Friday, February 28, 2014

Keys to Success by Christina Rich

Christina Rich
Whether published or on the way to being published, I think most writers want to know how others obtain certain achievements. Then once reached, how are they maintained? Today on Seriously Write, author Christina Rich shares experiences on her personal journey to publication and offers insight on success. 
~ Dawn

Keys to Success
by Christina Rich

So, you want to be an author, and not just any author but a published author. Well, let me tell you, it’s a lot easier said than done. No, really. Of course, that’s not what you want to hear, is it? Do you remember reading that book; the one with the sagging middle and the less than satisfying ending? Yeah, the one you really wanted to toss against the wall but out of respect for the paper it was printed on you decided against it. I’m here to tell you that you can write a much better book. Seriously. I know you can, but it takes work. A lot of work. And the hardest part of that work is actually sitting down in your chair and writing.

I’ve come across people who’ve been working on the same book for years, some up to over twenty years. Hearing that freaked me out a little bit. I mean really, did I have what it took to chase my dream for that long? Did my support system? Because let’s face it after a while we writers start perceiving the eye roll when we talk about our stories.

I quickly learned it didn’t matter how long my journey to publication was to be; that was in God’s hands. And it didn’t matter what other people thought, or what I thought other people thought. All that mattered was my obedience to what God had asked me to do. But hey, I’m human, right? I was bound to lose focus and become disappointed, especially when I received those rejection letters.

Speaking of rejections, I once queried the same agent three times. Not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but because she wanted changes and she offered me hope. After that fourth non-acceptance letter I decided to move on. I also decided to start praising God for each rejection. After all, Scripture says we are to be thankful in all things.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

And more rejections I did receive. But that’s okay, they gave me the opportunity to practice praising God in the midst of my disappointment.

I’m going to let you in on a few secrets to success where this writing journey is concerned.

Foremost, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). I might be guilty of overkill, but I try to pray for my story line, my characters and the message God would have me weave onto the pages before I write.

Secondly, if you fear failure, as I suspect many writers do, you have to know you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t even try. You have to be more than a talker, you have to be a doer, which means sitting down and writing words, even when you don’t feel like it.

Yeah, I know these tips may not lead to a writing contract, but success isn’t always what we think it is. Sometimes it’s learning to lean on God more and more as we pursue this crazy journey.


Rejections are opportunities to praise God in the midst of disappointment. Click to tweet.

In order to succeed, you must be a doer, not just a talker. Click to tweet.

You’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t even try. Click to tweet.

Success isn’t always what we think it is. Click to tweet.

An evil queen and her royal guards will stop at nothing to find—and kill—the rightful heir to the throne of Judah. When their pursuit leads them to Mira's village, only her father's bond servant, Ari, a man shrouded in secrets, can keep Mira safe.

Abandoning his life as a temple guard and becoming an indentured servant was the only way Ari could protect young Joash, the true King of Judah, from Queen Athaliah. But his sacred duty prevents him from confessing his feelings for his master's daughter. With the future of their nation on the line, Ari and Mira will risk everything to save their people.

Born and raised in Kansas, where she currently lives with her husband and children, Christina Rich loves to talk about Jesus, read, research, history, photography, knitting, ancestry, and writing stories with happily ever afters.

You can learn more and connect with Christina here:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spare Me the Details by Susan Page Davis

Susan Page Davis
While writing The Prisoner’s Wife (my novel in the New England Romance Collection), I had to learn a lot about the Maine/Massachusetts legal system in colonial days. A quirk of the law led me to write this story, about a marriage intended not to last that turned out to be one of those forever unions.

My research included a trip to the old jail (Old Gaol) in York, Maine, with three of my children. We had a wonderful day, and I highly recommend a day touring Old York to anyone who has the chance. (Learn more about The Museums of Old York at )

While we were there, we toured the Jeffers Tavern and several historic houses, in addition to the Old Gaol. I learned many intriguing tidbits, but they weren’t all suitable for my story.

Did the man who beat his wife to death with a codfish make it into my story? No.

Did the fascinating mourning samplers on display in one of the houses made it into my book? No.

Did the pleached alley or the herb garden or the secret hiding place in the fireplace… You guessed it, they did not.

But all of these things are still in my mind and may show up in one form or another in another story. Immersing ourselves in the past for a day gave us a feeling for early times and the way people lived in them.

But not all the things I dig up in research can go in the book.

My first book, Protecting Amy, was also a historical romance. In it, several cavalry troopers were protecting a young woman. When confronted by a band of bad guys, they made a stand. The story is pre-Civil War, and they used muskets. The loading process takes time. I went over the steps with my husband, a former gunsmith. I wanted the reader to understand how agonizing it was to have to reload after every shot, so I described that in detail in the story.

My editor cut it all out. He wrote a note to the side—“Just let him shoot.”

At first I was upset. After all, this was my first book, and I was proud of my story and my accuracy. It took me a while to come around to his way of thinking. I had to learn that the reader didn’t necessarily want all the minutiae. The reader wanted a fast-paced, smoothly flowing story. This was an action scene, but I had slowed it to a crawl.

So, yes, writers, revel in your research. Soak it all up. Enjoy it. But don’t try to give your readers a history lesson. Set the scene with vivid touches and stay true to the times in all that is said and done, but remember, it’s the people and the relationships that count most. As a writer, I’m a stickler for accuracy, but sometimes as a reader, I can do without the details.

Dora here. As a reader, I tend to get bogged down with too many details, especially technical aspects of a particular profession, but usually I will keep reading. As a writer, it's painful to slash sections or details that have taken me hours to research, but with every book I write, I become more comfortable with what to include and what needs to go.
How do you feel about this? Readers, do you skim past areas laden with unnecessary info or do you put down the book? Writers, do you find it difficult to accept your editor's recommendations to weed out unnecessary details? 

Buy Link
Susan Page Davis is an award-winning author with more than 40 novels published in the historical, mystery, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance genres. A Maine native, she married an Oregon man and now lives in western Kentucky. She’s a winner of the Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and the Will Rogers Medallion. Visit her website at: , where you can enter her monthly drawing for books.

The New England Romance Collection contains five complete historical novels set in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, including Susan’s award-winning novel, The Prisoner's Wife: Jack Hunter is about to be hanged for the murder of his neighbor. Jack knows he's innocent, and the unscrupulous constables will seize his land when he's dead. He asks Lucy Hamblin, the only girl he ever loved, to marry him in the jail. Her father broke them up three years ago, but now her father is dead. Will Lucy be willing to grant his last request and become the widow Hunter? Set in Maine, 1720. Buy now from Amazon: or Christian Book:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ten Steps to Creating a Book Launch Team, Part One by Anita Higman

Today, we're looking at book launch teams again to get the experience of another author, Anita Higman. This will be a two-part post. Part Two will run on March 12. -- Sandy

Anita: Perhaps you’re asking, “So, what is a book launch team?” It’s a merry band of readers who like your work well enough to create buzz about your new books in exchange for free autographed books, prizes, and insider information about your latest releases. Your team’s buzz can be in the form of reviews, social media, blogging, and anything else that will get the word out about your new book. Okay, now that you know what this wonderful new promotion avenue is, you can begin to travel down this road with these ten steps.

1. Setting up an Online Home
Before you can invite your guests to this ongoing book party, you’ll need to create a special hosting site to house your private group. Since I am clueless how to pull this off I hired my webmaster to create a beautiful page on Facebook that would coordinate perfectly with my website as well as my Reader Page. If you’re clever and techno savvy, which I am not, you can set it all up on your own.

2. You’ll Want a Jazzy Title
I decided to call my book launch team Backstage Pass, and I call these amazing women in my group, Backstage Beauties. And believe me, they are beautiful in every way, not just because they promote my books, but because they have become friends who are precious to me.

3. It Shouldn’t Always Be About You
I discovered that for my team to spend all their waking moments thinking about me and buzzing about me, well, it was going to get a little strange. I was at risk of becoming a narcissist. So, Backstage Pass is also about the members too. Once or twice a week I post a “getting to know you question.” And they really do participate. Also, we share prayer requests, and that has also helped to foster a caring environment. We have truly built a community of women who not only like to read my stories but who also care about each other. In fact, these women have become so important in my life that I’ve dedicated my next book to them.

4. How Many Team Members Should You Have?
Right now I have 73 members, but I intend to slowly grow the group to 100. There are some members who don’t participate, some who drop in once in a while to leave a comment or help out with some promotion, and then there are others who are committed to creating some serious buzz. I am grateful for them all. I feel honored that they would want to be a part of the group. But as far as numbers, I do think if you go over 150 members you would lose that intimate feel of community that makes this kind of group so special.

5. Make it Fun
Run contest for prizes. We celebrate every time we reach ten new members in our group. I ask a novel-related question and do a giveaway that is also connected to the book. The last prize I gave away was a silver charm bracelet festooned with a tiny musical charm, because this type of bracelet was important in my new book release, Winter in Full Bloom

Anita has five more tips for setting up launch teams, so be sure to read the rest of her advice on March 12. In the meantime, do you have any questions, experience, or suggestions of your own? Do you think book launch teams are a worthwhile tool in your marketing kit?


Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has thirty-six books published. She’s been a
Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA in the combined fields of speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Please visit her website at and drop her a note by clicking the “Contact Me” button. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Secure Writer: Safe Computer Practices

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day …Psalm 91:5 (ESV)
Keep Your Computer Safe

The security log on my router listed a “ping of death” dated two days before. Now, I knew the router was the gizmo that lets me access the Internet on my computer without a wire, but I had no idea what a “ping of death” was. With that name, I knew it couldn’t be anything good, especially since we’d gotten a letter saying our state department of revenue had been hacked and our personal information was one of the thousands compromised.

After doing a little bit of research, I found out that someone was trying to hack my computer, but the firewall had stopped him just like an invisible fortress around my router. I reported the attack to our local Internet provider so they could investigate, but after upgrading the security features on my computer, I rested, somewhat uneasily, in the knowledge that I’d done all I could.

What can you do to keep your manuscript secure? The following are a few things that I've done. If my suggestions are nothing new, just consider them reminders.

Make sure all your software is up-to-date. Whether you use a desktop, laptop, tablet, Mac, or PC, you should make the effort to find out how to update your software. Consult your computer or software home page for more information.

Backup your work.
The best way to do this is by using a off-site program like DropBox, Google Docs or the Cloud. Most of these work by downloading a program to your computer, then when you save your document, it goes directly to that file. Bonus: you can access it anywhere. So if you go to a conference and need to change your proposal, you can open it from the hotel computer, make the changes and print away.

Another alternative is an external hard drive. This is a small box that connects to your computer with a cord or through your router. Depending on the program, you can set it to work on a schedule or only when you connect.

Thumb drives, memory sticks or USB flash drives now come with enough memory to back up your entire computer. If you do use these, be sure to set alerts to remind you to save your work-in-progress. There's nothing worse than the blue screen of death after you've worked all day on a manuscript.

The least expensive (and also least secure) way to backup your manuscript is by emailing a copy to yourself daily. However, the good news is that by doing this you have a record of work if there's ever a question of ownership when if you're audited. Those emails (be sure to set keywords or labels on those emails) will prove that you do consider your writing a business because you have devoted hours of time to your work.

The very best thing to do is a combination of all of the above. Do I sound paranoid? Maybe a little, but I've had computer crashes before where I relied on only one method and still lost work. I'd rather not take a chance.

Security Software
I don't want to start a conversation of Mac vs. PC, but even if you don't have anti-virus or security software, you need to have a firewall in place. Do some research on your computer model or contact your Internet service provider (ISP) for more information and instructions. (Sorry, but it depends on your brand of computer and ISP.)

Are you overwhelmed? I am, too. It's so much to learn, isn't it? But here's the good news: the psalmist was secure in the knowledge that Lord would protect us. In Psalm 91, he says that the Lord will cover us with his wings and command His angels to keep us safe. We never need to worry about denial of service from our Heavenly Father. He will always be there for us.

Just like my router’s firewall, our God protects us from attack. How many times have we been in dire situations and never even known it? Only the Lord knows why there is evil in this world, but He does assure us that we never need to fear it. He will always be with us.

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If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment. I'd love all the help I can get!
About the Author
Angela E. Arndt
Angie Arndt was a corporate trainer before health issues sidelined her. These days she’s active in her local church, ACFW, MBT and Mesu's BFFs. She’s a team member of Seriously Write and writes every Wednesday on her personal blog, Joy on the Back Roads.

Angie is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She’s currently working on a series of novels set in small Southern towns. She and her husband live in the middle of a big wood outside a small town in South Carolina. They have three large dogs -- well, two large dogs and a very small poodle who thinks he's a large dog.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Burying Old Bones with Deep POV by Tanya Stowe

Tanya Stowe

Hey, writers! Are you old enough to remember being taught to use two spaces after punctuation? Or to use plenty of detailed description? (Oh, the adjectives.) Writing trends and expectations keep changing. Even now, the phrases "she thought" or "he wondered" are being phased out as editors prefer deep POV. Today's guest, Tanya Stowe, offers some insightful tidbits on deep POV. Read on! ~ Annette

Burying Old Bones with Deep POV
by Tanya Stowe

I’m a dinosaur. I thought when I reached fifty that I’d arrived at the status of a collectible, but now I know I go much further back.

I started writing when the classic form was still popular. Narrative methods were used—maybe overused—and author insertion worked. As a dutiful student, I learned to think and write as an author “observer.” Even though I was considered a bit of a groundbreaker with my scenes starting in the middle of action and dialogue, I still found myself garnering comments like “too passive, be more active” or the dreaded “show don’t tell.”

With the onset of e-Publishing, readers have an expectation of faster reads with even more immediacy. As an e-Published author, I knew it was time to shed those old “dino” bones and raise my writing to a new level. But where to start?

I belong to a writers’ organization that does a very good job of educating its up and coming writers. At many conferences and online classes I’d attended workshops about deep point of view. Old-timer and experienced writer that I am, I naturally assumed deep POV meant getting deep into the psyche of your characters.

And that, dear friends, is why my old bones were rattling!

I jumped into some serious research on deep POV and found that it’s definitely about delving into your character, but it’s much more. The technique tells the story from the protagonist’s stream of consciousness, revealing events from inside, through the character’s thoughts and actions.

With deep POV, the character unfolds different personality traits through quirky thoughts, repetitive actions or intense internal reactions with opposing external actions. Imagine the explosion going on inside James Bond as he delivers one of his one-line comebacks to the bad guys! Or maybe Mr. Bond really is just as calm on the inside as the outside. With the use of deep POV, the possibilities for rich, multi-dimensional characters are endless.

Deep POV is great for characterization but it also makes the story more immediate by eliminating the insertion of the author’s thoughts and presence in the middle of the story. No outside narrator exists between the reader and the protagonist. The reader lives the story as if she is the protagonist.

But be careful. Deep POV is not a continuous stream of conscious monologue. That can be as boring and off-putting as author intrusion. An occasional word or phrase in italics accentuates deep POV and brings depth, insight, or emotion to a scene.  It doesn’t eliminate the need for good descriptions or snappy dialogue but deep POV will eliminate almost all of those pesky “show-don’t-tell” pop-ups that can plague even the best of writers.

Personally, I’m counting on deep POV to bury some bones so deep they never come back to the surface.
Tender Trust

Tender Trust

Alex Marsden dragged Penny Layton out of the gutter and promised her a happily-ever-after love with a house and a white-picket fence. But the Civil War changed their paths. Separated twice by circumstances beyond their control, Penny learned to survive on her own, but lost hope. Five years later when Alex miraculously returns to her, Penny doesn't believe in happy endings or miracles. Will Alex's faith and love be strong enough to drag Penny out of the gutter one more time?


Tanya Stowe is an author of Christian fiction with an unexpected edge. She fills her stories with the unusual…gifts of the spirit and miracles, mysteries and exotic travel, even an angel or two. No matter where Tanya takes you…on a journey to the Old West or to contemporary adventures in foreign lands…be prepared for the extraordinary. Connect with Tayna here: