Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Parties…Festivities…and Deadlines! OH MY! by Beth Wiseman

Keeping order during the holidays is challenging no matter what your profession, so how can we juggle our work commitments with holiday festivities and still celebrate the season? Oh, how I wish I had the answer. But I am trying to incorporate a few things into my routine in hopes of keeping the holiday cheer in the forefront while not letting obligations fall behind.

I’ve never been much of an online shopper. Until now. I live in a rural area, so I have to travel at least an hour round trip to get to the nearest store, and that doesn’t include any malls, which is almost three hours of traveling time. So, in my effort to keep sane, I’ve bought some of my Christmas presents online and also supported our local businesses when I could.

I also participate in a reward program that I invented just for me. Write ‘X’ amount of words, then enjoy whatever reward I’ve promised myself. It’s particularly helpful this time of year, although I have been known to cheat, which is sometimes the flaw in this plan. But overall, I’m trying to stay disciplined with word count so I can enjoy time with family and friends when I’ve met that goal.

Now, here’s a biggie that I’m reminding myself of daily. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. The house doesn’t have to be spotless. Hubby will survive without a home cooked meal if I need to work late. We have enough clothes to survive if the laundry doesn’t get done in as timely a manner as I would like. And, most importantly, I’m going to thank God every day for my many blessings.

My mom is eighty, and I’m so thankful that I’ll be able to spend Christmas with her. However, this is my first Christmas in twenty-nine years that I won’t be with my oldest son. He is working in Singapore, and he will be going to Thailand with his employer for the holidays. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him, a life experience he will always remember, but I sure will miss him.

I guess, in a nutshell, I’m trying to keep things in perspective and not get weighed down with things that really aren’t important. Five, ten, or fifteen years from now, no one will remember if my baseboards were clean. But I’ll remember quality time with my family.

This probably didn’t offer up any whirlwind advice, but I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Cherish your family and friends. Everything else will fall into place.
Peace to you!

Award-winning, best-selling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but her most recent novels, Need You Now and The House that Love Built, are contemporaries set in small Texas towns. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's highly-anticipated novel, The Promise, is inspired by a true story.

An Amish Miracle, a collection of 3 novellas released December 3, 2013

"Always Beautiful" by Beth Wiseman
Becky Byler is eighteen and overweight. She is overwhelmed by the embarrassment she feels when comparing herself to other girls her age. Having lost all hope, she considers taking her own life. As she stands before rushing water, unable to swim, Becky begs God for a miracle. In just several months, Becky sees her prayers answered as food and temptation lose their hold over her. She’s finally pleased with how she looks, but does she like the person she has become? And has the man she has dreamed of been right beside her all along, loving her exactly as she is?

"Always His Providence" by Ruth Reid
Widow Rosa Hostetler has one month to pay her delinquent taxes before the county auctions her farm. She’s prepared to sell whatever is necessary to pay the lien, but she isn’t willing to request money from the community’s widow fund. She’s embarrassed and refuses to admit she needs help. Rosa depends on income from selling eggs, but when that income is threatened, only a miracle can help Rosa accept the kindness of a neighbor.

"Always in My Heart" by Mary Ellis
Hope Bowman believes God is punishing her for giving up her firstborn son when she was a teenager. She’s hidden this secret from her husband, who is thankful for their daughters but longs for a son. Hope prays desperately, but the son God sends her isn’t a new baby but the fifteen-year-old boy she gave up years ago.

Includes Reading Group Guide and Old-Order Amish Recipes
Visit AmishLiving.com

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Word for 2014

2014 written in sand on the beach*

Hey writers, Annette here. I hope your holiday season has been full of blessings and inspiration. 

Perhaps you’ve already set your goals for the new year. Great! I’m working on mine and enjoying the hope inherent in goal-setting. Hope on this side, satisfaction on the other, and grace if the goals go unmet.

Several years ago, God began giving me a word for each year. One year, it was “courage.” Then, as the year played out, I was amazed at how that word fit what God knew would happen during those twelve months. As God highlighted that word, He highlighted a concept, a way of life. The term helped guide me. It changed me. 

As writers, we love words, don't we? God's given me a few words for 2014, but rather than share them I'd like to hear what He's saying to you. Has God given you a word for 2014 that you’re willing to share? Maybe it’s a phrase, or a promise. I’m grateful He speaks His blessing over us. 

What’s He saying to you? 

*Photo credit: "2014 Text written on the beach" by hin255 from freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

golden Christmas ornaments and ribbon on a tree

Merry Christmas, dear writers! 

Your hostesses are taking the week off to spend this season with our families. We'll be back next week to bring you more daily articles, devotionals, and how-tos. 

We wish you a Christmas season full of God's love and blessings! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Following a Dream, and a Friend by Lisa Belcastro

Lisa Belcastro
At any given time, even when we don't expect it, God can bring people or circumstances into our lives to help make our dreams come true. Such was the case for author Lisa Belcastro.  

Enjoy her journey to publication. ~ Dawn

Following a Dream, and a Friend

by Lisa Belcastro

“I’m going to a Christian Writers’ Conference,” I announced to my family. I had, in the previous week, finished the third draft of my first full-length novel, Shenandoah Nights. I was ready to compose my proposal and pitch my story.

I’d been to one other writers’ conference and had loved it. At that time, I didn’t have a book to pitch. I’d spent years as a journalist, but novels were a whole new ballgame. I was impressed with the number of agents, editors and publishers who attended the conference. I heard many writers comment that a conference was the best place to sell your book.  I made a mental note to remember that advice when I finished my first novel.

Two years later, manuscript in hand, I flew down to Florida with my list of agents and editors that I hoped to pitch my book to.  Attendees were allowed three appointments. I read through the list, crosschecked the publishing house with what genres they were publishing and looking for, and then decided on my three.  I was beyond excited. The classes were informative and fun, the daily worship and large group events inspired and lifted me, and I met new friends.

One of those new friends was nervous about her publishing meeting, and asked me to go with her. They were scheduled to talk over lunch, so the meeting was more informal than some of the pitch appointments.  I had already been to two of mine. Both editors had been kind and had asked to see my manuscript. I was floating on Cloud Nine. My friend Beverly was in knots about her upcoming meeting. I agreed to go.

We met Ramona Tucker from OakTara, and Bev pitched her trilogy.  The series wasn’t the right fit for OakTara. Over lunch, the three of us began to chitchat. Ramona asked if I was also a writer and what I was writing. Without a thought about an elevator pitch or back cover blurb, I told her about Shenandoah Nights. She asked more questions. I bubbled with enthusiasm and shared how the story came to me while chaperoning my daughter’s school trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah.

Do you know what happened? Ramona asked if I had hard copy of the first three chapters. I did, back in my hotel room, and promised to give them to her before dinner that night. The next morning, Ramona found me and said she wanted to read the full manuscript and that she was “very interested.”

I had no plans to meet with Ramona, but God knew better. I’m on my third book with OakTara, and Beverly is getting ready to publish her third book, too. We were both blessed by the conference. Going to a conference was some of the best writing advice I’ve been given. Next year I’ll attend three, and I’m eager to see what new friends, new ideas and new inspirations will meet me there.


Going to a conference opened the door to publication for Lisa Belcastro. Click to tweet.

God can provide people or circumstances to help make our dreams come true. Click to tweet.

Lisa Belcastro shares her journey to publication on Seriously Write. Click to tweet.

Tess Roberts may live on Martha's Vineyard, vacation spot for movie stars and presidents, but the Island feels anything but idyllic. Tess has had it with lousy dates, lying, cheating men, and the rules that forbid her from working on her family's centuries-old schooner, Shenandoah. Lucky for Tess, she knows a secret-the Shenandoah has magical powers. Her best friend, Rebecca O'Neill, once stayed in Cabin 8 and discovered a time portal that transported her to 1775. A month after Rebecca's "disappearance," Tess's father, brother, and Shenandoah's annoying first mate, Hawk, plan to shut down the time travel for good by dismantling the cabin. 

But what if Rebecca might someday need to come home? What if Tess isn't ready to say good-bye forever? Sneaking onto the ship late at night, Tess slips into Cabin 8 and drifts off to sleep. She wakes anchored off the New England coast amidst the American Revolution in 1776. The British frigate HMS Greyhound has seized Shenandoah and taken the crew, cargo, and all onboard hostage. To make matters worse, Hawk is relentlessly tracking her, determined to bring her back to the twenty-first century against her will. Sparks begin to fly, from more than cannonballs and gunpowder....

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard.  She loves chocolate, reading, writing, running, working in her gardens, including weeding, and almost all outdoor activities—as long as the temperature is above sixty degrees! Being on or near the water is pure joy for Lisa.

When she’s not at her desk working on her next novel or writing the cuisine column for Vineyard Style Magazine, Lisa is volunteering at her daughters’ schools, serving in her church community, gardening and cooking up those vegetables, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach looking for sea glass.

To learn more or connect with Lisa, please visit:
Author website at www.lisabelcastro.com
Author Facebook page at www.facebook.com/belcastrolisa


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Anticipation by Terri Weldon

Terri Weldon
On Monday, Terri Weldon shared some interesting tidbits about her debut Christmas release, Mistletoe Magic. If you missed Monday's post, you can read it here

Please join me in welcoming Terri back as she shares about Christmas and miracles, and as writers, how that holiday spirit of "anticipation" can carry through in our writing. Welcome back, Terri!   ~Dora

While trying to decide what to talk about the word anticipation zinged into my mind. And for me, it seemed perfect. What two better things to anticipate than Christmas and writing?

During the Christmas season it is so easy to become consumed with cooking, shopping, and decorating that we forget to anticipate the birth of our Savior. I know His birth took place over 2000 years ago and we all know the Christmas story. Maybe we know it too well and maybe we need to be reminded it isn’t just a story. The birth of Jesus is a miracle and Christmas is a time for us to experience that miracle anew. To celebrate the fact God loves us so much He sent His Son into the world. A tiny miracle that became that world’s greatest blessing.

In a different manner I believe we should feel a sense of anticipation about our writing. I don’t know about you, but when that first gem of a story idea niggles at my brain I’m full of anticipation. Midway through my first draft I may wonder what ever made me think I could write. By the time I’ve finished revising the book for the last time I may never want to think of those characters again.

Do you know what happens then? I send that story out and I begin to anticipate what will happen. I hope and I pray an editor will love it. And in the case of Mistletoe Magic, when I finally saw my first book accepted I felt a whole new wave of anticipation. For once I looked forward to editing and I felt a strong sense of anticipation hoping my editor, the wonderful Annette Irby, would like the changes.

Then I anticipated the cover. Next the release date. And then, I’ll admit, I anticipated and feared friends, family, and strangers reading my book. But the entire process was one of joy. God allowed my dream of being published to come true.

Now I’m filled with anticipation at the thought of writing that next book and I hope I never become complacent about it. But more importantly, I never want to become complacent about the miracle of Jesus’s birth.

What about you? What has you filled with anticipation this Christmas season? What lies ahead in your writing journey?
Mistletoe Magic
Purchase Link
Misty Winslow is determined to find her prince charming. She meets the man of her dreams through an internet dating service. Or is he? Because the new dentist in town sets her heart a flutter. It's love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99. Tyler begins to get jealous of Wes99, his online persona! Soon he's pulling out all the stops to woo Misty. As Christmas approaches Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the mistletoe. Which man will she choose?

Terri Denise Weldon claims her regular life is really pretty mundane. She refrains from saying dull! Terri shares a home with her sister, Cynthia, in Oklahoma. They’re the best of friends and enjoy many of the same things. She has three dogs – a lovable mutt and two adorable Westies.  Terri enjoys gardening, shopping for shoes (a habit she needs to break), and working in her church library.
Mistletoe Magic is her debut novella and she is currently writing a suspense series.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are You Allowing Yourself to Be Sharpened? by Heidi Chiavaroli

Heidi Chiavaroli is one of my critique partners. While, like me, she's still waiting for that publishing contract, I have to say I've been reading her novels for over four years and her work is marvelous. Today, Heidi shares some wisdom she's picked up along the road she's traveling to publication. -- Sandy

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

Heidi: I have a love/hate relationship with critiques, as I think many writers might. I need those critiques, can’t write without them, certainly can’t pass in anything worthy to an agent or editor without that second or third…or fourth pair of eyes. But as a new writer, critiques were my nemesis.

I remember walking up to a table for a critique appointment at the 2010 ACFW Conference. Behind the table, a well-known accomplished historical fiction writer. She’d read my first chapter, had ample time to realize that I was gifted, that nothing in my manuscript needed to be changed, that she must recommend me to her agent. Ummm…yeah, right. Didn’t go exactly as planned.

This author gave me wonderful advice that morning. Unfortunately, her suggestions didn’t make it past my pride. This piece of iron didn’t want to be sharpened. I wanted to stay dull and useless. All I heard was, You can’t write.


Fast forward three years to another appointment, different place, different manuscript, and hopefully a lot of growth—both in my writing and in my heart. This time, when I waited for my appointment and critique, I did so with not quite so much naivety. My critiquer, an author whom I greatly respect, would no doubt tell me everything wasn’t perfect with those sweat-inducing first five pages. She would have suggestions. But this time, I would listen.

I’m learning there’s no room for pride in my writing life (and certainly not in any of my life!)—not if I want to improve, not if I want to humble myself and my work to others and offer it up to the Lord as a worthy sacrifice. Others have been on this road much longer than me. To glean from their knowledge and wisdom is an important step in my own writing career. If I allow myself to be sharpened—and even endure that temporary pain to my pride—then I’m confident I will improve and one day be useful, bearing fruit for God’s kingdom through my writing.

Who has been instrumental in sharpening you as a writer?


Heidi Chiavaroli writes History Woven in Grace. She is a wife, mother, disciple, and grace-clinger. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and pursues the craft of writing by rising before dawn—the only time her house is quiet.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When Your Novel’s Going Nowhere by Gail Gaymer Martin

When my mom died, I was facing three book deadlines, so despite my grief, I plugged away and got the first book finished. A few weeks later, the book came back from my editor with a few revisions she’d marked with sticky-notes. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. Every scene involved eating: pizza, ham and cheese sandwiches, cookies, lemonade, coffee, ice cream, popcorn, and elegant dinners. Food is comfort, and I must have used the idea of food to comfort myself in my grief. I made the changes, and it ended up a successful novel. But I also learned a lesson, and I’ll share it with you here. Sometimes our amazing prose needs fresh eyes, time, and lots of perseverance.

Even under regular circumstances, authors sometimes look over the pages of their novel and realize something happened to their inspiration. The book seems to be going nowhere. It’s lost its punch and seems to be mundane. While some of it is great, you’ve found portions that are lackluster. Instead of giving up, take steps to rev the motor and add zip to the stalled novel.

Take A Break
If you’ve been working on the story for weeks, even months, your mind is saturated with the plot and the characters. Set the manuscript aside. Take a vacation. Work on a new project. The important action is to stop thinking about the story and characters. Allow your mind to move in other directions. Sometimes stepping away from a project and returning a later will give you a fresh perspective. In the lapse you can identify where the novel is weak. Do you need more action? More hooks? Deeper characterization? Is the dialogue dull? Use colored highlights or symbols in the margin to indicate where and what you need to add, change, or cut. Once through the manuscript, you will have a better idea what’s needed and how you can get the novel back in the race.

Try Fresh Eyes Besides Yours
Another new perspective is finding an avid reader who loves your genre Instead of a critique, ask your friend, acquaintance or family member to read the story and make notes in the margin where the story drags, when they don’t care about the characters, when they feel no concern or emotion, when they long for the good part. These notes from fresh eyes can be invaluable to provide ideas on how to make it sparkle.

Scrutinize The Story
Authors are inspired by a story idea. The plot forms around the purpose for writing the book—to show how trust is a must in any relationship, to show that happiness is internal and not external, or demonstrate the strength of a mother or father’s love. Novels come with a purpose, a message, a lesson, a truth. Review your novel by scenes and ask if the scene moves the story forward toward its purpose and the character’s goal.

Search for Weaknesses
Most authors know what techniques or elements of fiction are their weakest. If dialogue is a problem, dissect the conversations between characters and cut the go-nowhere verbiage. Unimportant dialogue doesn’t move the plot forward. If descriptions are a weakness, make sure scenes come to life in a vivid surrounding by meaningful description through character action or introspection. She set the teacup on the saucer, kicking herself for agreeing to meet Milly in a stupid teashop. You know where the scene is set and character’s attitude.

These are only a few of the techniques you can use to improve your novel, and remember though everyone loves food, you can’t build a plot around it. 

Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 52 contracted novels and over 3-1/2 million books in print. Her novels have received several national awards, including: the ACFW Carol Award and RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. Gail is the author of Writer Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance. She is a cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves on their Executive Board. Gail is a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers (ACFW) as well as Christian Authors Network (CAN) and is a keynote speaker at churches, civic and business organizations and is a workshop presenter at conferences across the U.S. Gail lives in Michigan with her husband.. Visit her at:

Website at www.gailgaymermartin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gail.g.martin.3
Twitter: http://twitter.com/GailGMartin
GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/83354.Gail_Gaymer_Martin

The Firefighter's New Family
Love Inspired - January release in stores in mid-December
This is Book #2 in the Sisters Series (Book #1 Her Valentine Hero

A tornado may have left Ashley Kern injured beneath a fallen tree, but it’s her rescuer who plays havoc with her emotions. Firefighter Devon Murphy is everything the single mom could wish for in a husband: handsome, a doting father and ready to join his family to hers. But how can the pretty war widow make a life once more with a man whose career is full of danger? Devon has fought some pretty big battles in his life, but can he help Ashley conquer her fears and show her the safest place of all is in his arms?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Release Series 2013: Mistletoe Magic by Terri Weldon

Terri Weldon

An early Merry Christmas to you, dear writers! Annette here. Today we have our final Christmas release post of the year with a debut author. I'm excited to introduce Terri Weldon to you. She and I worked together at White Rose Publishing to bring her novella, Mistletoe Magic, to publication. Read on to learn some behind-the-scenes secrets even I didn't know. And watch for Terri's second visit to Seriously Write coming up Thursday with Dora Hiers. Enjoy!

Welcome, Terri!

How did this project take shape?

Well, originally Mistletoe Magic was supposed to be part of a compilation of novellas with three other authors. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. At first, our proposal was overlooked and then the next year we were told they weren’t taking submissions.  So there I was with a completed Christmas novella on my hands. I have a couple of friends who are PBG authors and they suggested I submit it to Pelican Book Group. Now I feel like this is where God meant for my debut to be published. 

Please share some themes of your novella:

The main theme would be trust the Lord to fulfill the desires of your heart. We humans can make quite a mess when we try and do God’s job for Him.

What makes your project stand out from other Christmas titles?

My hero is a dentist. I actually had someone tell me they planned to buy the book because of that tidbit. Also, it involves an online dating service. Something you don’t see much of in fiction.

Tell us one interesting fact about your novella.

It features a Christmas character that is not normally in novels – Rudolph’s girlfriend. The majority of Christmas books focus on Santa Claus or Frosty. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about the spiritual aspect.

What’s next for you as an author?

I firmly believe my writing is in God’s hands, so it is hard to know exactly what will happen next. But right now I’m revising a romantic suspense novel. Totally different from Mistletoe Magic in genre and tone, but I love both romantic suspense and romantic comedy so I hope to be able to write both types of books.

What else would you like to share about this project?

I loved writing this novella! Annette, you were a joy to work with as an editor and made the novella so much stronger. Mistletoe Magic is a romantic comedy written to give the reader an hour or two of Christmas enjoyment. Originally I intended for it to be a standalone title, but I’ve really been toying with the idea of making a return trip to Winslow, Oklahoma and seeing what happens.

Thanks so much, Terri. I enjoyed working with you on it as well. Such a fun story! Thanks for visiting Seriously Write this week.

Merry Christmas!


Mistletoe Magic
Misty Winslow is determined to find her prince charming. She meets the man of her dreams through an internet dating service. Or is he? Because the new dentist in town sets her heart a flutter. It's love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99. Tyler begins to get jealous of Wes99, his online persona! Soon he's pulling out all the stops to woo Misty. As Christmas approaches, Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the mistletoe. Which man will she choose?


Terri claims her regular life is pretty mundane, but refrains from saying dull! She and her sister Cynthia share a house in Oklahoma. They’re the best of friends and have many of the same interests. She enjoys gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes (a habit she really needs to break). She has three dogs—a lovable mutt and two adorable Westies. She volunteers as her church librarian—she actually gets to shop for books and spend someone else’s money. Plus, she gets to introduce people to Christian fiction. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA. Mistletoe Magic is her debut novella.