Monday, September 30, 2013

Surviving on a Writer's Income by Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis
So many of our readers and friends are talking about the ACFW conference a couple of weeks ago in Indy. Hey everyone, Annette here. If you attended, I imagine you saved up for a while first. Did some planning. Mary Ellis is here today to discuss writers and budgets. Read on!

Surviving on a Writer's Income
by Mary Ellis 
Ahhh, a writer’s budget…rather sounds like an oxymoron, no? Plenty of writers will tell you they have no budget. Money flies out just as fast as it flies in, and it doesn’t fly in often enough or in sufficient quantity. But readers of this blog are Christians, by and large, and we’ve heard the Scripture that the Lord will provide for our needs. In those words we place our faith and trust, but we must also rely on a budget to meet day-to-day obligations. 

First and foremost, “don’t give up your day job too soon” was the soundest, non-Biblical advice I received after signing my first publishing contract. Many new writers dream of live-in maids and nannies after landing a contract with a major house. But please remember royalties are often years away and paid only twice a year (by some publishers). To estimate your yearly income, take your royalty “paydays” and add it to your advances. Now divide this amount by twelve and see what you have per month to spend. See what I mean about not giving up the day job too soon? 

I didn’t “retire” to write full time until four years after my first contract and two years after signing a multi-book contract. These days, I place any book advances into our joint checking account to pay bills. Royalties then go into our savings account. But before you imagine our family saving up for a villa in France, remember I must pay income taxes, social security, health insurance, writing expenses (which get larger and larger each year), Christian charities and of course, the ACFW conference from this account. Last year I had enough left over to buy tires for my car. 

You get the picture. But the point is, no matter what your financial situation (married, sole provider, or blessed with eleven children) you must estimate your yearly income and then draw up a budget. Oh, and don’t forget to give the Lord his 10 percent. After all, it all comes from Him.


A Little Bit of Charm
A Little Bit of Charm

A Dream Come True…
A Loss Like No Other…

Is the Price of Happiness Worth the Cost?

Rachel King, still recovering from the death of her parents, watches both of her older sisters find happiness in homes of their own with husbands who adore them. She yearns for her own new beginning.

Her cousin Sarah lives near a Thoroughbred stable in Kentucky, and the opportunity to work around beautiful horses has always been Rachel’s dream. She leaves Lancaster County to find a home with Sarah and her husband, Isaac, wondering about God’s plan for her life. When a job at Twelve Elms Stables opens up unexpectedly, it seems as though He has answered Rachel’s heartfelt prayers.

Then she meets Jake Brady, one of the owners of Twelve Elms, and her life becomes complicated. He’s attractive and charming, and his interest in her is flattering. But he’s also English as well as her boss. And is his trust in God as central to his life as it should be?

When Amish men she meets at church and singings start pursuing her, Rachel has important decisions to make. What does a young woman do when her heart puts her faith in jeopardy?


Mary Ellis has written ten bestselling novels set in the Amish community. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her current series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Her debut Christian book, A Widow's Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards. Book two, Love Comes to Paradise has been nominated for a 2013 Lime Award. Book three, A Little Bit of Charm, has just released from Harvest House. She can be found on the web at: or at Facebook

Friday, September 27, 2013

My Journey to Publication by Jennifer Delamere

Jennifer Delamere
I know authors who dream of writing screenplays, those who are learning to write them, and those who have been successful. But author Jennifer Delamere has done the reverse and moved from working on screenplays to writing novels. Today she shares how God used one passion to open the door to another and begin her journey to publication. ~ Dawn

My Journey to Publication
by Jennifer Delamere

I came to novel writing in a somewhat roundabout way. Ever since my college days I’ve wanted to write screenplays. Over the years I’ve worked as an editor of business and educational materials, while dabbling in screenwriting pretty much as a hobby. Then in January 2008 I took a vacation day just to contemplate how I might really get serious about pursuing a writing career. In retrospect I can see that I was following the Biblical admonition to “ponder the paths of thy feet.” Certainly there was prayer involved.

On that day I had a thought to visit the website of Blake Snyder, whose books on screenwriting I had found immensely helpful. I was amazed to see that he would be holding one of his superb workshops in Charleston, South Carolina, the following week! These workshops are usually held in Los Angeles, so I never thought I’d be able to attend one. Yet Charleston is an easy half-day’s drive from my home in North Carolina. I knew this was an answer to prayer and signed up immediately. At the workshop I discovered that all of the other attendees were members of Romance Writers of America, and most were published authors. They introduced me to RWA. Since my screenplays were all romantic comedies, I figured writing a romance novel might be right up my alley. When I got home I joined my local RWA chapter. RWA gave me the tools and motivation to turn my ideas into a completed novel.

I did not set out to write an inspirational romance, but as the book progressed I realized that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” My Christian faith is intrinsic to who I am, and so it is bound to come out in my writing. Setting my books in Victorian England made this even easier because Christianity informed the Victorians’ entire world view. (Weaving in these elements was made even easier because the hero of my first book is a clergyman who inherits a title.)

I wanted to include inspirational elements but not short-change the romance and the excitement and sizzle of falling in love. I was aware that it might be too “sexy” for traditional Christian publishers and yet too “PG” for mainstream publishers. I had no way of knowing that a mainstream publisher was in fact currently in search of a book that would hit exactly that tone. That publisher quickly bought my book, which was released last year as An Heiress at Heart. Both mainstream and inspirational romance readers loved the story, and I believe that’s because it has an intriguing plot and a deep, rich romance in addition to sound Christian themes.

And so I am passing on the excellent advice that I received from other authors and which has helped me tremendously: Write the kind of book YOU want to read. Allow God to work within you. As you do, I believe the stories you have to tell will find an audience. Write well, write what you love, and expect great success!

Book signing today!

On Friday, September 27, Jennifer will be doing a book signing in Savannah, Georgia. You’ll find her from 7-8 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble located in the Oglethorpe Mall. If you’re in the area, please stop in and say “hi!”


Jennifer Delamere writes inspirational romance that doesn’t short-change the sizzle. Click to tweet.

Write the kind of book YOU want to read. Click to tweet.

Write well, write what you love, and expect great success! Click to tweet.

Margaret Vaughn is the wealthiest heiress in London—or so everybody thinks. Saddled with debts and facing financial and social humiliation, she finds an unlikely savior in Tom Poole . . . After surviving a shipwreck and amassing a fortune in the gold fields of Australia, Tom Poole is the toast of London society. Yet despite his new found fame, he’s never forgotten his own humble beginnings. When he learns of Margaret’s plight, he offers her financial assistance—but his interest is not strictly business. This rugged adventurer now seeks a different kind of gold. Although many men pursue Margaret’s hand because of her beauty and lands, can Tom convince her it’s her heart he’s after?

The youngest child of a Navy pilot and a journalist, Jennifer Delamere acquired a love of adventure and an excitement for learning that continues to this day. She’s lived in three countries and traveled throughout the United States. Her debut novel An Heiress at Heart was chosen by Grand Central Publishing to be the first inspirational romance for their Forever imprint and was nominated for the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Her second novel, A Lady Most Lovely, will be released September 24, 2013 and has already earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Jennifer loves reading classics and histories, which she mines for the vivid details to bring to life the people and places in her books. 

For more information about Jennifer’s books, blog, and mailing list, visit

You can also find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shaking Things Up

Today's post is a little different from normal. But that's OK. Sometimes we need to shake things up a bit. At least, that's what my hubby tells me when he tries to convince me to venture out of my comfort zone. As I've shared in the past, I tend to be a bit obsessive about eating in the same six or seven favorite restaurants for lunch or at the same time every day. Or even writing in the same spot, day in and day out, without varying my environment. 

So that's what we're doing. We're shaking things up a bit. You see, I'm not posting on a particular writing topic. I don't have any guest bloggers lined up. Today we'll talk about encouragement and I will introduce you to one of the most encouraging people I know.

Our goal, our mission, here at Seriously Write is to encourage and equip Christian writers along their writing journey. I've been encouraged by so many writers willing to share their journey to publication and their testimony, haven't you? Some writers have struggled for decades to attain a contract, others not so long. But the truth is...

We all need encouragement, don't we? Whether it's a spouse who insists we shake things up occasionally, or a friend to offer inspiring words when we're feeling a little down, when this writing road seems too long and lonely and we're considering chunking it all. Or when we just received what feels like the hundredth rejection letter and we aren't sure if we have it in us to keep putting our precious words out there, to keep setting ourselves up for one more "Thanks, but we don't have room for your book in our lineup" emails.

Every writer needs an encourager, cheering them on. Someone they can depend on to lift their spirits whenever they pop over to see them, whether that's just a quick visit to their blog or over conversation or coffee. It may be a smiling face, someone God plants in your path at the particular moment when you don't feel there's much to smile about. Or a kind deed that comes out of nowhere, unexpected and unrequested. 

God has blessed me with so many of these sweet friends in my life. Besides my hubby, there's Angie Arndt, Sandy Ardoin, Myra Johnson, and Tanya Hanson, just to name a few that immediately popped into my head. And then there's ....

Can you see my grin? Just thinking of this dear one brings a smile to my face.

Susan was the first brave soul to volunteer to be an influencer for Journey's End, my debut inspirational romance. And, no, I didn't bribe her! lol. She's encouraged me with her reviews, inspired me with her devotionals, and blessed me with our online friendship. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to give her a hug and tell her how much her friendship has meant to me. 

So, it just thrills me to announce that Susan has agreed to become a regular contributor to Seriously Write. Starting next Thursday, 10/3, Susan will begin sharing posts on the first Thursday of each month. Except November, when she'll visit us on the second Thursday, but after that, we'll be in a normal rhythm. I'm so excited to have her join us, and you’re sure to be encouraged by her inspiring, uplifting words. 

But for now, for those of you who haven't met Susan Tuttle, allow me to introduce you to one of the sweetest ladies you'll ever meet.

Susan Tuttle
Susan Tuttle 
is a homeschooling mom of three who is crazy about coffee, dark chocolate, and words—both reading and writing them. Combine that love of words with her passion for leading women to a life-changing encounter with Christ, and you’ll find her crafting Inspirational Contemporary Romance stories laced with humor, love, and healing transformations. When not cheering on her Ironman hubby, chasing the family dog, or tackling complex math problems to teach her kids (yes, even the third grader), you can catch Susan at her blog, Steps.

If you haven't checked out her blog, Steps, you must visit! Susan, welcome to Seriously Write! We're thrilled that you will be visiting on a regular basis!

We all also need to be encouragers. We each have a journey, a testimony, that someone needs to hear so they won't think they're traveling this road alone. We can smile and lift someone's heart. We can act with kindness and out of love, and in doing so, will ultimately point towards God. 

Who has been your biggest encourager?
How can you be an encourager today?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Skyping a Contract Signing By Angela Breidenbach

After authors Angela Breidenbach and Valerie Comer collaborated on a Christmas anthology, they decided to get the marketing ball rolling in a unique and fun way. I asked Angela to share their idea. -- Sandy

Angela: Snowflake Tiara is a Christmas anthology coming out Sep. 1, 2014. Two novellas set in the same town at Christmas 125 years apart. My novella, The Debutante Queen, opens the day before Montana becomes a state in 1889 while Valerie Comer’s novella, The Model Queen, opens during the current holidays. In our research, we found out 1889 was Helena’s silver anniversary and 2014 would be the 150-year anniversary for Helena MT! Delighted to celebrate these historic events!

We dreamed up this book concept at ACFW 2012 while attending the same workshop. Talk about mischievous girls passing notes in class! Valerie asked me if I’d write a 2-1 with her and the notes started flying. Then after conference, the emails kept us brainstorming and researching and emailing.

Techie vs Necessity

Valerie knew about an app for smart phones called Viber. It allows us to call and text for free between Canada and Montana. What a blessing when we just need to talk an idea out. We’ve tried Google Hangouts, Skype, and Viber to communicate for our collaborative efforts. If one happens to fail, and they do sometimes, we switch to another. We’re getting techier by the minute out of necessity! (Techier is a word, right??)

One afternoon we’d switched between all of our communication back up plans trying to choose an antique tiara for our story and book cover. It’s an important element and had to be one that would work in both 1889 and 2014. I have no idea who thought of it now, but we decided to buy identical tiaras. We could wear them to signings, events, and have one for the book cover photo shoot.

Big Ideas

When the story concept moved to contract, my co-writer and I were so excited that we wanted to sign our contracts together. But being in different countries, a few hundred miles apart, we needed to set an appointment to see each other’s faces and Skype the contract signing. Valerie owns an app, Call Recorder, which records Skype calls. It costs about $30 a year. She suggested we wear our tiaras and sign together while recording the first official event on the journey for Snowflake Tiara’s release. I imagine we’ll have some more fun recorded Skype events since this one was so well received.

Making a Splash!

Most of the time we laughed too hard for the recording to work. I highly recommend this for the pure laughter, but it is good marketing as well. Both Valerie and I are on Mac computers. She used the movie program to edit out a few blips, though we thought about a blooper reel. Then we had our final product. We had no idea the Skype recording would cause so much response! We hope Snowflake Tiara continues to create such a splash.

Would you like more info on how to record a call on Skype? Valerie wrote a lesson.

As a writer, what marketing ideas have you had that could be considered out of the ordinary? 


A little about Angie:

Angela Breidenbach is a captivating speaker, coach, and author of A Healing Heart, from the Abingdon Press Quilts of Love series, Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life (women’s Bible study & small group book), and countless articles, devotions, and compilations. New book, Snowflake Tiara, coming September 2014. She is certified in mentor/peer counseling as a CTA life coach, as a Stephen Minister, and a weight loss/nutrition/fitness coach. Angela volunteers as the Christian Author Network's public relations director. Her professional positions include editor with Choose Now Publishing and support editor for the Thinking About Suicide blog. Angela is owned by #Muse, the dog-like cat, whose antics and articles can be found on his new blog, A-Muse-ings. #Muse also knows social media and visits facebook, twitter, and Pinterest sharing his favorite books as the most well read cat in the world.
Twitter/Pinterest: @AngBreidenbach

About Snowflake Tiara:

The Debutante Queen (1889) by Angela Breidenbach
While other women are marching for women’s voting rights, Calista Blythe is more interested in helping orphans. She enters the Miss Snowflake Pageant designed to draw winter tourists to Helena, Montana, hoping the prize money will buy one small street urchin’s freedom from cruel servitude. Pageant organizer Albert Shanahan is delighted his beautiful friend will compete. If only winning wouldn’t mean she must remain single for the full year of her reign. But when Albert discovers what Calista is hiding in his inn’s stable, will he help her or disqualify her from the pageant—and his heart?
The Model Queen (2014) by Valerie Comer
Supermodel Marissa Hiller left her glam days far behind to farm in Montana after agency photographer Jase Mackie challenged her motives for drawing attention to hungry children in Africa. When the Miss Snowflake Pageant is resurrected, Marissa’s organic cooperative persuades her to represent them for the sake of the single moms she’s helping…and because her triple-great grandmother competed in the first pageant. There’s more at stake than a tiara when she discovers Jase is out West as the official photographer, ready to mess with her heart once again. Can Jase make amends and convince her his love is pure?

What book does Angie currently have out?

What if the one man who tried to destroy her business is the only man that can now help? Will Joel help Mara as she recovers from a heart attack or take everything she has left?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I Write… By Melanie Dobson

Some people wake up one day with an idea and decide to write a book. They publish their grand idea, sell thousands or even millions of copies, and then they’re done. They’ve accomplished this feat and never feel compelled to write again.

Some days I wish I could stop writing. Stroll through a museum or park or even a cemetery without etching every detail into my mind for reference. Enjoy a dinner or coffee out without eavesdropping on conversations around me. Savor a sunset without wondering how I’ll describe my experience later on the blank page.

It’s annoying. Obsessive. But I can’t seem to stop myself.

I started writing when I was seven, journaling short clips about pizza nights with my family, visiting Grandpa and Grandma on the weekends, and the skinny on what my friends said at school. When I was nine, I wrote my “autobiography”—a single typed paragraph, splotched with Wite-Out and smeared ink.

When I was eleven, I started my first novel—a mystery about an old house and some detective kids. About fifty handwritten pages into it, I discovered that writing the middle section of a novel is hard. I didn’t have a clue where my story was going so I quit, but I fell in love with the creative process. I knew I wanted to write fiction when I grew up.

In sixth grade, I wrote a weekly newsletter for my class. By high school, I was writing for the school newspaper and yearbook. And when I graduated, I began writing articles for my hometown newspaper to help pay for college—a journalism degree, of course.

You get the idea…

When I started writing fiction as an adult, I began in small chunks. Ten minutes before breakfast. An hour while my girls napped. For as long as I could stay awake at night (which wasn’t very long with two babies). Then I thought about my next idea as I ate lunch, pushed the stroller, and shopped at the grocery store. My biggest issue was not finding time to write. It was—and still is—finding time to live around my writing.

It took seven years of steady writing before a publisher contracted for my first novel. A dozen published novels later (and four that are collecting dust), I still love to create fiction. God gave me this passion…desire…dream. And I feel His pleasure when I’m working out the details of a story.

Even if I never publish again, I’ll keep scribbling journal entries and creating stories like I did as a kid, remembering details and conversations in my ordinary life to expound on later. I’ve discovered that writing is integral to who God has made me, and I’m grateful that He presses me forward every day, compelling me to write down the stories He’s placed in my heart and mind.

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Even if I never publish again, I’ll keep scribbling journal entries and creating stories. Click to Tweet
I’ve discovered that writing is integral to who God has made me. Click to Tweet
He presses me forward daily, compelling me to write the stories He’s placed in my heart. Click to Tweet

MELANIE DOBSON is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including her latest The Courier of Caswell Hall. In 2011, Melanie won ACFW Carol Awards for The Silent Order and Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, and in 2010, Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana, was chosen as the Best Book of Indiana (fiction).

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family, and she worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she has lived all over America, including eight years in Virginia. Now she resides with her husband and two daughters near Portland, Oregon. Read more at

The Courier of Caswell Hall
As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.