. Unpublished authors and Traditional or self-published authors who have not published in the category they’re entering within the past 5 years. Entry consists of the The first 20 pages of an unpublished manuscript featuring romantic elements, PLUS a brief synopsis (up to one page, single-spaced). Synopsis is not judged. 


Contemporary (including Women’s Fiction)
Editor: Sue Grimshaw, Penguin Random House
Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates

Editor: Lee Lawless, Tor/Forge Publishing
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy
Editor: Georgia Woods, Hartwood Publishing
Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

Young Adult
Editor: Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Junessa Viloria, Penguin Random House
Agent: Jessica Waterson, Dijkstra Agency

*NEW* Inspirational
Editor: Susan Brower, Gilead Publishing****OPPORTUNITY!!
Agent: Julie Gwinn, The Seymour Agency

Four Seasons. Deadline October 10. Unpublished authors may enter any category. Published authors may enter any category in which they’ve not been contracted or published for three years in any novel-length work of fiction. Entry consists of the first 25 pages. No synopsis.

Editor: Kristine E. Swartz,  Berkeley Publishing Group
Agent: Terrie Wolf, AKA Literary Agency

Single Title Contemporary 
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks.
Agent: Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Editor: Deborah Nemeth, Carina Press
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Agency

Young Adult 
Editor: Amy Stapp, Tor/Forge
Agent: Marisa A. Corvisiero, Corvisiero Agency

Editor: Elizabeth Mazer, Harlequin Love Inspired**OPPORTUNITY
Agent: Lane Heymont, Tobias Agency

Romantic Suspense 
Editor: Brittany Lavery, Harlequin
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Agency

Other Writing Opportunities

Romance Writers! Give us your Great Canadian Heroes and Skip the Slush Pile! The Harlequin editors are on a nationwide mission to show the world what our Canadian romantic heroes are made of. Start brainstorming to create the perfect hero for one of our series.From July 1 to September 12, 2016 send us your first chapter plus a 3-7 page synopsis to the Ooooh…Canada! Blitz at  You can submit to any of the Harlequin series we publish as long as your story features a Canadian romantic hero.   Need some inspiration?  Check out all our current series books at entries to the Ooooh…Canada! Blitz will be reviewed by the editors with feedback provided by December 1, 2016. So don’t delay—get your submission in soon!

Real Simple Ninth Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Deadline September 19. No more than 1500 words. What was the most dramatic change you ever had to make? Maybe you had to move cross-country after being relocated for a job, opening up new possibilities along with fears. Or maybe you needed to sell your house or leave an apartment before you expected to. How did that situation influence the rest of your life? If one unavoidable shift changed your world—for good and bad—in enduring ways, write it down and share it with Real Simple. Enter Real Simple's ninth annual Life Lessons Essay Contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple and receive a prize of $3,000.

Coming to an Iowa near you!!  Harlequin Red Quill Workshop. Saturday, October 15th. With Harlequin Assistant Editor, Dana Grimaldi. "Learn How to Be a Savvy Romance Author & a Hybrid Superstar." 10am – 2:30pm /Workshops 3pm - ... Socializing/Networking. Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport, 6111 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50231. Registration includes the Morning, Afternoon Workshops and Lunch. REGISTER NOW!!

In the Pennsylvania area? Check out the Keystone Christian Fiction Writer's Conference, coming in November. Love Inspired Editor, Emily Rodmell is taking pitches! 

Angels, Miracles, Cats, Dogs, Canada and more... The Chicken Soup upcoming topic line-up can be found here.
Seekerville Congratulates our September Contest Diva
2016 Genesis Winner in the Romance Category, Laura Conner Kestner.

DISCLAIMER. If you were a contest judge this year and recognize any of these remarks as having come from you, PLEASE know that I’m explaining (in my own warped way), not complaining. I truly appreciate you! 

Despite what sages and songwriters tell us, life is not about the journey. At least it’s not if you’re a fictional character. The best I can figure, contest judges (and therefore future readers) don’t care how many miles you’ve traveled, what quaint diners or smoky dives you’ve stopped at, or the colorful people you’ve met along the way. They don’t want to know anything about you at all until the first bullet zings past your fictional head as you’re hanging by your fingernails from the side of a cliff (or the emotional equivalent), and your only two choices are to let go and fall into the nest of vipers sunning themselves on the jagged rocks below, or accept the hand that’s reaching down to you. The hand of a handsome, yet sinister looking man who will eventually provide you with a swoon-worthy happily-ever-after. But you don’t know that part of the story yet. So you’re understandably anxious, if not downright fearful. 

And you know the worst part? Judges don’t want you even THINKING about what brought you to this moment in your fictional life.  Oh, you might be allowed a few fleeting thoughts, such as, “Sweet Uncle Fred, if only you’d been more internet-scam savvy.” But under no circumstances are you to think about how Uncle Fred, your only living relative, opened an email one day from a woman who needed just ten-thousand dollars from him to fund the first full-head transplant in medical history, and how dear old Fred emptied your joint checking account to help—leaving you both penniless and homeless—and…well, you get the idea. You can tell all that later in little bits and pieces, but not now. 

So, start with the action. And no back story or info dumps—weave those colorful characters into the story as you go. Those are two things I learned from entering contests. 
I’ll cut to the chase for the rest. In one of the first contests, the judges talked about beats and tags, noting “stilted and choppy dialogue” and too many “he said, she said” moments. They showed me examples of how to correct it. 

For instance, I had something like: “I’m a police officer, ma’am,” Caleb said, pulling out his wallet to show her his I.D. 

And a judge suggested something like: Caleb showed her his I.D. “I’m a police officer, ma’am.” 

Other judges shared information and links on passive vs. active writing, and how to improve character mannerisms in fiction. I realized I’d made MANY mistakes in my entry, and that these judges were going to a lot of time and trouble to help me. 

So, after I got over my hurt feelings (thanks to TINA’s advice here on Seekerville, I said/did nothing for twenty-four hours after receiving my scores) I studied the suggestions and took them to heart. There was one part of my story where my Heroine just sorta “had” something she desperately needed, but I’d not given any plausible explanation of how she’d gotten it. I could be a bit vague because anything goes in fiction, right? Wrong. Multiple judges questioned that particular plot point, so I realized I’d better tell exactly how it had all happened, and I’d better make it believable. 

Thankfully, many judges took the time to leave encouraging comments. Some judges marked places where I’d done things well, and some said they were eager to read more. That helped keep me going. I admit I’ve shed a few tears throughout this contest journey, some of frustration and some of joy, but I believe entering—and visiting Seekerville each day—has helped me improve my writing, and therefore my chance of being published. In a recent contest, a judge commented:  “The dialogue is well written, natural and distinct to the character.” Remember, I started out, “Choppy and stilted.” I’m making progress, people.  Thank you, judges and Seekerville!! 

Laura Conner Kestner has been hanging out in Seekerville since November 2015. Since then she has entered the 2016 Great Expectations, Genesis, TARA, and Lone Star contests. Laura is currently a Lone Star Contest finalist in the inspirational category and she won the 2016 ACFW Genesis in the Romance Category.

With one book completed and two more in the works, Laura is busy these days writing, praying, rewriting, praying and studying the path to publication. She knows that whatever happens, it will happen in God’s time and not her own.  

Laura can be found at 

That's it! Now go forth and contest!

A cat with very good taste.

Today's Contest Update was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Tina writes humorous sweet and inspirational romance from her home in Arizona. She is a Carol Award winner for Mending the Doctor's Heart, as well as a 2016 Holt Medallion finalist, a 2016 Greater Detroit RWA’s Booksellers’ Best Book Award finalist and a NERFA finalist for Safe in the Fireman's Arms. The fourth book in the Paradise series, Rocky Mountain Reunion is currently available.  Rocky Mountain Cowboy will be available in December. 


How to Be a Fabulous Writer in Three (Not-So) Easy Steps

with guest Jan Drexler.

Whew! I just got back from ACFW Nashville and I’m pumped! Ready to hit the keyboard and get my work-in-progress done!
Jan Drexler & Mary Vee
But I didn’t feel the same way at my first conference – ACFW Dallas in 2012.

I remember browsing through the bookstore in Dallas, scanning titles published by Revell, Zondervan, Bethany House, Thomas Nelson…and wondering why in the world did I think my books belonged in their company?

I should just give up.

But I got over that funk in a hurry. I went to my hotel room, looked at myself in the mirror, and said: “I am a writer. I have talent. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be fabulous. And I’ll never give up.”

And I didn’t give up. My fifth book is being published by Revell next month, and there are four more in the pipeline. That means signed contracts, books in various stages of completion, and a lot of BICHOK (Bottom In Chair, Hands On Keyboard).

I’m here to tell YOU – don’t give up. You can be a fabulous writer in only three (not-so) easy steps:

First Step: Develop your talent

Do you have talent for writing? You must, or you wouldn’t be here. This innate talent is one thing that draws us to writing. 

But talent by itself isn’t enough. 

I’ve always loved writing and books, so when it was time to pick a major in college, I chose English With A Creative Writing Emphasis. Very important-sounding, isn’t it?

But there was one problem. I had never taken one step to develop my talent. All through high school and college I garnered honors, opportunities and good grades…but I still hadn’t applied myself to my writing. 

I didn’t understand that I needed to develop my raw talent. Raw talent by itself is full of potential, like an egg in a nest. But undeveloped talent? Just think about what happens if something knocks that egg onto the ground before it’s ready to hatch.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

So how do you develop your talent?

1) Be a sponge. Soak up everything you can. Hang around experienced writers (aka Seekers!) and others who are learning just like you are (aka Seekervillagers!). At the beginning it seems like you know nothing, doesn’t it? And the more you learn the more you realize how vast this pool of information is that you’ve just dipped your toe into. I know that in my first months of visiting Seekerville I felt like I was drowning in details! It was definitely a steep learning curve.

But the key point here is that I did learn…and so will you.  

2) Seek out new avenues to learn your craft. One of the best ones I found (after Seekerville, of course!) is the series of monthly on-line courses that are included in the ACFW membership. What I learned from those courses made the cost of the membership seem like nothing!
Click on this image to see the courses up close and personal and clear.

Another great way to learn is to read craft books. I know all of the Seekers have their favorites. A couple of mine are “The Breakout Novelist” by Donald Maass, and “The Moral Premise” by Stanley Williams.

3) And most important: READ!

Reading is necessary to develop your writing talent. 

Someone told me years ago that in order to write well, you need to read well. 

What does that mean? It means that you read voraciously, constantly, widely, and deeply. You read inside your genre and outside your genre. You read classical literature, popular best-sellers, fiction, and non-fiction. You read authors you adore and authors you hate (although not quite as often). 

You learn by reading. You learn about the human condition, about God, about life. You learn how author A writes a descriptive paragraph, and you learn how author B writes scintillating dialogue. 

When an author’s writing grips your heart, you go back and read that passage again. You dissect it word by word to learn how that author connected so well with your feelings.

And when you’ve finished that book, you pick up the next one. You can never read too much!

Listen to Stephen King, not Albert Einstein. After all, which one of them is a fiction writer?

Second Step: Work hard

Writing isn’t easy. 

I know, I know. We’ve all seen these romantic images of the famous author dressed in a long, flowing white dress reclining in a hammock, thoughtfully nibbling at the end of her pen while birds sing sweetly over her head.

But that isn’t reality. Look around at your life. This is reality. And somewhere in your own reality, you need to make the time to BICHOK and write.

Why is writing so hard?

 Think of it this way -  there is no one right or wrong way to write. Every author has his or her own voice, own style, own quirks. You have your own story to tell, and no one can tell it for you. It comes from your heart and soul, not anyone else’s.

So how do you learn to tell your own story?

Write. Write whenever you can, wherever you can.

Write blog posts. The great thing about blog posts is that they are short, and you can experiment. What works? Complex sentences or simple ones? Dialogue or narration? Humor or pathos?

Write stories. Long or short, stories are where your writing really matures.

And whatever you do, write something every day. Staring at a blank paper never improves your writing. Neither does watching a television show or playing a game on Facebook. 

Writing primes the creative pump…so write!

Third Step: Persevere

Finally: Never give up. 

Writing is scary. Crazy scary.

What makes it so scary? 

At some point someone else will have to read what you wrote. 

That’s the core of it all, isn’t it? Your words in that document are drops of blood. Your blood. You have explored the darkest corners of your soul and placed each tender word into that story. 

It doesn’t matter if this is your first story or your fifteenth, when the moment comes to submit your work to a critique partner, a contest, or an editor, your finger hovers over the “enter” key, your throat fills and you hesitate as fear creeps in. 

But don’t stop there. Say a prayer and hit that button. 

If your manuscript comes winging back to you in cyber-space, don’t give up. Look at the feedback and learn from it. Make the changes you need to make and send it out again. Don’t let one rejection – or even ten rejections – stop you from seeing your story in print.

Now that we’ve covered all three steps, are you ready?

I have one more thing for you to do: 

Find a mirror. 

Look yourself in the eyes and repeat after me:

I am a writer.
I have talent.
I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be fabulous.
And I’ll never give up.

Are you ready? Which one of these steps is the hardest for you?

Leave a comment today to get your name in the coffee cup for a copy of Mattie's Pledge for one reader and for a 5-page critique for one writer. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of more than thirty years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their four adult children and new son-in-law. 
Find her here:
And on Mondays at the Yankee-Belle Café 

Preorder here.

Mattie's Pledge

When she feels the pull of both home and the horizon, which will she choose?

Mattie Schrock is no stranger to uprooting her life. Even as her father relocated her family from one Amish community to the next, she always managed to find a footing in their new homes. Now as the Schrock family plans to move west from Somerset County to a fledgling Amish settlement in Indiana, she looks forward to connecting with old friends who will be joining them from another Pennsylvania community—friends like Jacob Yoder, who has always held a special place in her heart.

Since Mattie last saw Jacob, they’ve both grown into different people with different dreams. Jacob yearns to settle down, but Mattie can’t help but dream of what may lie over the western horizon. When a handsome Englisher tempts her to leave the Amish behind to search for adventure in the West, will her pledge to Jacob be the anchor that holds her secure?

Tender, poignant, and gentle, Mattie’s Pledge offers you a glimpse into Amish life in the 1840s—and into the yearning heart of a character you’ll not soon forget.

Cinderella to her Fairy Godmother – “Thanks for the dress, lady, but where were you ten years ago when I was enslave by my stepmother?”

Why fiction has to make sense but real live doesn’t.

Don’t you sometimes wish in our writing we could just toss in completely illogical things?

I use the Cinderella quote to show you an example of a time fiction did NOT make any sense.
Cinderella is being watched over by her Fairy Godmother who is...not that observant, apparently. Why oh why did she stand by invisibly all those years when Cinderella was being mistreated? Why did she finally snap to when there was a pretty dress needed?

Maybe she’s not all that powerful. After all the coach turned back into a pumpkin after a few hours. (I wonder why the shoe didn’t vanish. Hmmm….)

Maybe the Fairy Godmother is all knowing and bides her time and steps in  when there was a prince to lasso?

Maybe that cat driving vermin (I HATE MICE) out of the castle is somehow the bad guy. I’m sure he’s just cranky because Cinderella is protecting the stupid mice. It is perfectly reasonable for the cat to kill them. This is NOT villainous behavior, people! (hard not to root for the cat here!)

Whatever it is, it makes no sense. And, other than classic fairy tales, our books need to make sense.

Examples I think of where fiction did NOT make sense…I remember this scene. I think it was from live action George of the Jungle. There was a narrator talking now and then and once he says, “All movies need a really big coincidence and here’s ours.”

We do that, we have coincidences…and we have LEAPS, a crime solver makes some connection between a clue and the criminal and I arch my brow and wonder how he got THERE?

And also, as it pertains to Christian fiction, we can’t have miracles. I’ve worked for seven or eight different publishers mow and did you know they don’t like you to put miracles in your books?

That’s frustrating because a miracle can get you out of a tight spot, but I understand and respect why it's a no no. Mostly we don’t get flat out miracles in our daily lives. Mostly fire goes ahead and burns you. Lions go ahead and eat you. Poisonous snakes bite you and you go ahead and die.

To solve your problems with miracles disrespects their true power and also it weakens your own plot because working through the problems is the point of fiction, creating a mess and then cleaning it up, usually with the maximum amount of pain is the whole point of the exercise.

I’ve had a few miracles in my books but my main miracle is the still small voice of God. No finger carving words into a stone, no voice like thunder coming out of a boiling cloud, no burning bush. It’s people who pray and actually listen to that quiet voice and is open to the Lord enough to act on it, even when it’s as quiet as an idea.

And we all know there IS NO GREATER MIRACLE than God forgiving and saving the eternal soul of a sinner.

What about you? Do you have miracles in your books. I love intervention from God in a book in those quiet voices, but what about miracles? What about ‘convenient’ things that fall right into place at the right time.

Do you like that? Or do you wish you’d get a Fairy Godmother who’d be a little more pro-active?

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of No Way Up.
I got nuthin' on Sleeping Beauty. Do you realize she pretty much SLEPT through the whole movie? The scenes, the little clips of her singing, that's it. She's not on anymore than that.

And NO I’m not starting a series on Disney Princesses. I’ve just had a couple of ideas.

The Weekend Edition

Share in the comments and we have some great giveaways up for grabs.
A Surprise Book Package for a Reader and a First Ten-Page Critique for one writer. 
Let us know you want in.
Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.

We Have Winners!

If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, phone number to claim prizes.

Winners of Castles in the Clouds are Kathy Bailey, Jackie Smith, and Trixi.

  Shannon Taylor Vannatter returned on Monday and she shared, "My Diagnosis: Writing in Layers."Shelli Littleton is the winner of  Reuniting with the Cowboy!

 In Tuesday's post, "Those Small Rewards," Sandra Leesmith talked about the rewards of writing and ways to motivate your production levels. Dana McNeely is the winner of an autographed book plus a surprise.

 Inspired by a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, Seeker Glynna Kaye shared “Rim-To-Rim: 7 Tips for Crossing the Book Canyon from Page One to The End,” on Wednesday.  Meg Brummer and Theresa Van Meter are the winners of e-copy of James Scott Bell’s “The Mental Game of Writing: How to Overcome Obstacles, Stay Creative and Productive, and Free Your Mind for Success”!

 Cara Lynn James was your hostess on Thursday with "Character Healing." Winner of a $15.00 Starbucks card is Nicky Chapelway.
A Surprise Package of Books for One Reader

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday: Mary Connealy is in the house, fresh off the whirl-wind ACFW conference in Nashville. Stop by to chat with Mary.

Tuesday: Jan Drexler returns with her post, "How to Be a Fabulous Writer in Three (Not-So) Easy Steps."  Jan has a double giveaway for our Villagers: For a reader, Mattie's Pledge, and for a writer, a first 5-page critique.

Wednesday: It's time for the September Contest Update. Do stop by to meet our contest divo/diva who will share contest wisdom. The prize vault is open!

Thursday: Candee Fick will be back talking about "Crafting Believable Bad Guys (and Then Redeeming Them),"  in addition to offering two copies of her second soon-to-be-released novel, Dance Over Me. This is the story Seeker Audra Harders gave a 5-star sigh.

Friday: Best of the Archives: THIS IS MY BRAIN: Or Why I Don't Sleep At Night with Tina Radcliffe. While comments are closed on Fridays for writing and reading, NOTE** This post includes a very live survey.

Seeker Sightings

ACFW and CFRR Nashville Pictures to Share:

More pictures will be added tonight!

L/R Patti Jo Moore, Darlene Buchholtz, Janet Dean, Debby Giusti, Ruth Logan Herne, Mary Connealy

Julie Lessman Speaking at CFRR
Mary Connealy and Ruth Logan Herne at CFRR
Janet Dean and Patti Jo Moore at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat
And here's Julie!~

L/R Pepper Basham, Ruthy, Melanie Dickerson, Janet Dean, Kristi Ann Hunter and Julie.

L/R Melanie Dickerson, Gabrielle Meyer, Laura Frantz, Pepper Basham
Sightseeing at the Hermitage. Home of President Andrew Jackson.Myra, Debby, Janet and Mary
Hanging out. Day 1

Hanging out with Georgia Peaches.

Jan Drexler, Jackie Layton, Heidi Blankenship

Laurel Blount and Rhonda Starnes

Stephanie McGee and Janet Ferguson

Elizabeth Van Tassell

Carol Moncado, Bettie Boswell, Jill Kemerer

Hanging out!

Villagers at Bongo Java coffee shop  L/R Marilyn Ridgway, Elaine Stock, Tanya Agler, Jan Drexler, Dana Lynn, Mindy Obenhaus 
Debby Giusti and Victoria Ramsen, LI Marketing, Toronto

Debby Giusti, Pam Hillman, Janet Dean and Myra Johnson

Natalie Monk

LI Spotlight with L/R Rhonda Starnes, Laurel Blount, Tanya Agler, Dana Lynn
Sharee Stover and Mary Connealy

Sharee Stover, Joy Avery Melville, Julie Lessman and Mary Connealy

Selfie Alert!!! Pam Hillman, Dana Lynn and Rhonda Starnes.
Pam & Amanda Barratt
Pam Hillman (Center) with Tracy and Matt Jones of Jones House Creative
Darlene Bucholtz, Janet Dean and Lyndee Henderson

Janet Dean, Penelope Powell and Mary Vee

Julie Lessman, Cara Grandle, Myra Johnson, Jane Dean, Debby Giusti, and Mary Connealy

L/R Ruth Logan Herne, Katelyn Bold from Gilead, Nichole Parks from Gilead, and Julie Lessman.  
Cathy West, Julie Lessman, Susan Mason and Laura Frantz

Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman & Mary Vee

Ruth Logan Herne, Mindy Obenhaus & Senior Editor Love Inspired Books, Melissa Endlich

Patti Jo Moore and Julie Lessman
Julie, Debby, Myra, Janet, Mary and Barbara Scott
Julie Lessman and Pam Hillman
Mary Connealy and Dawn Ford

Christine Sharbrough, Library Journal & Pam

Pam & Melissa Parcel, Romantic Times Book Reviews
Love Inspired Authors and Editors
Debby and Ramona Richards
Cynthia Herron 
Janet, Debby, Preslaysa Williams and Darlene Bucholtz
Bonnie Roof (BonTon) and Debby
Debby and Tanya Agler blurring out.

Erica Vetsch, Debby Giusti and Pam Hillman

Mary Connealy and Jane Ferguson

Converse Twins, Rhonda Starnes and Sara Ella


Congratulations to Genesis WINNER LAURA CONNER KESTNER!


Gala Gals! Myra Johnson, Mary Connealy, Janet Dean and Debby Giusti.
Congratulations, ERICA!!

Random News & Information

Thank you to all who send links.

ACFW Awards Gala 2016, August 27, 2016 - 6:00PM CDT LIVE BLOG LINK HERE!

Here's the September Seekerville Calendar for those who are paying attention! You can get a PDF copy on our web page. It's a link on the RIGHT SIDE under LATEST NEWS. Yes, the August calendar is still's still August.

Did  you know that RWA has galleries of conference photos on the website? Great memories! And the conference workshops are available for purchase here.

Valley of the Sun Romance Writers Hot Prospects Contest has updated their judge list, with no time to spare. Contest ends September 1.

How to Distinguish Yourself Among Agents and Editors (Writer Unboxed) ** 

Twitter Marketing for Authors by Kim Headlee (Romance University) **

 How To Hit The USA Today Bestseller List As A Single Author With Ad Stacking (The Creative Penn)**

 What Makes a Reader Keep Turning Pages (Steven Pressfield) 

 Anne of Green Gables Series Coming to Netflix (GalleyCat)

 Specifics on How My Street Team Marketing Has Worked, ThunderClap Marketing (The Write Conversation)

Revising, Revising, and How To Make it Through (Writer Unboxed)

EBook Anatomy: Inside the Black Box (The Book Designer)**

Short on time? Read these ** and come back for the rest later!

Have a great writing, reading and conferencing weekend! 

Best of the Archives: Pam's Writing World

Now doesn't that look comfy?

Yep, that's my writing spot. Actually, it's where I'm sitting right this minute as I type this blog post. It's right in the middle of my den with the rest of the family.
Yes, I do need a quiet spot to write more and more these days. This past summer my husband and sons were in and out of the house more than usual, so I spent several days writing in one of the Sunday school rooms at the church at the end of my driveway. It's nice and quiet there and I get a lot of writing done.
So, that's the where I write.
When is whenever I can, since I have a full-time job, and work part-time as the ACFW Conference Treasurer..I suppose the next question is how do I write. Okay, this is the fun part!

My ideas come from everywhere. A song on the radio, a sermon, a picture. I log them into an idea file, and let them percolate. Sometimes I just have a title. That's how Terms of Indenturement, my historical romance that just won the ACFW Genesis contest and The Maggie came to be. I had the title for years and played with several ideas until the current idea set in 1790’s Natchez clicked into place. [Update: Terms of Indenturement is now a 3-book series with the first book tentatively set for release in the summer of 2017.]
Once I read a contemporary romance where the heroine ended up with a pile of stolen loot and chose not to return it. What would a Christian have done under those circumstances? Especially a woman in 1880’s with nowhere to go and no way of supporting herself, her elderly grandmother and her blind sister. That jumpstarted the idea that became Marrying Mariah, [Update: Published as Claiming Mariah, Feb 2014] winner of a host of contests, including RWA’s Golden Heart.
Moving from the kernel of an idea to a book.
I have various methods of getting to the next stage of writing the book, but my favorite is to open a spreadsheet and start typing scene ideas. I just keep brainstorming ideas until my head spins. I’ll also run the basic idea by my critique partners and the Seekers and let them throw stuff at me. Anything goes at this point. It all goes into the spreadsheet, one scene idea per cell. My Terms of Indenturement plot spreadsheet has 176 scene ideas. Some are already obsolete, but I never delete anything. Who knows what direction the story might take before it’s done, or even after it’s finished in the rewrite?
Once I have a pretty good handle on the overall plot, I write the first few scenes, tweak, work on those scenes, fine-tuning my spreadsheet to match the live document that’s written in Word, contrary to rumors that I write in a spreadsheet.

I don’t.
But I have seriously considered it! But in the long run, it just wasn’t feasible to get 1200-1500 words in a spreadsheet cell. This spreadsheet is a living document. It grows and changes as the story does.

I’ve also found that I can plot out about 1/3 of the scenes and have to write those before I can plot out the next section. That’s not to say that I don’t have an overall idea of the major plot points, and a glimmer of the ending scenes, but just that I don’t know every little scene in detail until I get to that Act in the story.
Oh, and another cool thing that I’m doing this time around is concentrating on ACTS. I chose the 3 act structure as described in James Scott Bell’s book Plot and Structure.

Stay with me now.
Assume your novel has 360 pages, 32 chapters, give or take a few.

Act I is the first 8 chapters / 90 pages
Act II the next 16 chapters / 180 pages
Act III the final 8 chapters / 90 pages
And around every 45 pages or so, or every 4 chapters you have a major TWIST or EXPLOSION of some kind.
Okay, okay, Mary has an explosion in every paragraph, and we need excitement and hooks to keep the reader turning the page at the end of every scene, like Julie talked about in her Seekerville post, The Tease. But I’m talking about something that really throws the reader for a loop, a curve the reader didn’t see coming, something totally out of left field. It could be something physical as in your heroine is kidnapped, or it could be where the hero finds out that he’s not the street rat he thought he was, but the long-lost son of a king, or where a major plot point is revealed, like the hero admitting that he’s in love with the heroine even if it’s just to himself.
So, that’s the method to my madness, ladies and gents. It’s not smooth, and it’s not consistent, but it works. Sometimes it’s like catching and pulling the eye teeth of a mountain lion…without anesthesia, but so far I’ve finally wrestled that cat to the ground.
And you can too!
Here is the ONE resource I must have handy at all times. The Synonym Finder, J. I. Rodale.

One last picture of me actually WORKING in my writing space. You'll never know how many pics my son had to snap before we got one I was willing to share with the world! 

This post first appeared in Seekerville 10/8/2010, when Pam was still eligible for the Genesis. What a fun walk down memory lane. Comments are closed today so we can catch up on our writing and reading.  

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold 

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?


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