Monday, June 30, 2014

Genre Hopping by Beth Wiseman


Beth Wiseman

Happy Monday, readers! Annette here. An author's name is her brand, and an author's chosen genre builds readership, further identifying that brand. Most writers I know have interest in more than one genre, but what about all that hard-earned brand status? Award-winning author Beth Wiseman is here with advice for writers who'd like to branch into more than one genre. Read on!

Genre Hopping 
by Beth Wiseman

Recently, I stepped way out of the box for a new book.  The Promise isn’t like anything I’ve written before. I guess you could say I got my "big break" writing Amish fiction, and after several years of exclusivity in that genre, I spread my wings and began writing non-Amish contemporary stories based in small Texas towns near where I live. Need You Now and The House that Love Built were born from that effort. But with The Promise, my wingspan is even larger, and I’m grateful that my editor had enough faith in me to take on something so vastly different than what I’m used to.  I also recently completed my first non-Amish contemporary novella as part of the A Year of Weddings collection. I’m the “July Bride,” and it was great fun partnering with eleven other authors. 

But when is it a safe career move to dabble in other genres? Will readers follow? Will new readers jump on board? These are questions that my editorial team and I discussed at length in an effort to maintain my brand and also attract those who aren’t necessarily fans of Amish fiction. 

For me, this is the best of all worlds. When I write my Amish stories, it’s like visiting old friends. When I’m working on my Texas stories, it feels familiar and I’m making new friends. With The Promise, it was a whole new ballgame, taking my character to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by actual events, The Promise is not typical of the type of feel-good stories I normally write. But it’s still my voice. 

Do readers follow a genre or the voice of an author they like? I guess I’m counting on it being the latter. That’s how it is for me. I would read the phone book if it were written by one of my favorite authors.      

So, what about you? Which is more important—genre or author?

Wishing you all many blessings,
Beth Wiseman 

~~~~~
 

Can she forgive the man who left her at the altar? Alyssa Pennington dated Brendan Myers
A July Bride by Beth Wiseman
for three years before she accepted his proposal. For almost a year, Alyssa's friends and family helped her plan a lovely wedding to take place in the church she'd grown up in. It was the happiest day of her life when she walked down the aisle to be united with the man of her dreams. But when Brendan left her at the altar, Alyssa was consumed by humiliation, embarrassment, and a broken heart that wouldn't allow her to trust anyone. Especially Brendan.

Brendan Myers knows he will spend the rest of his life regretting what he did to Alyssa, the only woman he's ever loved. Without her, his life is empty. In one fateful moment, he'd panicked, destroyed their future, and ruined everything. Now he plans to win her back. But winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. And even if he does get her to the altar again, will she think turnabout is fair play?



~~~~~


Beth Wiseman is an award-winning and best-selling author who is best known for her Amish novels, but she is now spreading her wings in other genres as well.  Her two latest releases—Need You Now and The House that Love Built—are non-Amish contemporaries set in small Texas towns, both of which have garnished glowing reviews.  However, her current project will take readers far away from Amish Country and small Texas towns to a dangerous place on the other side of the world.  Inspired by a true story, Beth believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time.


 

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Need for Conflict by Donna Reimel Robinson


Donna Reimel Robinson
Conflict is important in our personal lives and the lives of the characters we create. Why? Today on Seriously Write, author Donna Reimel Robinson tackles that very question. Enjoy! ~ Dawn


The Need for Conflict
by Donna Reimel Robinson

If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve probably heard the old adage, “Put your heroine up a tree and throw rocks at her.” In other words, give that lady conflict in her life. Then make things worse, and don’t let up until the end—when everything finally works out, and she reaches her goal.

Conflict is necessary in a book. If nothing is fighting against the protagonist, the story becomes dull and predictable—boring. And no author wants to write a boring novel.

But in real life, we want boring! We want to sail through life on smooth waters. We want everything to work out, with not a hint of trouble.

So why does the Lord bring trials and tribulation into our lives? Why doesn’t He let us have that boring, predictable, easy life?

For one thing, conflict builds up our faith. If we never had problems in our lives, we might forget that the Lord is taking care of us.

Moses had this concern in Deuteronomy, Chapter 8. The Lord was willing to bless His people, but when everything was going great, they needed to beware. Beware of pride, beware of forgetting the Lord.

This is not only a good lesson for us, but for our story characters as well. Many times an author will pen a character who claims to be a Christian, but who has forgotten the Lord. This person is trying to run his own life, but things go from bad to worse. In a Christian novel, this character needs to turn to the Lord. A change on the inside, not just a change of circumstances, makes a powerful impact on readers. It could even cause a reader to think about his or her own spiritual walk.

When my first novel was published, which is the first story in Tumbleweed Weddings, a reader contacted me. Several tragic events had recently happened in her life. She said, “I want to thank you. I just got over some bad feelings I had at God.... Your book has helped me a lot, and I hope you write more about Fort Lob and all its lovely people. God bless you.”

So bring on the conflict! But don’t forget the Lord. Let your character realize that without God in his life, there will be no Happily Ever After.




Tweetables:

Why does the Lord bring trials and tribulation into our lives? Why doesn’t He let us have that boring, predictable, easy life? Click to tweet.

Conflict builds up our faith. If we never had problems in our lives, we might forget that the Lord is taking care of us. Click to tweet.

A change on the inside of our characters, not just a change of circumstances, makes a powerful impact on readers. Click to tweet.





In Tumbleweed Weddings, you’ll meet the Brandt siblings—Callie, Tonya, and Derek—who live on a sheep ranch with their parents near Fort Lob, Wyoming. That part of the country has rolling hills, a sparse population, and tumbling tumbleweeds when the wind blows. Callie Brandt thinks she’ll be single all her life until Lane Hutchins comes to town. But there’s something mysterious about him. Tonya Brandt wants to marry a handsome man, but who is her secret admirer? Derek Brandt doesn’t want to marry until he’s forty. That’s a problem for Cheyenne Wilkins who needs to get married right away to fulfill the stipulations in her grandmother’s will.

This is a collection of three contemporary romances under one cover, previously published separately by Barbour Publishing. 

To read the first chapter, visit Donna’s website: www.DonnaRobinsonBooks.com

 


Donna Reimel Robinson is a member of JOY Writers, a local critique group, as well as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). As a pastor’s wife, she plays the piano for their church and teaches a Jr. High Sunday School class. In her spare time, Donna enjoys sewing and working jigsaw puzzles. She and her husband have four grown children and ten grandchildren. They live in Denver, Colorado.

To learn more and connect with Donna, please visit”


 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Are You Conditioning Yourself for Success? by Dora Hiers

After months of freezing temperatures and dreary drizzly days this winter, on the first warm sunny day in April, I loaded up my dog and headed for the park

With over a mile of wonderful sniffing trails and lots of grass for scratching his back, Bruiser doesn't like to miss his walks. Who could blame him? But on this day, he seemed a bit reluctant to get out of the car. Eighty five scorching degrees and thirty minutes later, we were both out of breath, exhausted, and even I was glad to reach the car and the a/c.

After hardly walking for months, we were out of condition. The long winter left us with weak lungs and stiff joints. The winter blah's.

Maybe you're experiencing the winter blah's in your writing, where days, sometimes months go by without a word ever making it onto a page. Or perhaps you're going through a winter season with your writing. Whether you're working a full time job, rearing children, or caring for an elderly parent, there just isn't any available time for consistent writing. Are you out of condition? Do you need to flex your writing muscles? 

Here are a few ideas to work out the stiff joints:

Blog. A blog is an online journal or diary where individuals or groups of users record their thoughts or opinions. People blog on anything and everything: pets, books, cooking, travel and the list goes on. In case you didn't realize it, you're reading a writing blog right now. I'm the Thursday hostess here on Seriously Write, but I also manage my personal blog, Heart Racing, God-Gracing Romance, where I post book reviews and devotionals. Blogging is fairly easy and doesn't require much technical expertise. Two popular user-friendly platforms are Blogger and WordPress. Find your passion and blog.

Plot. Practice writing a few blurbs along with skeletal plots to go with them. There's no reason why you couldn't plot several books to keep on hand until your current season passes. 

Ideas. Don't let a good idea slip by without jotting it down. Record ideas as they burn in your brain, whether that's with a paper and pen or a voice recorder or notetaker app on your smartphone, and then transfer it to a computer file later. Keep a physical file with newspaper clippings of possible story ideas.

Create a Character Portfolio. Develop characters and maintain a character portfolio. When your spring blooms, bright and sunny, your characters will be ready to hit the first page of your book.

Write Short. Several publishers, like Pelican Book Group, accept submittals for short stories. They accept romances as short as 10k words. Also, publications/magazines like Woman's World contract 800 word romances, and Flash Fiction and Splickety Magazine accept stories between 500-1k words. And did you know that Ellie's Escape, just published with Splickety in the 6/20/14 edition, was written by our very own sweet Wednesday hostess, Sandy Ardoin? Way to go, Sandy! Write short.

Whatever it is, flex your writing muscles on a daily basis and you'll soon discover that you've conditioned yourself for success.


What about you? Are you going through the winter doldrums?
What would you add to this list?

****


Purchase Link
Five years ago, Emily Mannerson escaped small town living and moved to the big city where nobody knew "poor little Emily" and her miserable background. Now an attorney, Emily longs for what she left behind…her adopted mother and high-school sweetheart. Fire captain Matthew Westerly treasures his small town of Journey Creek and values faith, family, and friendships. When he rescues Emily from a horrific car accident, he's determined to win her back and make up for the lost years. Can a big city girl and a small town boy discover their true treasure? Will they trust God to work a miracle?

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her on Seriously Write, her personal blogTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Steps to Effective Blogging by Jennifer Slattery

Sometimes, it's tough to feel as if we're getting anywhere with our blogging. Jennifer Slattery is here today to give us some tips on how to make our blog posts more effective. -- Sandy

Jennifer: Does blogging make your skin crawl? Make you want stomp your computer into tiny pieces? If you’ve been in the publishing industry long enough, you know blogging is necessary, but you long to do more than throw random words on your screen. You want to engage. 

But how? With over 450 million English-speaking blogs floating around cyber space, how can readers possibly find yours? And why would they even want to?

If you wrestle with questions like these, relax. Effective blogging isn’t as difficult as it appears. By implementing five simple steps, you can dramatically increase your traffic and grow your readership.

Step one: Create a catchy title.

This is huge! Each day, people are bombarded with web content. So much so they’ve come to ignore most of it, except those that immediately stand out.

Perusing their Facebook feed, which posts do you think readers will be most apt to click on?
  • Flowers From My Husband
  • When My Heart Felt Bleak
  • http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/2014/04/15/5516/ (This is what happens when you don’t give your post a title!)

Titles matter. A lot. This is what shows up when someone does a Google search (using an example from my blog):

  1. The Power of a Dangerous Prayer | Jennifer Slattery Lives ... 
Step two: Make Your Lead in Strong

Your blog should NOT read like a diary.

Ex: “The other day I was…”
“God’s been laying something on my heart…”
“I feel the need to share…”

Honestly, unless you're Francis Chan or Karen Kingsbury, most people don’t care about your contemplations. They want to know what’s in it for them—why they should give up some of their valuable time. Most will decide whether or not to keep reading by the first paragraph; some even the first line.

Make that first sentence count! You should spend more time on your first sentence than you do all the rest in your post combined. It’s that important.

Step Three: Keep it visually appealing

Include lots of white space (paragraph breaks) to make it easier on tired or lazy eyes, and always add relevant pictures.

Step four: Keep it short and to the point

Never include anything the reader will skip. This means, if you’re discussing how to write an effective blog post, don’t go into an aside on why you love Apples over Toshibas or how long it’s been since you’ve blogged. Your reader won’t care, and if you make them not care enough, chances are they’ll quit reading. For length, shoot for posts between 200-600 words. Longer than that and you’ll lose them.

Step Five: End with an application and invitation to engage.

Blogging isn’t journalism. It’s a relaxed, conversational platform, and conversations work best when they’re two way. Keep in mind, you’re building a community.

Let’s talk about this! Where are you in your blogging growth? Have you implemented any of the above strategies, and what were the results? Did today’s post encourage you to do anything differently?


~~~



Beyond I Do (available for preorder at a discounted rate now! Purchase link:
http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-I-Do-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1596694173/)

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiance or tear them apart?

Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancĂ©. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.



Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance novels for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for her personal blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud and the group site, Internet CafĂ© Devotions. You can also find her at Inspyromance.com and  Faith-filled Friends where she chats about the intersections of faith and fiction. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Things That Bug Me~Tanya Hanson

by Tanya Hanson

..".as I recite my verses for the King...my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”  Psalm 45:1


As a high school English teacher, I forbade my students to use the word “things” in their writing. Things, I told them, are the tidbits found at the bottom of my purse. Find something better. Do you mean items? Reasons? Descriptions?

Well, I’ve got such a disparate list today that the word “things” just works. My apologies.

1. When did The Oxford comma, or serial comma, become optional? You know, the comma before the word “and” in a series of three or more? There’s a huge difference between “I love kale, fennel, and basil.” and “I love kale, fennel and basil.”

In the first example, I’ve got three distinct tastes. In the latter, “fennel and basil” become one unit, like macaroni and cheese. Don’t they?

2. In my reading, I’m coming across far too many books with massive introductory clauses and phrases NOT separated by a comma from the main sentence.

a. When Samuel received a full-ride scholarship to MIT and decided to attend the Massachusetts school he never imagined how homesickness would derail him.

b. After the fall Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise.

Read a. and b. out loud and you'll "hear" where the commas should go.

3. Enough about commas. When did we graduate high school? Where’s the from? When-where-why did it become “the thing” to eliminate? I’m reading this more and more and gnashing my teeth.

4. And let’s consider gone missing. Now, missing can be either an adjective or the present participle of the verb miss.

Correct:   The missing boy is my neighbor.
Correct:   My neighbor boy has been missing for two days.

Therefore...isn’t “gone missing” ungrammatical and awkward? Used like that, I can see missing isn’t an adjective or a verb form and certainly isn’t a gerund. Like, I've gone fishing. Or maybe I’m “missing” something...?

Whatever genre we pen, the craft of good writing has got to be as important as our story. And yes, I know our language is dynamic. It changes even as it stays the same. That’s why we can still read Shakespeare although the footnotes make it easier.

But...what writing bug-a-boos are you seeing that bug you? Whether you’re a reader, a writer, an editor, or all three, what “things” make you groan or grab for a red pen?



Seeing Daylight releases this Friday. It’s the seventh book in my Hearts Crossing Ranch series about the “hills and valleys of faith” experienced by the eight siblings of a Colorado ranch.

Sixteen months since the senseless death of her husband, attorney Rachel Martin fears the future. Cutting back on her law practice and returning to her childhood home at Hearts Crossing Ranch has given her son all the attention he needs, but she aches to strike out on her own. Finding love again is the last thing on her mind...until she meets Brayton Metcalf.

A successful businessman, Brayton blames himself for the plane crash that killed his wife and injured his daughter Adelaide. When he brings "Addie" to Hearts Crossing Ranch for therapy riding lessons, he is drawn to Rachel Martin right away, even as she backs off. She too wrestles with the loss of a spouse under unusual circumstances.


Brayton finds he must whittle away at her doubts as well as put his own guilt to rest. But his hasty business decision affecting the Martin family endangers Rachel’s trust. Can renewed faith bring them to true love? Can they heal from lost spouses enough to see daylight once again?

Facebook: Tanya Hanson, Author
Twitter: @TanyaHanson

Tanya Hanson is multipublished in several genres including inspirational romance. Her heroes are always cowboys! A California native, she lives on the central coast with her fire-fighter hubby where they enjoy a happy home, good health, exciting travels. Tanya describes her son and daughter as the best "thing" she's ever done...and her two little grandsons as the halves of her heart.