Friday, December 15, 2017

Why We Shouldn’t Despair Over Lack of Interaction on Blog Posts by Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer
You spent considerable time coming up with a thought-provoking idea for a blog post, then more time writing and re-writing the piece until you were satisfied it was worthy of national attention.

The day came when the article went live for all the world to see, and then . . .

Nada. No comments. No feedback. Nothing.

And you pondered the results. 

Did anyone read the words I so masterfully assembled? Did I touch anyone? Encourage even one person?

You’re not alone!

But, don’t despair! No or few comments doesn’t mean we bombed! Nor does it signify that what we wrote didn’t inspire, challenge, or move people.

Here are three reasons why we can believe it:


1. Although readers may have LOVED the article, they may be unable to share something personal or unwilling to put their thoughts out there with the possibility of being judged.

2. Some readers don’t comment because they believe they have nothing profound to say in response, and they don’t want to come across as being silly or shallow.

3. Technical problems may hinder some from commenting. Did you know that Blogger/Google no longer allows anonymous comments? So, unless a reader has an account with Google, he’s unable to post on a blog hosted by Blogger. 


The pros say if you want to generate comments, write something controversial to spark discussion. But, here’s the thing. Seriously Write isn’t a controversial blog. Our goal has never been to stir up arguments. Our mission is to equip and encourage writers. And reality? Although Seriously Write has a large following, we have a quiet audience. More often than not, we experience more dialogue on our Facebook profiles where our team daily links the articles than on the blog, itself.

There’s another thing we need to remember. Unless a blog is completely deleted, our articles are available for readers ongoing—for years!

In 2012, our Seriously Write hostess, Annette Irby, shared her article, “Nuance: Are You Really Saying What You Mean?” The post has received only four comments, but it’s been viewed over 14,500 times!

On my personal blog, an article I posted in 2011, “Brothers and Sisters,” continues to hold the top rank in views. Yet, it has yet to receive one comment!

So, take heart, dear writers . . . and write on.

And don’t forget to leave a comment below!  (wink)


When have you been let down by lack of response to a blog article you labored over? How did you handle that discouragement?





In 1904, Hope Andrews, an aspiring fashion designer, struggles with leaving New York City. But with no job, her parents leaving the country, and an abusive ex-fiancĂ© refusing to accept their broken engagement, Hope doesn’t have much choice but to give in to her parents’ wishes that she move far away and live with her cousin indefinitely.

Talented Benjamin Greene can’t deny his passion for painting, but guilt over a painful incident in his past keeps him from sharing his gift. Instead, he devotes much of his days to helping his younger sibling rebuild a farm inherited from a great-uncle. Only his brother is aware that Ben spends his spare time in a studio on their property.

In the small rural town of Riverton, Wisconsin, Hope and Ben can’t help but be thrown together. But as feelings for each other deepen, tension thickens over how talent should be used. Their mutual passion for art brings them together, but will it also drive them apart?




Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and her own work has been published in various devotionals and magazines. She co-hosts and writes for Seriously Write. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, and Hope’s Design is the second. Rebecca’s Song will be released in 2018.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.

You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting these online sites: Author WebsiteDawn’s BlogGoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.


Sign up on her website to receive her newsletter, and you’ll receive Dawn’s short story, Maggie’s Miracle (PDF format) as a gift.





Thursday, December 14, 2017

Why Do We Write? by Kathryn Spurgeon

Kathryn Spurgeon
Why do we write?

There are likely hundreds of reasons.

We might write because we love to read or to earn an income, or simply because it’s fun to scribble down our imaginations. For me, writing seems self-indulgent. I need to get the buzz out of my harried mind and down on paper, or my thoughts will disappear into the obsolete word dictionary.

Yes, writers must tell their stories. We see book ideas everywhere.

I took my young niece and nephew out to eat Korean food. It was their first time to try it. While we ate, I told them why I love kimchi and bulgogi. When I was nineteen years old, I lived in Korea for two years. I described the Ilmagwon Orphanage where I lived, the rice paddies and taking my shoes off before I stepped up onto the heated floor.


Then I shared with the children about the saddest Christmas in my life. How a tiny Korean baby and I spent the day in a foreign country eating watered-down rice, and crying together because we were both alone. No family around. No Christmas tree. No presents. No hot chocolate.


 I’m tempted to jot down that story. Write a book about it. After all, others might relate to my loneliness.


As a Christian, God encourages us to record stories for the next generation’s benefit.


Specifically, we, as writers, can write about how God works in people’s lives. How he reveals himself through his beautiful creation, gives understanding, or teaches charity and love.


Inspirational books are sorely needed, especially in this world of negative influences, daily offenses, and raw tension.  Whether fiction or nonfiction, a book can bring enlightenment and reveal enormous possibilities. There are so many ways we can give encouragement and instruction as we write about him.


Books have the means to give hope to people.


What other medium has so much influence?


I shared with my young relatives how God blessed me by letting me adopt this little Korean baby and how she came into our lives to bless us. How she brought laughter and joy. How she grew up and gave me wonderful grandchildren. After sharing that story, I hope my niece and nephew have more trust in how God takes care of us.
The reasons to write are as numerous as the grains of rice in Asia. I encourage you to take time to ask God why you write. He has a purpose. A specific theme.


Here are a few reasons to consider.

  • To glorify God
  • To tell his story
  • To encourage others’ faith
  • To help people through hardships
  • To share the gospel

The Lord said in Isaiah 30:8: “So, go now and write all this down. Put it in a book So that the record will be there to instruct the coming generations.” MSG

Go on. Tell your stories. Write from your heart. Convey the despair, the struggles, and the disasters in life. But don’t stop there. Don’t leave people wondering how to survive when catastrophes happen. Give them something good to take away. Write how God reveals himself through the worst times.

Otherwise, why do we write?

And the next time you want to hear about how God helped a young girl living in a foreign land, call me. We can chat over Korean food.

~~~~~

Kathryn Spurgeon, an award-winning author, has published over a hundred stories, articles, and poems. As an inspirational speaker and Bible teacher, she had taught in many states and several countries. She’s also published two Christian historical novels based on true stories, A Promise to Break and A Promise Child.


Kathryn grew up on an Oklahoma farm before moving to Korea, where she adopted two children. She and her husband, Bill, hold weekly studies in their home for international college students. They have 6 children and 12 grandchildren.
Learn more about Kathryn at her website: https://kathrynspurgeon.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Plotter or Pantser? by Jenna Brandt

My first three books I was a pantser. I wrote whatever came to mind with no real plot planned out.

As I progressed in my writing and started a second series, I realized I needed to create a loose plot to save time when I was working on multiple projects. I often found myself spending too much time looking for where I was in each story and re-reading sections to remember.

My last book and two novellas were plotted. Through the process, I have found I like planning out my books before I begin. I have a decided place where I will start, what I want to happen and a rough idea of how to get there. Occasionally, I add scenes, remove scenes or move scenes around to enhance the flow and theme of the book.

Which brings me to the other point. I decided early on wanted to have an established theme for all my series.

In my historical romance series, Window to the Heart Saga, the overarching theme is about redemption, most prominently in books 1-3. In book 4, the original theme is still present in undertones but there is a new one introduced—independence. The new theme also carries into book 6 which is my current work in progress. Books 5 and 5.5 are my short story and novella and they are both themed around Christmas weddings and acceptance.Themes give a depth to my books while helping me to pick and choose the situations that will grow the characters, making them more complex. 

Not every reader will pick up on the themes in my books and that is alright. I think of it like an Easter egg in games, if you do, you feel pleased you found the hidden surprise, but if you don’t find it, you never knew you missed it.

Have you gone from being a pantser to a plotter? What advantages/disadvantages have you noticed?


~~~~~~


Jenna Brandt is a Christian historical fiction author and her books span from the Victorian to Western eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith. Her debut book, The English Proposal, released in May 2017 and it is the first book in her series, The Window to the Heart Saga. Book 2, The French Encounter released in June 2017 and the third in the series, The American Conquest, released in July 2017.

She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper while there. She’s an on-going contributor for The Mighty Website and her first blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites.

Writing is her passion, but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team as well as writes for the church’s creative team.

She is offering the first two chapters of each of her books along with the short story, The White Wedding, for free on Wattpad.

To find out more about Jenna, to sign-up for her newsletter, or to purchase her books, visit her website at http://www.jennabrandt.com

Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/JennaDBrandt
Stalk her on Instagram www.instagram.com/jennnathewriter/
Pin her on Pinterest www.pinterest.com/jennnathewriter

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Turn Delays into Deeper Stories by Marie Wells Coutu

This is the season of delay and frustration for me, and I’ll guess it is for you, too.

For some, November (NaNoWriMo) was a month of productivity and progress. You felt great about your new story and your ability to write every day, to kick out 1,666 words a day, day after day for a month.

Marie Wells Coutu

Or maybe not. Perhaps you didn’t meet your goal, but you still wrote more words than you usually do, and you convinced yourself you can be a real writer. Or you skipped NaNoWriMo and kept moving forward with your current project.


Then comes December. Decorating, mailing Christmas greetings, shopping and wrapping, travel, demands of family (who may have felt ignored during November) all conspire to distract you from your writing goals.


As I write this, we’re already a week into the month and I’ve had only a couple hours actually devoted to working on my novel-in-progress. And my (self-imposed) end-of-year deadline is looming large.


Of course, there’s much advice available about making time to write or negotiating a new due date. But my question is how can these delays help our writing?


Like anything else in life, those feelings of frustration or panic can fuel our story.
Is your character struggling to accomplish her goal due to antagonistic forces? Delve into your own feelings of anger and disappointment at not having time to write, and put them on the page as part of her emotional journey.


Do you have a character who is driven to succeed but is too busy for his own—or his family’s—good? Examine how your busy-ness affects your family or your health, and see if you can’t translate those struggles into your story.


Is a ticking bomb about to explode? Remember your own panic over not meeting your deadline, then triple it.


Take a few minutes today to journal about your current situation and why you aren’t working on your novel. Go deep. See if some of the thoughts that bubble to the surface also apply to a situation your character may face.


Don’t let delay be the only outcome of your December writing-wise. Strive to stay attuned to your emotional state and how you can use it in your writing. Make notes, even if you don’t have time to write an entire scene.


When the delay is over—whether it’s a few hours or the entire month--you’ll have material to add richness to your writing and give your readers characters they can relate to.

About the Author
The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu retired in 2013 from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. She now spends her time writing fiction—when she’s not busy having fun with her husband or with their four grandchildren. She has written three novels for Write Integrity Press, including the award-winning For Such a Moment and Thirsting for More. Her most recent book, The Secret Heart, released in February. She is working on a historical novel set in western Kentucky, near where she grew up.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously WriteFor more posts by Marie, click here.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Shake Off the Fear, Spread the Love!

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell


Ellen Langer did the impossible. She sent eight 80-year-old men back in time.

The year was 1979

Eight old men on a bus, sequestered away from the world. On a retreat. Created by Ellen Langer.

Each man had been studied carefully. Hearing, joint pain, memory—everything had been documented.

Coddled by nurses in nursing homes, they weren’t ready for the upcoming shock. As the men managed to get off the bus, they were forced to haul their suitcases to their rooms themselves.

They barely made their rooms.

When they looked around, they were stunned. The decorations were from 1959, when they were in their 50’s. Magazines in racks featured Nixon and Khrushchev. Rio Bravo played on an old television. Outdated clothes hung in closets.

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2009632334/
Nixon and Khruschev in 'Kitchen Debate



That week, in the evenings, the men chatted about their work, and soon they spoke in the present tense about their past. “I do this, and I do that,” became the normal chatter.

These men traveled back in time.

At the end of the week, they went through extensive physicals. All were standing straight. IQ was 64% higher. All looked younger. All were more athletic, flexible. Memories were sharper.

They were younger.

Ellen Langer was shocked at how much these men changed. She’s duplicated the experiment over and over in various ways, telling maids that their work was exercise and those who believed their work was for fitness lost weight and size, compared to those who believed cleaning was simply work. And so many more.

The body, she discovered, believes what the mind tells it. They were young again, because they believed they were in their 50's.

That’s why propaganda is so dangerous. Or useful.

Science, as usual, is catching up with the Bible.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Our future is secured, forever with Christ, Who loves us. He’s offered the forgiveness we crave. The eternity we long for.

So, why does the world see Christians as a fearful people?

The world has a point. Like those men in the experiment, we watch the media carefully for hand chosen stories that would never touch us had we not seen them on television. We cry over tragedies half a world away and we’re horrified enough to offer a quick prayer. We believe that the grave is end and the loss of possessions makes a life not worth living. We act as if politicians own our soul.

We live in a culture of fear. Magazines, movies, stories, posts on social media—our reality terrifies us. Every election we’re reminded how terrible our country is while we watch with full bellies and text our friends, inside the four walls that keep us warm.

Yes. Horror and death are real. Tragedy rips us apart. I’ve lived them. But it doesn’t end there.

Someday, our tears will be wiped away. Our pain removed. Peace restored. The lion and the lamb rest together.


Hope. Are we living it? Or are we simply adding a 'Lord willing' or 'but God is still good' at the end of our thoughts?

As authors, writers, content creators, what are we reflecting to our followers? Fear? Hatred? Or the light of Christ?

John 13:34-35 ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Why do people know us for our fear? Our hatred? Our anger? Our sinfulness?

What we tell ourselves is what we believe. And what we tell our followers creates the culture they live in.

Are we rehashing the promises of Christ? Or fear mongering?

We’ve a higher calling, my friends.

~~~~~
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.
                                      ~~~~~


Friday, December 8, 2017

An Overnight Success by Joanna Davidson Politano

Joanna Davidson Politano
Sometimes it can be difficult to see time pass with no breakthroughs for own writing efforts while watching others receive contracts, awards, and praise from readers. It can be especially challenging when those rewards “appear” to come almost effortlessly. But, do they really? Author Joanna Davidson Politano shares her “overnight success” story. ~ Dawn

An Overnight Success

God is always in charge—that’s the crux of my publication story. It was an “overnight success” that was only achieved with God’s sovereignty. The reason I’m so certain of that is because my overnight success came after several years, like maybe six, of trying in vain and getting nowhere. Pitches at conference, requested material, contest finals, and then… crickets. 

When my baby girl was born, I quit my day job to stay home with her, and so it only made sense that God would want me to also set aside the pursuit of publication. The problem was, I failed to actually discuss the matter with Him. But then, during a random conversation with God about something else, He made it clear that it was never in His plan for me to set aside this desire, and that now was the time to pursue it.

Confused and surprised, I attended a one-day writing conference and I met three agents. I showed them my work, the same manuscripts that had returned nothing but silence before, and received three offers of representation, an award, and an invitation to submit from an editor who was a contest judge—all in one massively overwhelming, unbelievable day.

I soon signed with my wonderful agent and worked hard to finish the manuscript we’d discussed. She sent around a proposal and within a few months we had three offers. Now remember, this is the same me and the same stories that received nothing from the requested submissions I’d sent before. The difference was merely this—God said, “it’s time.” And He doused me with affirmative replies, just so I’d be sure to know this was actually Him behind all this.

I often wondered, in those waiting years, why on earth He kept urging me to pursue something that wasn’t coming to fruition—and likely wouldn’t, with how slim the chances of publication are. Now that I’m writing my third contracted book, I’m very aware of how very much I need Jesus in this process, and I think that’s the answer to why He had me waiting for so long. From creating stories that will resonate with people to facing public reviews, I need Him desperately and I only learned how to pursue intimacy with Him in the waiting and wondering period. Through a lack of success, He gently urged me to pursue Him more deeply, more authentically, and having that intimacy with Him is more than worth the long wait for publication.

Whether you’re published or not, I urge you to pursue God even harder than a contract, great reviews, or any bestseller or award-winner status. You need Him—believe me. For those of you still waiting and trying, know this: your publication story may not look like mine, because God deals differently with everyone, but hold tight to the truth that He is that powerful and He is that worthy of your trust. Writing is a trust-fall into God and He’ll never let you down.




Lady Jayne Disappears

When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies suddenly, he leaves her just two things: his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and his wealthy family—who want very little to do with her.

As Aurelie struggles to find a home with her father's family and learn the rules of society, she relishes in his parting gift—the beginning of his last story. The story she always wanted to hear, about her mother's mysterious disappearance from the home where she now lives. To complete the novel, she'll have to extract clues from relatives—and one enigmatic houseguest—who often seem reluctant to give them up.




Joanna Davidson Politano is a debut novelist and stay-at-home mom who spends naptimes spinning tales that capture the exquisite details of ordinary lives. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. She writes about stories and Jesus at www.jdpstories.com.

Connect with Joanna and learn more about her and her books here:



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mary DID Know by Susan Tuttle

I love, love, love Christmas! As crazy as I am about fall, these next few weeks of the year are my absolute favorite. In fact, I’ve actually been listening to Christmas carols since November 1st. Love. Them. And one of my favorite is “Mary Did You Know?” But as much as I love the song, I always think, “Um…yes. She knew. Because the angel told her.”

Now did she know all the amazing things Jesus was going to do? No. That part of the song has got it right. Even knowing who God was and this amazing miracle he was performing through her, there was no way Mary could have imagined the miracles Jesus would perform on this Earth. Blind to see? Lame to walk? The dead to live again? Who would ever have even begun to form those thoughts in their minds when they’d never encountered living, breathing Jesus before? His story hadn’t fully been told.

And neither has yours.

Oh friends! God daily performs miracles in us when he partners with us in story telling. He crafts something from nothing every day using our very hands. And yet we cannot even begin to understand the amazing things he’s going to do with what we give birth to! The places our stories will travel to. The lives it will touch. The miracles that will happen through them.



We KNOW who God is, but we cannot begin to know what he’s going to do with the gift he’s growing in us. Wow. To serve our God…to be used by him…it’s an amazing thing. Isn’t it?

Merry Christmas, friends.
 
Susan L. Tuttle lives in Michigan where she’s happily married to her best friend and is a homeschooling mom of three. She’s firmly convinced that letters were meant for words, not math, and loves stringing them together into stories that inspire, encourage, and grow women into who God created them to be. Romance, laughter, and cookies are three of her favorite things, though not always in that order. You can connect with Susan at her blog, Steps, Facebook, or Twitter.