Giveaway rules can be found here. Please drop us a line to claim your giveaway at firstname.lastname@example.org. All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books! And P.S. - if we forget to send your prize DO let us know after 8 weeks per our rules.
The two bags of book winners from last weekend's Weekend Edition are Cindy W and Marsha B.
Tuesday Sandra Leesmith talked about the "Perfect Place to Write." We discussed what works for you. Lyndee is the winner of a surprise box of Arizona goodies in honor of her latest release, Love's Dream Song. Elaine Manders is the winner of a copy of Love's Dream Song.
Next Week in Seekerville
Monday: Come hang out with guest DiAnn Mills, bringing us "A Writer's Tenacity." She'll be giving away a signed copy of her new release, "Deadlock."
Tuesday: It's time for the December Contest Update! Stop by to meet our December Diva. Yes! The prize vault is open and we have some super exciting contest news to share.
Wednesday: Winnie Griggs with be here today, talking about "Backstory: Weaving It In Without Slowing The Pace." How to effectively select what pieces of backstory to include ‘on stage’, when to reveal them and how to thread them through your story in a non author-intrusive manner. Winnie is giving away a copy of her upcoming December release The Holiday Courtship
Thursday: We welcome back, author and editor, C.S. Lakin with her post, "Starting Your Scenes with a Bang." Stop by to chat and you may win an ecopy of 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing.
Friday: Best of the Archives featuring Sandra Leesmith. Sandra will revisit the popular post about using real life experiences in your writing. Comments are closed on Friday to give us all time to read and write and enjoy the archives.
|Gratuitous picture of Tina's Arizona tangerine tree at Thanksgiving.|
Have we got some Love Inspired fun for you! FromLove Inspired Facebook
|Center photo shows L to R, Missy Tippens, Debbie Giusti, Myra Johnson, Mary Curry, Mary Giusti & Julie Hilton Steele (in the center).|
December 1 RWA will update their webpage. Check out these familiar faces in the new Member Resources Center.
Random News & Information
Thank you to the Villagers and Seekers who sent links and news! A few extra links this weekend to enjoy as you relax with your pecan or pumpkin pie.
Meet the newest Love Inspired authors who sold their books via our Blurb to Book challenge and read their exciting call stories! If you dream of writing for Love Inspired, this will definitely inspire you! Click here.
The Day Jobs That Inspired Famous Authors (Adzuna Blog)
Our Favorite Bookish Tweets (Read It Forward)
Will You Sell More Books on a Holiday? (BookBub Partners)
5 Ways to Use Instagram as an Author (Jane Friedman)
Calling the Winner of So You Think You Can Write 2015 (YouTube Video)
Disappearing Amazon Reviews: The Facts Behind Amazon's Review Purges (Anne R. Allen's Blog)
The Big Reason Why Agents and Editors Often Stop Reading (Jane Friedman)
6 Ideas for Getting Your Book More International Exposure (BookBub Partners)
Five Years (Marie Force Blog)
How to “Fix” Unlikable Characters (The Write Practice)
What IS a Target Audience? What You Need to Know (BadRedhead Media)
Seekerville gives thanks for these books that released or will be released in 2015. #NoLimits.
If you are visiting today we invite you to comment, and one commenter will win their of choice of ebook or print -as available on Amazon-from these 2015 releases.
That's it! Have a great reading and writing weekend.
Myra here. Welcome to another Best of the Archives Friday! Since November is almost behind us and the busy Christmas season is beginning (or may be well underway for many!), I'm reprising (and updating) a post from December 2009, when I wrote about how to stay motivated and keep your priorities straight during this often hectic time of year.
So grab a cup of hot chocolate, put some carols on the stereo, and sit back and enjoy!
When December rolls around, I always find myself running behind on just about everything. We're enjoying a visit from kids and grandkids this Thanksgiving, and the Saturday afterward is when we usually put up the tree and decorations. We may
get around to pulling out the tree and boxes this weekend, but I haven’t even started on the annual Christmas letter and cards. As for Christmas shopping? Oops!!!
How do you stay motivated to keep writing when holidays, family crises, illness, or other interruptions interfere? It isn’t easy, but if you have a strategy in place, your writing life can survive.
And one of the best strategies this time of year is to stop feeling guilty for what you aren’t getting done--whether it’s shopping, baking, sending cards, keeping up with e-mail and blogs, or--yes--even pounding out the pages of your next book manuscript.
Easier said than done, but I recently read a great little book that’s full of big ideas on how to stay motivated and prioritize your life: 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever
, by Steve Chandler. Here are a few of the sections I found especially inspiring:
#4. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Chandler points out that a huge obstacle to success is letting our worries and fears distract us from our real goals. Anyone here guilty of that?
#6. Simplify your life.
I always intend to simplify, but somehow things keep getting more complicated. Chandler’s advice? Make a list of every small task you need to get done in a certain period of time, like over the weekend. Then do them all in one concentrated burst of action--a “manic blitz.” Don’t put anything off, just get it done.
#40. Find your soul purpose.
You’re not going to be much good to others unless and until you’re happy with yourself and excited about your work, so take the time to discover what really
makes you happy.
#59. Upgrade your old habits.
According to Chandler, bad habits can’t simply be broken. You have to replace
the bad habit with positive action. Like eating a healthy snack instead of one heavy on calories and fat. Like doing a workout video instead of watching TV. (Hmmm, notice the connection between food and weight loss this time of year???)
#68. Get up a game.
Competition can be healthy--as we “contest crazies” here in Seekerville can testify! Competition forces us to reach deep inside ourselves, helping us grow and improve. The real victory comes not from besting someone else, but from bringing out the best in ourselves.
#73. Use the 5% solution.
“Great things are often created very slowly,” Chandler writes. What if you brought 5% more purposefulness into each day? What kinds of changes would you see in your life?
#74. Do something badly.
We’ve all heard the old adage, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. But what if that isn’t necessarily true? Whether it’s writing that first draft, baking Christmas goodies, composing a Christmas letter, or cleaning house for company, maybe we don’t have to be perfect
. Maybe we should give ourselves permission to do something “badly.” Can you let go of perfectionism enough to just get started on some task that’s facing you?
#85. Replace worry with action.
Worry only increases the problem, but when we get busy and act on our worries and fears, we regain control.
#101. Teach yourself the power of negative thinking.
This one might well be my favorite. Saying no can be a powerful thing. It means standing up for ourselves and our beliefs, taking a stand against things we simply won’t tolerate. Ask yourself what you really don’t
want in life, and experience a burst of energy to turn that into positive motivation!
What are your biggest challenges during the holidays? Make a promise to yourself now to focus on what's important (family, friends, and most of all Jesus, the Reason for the Season). Everything else will still be waiting for you in January!
Remember, comments are closed today so you can take full advantage of the time for reading, writing, or whatever is on your agenda.
The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 5:13)
Seekerville is closed today as we celebrate the Thanksgiving Day holiday with our families and friends. We wish you and yours a special day dedicated to reminding us of our many blessings.
Please join us here again tomorrow!
with guest Helen Gray.
In January I dived into the Indie Ocean. Oh, my, what a BI-I-I-I-I-G place this is!
I started rowing by publishing two books. Row, row.
In the spring I contracted with Forget-Me-Not Romances, a publishing company run by Cindy Hickey, and published four more.
Row, row, row, row.
The first of October I had a novella published that is to be part of a state flower collection next spring. Row.
This past week I published a three book series. I did them myself, but Cindy designed my covers. Row, row, row.
I am working on another novella. Row.
I have some more stand-alone manuscripts on my hard drive that I plan to rework into a series. Row, row, row.
And that’s how indie publishing works. I’m too far out in the middle of the ocean to turn back, so I just keep rowing.
Things That Have Worked For Me
1. As a former accounting teacher, I treated indie publishing as a business from the beginning. The first concept in accounting is to not mix personal and business funds. With my very first advance money from my Heartsong series, I opened a separate account. I had a little seed money left in it when the line was cut, and I determined that I would operate—sink or swim—on that capital. I keep receipts for everything from computer repairs, paper and ink, to conference expenses and postage. I also keep a record of all revenue, have a sales tax license, and submit a quarterly payment. This information is compiled into a Schedule C at tax time. I have practiced fiscal responsibility and am slowly seeing my efforts rewarded.
2. I had done my homework about manuscript preparation, covers, and formatting—I wrote about it in my last post—and am rowing along with those. I’ve had my covers designed for me—and have had favorable reactions to them.
3. I’ve done series rather than stand-alone books. We’re told by the veterans to do this. Getting people invested in a series builds a following.
4. The biggest success I’ve had has probably been getting included in some boxed set collections. I’m in a Christmas collection, a contemporary collection that has been at or near the top of the bestseller list for the past several weeks, another contemporary collection, and a historical collection.
I also have sets of my own historical series and contemporary series. KU is good for these because readers buy a batch of stories (inexpensively) and produce a high pages read count. In addition to reaching a wide audience, they help author rankings and build teamwork. I’ve read predictions that this trend might change—but for now I’m in and ready for more.
5. Another thing that has been successful for me is print books. No, they don’t sell on Amazon. But I sell enough print copies locally to pay my up-front expenses. Since I have been asked how I sell them, I’ll try to describe my process .
Because Wal Mart stocked my Heartsong books, had me do book signings, and sold about 200 copies of each of those three books, I have some readers who have told me they want copies any time I have books released.
Last Friday afternoon I received my order of 60 copies each of my new three book series. I immediately went to the library, scheduled book signings, gave them a complimentary set, and sold a set to the head librarian. The next morning I delivered 5 sets to the funeral home (the two co-owners buy copies for themselves and their daughters), 5 sets to Wal Mart (clerks who met me at the store signings and always want them), and two sets to the Dollar Store (clerks with standing orders).
The next day (Sunday) I delivered twelve sets to church members after church on the parking lot. Yesterday I sold three sets at the library. Last night we ate at the local restaurant, and I sold four sets while there, depleting the bag I have started keeping in my car. This morning I sold three sets at the library, then went to the beauty shop and sold three more sets. Then I got groceries and had a lady in the store ask for a set. When I got home, a lady from a neighboring town who had already bought a set called and asked for two more sets for Christmas gifts. I think I have a dozen copies each left. I never planned to become a peddler, but it seems to have evolved into that. Are you getting the idea?
Things That Have Not Worked For Me
I STINK, STINK, STINK at social media and would starve to death if I had to make a living at selling. So lack of promotion skills is the failure that makes me less than an ideal candidate for indie publishing.
I can’t remember to update my web page. I created a Twitter account, but can’t think to tweet, or of anything to tweet about. As for Facebook, I only think to post when I have books out or something major is happening within the family. (I can’t imagine anyone being interested in whether I clipped my toenails or bought groceries this week.)
I set up a newsletter on my web page, but have collected only a few subscribers.
I’ve been approached about a couple of speaking engagements, but they haven’t materialized yet. I don’t solicit them.
I have done some posting to FB groups, but I haven’t seen any significant results from them. I haven’t been consistent, though, so I need to keep trying.
What I've Learned From These Experiences
Paid ads are good!
I’ve copied lists of promo groups from various postings, joined them, and have culled them as I’ve learned which ones suit my needs best. These groups are primarily for free promotion and reviews. If you’re looking for such lists, you might like this link where Sherri Wilson Johnson shares her marketing spreadsheet. It is a list of groups, with membership numbers, and any stipulations for posting. And here is an interactive list of book promo sites.
The paid promo sites tend to require a certain number of reviews before you can purchase an ad. For me it is TOUGH to get those first reviews when the new book is just out—unheard of and unheralded. I’m still working on the ten I need for Bootheel Bride so I can buy an ENT (Ereader News Today) ad. I’ve heard others talk about having difficulty getting accepted, but so far I’ve never been turned down when I’ve applied for an ad.
ENT is the only paid ad site I’ve used, but I assume the process is similar with others. To apply for an ad, simply go to their submission form and provide info and links relevant to the book you want to promote. State your preferred date for a promotion and whether you’re willing to accept alternate dates.
The cost of such an ad varies with the genre and book price. You can view those prices here. The other paid ad site I’ve heard a lot about is Bookbub, but it’s much pricier.
Making the first book of a series free for a particular time can result in sales of the other books, but .99 ads also work. I’m still experimenting with both.
I also have learned to ask questions. The CIA (Christian Indie Authors), a private FB group for Christian indie and hybrid authors to discuss writing, publishing, and marketing, is a valuable resource if you’re considering taking this route.
Suggestions for Staying on Track as an Indie
1. Remember that indie publishing is a marathon. It’s not for the quitter.
2. Treat it like a job, with you as the boss. Go to work every day, and write or edit your daily goal. Set your deadlines and meet them. Only YOU can do it.
3. Keep the quality of your work high. Always strive for improvement.
4. Don’t blame others when things don’t work. The load lands squarely on your shoulders. Do it—or quit.
5. Share information. In traditional publishing, no one talks facts and figures. Indies share what works and what doesn’t for them. And much more.
6. Be flexible. Life happens. For instance, these past several weeks have been very stressful for me because of a personal situation, making it hard to be creative. So I have pushed ahead with editing/publishing tasks and only written when I could relegate the stressful issue to the back of my brain. It doesn’t produce as much word count, but work still gets done.
7. Work, work, work. All the time. Persevere. Don’t lose momentum. Row, row, row!!! Write another book.
I may not be a top best-selling author, but I’m building my business and working my way upward.
I have control.
I make mistakes—correct them—and learn from them.
I’m rowing along, gaining in earnings, and enjoying the ride. I like being in control, having access to information. It’s scary at times—and a lot of hard work and struggles. But the control, freedom, and perpetual earnings possibility outweigh those things.
Row, row, row!!!
The question I’m wrestling with now is about writing in multiple genres. If I publish in another genre, should I use my own name? A pen name? Forget it?
Also, I would appreciate any helpful suggestions you can offer to make social media easier for me.
Give me your thoughts.
As a giveaway, I’m making Bootheel Bride free today. Help yourself. If you enjoy it, a review would be appreciated.
Returning to the Bootheel is Bittersweet for Jessie Stevens.
When she and her brother come back to the home they fled years earlier, they find Gabe Kirby, their neighbor who was kind to Jessie as a girl, guarding the farm.
Successful cotton farmer Gabe remembers Jessie fondly from childhood, but the grown up Jessie takes his breath away. He thought his life would be devoted to helping others and would not include marriage, but now he questions that. Can he convince her--and himself--that they can find happiness together?
Jason Stevens is a Bad Risk for Marriage
Fear of repeating his father's abusive behavior toward his mother has him convinced he will live his life as a bachelor. As a Missouri Highway Patrolman, he certainly doesn't need the complications of fiery Veda, the sister of the man his sister married, stirring up his emotions.
All young widow Veda wants is to start over and run a business of her own, in a location distant from the Kirby family's illegal activities.
Can these two opposites find common ground and happiness together?
Lynn Buchanan is Looking for Her Birth Mother.
After losing her parents and learning she is adopted, Lynn travels to the SE section of Missouri known as the bootheel to search for her mother. When she tangles with handsome Mitch Stratton, her plans and dreams are thrown into a tailspin.
Mitch must focus on keeping his cotton gin operating and providing jobs for his employees. Meeting the newfound sister of his best friend is a complication to his plans—and his heart.
Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. While working alongside her husband in his ministry, she had three children, taught school, directed/accompanied church music programs, and became an amateur ventriloquist. Now retired, with the children gone from the nest, she and her supportive husband still live in their native Missouri Ozarks where he roams the woods, hunts and fishes, and she weaves stories meant to honor God and depict Christian lives and problems as she knows and observes them. Helen thanks God for the time and opportunity to write, and considers it an added blessing if her stories touch others in even a small way.
Sandra here with a steaming pot of chocolate velvet coffee and some lovely hot chocolate with whipped cream. Come chat and let’s talk about the best place to write.
Years ago, when I took a sabbatical from teaching and wrote some novels, I arranged my life to what I thought was the perfect set up for writing. My office was pristine, quiet and I had all day to myself. I had cleared all responsibilities, hubby was at work all day and I had no interruptions.
Guess what? It was horrible. All of a sudden I had nothing to write about. I wasted an incredible amount of time. With no structure and responsibilities, time can just dwindle away. You know the old adage: "If you want something to get done, ask a busy person." Well in my case that is true.
Right now, hubby and I are taking advantage of our good health and our freedom and are living in our RV. The kicker is, we are staying in an RV Resort for 55 plus and it is only 17 miles from our house. Is that hysterical? We get the strangest looks when all the other residents from Canada, The Pacific Northwest, the Northern Midwest, etc. ask us where we are from. (btw we call them snowbirds)
|A Tower Point snowbird dressed for Halloween party|
Well our response is “We don’t go home because there are chores.” There is yard work at home and none in the RV resort. (Okay, I might have to sweep off the patio once in awhile) It takes four to six hours to clean the house. And something about the motorhome being a vehicle, hubby helps clean it. Once a week, we invite someone over and then he pitches in and we have a clean motorhome in less than half an hour.
|Goldfish pond in the entrance way to Tower Point RV Resort|
And the other response is, “This place is like Disneyland for adults.” And it is. There are hundreds of activities here. We could participate in one every hour 24/7 and still not do everything. But Tower Point RV Resort
is really a fun place to be. Check it out. Click on the webpage and see the list. Now doesn’t that sound like a hoot?
So you might ask, “How on earth do you get any writing done?” Surely if you live there, you aren’t going to have time to write.
Well, actually, living here stimulates my writing.
For one thing, I save hours a day by not having to drive to places. I bicycle to the pickleball courts, which saves me forty five minutes every day. (Forty five minutes to write)
|Pickleball courts, Bocce ball and horse shoes in the back.|
I bicycle to the pool and spa every day, which is only a block away. From my house it is a two-mile bicycle ride one way to the YMCA. So that saves me an hour.
I have my choice of three or four Bible studies and I can pick a time I don’t like to write, like the evening. And I don’t have to drive there either.
With all this free time, residents get involved in a lot of philanthropic activities. There are drives for all kinds of charities. One of my favorites is Operation Christmas Child
through Samaritan Purse. You fill shoeboxes with gifts for children and Samaritan Purse sends them all over the world. I have been doing this for years. One of the residents here collects the boxes so that saves me the time that I used to take to find a drop off center and the long trip there to deliver the shoe boxes.
I go to crafts workshops and make my Christmas presents instead of having to go out and spend hours shopping. (I really dislike shopping btw). Right now I’m taking stain glass workshops and am making some lovely stained glass window hangings for Christmas. (Sure hope my family doesn’t read this blog. LOL)
|I still can't believe I made this - smile|
And there are always happy hours, social activities, programs, plays, and just visiting with the people around here.
|They have live bands and dancing by the pool every evening|
So guess what? I have more time to write. And I have tons to write about because all of these people from so many different places have really interesting life stories and do they ever love to talk about them. Every time there is an event, we meet more people.
Living in an RV resort is not only great for writing but it also is great for reading. The time savers I use for writing, are great times to read. One of our Seeker friends, Marianne Barkman and her mother are snowbirds from Canada and they fly south to stay in a Senior Resort similar to the one we are in. In fact, hubby and I stayed at her resort, Pueblo El Mirage
for a short visit last spring.
Here is what Marianne told me: I would have to say that many of the things Sandra has pointed out about the RV community being a great place to write also holds true for me as a reader. Although I don't get inspired in quite the same way as a writer does, in a close community of active seniors, mostly, I get lots of book recommendations from my friends and since where I am, we have an extensive library, as well as access to more, I have found many new authors. Having less responsibilities in the way of housework and yard work helps. There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting in the sun with a good book and a cup of coffee, chatting with friends as they walk by.
|Marianne reading in her lovely park model home.|
So what is the perfect set-up for you to write? What is the perfect set-up for you to read?
In reality, we all have to make it work where we are at, don’t we? Hubby wants to be in an RV resort, so I look for the good side and I found it.
|An Arizona sunsset at Tower Point RV Resort|
When I was working, I used to write in the morning before work and then take the bus to work and edit what I wrote while riding the bus. That saved time and it made the commute into the city much more interesting.
Hubby is a night owl and likes to stay up late at night. Because of that, he loves to nap in the afternoon. This is the perfect time for me to write. It is quiet. I have been stimulated with good exercise and fellowship. And I get right to it. (no pun intended - smile)
So let’s talk about other ways to set up the perfect writing situation.
What works for you?
What doesn’t work?
Those who comment and share will have their names put in the cat dish to win a surprise package from Arizona.
This surprise package is to celebrate my latest release: Love's Dream Song which is available on Amazon and is set in Arizona's amazing color country. A second winner will receive an ebook or print copy of Love's Dream Song.
Before you go, Sandra wants to jump up on her soapbox for a minute. Christmas is coming and I want to remind you that autographed books make delightful gifts. We are writers. We need to support our industry. Go to your local author groups and get signed books to give as gifts. If you see an author's book in the store that you know, buy it for a friend. Support the authors in your community and buy their books as gifts. A book is a priceless gift. It not only is a lovely present to unwrap, but it opens up a whole new world for your family members and friends. Happy shopping.
writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon
. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible
. You can read more of Sandra's posts here
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