Friday, May 30, 2014

Encouraging Words from Rose Ross Zediker

Rose Ross Zediker

Our mission at Seriously Write includes offering encouragement to writers. But it’s not one person’s or one organization’s job to lift up writers. As loving Christians, that responsibility falls on all of us. Author Rose Ross Zediker understands that, and she offers four ways we can encourage each other in our writing journeys. 
~ Dawn

Encouraging Words

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thess. 5:11)

As Christian’s encourage each other in our faith journey, Christian writers must encourage each other in the long path to publication.

The writing life is filled with disappointments. Hopeful submissions return with generic rejection forms. Family and friends may fail as a needed support system. The book line you write for closes. This is why writers MUST support other writer’s efforts.

How can we do this?

Be gentle critics. Harsh criticism from our writing peers hurts our feelings and fuels self-doubt. Remember your manners when stating what doesn’t work in another writer’s manuscript. Kind suggestions are positive guides that can help a writer turn their work into a polished manuscript worthy of publication. Take these types of opportunities to suggest writing books or courses that address the issues in the writer’s manuscript.

Share information. Many beginning writers can’t afford a conference. If you’ve attended one, type up a review of the highlights to share with your writing buddies. You don’t have to go into specifics, just give them the flavor of the conference. Point them to an agent, editor, or publisher’s website or blog. Have you run across a new market or conference that would be a perfect fit for a writing companions work? Make sure they get the submission information. Be generous with your knowledge of the craft. Don’t withhold information because you think of another writer as competition. Chances are their style and voice differs a great deal from yours.

Give hope. Share your writing successes even if you are the only one publishing in your writing circle. Our enthusiasm in being published is contagious. It lets our peers know it can be done. It may give them the courage to submit their work, inspire them to research a new market or help them gain confidence to try a new genre.

Help market. Word of mouth sells books. Arrange for multiple author book signings. Talk up others author’s books on your blog or in person, give them as gifts, read their books and leave them in a public place, like a coffee shop for someone else to enjoy. Statistics show for every one book purchased, three people read it. Without doing the math, you can see it doesn’t take long to build a fan base from one simple gesture.

Writers must realize God gave us a talent and with that talent comes the responsibility of nurturing others in our profession. The more we encourage others, the more we too are encouraged. 


Rose Ross Zediker offers four ways we can encourage each other in our writing journeys. Click to tweet.

As Christian writers, we have a responsibility to nurture others in our profession. Click to tweet.

The more we encourage others, the more we too are encouraged. Click to tweet.

CORA ANDERSON ISN'T LOOKING FOR LOVE.  The young widow is just trying to make a life on the prairie for herself and her newborn son. When handsome newcomer Luke Dow shows up at her cabin door, she soon relies on the man's help with her homestead…and dares to dream of the future. Luke came to the small South Dakota town to build a hotel and make his fortune. But he never expected to care for anyone, let alone the beautiful Cora and her baby boy. When Cora's land claim is challenged by a neighbor, Luke will do all he can to protect her and her home—and claim her heart.

Rose Ross Zediker writes for Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents line of inspirational romance novels. During the two plus decades she’s been writing, her byline’s been found on over sixty works of fiction, non-fiction and Sunday school curriculum. Rose and her husband live in rural southeastern South Dakota where she works full-time at the University of South Dakota. Writing occupies many evenings and weekends but she balances both careers with relaxing hobbies, sewing, embroidery, quilting, reading and spoiling her granddaughters.

You can visit Rose on the web at:


Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Most Valuable Writing Advice by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Pamela S. Thibodeaux
When Dora invited me to write a post for Seriously Write, I wondered what on earth could I say that you haven’t already heard or, for that matter, something I haven’t already said and/or written about. So I thought I’d just recap some of my most valuable writing advice. Here goes….

Read. Read extensively in your genre and out. Take note of phrases & descriptions that capture your imagination or make your heart sing and mind race. I’ve yet to meet a writer who isn’t an avid reader!

Write. Doesn’t matter if it’s daily, weekly, or 2-3 days a month, just make time to write consistently. Don’t worry if it’s dribble to begin with just write. Whether you’re at a desk, the kitchen table, the library, or a coffee shop, get in the habit of sitting in your writing space and putting words on paper (or computer, or notebook, or i-pad)…You get my drift. Forget the rules and write the book you want to read! You can always check for publisher guidelines and edit/revise your project to fit, but those first drafts can be whatever you want them to be!

Edit. Most projects need a minimum of 3 edits…. Initial where you layer in descriptions, the five senses, etc. Second pass where you check for plot holes and pacing.  Third round where you check for grammar, punctuation, etc. Make sure you take at least two weeks to a month between edits! If you don’t, chances are you’ll miss mistakes that could cost you a contract or precious time in edits after the contract. While you’re letting this one cool, start another! Keep several projects in the works at all times so you don’t worry this one to death.

Query/Submit. At some point you’ve got to turn that baby loose. Even if your initial submission is to a critique partner or group, don’t let fear stop you from getting the feedback necessary to help you grow as a writer and produce the best work you can. Read the last two sentences above – they apply here too. Keep writing while you wait to hear back from your submission.

Revise, Re-submit, Resale. This applies mostly to articles and essays but sometimes you can even revise/rewrite a story and sell it elsewhere. Make sure you abide by any current or previous contract limitations and if someone doesn’t normally take reprints, be sure to let them know the extent of changes you’ve made that add a whole new twist to the version you’re querying about or submitting to them.

Promote. Okay you’ve sold a book or two or a dozen articles. There will be no (or very few) sales, reviews, or new opportunities, if you don’t let people know! Set up a website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page. Spend a few hours a week building your fan base and readership. When you do a book signing or speaking engagement, ask for the name and address (email too) of everyone who buys a book! This is your readership. Ask to add them to your mailing/newsletter list. Don’t bombard them but keep in touch on a regular basis, whether that is monthly, quarterly or even annually.

These tips and hints apply to the craft of writing but here are a few more….

Keep good records. Writing is a business and even unpublished authors can claim business expenses such as office supplies, ink, business cards, etc. Check with a CPA or tax preparer and don’t miss out on these valuable deductions especially when you begin to make money!

Take Care of Yourself. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball or hand grenade and we have a hard time focusing on writing. Don’t worry about your career at this point. Take the time you need to recover and/or regroup and start over. Real writers never quit. We may take an extended leave of absence but at some point, we always return to our passion.

And last but certainly not least…

Don’t Quit! Writing is a gift and a talent given to you by God. Don’t hide your gift or bury your talent.

Dora here. If you could offer one morsel of valuable advice for new writers, what would it be?


Purchase Link
Tempered Fire
Amber Harris is a good girl on the brink of womanhood. Stanley Morrison is a young man at the start of his life. For each other, they have always felt the fireworks that two people in love should feel. But the questions about his past, his pride, and Amber's father might be the end of what could be a strong relationship. As the two try to protect their budding romance, some unlikely but powerful forces conspire to keep them apart. Will they survive the wishes of everyone around them with their relationship intact? 
Purchase Links:

Bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a Lifetime Member of Bayou Writers Group. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!”™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”   
Website address:   
Twitter: @psthib

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Got Creativity? by Susan J. Reinhardt

Has God given you an idea for a book? Today, Susan Reinhardt shares her road to creating a "surprise" novel. -- Sandy

Susan: Words don't always appear on paper in a burst of creative energy. Non-fiction is my first love. I wrote not because I was particularly inspired but because a need arose. So, I set about the task of writing a Christmas skit, short pieces for kids, Sunday School materials, and devotionals.

My entry into fiction took me by surprise. During a trip to Gettysburg in December 2004, I "heard" the voices of the forefathers as fading echoes. All efforts to put that experience in written form failed until my late husband one day declared, "That's it! That's your book, and you'll write it in four months and call it Ghosts of the Past."

Yeah, right.

I couldn't shake his words, so I turned on the computer and wrote one sentence after another. While inspiration occasionally flowed, most of the time the story came out in painful spurts. After exactly four months, the manuscript reached 55,000 words, and I typed, "The End." Ahem, we all know that's never, "The End."

True creativity often doesn't reach its zenith until the editing process is complete. Often, I'll be reading through my rough draft and see how I can strengthen a scene or even an entire plot line. As a seat-of-the-pants writer, my theme develops through character interactions and the situations they encounter.

My experience level with fiction was nil, and it took me eight years (minus a two-year hiatus to nurse my husband until his death) to get the manuscript into publishable condition. Along the way, the title changed from Echoes of the Past to The Moses Conspiracy. It went from 55,000 to 90,000-plus words.

While inspiration provided vision, studying the craft gave me the tools to communicate what was in my heart. It's not an either/or scenario, but rather a marriage of both. God's gifts, including writing, come in seed form and must be nurtured to reach their full potential.

Got creativity? Great! Water it with prayer (time spent with the Lord), practice (all those techniques you're learning), patience (publishing is slow), perseverance (stick with it), and punctuality (showing up when it's time to write).

What do you do to grow your creativity? Have you ever had an idea sneak up and surprise you, perhaps from the get-go or maybe during the editing process?


Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include her novels, The Moses Conspiracy, The Christmas Wish, and
The Scent of Fear, as well as devotionals, short articles, and contributions to anthologies. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

A widow, daughter, stepmom, and active church member, Susan resides in Pennsylvania. When not writing, she enjoys time with family and friends, reading, couponing, gardening, and finding small treasures in antique shops.

Links for Susan:

Blog:  Christian Writer/Reader Connection

Twitter:  @susanjreinhardt

I'm also on Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mistaken Identities...Tanya Hanson

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1

When I was born, my great-grandfather wrote me a letter I didn’t read until many years after his death. I’d been christened with such an elaborate Russian name he declared I ought to be a ballerina or composer.

Sadly, I’m a klutz and only okay on the piano. And despite his excitement, I grew up seriously loathing both my first and last names. I was often teased about being a “Commie.” Each name was constantly mispronounced and misspelled. I won a prestigious art award in college and yup, spelled wrong. My mom often joked that I’d marry a Smith or Jones. Something easy.

Hanson seemed to fit her prediction. Easy to pronounce for sure. But just as easy to misspell. I have relatives who still spell my married name HansEn. Uh, we’ve been married almost forty years.

I mention all of this because I wondered about pseudonyms when I started out as a writer. Do I honor my father? My husband? Or become somebody entirely new. A very successful, very famous author I met through RWA regretted using her actual name; she kept getting fan mail from a guy in prison who vowed to “look her up” when he got released...

Reality won out. Tanya Hanson I was and Tanya Hanson I would remain. And hence comes my initial advice to every newbie author. Google your pen name before you carve it in stone. I did not. Upon publishing my first book, it took my eleven year old neighbor boy's misspelling my last name as he looked up my new website to discover that Tanya HanSEN is a porn star.

Yup. At least I got a lot of traffic to my site. And also Too Much Information about the real me all over the internet.

Then came the additional challenge of writing both secular and inspirational romance. My writing both genres never bothered my editors, nor did my keeping the same name. But wow, I’ve gotten some nasty comments and reviews from judgmental readers.

So I wonder. Is it better to start out fresh and new? Or like my great-grandfather’s wish, aspire for good things as your actual self?

Do you use a pen name? Should authors use different names for different genres? Too late for me, but let me know your advice and thoughts for upcoming authors out there!

Claiming His Heart

Caught between a noose and a cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything possible to prove his brother’s innocence...even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. He needs every nugget and flake he can pull from her worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife. Save his brother and he’ll be back on the Texas cattle trails. God, and trusting Him, are things of the past.

Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last mysterious outsider in the valley. Faith? That’s wavered, too, after too many family tragedies. But she has no choice but to wed the handsome Tull. He bears terrible family secrets that need to be kept behind closed doors. Although she’s eager to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatments for her wounded brother, her unwanted marriage douses her plans, yet stirs up hope and love for Tull...and begins to fortify her weakened faith.

Can the two of them find a future--and faith--together even with their haunted pasts? 

Amazon Buy link:

Tanya Hanson and her firefighter-hubby live on California’s Central Coast where they are the besotted grandparents of two darling little boys. Her love of the West shows up in each of her stories. Claiming His Heart, set in the gold mining country of southern California, is her first inspirational historical romance.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Words of Wisdom by Mary Manners

Hi, Friends! I'm thrilled to join the Seriously Write team. Thanks to Annette Irby for her gracious invitation. I've been writing since I was born (well...almost) and it's an honor to have the opportunity to share with each of YOU!

Words of Wisdom

By Mary Manners
"Sometimes the last thing you think you need is exactly what God has planned."

“If you’re going to do something, then do it right.”
            Those words, spoken by my father, came to me the winter of my thirteenth year as I delivered newspapers along my route on the streets of Elmwood Park, a suburb of Chicago. It was the winter of 1976 and we were in the clutch of a terrific, trademark Chicago blizzard. The streets were buried in three-foot drifts and my fingers ached with a bone-freezing chill through two pairs of wool gloves as I tossed rolled newspapers from the passenger window of our beat-up Chevy station wagon while my dad navigated the icy terrain. He usually didn’t chauffer me; I rode the six-mile route on my bike with papers nestled neatly into a burlap sack woven across the handlebars. But, today he’d decided the snow was a little more than my bike could handle, hence the unsolicited lesson in proper newspaper delivery. I really didn’t care what his thoughts were at the time; all I wanted was to get home to the warmth of our living room. Yet, with each paper that missed its mark Dad made me exit the car, retrieve the paper, and walk it up to the customer’s cleared front porch.
            I was a bit—okay, more than a bit—miffed at him that day, as it took several hours to finish the route and I was sure I’d permanently lost use of a couple of fingers and toes in the process. But, as the following days passed, Dad’s words stayed with me. Little did I understand at the time that they would become a cornerstone of my work ethic over the decades to come, guiding me from an insecure teenager to an award-winning teacher as well as a published author.
            The summer of that same year, I stopped by the Elmwood Park Public Library each day after I finished my paper route. Long, sweltering days meant hours and hours of time to devour every book in the air-conditioned young-adult section, and I was determined to read them all. By then I loved to write (I actually believe I was born loving it, but that summer definitely took my passion to a new level) and I promised the gray-haired, pinch-faced librarian that one day she would stock my books on the library shelves. She just pushed her horn-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose and handed me another stack of dog-eared paperbacks.
One August afternoon a thunderstorm blew in that was so severe it set off tornado sirens and sent people to the shelter of any building they could find. I had my nose buried in a book, transported to that otherworld of a secret garden, and remained completely oblivious to the fact that I was about to make a visit to the mysterious Land of Oz until the kind librarian dragged me to the stock room, hid me beneath a shelf, and handed me a copy of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton—I assume to calm my rudely-awakened fears. By the time storm clouds dispersed and the angry, yawning sky dumped its fill of rain I had fallen in love with Pony Boy and the fact that someone, somewhere, knew first hand that it was okay to be different. It was the first time that I believed in my soul, and with one-hundred percent confidence, that I would one day become a published author and share my books, my thoughts and feelings, with other people.
            In the months and years to come, I wrote and read everything I could devour, and then wrote and wrote some more. I had  wonderful teachers along the way—Miss Moreale and Miss Vestuto, who took the time to lift me up, to ask about my writing, to talk with me as if both my dreams and I truly mattered. I loved those ladies, and to this day tears blur my vision as I remember them with such fondness. I truly believe that I would not have become who I am without their selfless and boundless encouragement.
            Published, yes. Wiser...certainly. On fire to pay it forward to the children in my community? You bet your pencil and notepad!
           Words of wisdom...pass them on.

Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.

Learn more about Mary Manners at her website:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Lessons Learned on the Path to Publication by Eleanor Gustafson

Eleanor Gustafson

Sometimes we glean knowledge by studying the craft of writing; other times we learn by doing and seeing what works—or doesn’t work. Author Eleanor (Ellie) Gustafson tried different approaches to her stories, then landed on success for her and readers. Enjoy as she shares her personal journey to publication. ~ Dawn

Lessons Learned on the Path to Publication
by Eleanor Gustafson

“Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.” ~ E.L. Doctorow, writer (b. 1931) 

A friend sent that to me, and it’s a pretty good start for any statement on writing. A murky business, at best.

How did I become an author? Blame it on my mother. She read to me every night before I went to bed, not knowing she was planting seeds that would later destroy her dream of my becoming an organist! I began making up my own stories at age five or six, but later, after reading my early attempts to write, she told me straight out: Stick to music as a career. I did become an organist, but story had too strong a hold on me. I began publishing both fiction and nonfiction in 1978. 

After these early successes, I got brave enough to try a novel. Appalachian Spring sold well, but not content to simply pump out saleable fiction, I next tried a time travel set on our tree farm. Modern girl meets boy of 1796 over a stone wall in Vermont. Good novel, bad ending. Learned from that and tried a dramatization of the gospel using no religious language and creating a made-up world. Bad novel, in that raw evil balances off the Christ figure, but a good ending. Learned from that and came out with my signature book, The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David. Good book, good ending, though dauntingly long—600 pages! But how can you shrink David to less than that?

Brings us to Dynamo, a novel that takes in my passion for horses and my passion for God. This one is a genuine page-turner, but again, I engaged in risky writing. The book is complex. One layer is horses and the high-stakes world of horse shows and stable intrigue; another is the good, bad, and ugly of human relationships; but the bedrock layer is the sovereign God who interacts with Jeth in unusual and unpredictable ways. The Big Question: Can or would God do these sorts of unusual things in a person’s life today? I’ve gotten some pushback on that, but I think I have made a good case in the novel.

Obviously, I am not writing to sell books to make lots of money. I try to write my passion and let God take care of the rest. My name as an author may never be more than a footnote on the publishing world, but God has freed me to write what he has placed in my heart. His judgment and not the world’s is the only thing that really matters.

Again—writing is like driving at night and seeing only as far as the headlights. It requires a great deal of faith, but as Christians, faith is the only safe path to walk.


“Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.” ~ E.L. Doctorow Click to tweet.

Write your passion and let God take care of the rest. Click to tweet.

Writing requires a great deal of faith, but as Christians, faith is the only safe path to walk. Click to tweet.

Jeth Cavanaugh is searching for a new life along one of Pennsylvania's mountain ridges when he stumbles upon a stable of show jumpers owned by Rob and Katie Chilton. Throw in a volatile gaited stallion named Dynamo, and Jeth will do anything to work there. He earns his living by training and showing Rob's jumpers, but Dynamo is his primary passion.

Everything changes when God enters his life—in the unconventional form of a hard slap by an old girlfriend—and ignites a new, greater passion within him. But along with fervor comes fear at the undeniable evidence of God's hand on his life. Inexplicable events, both good and bad, make him moan plaintively, "Why does God do this to me? I get the feeling I'm being set up for something."

He is, indeed. Jeth's life is anything but predictable, much like the God he serves. The real Dynamo and his ultimate trainer emerge out of an excruciating mix of disaster and brokenness, which are never beyond the reach of redemption.

This story is God in your face: Who is He, really? What does He ask of us?

Ellie Gustafson writes pretty good books these days. She’s been at it long enough to learn a few things. It all started in 1978 with her first published article, “I Saw a Thing Today,” about a couple of weasels she met on a stone wall in Vermont. A bunch of short stories and other articles followed, and then came Appalachian Spring. BIG learning curve. The editor slashed characters, whole chapters, and made a lot of red marks everywhere. Had to rewrite the entire book—on a brand-new Apple II computer she had no idea how to operate. The novel was well received, however, which led to more novels and more painful learning experiences.

In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God's overarching work of redemption. Having graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois—where she met her husband while teaching horsemanship (funny story there)—she has since been actively involved in church life as a minister's wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. A host of other experiences, from mouse wars to house building, help bring color and humor to her fiction. She does like to laugh a lot.

She and her husband live in Massachusetts, where he teaches online college courses in philosophy. They travel a fair amount, spend time with three children and eight grandchildren, and enjoy camping at the family forest in Chester, Vermont.

Some have said that her latest novel, Dynamo, is her best book, so old dogs can learn from experience!

Dynamo is her fifth novel and builds off her lifelong love of horses.

To learn more and connect with Ellie: