Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Criticism? Who Likes Criticism??

Photo Credit
Criticism is, unfortunately, part of the game when you put your words on a page and then submit them to a critique partner or a contest or a first reader or your mother (well, maybe not your mother… ;-)). It seems to be a dangerous business, writing. I don’t know why it has to be such a land-mine pursuit, but it seems the more we put ourselves out there and write more from our heart and fall harder for our stories, the more criticism we can get. And the harder it gets.

Being told you stink at something is never easy, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a huge fan of it myself. ;-) When you look at how hard you work and how many hours you spend alone pounding the keyboard, only to be told by a judge that your POV is a mess and your characters are flat and unlikeable, it’s enough to plant one’s head squarely in the middle of the keyboard/screen/desk/wall, etc, etc.

But criticism does not have to be all bad. Yes, I know. You’re scowling at me fiercely right now because I’m telling you to actually like being corrected. Well…maybe not like, because who likes that?? But there is much more to be learned from criticism than there is to be learned from praise. While all correction should be taken with a grain of salt, it might be an opportunity to see the big picture flaws we miss when we’re zoomed in too close in our stories.

What is the universal appeal of your hero and heroine? Did the judges or first readers find them fun and entertaining or flat and apathetic?

Look at what you’re aiming for and then see if what and where the criticism is coming from matches up or is moving in the same direction. If you’re aiming for a funny and light-hearted heroine, but you’re being told she’s moody and discouraging, maybe it’s time for an edit—or maybe a change of genre. ;-)
Photo Credit

Is the topic of your “voice” coming up in more discussions or disturbingly absent? Read the comments as one would who has no emotional attachment to your story. If this was your friend’s story or a random book off the shelf would you agree or disagree with the comments?

It’s easy to immediately disagree with everything the critique had to say, but stop for just a minute. Separate yourself from the heart-wounded part and pull up those muck boots to go in for another stomp around and discovery. (Yes, I just went all farm girl on you.)

While it’s never easy to volunteer for criticism or correction for anyone even when the criticisms are so far out in left field that’s it’s not even worth putting the time into reading! Novel crafting is one of the most subjective businesses out there—it’s not even funny how subjective it is. And yes, it’s a near constant lesson in the art of accepting criticism gracefully.

But it gets a little bit easier if you think in these terms: we’re in the place we love. God put us here. This is part of His hands forming our clay. Put’s a little bit different perspective on it, doesn’t it? J


Why you should be ok accepting criticism as a #writer in the 21st century. http://bit.ly/2gA7TMY @C_Herringshaw #amwriting

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 


Friday, November 25, 2016

Coffee Talk, Part II

GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS! Angie here again! I am still full from yesterday! Thanksgiving dinner was amazing, but I am just going to have coffee for breakfast...how about you? Perfect for this Coffee Talk. 
Last week, there was some great discussion and several entries into our 4 part giveaway. Be sure to check out what's up for grabs at the end of the post, and then comment for an entry. We had three great authors share with us about book promotion at our first Coffee Talk, and we have three more award-winning, multi-published authors here today! 

Sit back and sip your beverage (let us know what you are drinking too), and let's begin our Coffee Talk!

 Welcome to our three authors:
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children.  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of contemporary Christian romances, My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine,  A Love Like Ours, and Her One and Only.
Website: http://beckywade.com/

Sarah Sundin is the author of nine historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm and When Tides Turn (coming March 2017). Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California.

Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. She likens her exciting Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series to "Grey's Anatomy finds its soul." A native Californian, she is the mother of two and proud grandmother to seven. 
Website:  http://candacecalvert.com/

Thank you for joining us, ladies! Here are a couple of questions. We are looking forward to learning from your past book promotion experiences!

First, how soon did you start promoting your book, and what is the most effective way you stirred interest? 

BECKY-I typically brainstorm promotion ideas and meet with my publisher's marketing manager to discuss those ideas 4-5 months prior to release. From then on, I work slowly and steadily, ticking off items on my marketing 'To Do' list. I ramp up my efforts two weeks prior to release, then promote the new book wholeheartedly through its release month.
I think that the blog tours and giveaways that Litfuse Publicity has organized for me have been the most effective at stirring interest.

SARAH- It starts in a soft way as soon as I sign a contract with mentions in my newsletter and
social media, with occasional mentions through the writing phase and a bit more of a push when the cover is revealed and the book is available for pre-order. Real promotion doesn’t start until about three months before the release, gaining steam in the final month before release (to encourage pre-orders) and in the first three months after release. Then it quiets down again. Whew.
I don’t know what the most effective method has been for me. In reality, it’s probably a cumulative effect—email newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, review blog tours, giveaways, contacting libraries, speaking engagements, launch parties, book signings, radio interviews, press releases, articles, and blog posts. Most of this is very hard to measure, but I’m willing to try new things and see what sticks, what I like, and what resonates with readers. Some I cast aside after a trial, and others I embrace.

CANDACE- My Tyndale House team is really so amazing. We have a conference call about 6 months before the release of each new book to go over the marketing plan and toss around ideas—they really encourage author input. I’ll have my book image/blurb/first chapter up on my website 4 months before release, and we’ll make plans for blog tours and discuss ARCs for key reviewers and influencers. For my upcoming release, Maybe It’s You, we’re trying some new things like author videos, short little films to give readers a “glimpse behind the scenes” at the making of a story. My talented videographer is also my daughter and we have a great time; it goes without saying there will also be some silly outtakes. I seem to have a particular talent for bloopers.

Okay, book signings, launch parties, online launch parties...what was your favorite way to promote your book? What are a couple of things you did during that time to encourage readers?

For the last two releases, I've done both a launch party/book signing at Barnes & Noble and I've done a Facebook launch party.

For the launch party at Barnes & Noble, I send out postcard invitations. The night of the event, I offer cookies and scones from the Cafe to snack on. I give a Power Point presentation followed by Q&A time. Then I chat with everyone and sign books.

As nice as "real world" launch parties are, Facebook launch parties are my favorite. I've had Facebook parties on my publisher's page, I've had them on event pages, and I've had them on my own author page. I prefer to host them on my author page because, when I have a party there, readers don't have to go somewhere separate to attend. Also, each post that I put up during the party has a chance to be seen by a wide number of people over the next few days (whether or not they were able to attend the party 'live'). I prepare every post and graphic ahead of time, so I'm free to spend the party interacting with readers. I encourage readers to come by: A) Giving away a lot of great prizes. B) Making the party (hopefully) fun. I never say 'buy my book'. Instead I ask a lot of questions about themes and careers and settings that tie in with my book in some way.   

My all-time favorite promotion was the launch party for Through Waters Deep. It started as a simple “book signing plus” at my local Barnes & Noble. We planned to have a reading and refreshments and do some fun giveaways. But it grew. We added nautical decorations to go with the WWII Navy theme. We played big band music overhead. A high school musical group performed. Barnes & Noble agreed to donate profits to Homes for Our Troops, which aids wounded veterans. Best of all, my agent, Rachel Kent at Books & Such, came and taught swing dancing! We were literally dancing in the aisles! Not only was it a blast and a fun way for me to give back to my reader friends, but it ended up creating some publicity buzz.

To encourage readers, I try to focus promotion efforts on them. First, I try to respect their time and honor their trust by not inundating them with emails and Facebook posts and tweets. Moderation and restraint. Second, I try to make promotional events educational or inspirational, to provide “added value” to the reading experience. For example, I went to Hawaii earlier this month and visited Pearl Harbor. Since my readers are interested in World War II, I’m planning a blog series in early December for the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I’ll share photos, plus I’ll give away commemorative items I bought there. It’s “promotion” because it stirs interest in WWII and in my books (I hope), but more importantly it will provide information, time for reflection, and gifts someone will treasure. I love doing things like that.

While book signings and local parties are fun, online venues reach a much larger number of readers and accommodate folks across the country—and the around the globe. My Tyndale House social media team (ARC podcast, @crazy4fiction) are wonderful at cyber hosting for upcoming releases. We’ve already had a “Sweetest Day” feature (using some of my favorite recipes!) and are planning several fun reader-interactive opportunities that will include book-themed giveaways—we love those giveaways! Meanwhile, my Facebook author page is a happy gathering place; it’s great to have a chance to chat one on one with folks there. And (hint) it’s where I recruit early readers, aka story “cheerleaders” (pom poms optional, somersaults not required).

OOh, wow, such great ideas brewing for me now. How about you? Thank you so much ladies! 
Now it's your turn! Please share in the comments! What have you found to be a great marketing tip as an author? What questions might you have? Any author that has input, feel free to answer! We love to converse here at the Alley...and give presents....so....

All comments will be entered in drawings for these FOUR FABULOUS PRIZES (we will draw consecutively for these prizes, except the first one will be from those indicating they are on the indie road to publication) We will share the winners on DECEMBER 2nd:

  • Indie Authors! Last week's featured author Heather Gilbert has her own Indie Publishing Handbook ebook that she'd like to give a copy to one of our indie-journeying authors! Indicate in the comments if you are interested in the Indie route! 
  • Reader's Choice Prize! Heather is also generously giving away a reader's choice of one of her Fiction ebooks (check out her books here ).
  • AlleyCat Surprise! Our dear Casey is giving away A BOOK FROM HER STASH...who knows what amazing novel it shall be...but we know Casey's taste is impeccable so be very excited!
  • AlleyPal Book! Mary Vee is amazing, and will also be giving away The Rimgmaster's Wife by the lovely AlleyPal, Kristy Cambron.

Thursday, November 24, 2016



We at The Writer's Alley wish you a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

We are thankful for you ALL year long and hope you have a wonderful holiday full of turkey, good books, laughter, and thankfulness!

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Characters We're Thankful For and Why

Tis the season to be thankful.

As a writer, I am thankful for characters both real and imaginary. 

Consider the characters who have willingly shared a life they've stumbled through--well, not by their choice because we writer's put them through it--and survived to say good bye for now on the last page.

Scrooge from Scrooge-bless his heart. The man who reminds us to not be greedy. To be kind to employees. To help those with physical needs.

Dorothy from Wizard of Oz- The girl who reminds us there's no place like home. To seek to improve ourselves and find courage, knowledge, and love.

Jean Valjean from Les Miserables- Forgiveness wins.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter- Stand up for what you know. Defend the underprivileged. Stay true to your friends.

Mulan from Mulan - She sacrifices herself to save her father and ends up saving the country.

Drey from Karate Kid the remake - Apologize when insulting others. Be willing to leave your world behind and accept new surroundings. Adapt. Work hard to achieve.

Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible - Our mentors are not always who we think they are. Be wary.

Noah Calhoun from The Notebook - Love never fails.

Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Don't sweat the small stuff.

Henry Roth from Fifty First Dates - Infirmity can not hold back love.

Wesley from Princess Bride - What do you have to live for? True Love.

David from A.I. Artificial Intelligence - Search, no matter the obstacles, for love and family.

There is an endless list of other characters I could add. The point is, every good story is about a character who goes on a journey. One journey per story. One issue.

So if your character struggles with feeling alone, plunge her initially into the pit of loneliness. Right on page one. 

The story is her journey out of that pit. If she only crawls halfway out...she is still in that pit. If she finds a divot big enough to rest in along the way, she is still in the pit. As she works to crawl out of the pit, search for ways to heighten her misery..no matter what that misery is. Be brave enough to write realistic scenes.

Is her struggle desperate for love? Ways she could try to climb out of this pit could be satisfying this need with a pet, a career, an addiction, masochism (bulimia, cutting, etc). Ways she falls is believing no one can love her, until.....

Show the problem in 3D words. Show how she tries this way and that way to get out of the situation. 

Perhaps the way to the surface is revealed by God, or a godly friend, or a godly man. 

Her journey out of the pit is the story. Once she steps on the surface...the story is basically over except her joyful response.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are some ideas for comments today. It'll take only a second to share and we love to hear from you.

1. In less than ten words, tell your character's overall journey for your current WIP.
2. Write a note to your character telling him/her why you are thankful for them.
3. Write a note from your character telling you the author why he/she is thankful for you. (have fun with this one :) )

To get you started here is a thank you note from Scrooge to Charles Dickens:

Dear Charles,
I've put an extra coal in the fire just for you before dipping my quill in the ink. I understand you're feeling under the weather, and so you should after forcing me to endure the three ghosts. I've forgiven you because I've seen...no I think the far better word is felt. Yes, felt reasons, solid reasons for treating my employees with kindness. Tiny Tim visited me the other day. The lad left me a sticky piece of butterscotch candy. Hah, I hadn't tasted one since my own impish years. Quite delightful. 

I've taken to avoiding beef, apparently my stomach has problems digesting this food. All in all, I am grateful for the Christmas I spent with you. Although, I am also thankful we haven't had a second.

Thank you again, old chap
And Merry Christmas,

Ebenezer Scrooge

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Help others--tweet or FB share this post


Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. Such adventures can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

All subscribers to Mary's newsletter will receive her new short story an intriguing suspense/mystery. Come, read a good story. To get your free gift, sign up for the newsletter at Mary's website or:  Join the adventure!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Author Coffee Talk: Marketing Books

GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS! Angie here! (Sorry for my over-enthusiasm to all you non-morning people. I don't mean to shout but I am sooo excited). 
I've got my cup of fresh brew with a splash of milk. Join me. Late autumn chill is upon us...or should be...has it been unusually warm where you are? It has here in the Midwest! But enough weather talk. Today, we'll enjoy our hot beverages as we hear from three amazing, multi-published authors about marketing their books. And then we'll hear from you! I am on the brink of publishing my debut novel, and I just had to seek the advice of the friends ahead of me on this journey. 
I love chit chat with a purpose, so after hearing from our featured authors, let's pour good conversation into the comments. Have questions about kicking off your first book, second book, or thirtieth book? Please ask! Have any fabulous tips of your own? Share!
If we were meeting in person, the Alley Cats would have pretty gift bags with bows and colorful tissue paper filled with bookish things. But, even if we aren't face to face, we have BOOKS to send you! Every commenter will be entered into our drawingssss...yes, we have FOUR GIVEAWAYS today! See a list at the bottom of this post.
Speaking of Giveaways... we have winners already! For those of you who entered the drawing for Ruth Logan Hearne's books last week, thank you! The winners are.... 
Home on the Range paperback: JOCELYN
Silent Night, Star-Lit Night ebook for any device: AMBER SCHAMEL and MEREDITH

Please email Mary Vee at maryveewriter@gmail.com

NOW FOR SOME COFFEE TALK! Sit back and sip your beverage (let us know what you are drinking too), and let's begin our Coffee Talk!

Welcome to our three authors:

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. You can find Heather's Viking historicals and West Virginia mystery/suspense novels here.

LAURA FRANTZ, award-winning author, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.
Website: http://laurafrantz.net/

ERICA VETSCH is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
Website: http://www.ericavetsch.com/

Thank you for joining us, ladies! Here are a couple of questions. We are looking forward to learning from your past book promotion experiences!

First, how soon did you start promoting your book, and what is the most effective way you stirred interest? 

Heather-I always start promoting my books pre-release, starting
with the cover reveal. I try to have the cover and blurb finalized at least 2 months pre-release. I find that really stirs interest in the book. I also try to get my book edited about a month pre-release, so I can share quote pinnables from the story. But every release is different—some are more successful than others! Another thing I tried this time is releasing a chapter from my book to my newsletter subscribers about a month pre-release. Another great way to stir interest is to have a core group of early readers who love the book and start talking about it, as well as endorsements from authors readers trust.

Laura-I like to start promo beginning with the cover reveal which to me, is the most fun. Readers love cover art so I share that long-awaited cover with great joy and then, in time, the back cover copy. Revell creates incredible images using quotes and scenes from the book that I also share in a countdown to release day. The jury is still out on revealing covers too early but publishers upload them online sometimes 9 months in advance which many feel dulls the book’s impact sales-wise. I try to err on the positive side and do the cover reveal then lay low till 3 months before the book releases then start sharing more about what’s coming. Word of mouth is still the most effective way to promote books and I love those shares on Facebook and those repins on Pinterest! Giving away copies prior to release day is also very effective in stirring interest.

Erica- When I start promoting depends upon the project. With novella collections, the ladies usually start putting something together a few months in advance. With stand alone novels, I work with the marketing team of the publisher, and that can happen even a year in advance in some cases. Personal promotion efforts usually start in earnest about a month before release date, though the thought and preparation has been ongoing.

Okay, book signings, launch parties, online launch parties...what was your favorite way to promote your book? What are a couple of things you did during that time to encourage readers?

Launch parties and online parties—I haven't done one of those for my own novels, just with a boxed set. While it was a total blast, I'm not sure how many copies of the book it moved. I can't really commit to being online for a block of time right now since
we have a small child. What I have found really helpful is having secret Facebook groups of readers who are dedicated to my books—for instance, I have a secret mystery reader group and a secret
Viking group. These are my most avid readers who are more than happy to get the word out. I run my blurbs by these groups, share cover art with them early, etc. We can talk about my books in a more personal environment than my author Facebook page provides. I do have a newsletter, but I really feel the Facebook groups are more interactive and thus generate more enthusiasm.

 Laura-My most memorable release was for The Mistress of Tall Acre held at our local LifeWay last fall. Both Revell and LifeWay did a great deal of promo to make this a success, including posters of the event and also a postal mailing. LifeWay ordered in all my backlist titles and had them on a beautiful display at the store’s entrance. My publisher provided a large gift basket of Kentucky-made items I had picked out to give to one person who attended the signing. I was seated at a table signing books, having pictures made with readers, and giving away bookmarks and other book bling. The manager said it was their biggest day since Mother’s Day, something I attributed not to my popularity but how savvy both my publisher and this local LifeWay was with timely and attractive promo. For me, the personal, hands-on, face-to-face contact with reading friends means the most so an offline event works best such as the recent Christian Fiction Readers Retreat held in Nashville. If that’s new to you I encourage you to check it out!

 Erica- I have never done a book launch party in person, though I love doing
FB launch parties. During FB parties, I love to have games, prizes, Q&A, etc. to interact with readers. Book signings can be feast or famine. Mostly I like to do signings with at least one other author, but the more the merrier. Group signings draw bigger crowds, and you always have someone to talk to during the slower times.

OOh, I am saving these ideas, how about you? So, next week, we will have THREE MORE authors sharing! We are so happy to have authors willing to share...and we just couldn't resist picking their writerly brains! We'll announce who's sharing next week very soon! Keep an eye on social media!

Now it's your turn! Please share in the comments! What have you found to be a great marketing tip as an author? What questions might you have? Any author that has input, feel free to answer! We love to converse here at the Alley...and give presents.....

All comments will be entered in drawings for these FOUR FABULOUS PRIZES (we will draw consecutively for these prizes, except the first one will be from those indicating they are on the indie road to publication):

  • Indie Authors! Our featured author Heather Gilbert has her own Indie Publishing Handbook ebook that she'd like to give a copy to one of our indie-journeying authors! Indicate in the comments if you are interested in the Indie route! 
  • Reader's Choice Prize! Heather is also generously giving away a reader's choice of one of her Fiction ebooks (check out her books here ).
  • AlleyCat Surprise! Our dear Casey is giving away A BOOK FROM HER STASH...who knows what amazing novel it shall be...but we know Casey's taste is impeccable so be very excited!
  • AlleyPal Book! Mary Vee is amazing, and will also be giving away The Rimgmaster's Wife by the lovely AlleyPal, Kristy Cambron.

--> -->

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Six Gorgeous Writing Soundtracks to Power You Through #NaNoWriMo

Because I am a total and complete nerd, the neurobiological connection between music and writing is a subject that fascinates me. (Most random lede award.)

According to a completely unscientific poll of writers, some can't work with music at all, others have to have it, and of those who write with music, there's a further dichotomy: Team Instrumental vs. Team Lyrics. 

If you (like me) find creative inspiration in good instrumental background music, here are some playlists to help us power through like the writing machines that we are, whether we're in the thick of NaNoWriMo, wrapping up a deadline (hold me), or just getting our daily wordcount.

All the beautiful instruments for your writing enjoyment:

For those upbeat, romantic scenes:

If calm and atmospheric is your writing vibe:

Instrumental versions of worship favs:

A mellow and beautiful guitar soundtrack:

Recommended accompaniment for sci-fi/fantasy writers:

Movie score magic:

A bonus acoustic coffee shop mix (not instrumental):

Do you write with sound or silence? Lyrics or no lyrics? What are you working on this week?


Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God's love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 

Previously a full-time book publicist, Laurie now serves as a virtual assistant and runs a freelance editing and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She lives with her husband and two small children in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they are eagerly awaiting the release of her debut contemporary romance novel in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming.

You can connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook page, and Twitter

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Writing in the Flurry - NaNo and Not

I have a tendency to get more done when I have less time. Anyone else like that? When forced to produce something, then I am more effecient. Deadlines work for me – challenges work even better.
Of course, I think I've met my match over this past year and a half of being a published author. I'm almost dizzy with the responsibilities of family, work, and writing all combined to have their own deadlines...and many times they meet at the same TIME!
Are you guys feeling the sting? How many of you are participating in NaNo? Does the pressure push your limits?
I haven't participated in NaNo this year because my schedule pushes me aplenty right now. So far for November I've gotten about 15K words in and that's a complete and utter miracle!! But I know many of you are participating. 
What have I realized about fitting in writing time?
1. Daydream often - between work and family responsibilities my writing time is limited, so when I have a few minutes I'll daydream about my stories. As I'm driving from one client to the next, in carline, while cooking dinner...etc. Daydreaming gets my mind and heart ready to put words on a page when I have the opportunity. (I've also discovered the magnificence of using my iPhone to record ideas...YES)
2. TRY to etch out a consistent writing schedule. I'm not great at schedules, but I consistently write for thirty minutes a day. My average is an hour - but that doesn't always happen. I've found that I'm most successful with a consistent time.
3. (FOR ME) Write where the fire is - I get the best wordcount when I'm writing a high-motivation scene, so sometimes if I'm particularly stumped OR if I know I'm not going to get a lot of writing time in for the day, I'll jump ahead to another scene in my book and write it. The scene can be one that has high emotions, lots of dialogue, or one I've already figured out in my head. My word count is higher in less time with these, and I feel more productive.
4. BREATHE - recognize you're human and put your priorities in order. My faith and my kids are the top of my priorities list, but I also need to recognize that my creativeky/heart needs to be a priority too. Recognizing your breaking point is vital to being able to continue writing well and consistently. When you NEED a break, take a short one and then get back in the race. 
5. Chocolate - self-explanatory
What about you? What’s your writing style? What meets your writing needs? Do challenges work for you? Can you skip around in your book as the fire hits? How are your goals for Nano working out for you? Nano-brag if you want!! You can also Nano-cry too - we all get that :-)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Fun With Ruth Logan Herne-Harvest Queen and Author **AMAZING GIVEAWAY**


Photo taken by Mary Vee of
WWII American Soldier memorial near Florence, Italy
We first want to thank all our Veterans for their service and sacrifice. We also want to thank their families and wish all God's blessing on this Veteran's Day.

This past week on the Alley: 
On Tuesday, Ashley Clark wrote about A Caterpillar's Heart. Such a sweet post about appreciating and enjoying the moments we are currently in. If you have a second, scroll down and be inspired. 

Thursday, Amy Leigh Simpson wrote about What if I ... Fail?. Spinning off these two inspiring posts the Alley Cats have shared below where they are in their current WIP and hope you will share in the comment section where you are. NaNo writers, how are you doing? 

All comments for any portion of this post are entered to win one of Ruthy's new books.

Ruth Logan Herne
Today we are bursting to share great news about a friend, harvest queen, tender of children, and award winning author, Ruth Logan Herne, affectionately known as Ruthy.

Ruthy is one of the Seekerville gang, (a sister writing blog), a regular contributor for Yankee Belle Cafe, and an a-mazing author. 

This weekend three commenters will receive one of Ruthy's new released books. Ruthy is giving away one copy of Home on the Range and two copies of Silent Night, Star-lit Night

I had a chance to chat with Ruthy. She is one amazing lady. I laughed, was inspired, and amazed. Here's what we chatted about:

1. How do you juggle the farm, kid care, and writing?

Photo Courtesy
Mary, I get asked this a lot and for a very easy-going person who often appears unorganized or casual, I take work very seriously!!! I get up in the middle of the night… between 3:30 and 4:00 AM and that’s when I write. That way NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS!!!! My 1000 words (plus or minus) is done.

I never have to feel guilty. I rarely feel “behind”. I’m usually way ahead of schedule because I don’t procrastinate when it comes to work. I do pick and choose, which means if I’m writing and needed on the farm, housework can wait. If kids need me and I’m needed on the farm, the farm can wait. I prioritize what means something to me, and then I go for it. To me it’s a natural progression of pick-and-choose, but the fact that everyone talks about it means that NOT EVERYONE IS WILLING TO GET UP AT 4:00 A.M.!!! (laughing!!!!)

Um, yeah, I thought I was a morning person getting up at 5am. Kudos!

 2. You had quite a few books published. Where do you find fresh story ideas?

I have nearly 40 books either published or at least finished and in the pipeline, and I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real…. And I’m the happiest woman ever! What an honor and a privilege to get to do this job, the job I longed to do for years, and to have a readership now? Who woulda thunk that the poor kid from a slovenly home would end up here? Honestly: Me! It was as if God told me, long ago, that if I just held on… my dream would come true. And I always believed it.

Story ideas come from everywhere. A snatch of conversation. A look between two people that I witness. A bit of scripture or a phrase that catches my ear and I wonder “What if?”…. what if he never came back? What if she never told him about the baby? What if there was one person from the enclave who lived. What would be her story?

So those ideas germinate and take hold and blossom… and sometimes I might have a mental image of a story for years before the right series comes along to make it a perfect fit!

I thought of this after we talked, and maybe you could answer in the comment section, do you keep a card holder or some other record of these budding ideas?

3. What is one secret you've learned about writing?

No secrets at all… the one thing I profess and will shout it from the mountaintops is this: Writers don’t talk about writing. They write.

Write. Write. Write. And then edit and write some more!

4. Using FB as a tool, you have introduced us to The Mighty Finn. Have you thought of spinning his adventures into a children's book?

We actually have three Mighty Finn books out! They’re adorable little tales of Finn written for pre-schoolers, Mary! They’re available on Kindle and while the world hasn’t as yet discovered my amazing GENIUS for kids’ stories (laughing!) they’re stinkin’ cute books! “Finn’s Snowy Surprise”, “The Hunt for Jasper the Kitty” and “Finn’s Special Day”. He’s got a website, too! http://themightyfinn.blogspot.com

He’s so much fun to work with, Mary! When he’s not whining or fussing like any normal kid, LOL!

I love reading daily Mighty Finn entries on FB!

5. Tell us about your newest release.

I’ve had a crazy wonderful fall with three books releasing…. “Home on the Range” which was a 4.5 Star Top Pick for September in Romantic Times Review! It’s the wonderful second book of the Double S Ranch series, and I’ve had the best time working with Shannon Marchese of Waterbrook! Her insights are marvelous and I’m thrilled with how beautifully the books have come out! Team effort, all the way!

And for CHRISTMAS I have two lovely novellas that just released! The contemporary is “Silent Night, Star-lit Night from St. Martin’s Press, a beautiful story of an expectant mother, a widow, heading north to kiss her grandpa goodbye one last time… and the cowboy that refuses to let her make the trip home alone….

And the historical is “A Cowboy for Christmas” from Gilead Publishing’s “Cowboy Homecoming Christmas”! It’s a wonderful collection with Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman and Anna Schmidt… we had so much fun putting those stories together! It was a delightful experience and deepened my love of historicals!

6. What is your favorite thanksgiving recipe?

Oh, gosh. I love food. I love cooking and baking, but I’m going to send you to the Yankee Belle Café, a fun blog with six regional inspirational authors and the foods we love to cook… and the things we mess up! 

This is a recipe I developed two years ago, and it’s become a Herne/Blodgett family favorite. “Eggnog Pie” is a custard pudding pie made with eggnog and then topped with homemade whipped cream… it is to die for! And if you want to shave white chocolate on the top, that’s fine, but it really doesn’t need embellishment.It’s amazing just as it is!  Here’s the link:  http://yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com/2015/12/egg-nog-cream-pie-new-holiday-favorite.html

Here are some awesome ideas for comments. Remember three commenters will win one of Ruthie's books. Winners will be announced in next Friday's gathering here on the Writer's Alley. PLEASE, also leave your email address.

1. Who would you like to honor for Veterans' Day?
2. How far are you in your current WIP or marketing of current release?
3. What is your favorite thanksgiving food? 
4. Does your family have a favorite hand-me-down recipe? Who created the recipe?
5. What questions to you have for Ruth Logan Herne?