Friday, April 29, 2016

Sara Ella's Journey to Publication

Sara Ella
Today we have a special treat—something a little different. Author Sara Ella writes for young adults, and with her bubbly personality, she’s created a variety of fun videos for her audience. Today, we get a taste as she shares her personal journey to publication. Her approach to reaching potential readers inspires me to think about ways I might be more imaginative. To watch additional videos, please visit Saras website or YouTube channel.  
Enjoy! ~ Dawn


If you’re unable to see the video because you’re receiving this post via e-mail, please click here. It will take you to the actual post. Thanks!


Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

Once upon a time, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is far more swoony than any cartoon character could ever be. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away” for those who put their faith in the King of kings.

You can learn more and connect with Sara at the following online sites:


Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Most Cherished Lesson by Mischelle Creager

I'm pleased to welcome my friend Mischelle Creager back to Seriously Write. When I first asked Mischelle about visiting with us, she sent me two posts to see if either would work. They were both terrific so I scheduled her for two visits! I hope you'll run over to Amazon and download The Rose and The Thorn. It's free and it is the first book in her MacPherson Brides Books.

Like most writers, I can say that I have learned a lot of lessons about life since I started this journey—things like discipline, balancing my writing and the other parts of my life (especially time with my family), rejection, and so many other things. But the lesson that I am most thankful for is one I learned as I finished a certain scene in the first book of my MacPherson Brides series.
To better understand the situation you need to know that for me, many things changed after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. While I don’t need to go into all the details, I will say that before that day, life was bright and exciting. After that day, things turned dark. Things got worse when on Mother’s Day we visited the site as the employees (my husband worked there) and their families were allowed inside the fence to lay wreaths by department at the base of the ruble. As we left, a single bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

Sometime later on a Sunday night at church, the song leader led “Amazing Grace. I had a flashback to the time at the site—the sights, the smells, the sounds. When I was leaving the building, the preacher touched my arm, tipped his head toward the auditorium, and asked “What happened in there?” I explained. The next time we started to sing that song, I froze and started counting the bumps on the upholstery on the back of the pew in front of me. I got to where I was afraid to go to church, not knowing when we would sing that song again. This went on for over a year. Thankfully, at a survival workshop, a therapist helped me work through the situation and “Amazing Grace” has become one of my favorite hymns.

Now to the lesson, when I was writing the first book of the series, I had a character who had gone through a very abusive marriage. In church one morning, she connects what is going on there (the words of the song/sermon) with the abuse in her marriage. I wrote what she had gone through—her pain, her flashback, how she had to count the stitches on the shawl the lady in front of her wore to take her mind off the remembered horrors. When I finished the scene, I looked at it and dropped my head. For the first time, I thanked God for what I had gone through after the bombing, for the ability to understand such pain, to know that He allowed me to go through what I had so I’d be able to reach out to others who would need those words of understanding of their pain.

Thank you, God, for knowing what we need and being with us as we go through the growing pains that prepare us for the life You have for us.
Mischelle Creager writes inspirational historical romances set in the mid-1800s. She's not sure which she loves more--researching or writing. When she's not doing one of those two things, she can probably be found reading or baking. She love to share her historical research and has a website Under The Attic Eaves, filled with tidbits she's found in books written in the 19th Century. She also "reprints" a historical magazine, Worbly's Family Monthly Magazine, filled with items from books and magazines published in the middle of the 1800s. You can visit these two sites at and
If you would like to know more about Mischelle, please visit her author website at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You, Too, Can Be An Organized Writer by Edwina Cowgill

Edwina Cowgill
Productivity means organization, and organization comes when we ... well, let Edwina Cowgill give you a few tips to help you makes the most of your daily tasks. -- Sandy

Edwina: I’ve always said I inherited my organizational skills from my dad. But that’s not really true. Organizational skills are not inherited. They can be learned and implemented in every area of our life – even, and most importantly, in our writing.

I am convinced that the more organized we are, the more productive we are. And the more productive we are, the more time for our family. I’m sure I’m “preaching to the choir” (hmmm, that’s one of those pesky clichés) but it never hurts to be reminded of a few organizational techniques. Perhaps if you are one of those people who think you can never be organized, maybe these simple suggestions will be a starting point for you.

  1. The Clean Machine: Before you do any writing, make sure the area where you write is empty of everything, except what you need in order to write. I can hear some of you hysterically laughing now! It’s really quite simple. Assign a place for everything that is currently on your desk. Make files for all of the different topics and file the related paperwork. Anything else on your desk that will distract you: hide it. When you sit down at your desk, you want to be able to totally focus on nothing but your writing.

  2. Schedule your writing time! We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating: Schedule your writing time. Whatever time of the day that works best for you that’s when you need to write. Put it on your calendar, in your iPhone, whatever you use. Be sure to write it on the family calendar. Doing that allows everyone in the family to know that those days/times are your sacred writing time.
  3. Lists, lists and more lists! My family says that I have so many lists, that I have to have a list of all the lists I have! I’m not quite that bad, but I am a firm believer in lists. One of the best tools of organization is what I’ve termed the “roll-over list.” No matter where you work, this list is a lifesaver! At the end of the day, make a list of everything that you need to accomplish the following day. Be sure you “roll-over” what you didn’t finish that day to the next day.
  4. Who’s on First? Once you have your list(s) made, look them over and decide what items are priorities and which ones can rollover to another day. Don’t take those items off of today's list because you want them there as a reminder; just realize that you probably won’t get to them the next day. Number the items in order of priority. You don’t have to rewrite the list, unless you’re a perfectionist, like yours truly. Just put a number beside each item and you’re ready for tomorrow. This system also works well at home!
  5. Your Best Friend There are many more organization tips but here’s one of my favorite: when crunch time comes, and it will, be sure you have the Colonel’s phone number on speed dial!

Do you have something to add to this list? What is your best tip for organizing your day?

About the Author

Edwina has been writing since her teenage years, but began seriously pursuing her writing career in 2008. She has written 600+ blogs for her blog site: She has had a number of articles published in various media outlets and websites and three short stories that were included in anthologies published in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. She is currently working on her memoir that will be published later this year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mapping Encouragement by Emily Conrad

Plants like six-inch tall Truffula trees lined the trail I hiked in the Canadian Rockies. I paused to snap pictures then continued to a mountain lake and on to a tree-sheltered meadow of poppy red, gold, and white wildflowers. 

After that, the inclines became steeper—or maybe my legs were fatigued. Distant mountains disappeared into mist that swallowed scenery closer and closer to me. Soaking rain was moving in. I consulted the map and hurried to shelter.

That hike resembles the writing life. Wonders dot the journey, but it also has its share of uphill stretches, fatigue, and difficulties. Then a storm rolls in, showering us with doubt and worry, and we need a map to guide us to an emotional shelter.

Whether you’ve just started your writing journey or you’re miles down the trail, pausing here to chart an encouragement map will help prepare you for whatever waits around the next bend.

Step 1 – Choose your format

Maps come in all forms—phone GPS to globes. Likewise, an encouragement map can be a physical file, an electronic document, or a series of sealed envelopes. I chose to create a document on my desktop titled “Click Here.”

Step 2 – Add a compass rose

As Christian writers, the Bible is our ultimate compass. Save some Bible verses that will speak to you in times of discouragement. My document includes Luke 1:45 and Isaiah 50:4.

Step 3 – Outline the basic landmarks.

Mine your archives for positives from friends, readers, critique partners, or contest judges. If you’re newer, look for encouragement from family to take the leap into writing or a blog post that inspired you to write in the first place. Your own journal might have something encouraging or insightful to keep you going in tough times. Anything that reminds you of where you’re going and why can go into your map.

Step 4 – Add detail

When you receive encouraging words, take a moment to type or paste them into your file. The more the merrier!

Step 5 – Provide Maps for your Friends

Don’t just collect encouragement; spread praise around. It’ll build a stronger community of writers around you, and yours may be the word that keeps someone going through their own valley.

Step 6 – Read the Map

On those days when you’re not sure why—or if—God called you to write, go to your file. Jesus is there for you in the Bible verses, reminding you of true north. Your friends, family, and co-journeyers are there, too, cheering you along the trail. 

Writing takes us through some rough country. This calling, this opportunity to be used by God in a hurting world, is too valuable a thing to lose to the wilderness of discouragement. Chart your map now. Tuck it in your pack, and carry it until you need it. 

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What has encouraged you along the writing journey?

About the Author
A Thing of Beauty by Emily Conrad

Emily Conrad's short stories are included in the anthologies A Bit of Christmas: 6 Christian Short Stories Celebrating the Season (Dec, 2015) and Sweet Mountain Love (upcoming, mid-2016). Her novel-length women's fiction is represented by Steven Hutson of WordWise Media. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and

A Thing of Beauty

From a childhood spent in the shadow of her beautiful sister, artist Naomi knows true beauty is deeper than outward appearances. But when Naomi's relationship with her boyfriend, Emmerich, is challenged in unexpected ways, coping means moving beyond a definition of beauty and discovering its ultimate source.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Author By Night by Mary Manners

Author By Night

By Mary Manners
Often during the course of conversation the inevitable question arises, “How long have you been writing?” Well, I’m quick to respond that I was born this way…with a pencil in my hand.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t write. In fact, my earliest memory consists of me sitting on the floor beside the washing machine in my family’s laundry room and scribbling (I didn’t yet know how to read or form words, but I could certainly scratch across the paper) because I had a story in my head that just had to come out and be shared.
Since that day, I have never stopped writing. To me, writing is as essential to life as breathing. I am convinced that, prior to the use of my trusty laptop, I killed a forest of trees on my quest to record all of the stories woven through my brain and my heart.
I wrote my first full-length novel in the sixth grade. Thanks to my supportive parents and a few wonderful teachers who encouraged me along the way, my fledgling confidence flourished and I figured I’d be published by the time I turned thirteen (after all, S.E. Hinton had managed a similar feat with her acclaimed and edgy young adult novel, The Outsiders). God had other plans, though, and many years (and countless edits) would pass before that first novel finally became published as Wisdom Tree.
My life journey has led me to many destinations, including a three-decade career in education. I first spent several years working with special needs children before settling into teaching middle school math (go figure…the writer teaching algebra and loving it) and am currently seated as an intermediate school principal with six-hundred adorable and rambunctious children in my care. Add to that a loyal husband and beautiful daughter, and to say I juggle daily responsibilities is a gross understatement. But, what’s life without a boxcar’s worth of adventure tossed into the mix?
So, when do I manage to write? I pen my stories in the morning, when the rest of the world is sleeping and at night…when the rest of the world is sleeping. My official work day begins at six A.M., so I wake at three to write. My day-job ends at five (on a good day) and I’m happy to say my husband loves just about everything sports-related, so following a daily walk together and then dinner, I write while he yells at the TV. We have fun while we make it work and I’m blessed by his support.
Along the way, day-by-day, I keep writing and breathing…and writing some more. I never leave home without a pad of paper and a pencil. I am a walking, juggling journal. Thirty-six books later, the journey continues. Along with the writing has come on-the-job training in editing (love it) and marketing (not so much). I have decided that sleep is overrated and coffee should be certified as a food group.
All joking aside, God has been good to me and I pray that my writing glorifies Him. I strive to share the message of hope and grace in all I write. Does that mean my characters never struggle? No. Does it mean they are human? Yes (um, really…they are). Does it mean through God all things are possible? Yes, I truly believe it is so.
So, I write and I will continue writing as long as I am breathing. After all, the two go hand-in-hand.
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...Neyland and Gus. She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.
Mary believes everyone has a story to tell, and she loves to share hers. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.
Learn more about Mary Manners at her website:

Sometimes the last thing we think we need is exactly what God has planned...

After the death of his parents, Jake Samuels has enough on his plate—including a fledgling church to lead and a mischievous younger brother to raise. The last thing he needs is a rambunctious woman to contend with.

Carin O'Malley is dealing with the death of her brother and a new job as an English teacher at East Ridge Middle School where Corey Samuels reigns as King of Chaos. The last thing she needs is to fall in love with a man...especially a handsome and complicated preacher like Corey’s brother Jake.

But when Corey's antics toss Carin and Jake together, the two must draw from God’s wisdom to find refuge in His perfect plan for them.

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Story (Part 6 – The Not-So-Final Chapter) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

After my incident with the unscrupulous agent (Part 1 of my story) and my aversion to Christian writers conferences and fledgling, self-publishing houses (Part 2 of my story), I realized I still had to keep writing (Part 3 of my story). I also decided to give one of those “Christian Writers Conferences” a try (Part 4), and that turned out not so bad (Part 5).

You get an idea. Feel the urge to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). You forge a story out of the block of marble that is your imagination, and voilà, you have a novel, short story, or whatever.

You methodically trod the steps given to you at those writers conferences, and Wham!

You land a contract!

With a traditional publisher!!!!

Now, you’re on Cloud Eleven because Cloud Nine is too low. However, there should be warning labels on contracts for first-time authors much like what appears on cigarette cartons:

WARNING: When taking Contract, patient may become unrealistically euphoric. Patient may not be able to live with normal people due to excessive giddiness. Please consult your doctor before taking Contract. Some patients who took Contract experienced many days of angst waiting for Contract to deliver on its promise. XYZ Publishing Company is not responsible for hair loss, increased cholesterol levels, blood pressure spikes, wrinkles, sleepless nights, sudden changes in dietary needs, changes in relationship statuses, deterioration in marital bliss, eyesight strain due to monitoritis, back pain due to extended internet surfing of analytics, bouts with mild depression, bouts with despair at various depths, and feelings of general malaise associated with the use of literary narcotics. Some patients have even experienced death while using Contract. Please use responsibly.

Had that warning been written on my contract, it may have saved me some hair.

Now, before I make this whole ordeal sound like a real downer, understand something. In multiple venues and from myriad angles, I was already forewarned. In books on writing, I had read chapters on how the industry works; especially on turnaround times from contract to publication. One year and up to two can be the norm. Less than a year is doable, but more unlikely the larger the publishing house is. I had also heard similar instruction at writer’s conferences.

It’s a favorite question among newbie authors who have never driven down the road to publication before. “Are we there yet?” I know. I was one of the badgers, Im afraid. I tried not to be pesky. I really did.

Obviously, just sitting and waiting, not hearing back for months on end is not the way to go, either. Publishers will even admit that a courtesy contact (preferably via email) asking for an update is not looked upon as detrimental. Sometimes, things happen and communication gets garbled.

I remember sending my completed manuscript the first time. I waited about two months for a response. After two months, I felt it was sufficient time to “inquire” as to the status of my submission. The Christian Writers Conference people told me, by industry standards, it was well-within my right and privilege to do so. I was expecting to hear something like, “Yours is next in the queue. We should have an answer within the week.”Instead, the reply was, “We never received it.”

I was, uh, horrified! Two months of my writing life…lost in cyberspace. And I’m not getting any younger. I checked.

So, I resubmitted the manuscript and checked back with a “read receipt” email of sorts. Once I had confirmation the submission was not sitting at the Siberian Cyberspace Depot again, I moved on with writing.

It was approximately three months before I heard back with a glowing review and offer of a contract. So, this is how it went:

Time table from Conference meal (see Part 5) to glowing review and contract offer: 6 months.
Time table from contract offer to signing of contract: almost 1 month.
Time table from Contract to Release Date: 15 months.
Total time table: 22 months.

See how handy a warning label would have been?

In those last few months, things picked up. Interior proofs, book cover designs, and back cover copy proofs all had to be edited for final approval. I was told to “get ready.” This was the flurry. Soon, there would be a squall.

But after the first flurry, there was a lull. No. Actually? It was “crickets.”

I would later learn something profound. Publishers and editors are real people, too. Real people have lives. Real people get sick. Real people have family members who need care. The list goes on, as you well know. It was one of these “real people” moments that postponed the squall. Like meteorologists trying to supply us with an accurate 10-day forecast, so too, the publisher/editor cannot always predict the weather of life.

Once “life” stepped aside, the process began again until the final product sat on my kitchen table, in a box, revealing to me that dreams do come true after all. Even on Contract.

Moral of the story: Don’t fret. Just keep writing. My prayer has always been for God to use my work for His glory and honor. That prayer has never changed, although I had to go back to it often to steer myself back onto the pavement of righteousness and keep myself from careening off the guardrail or sailing over the cliff of self-absorption. We wish there was a step-by-step guide handed out by the publisher so we could always look to it and see the “You are here” arrow. However, there is no such guide because real people have lives, the industry changes overnight, and what sold two years ago (vampires, anyone?) morphs into the newest bobble in the window (dystopian, anyone?).

Little did I know my family would have a medical setback during those 22 months. Had the book come out during that period, I would probably have no hair by now, but God knew.

So, don’t fret. Write. Write some more. Check periodically, if needed, with your editor, agent, whoever. Then, write some more. Because you know, once the book is out, and if it does well enough, the next question to arise will be, “Do you have another submission ready to look at?”

That’s when it’s time for another dose of Contract.

A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge—A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:  
Kevin’s Educational Blog:   
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson