Friday, August 18, 2017

The Best of the Archives: Book Matter. Does it Matter?

This post by Tina Radcliffe first appeared in Seekerville on 
April 28, 2015. Comments are closed today so we can catch up 
with our reading and writing!

What exactly is book matter? Front matter or back matter, it includes everything that is not your actual manuscript pages. In fiction it includes:
  •  Excerpt page/s
  •  Copyright page
  •  Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Bible Verse
  • Author bio
  • Author Letter to the Reader
  • Bible Verse
  • Reader Discussion Questions
  •  Publisher advertising
  •  Excerpts of your next novel (or someone else's novel)
    Every publisher is different and the book matter varies.Let's talk about a few of my favorite's.


    The dedication isn't the same at the acknowledgment. It is usually preceded by the words to or for. I think of dedications as a small window into the soul of the writer.

    Like these:

    "For Colin Firth–You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends." Shannon Hale, Austenland

    "To my wonderful readers: Sorry about that last cliffhanger. Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA! But seriously, I love you guys." The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

    And of course Neil Gaiman's now famous dedication in Anansi Boys: 
     "You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you.

    Not this time.

    Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other….

    This one’s for you.

    With you know what, and you probably know why. 


    Whether found in the front of the book or the back of the book the acknowledgment page is basically a thank you letter from the writer.

    However..not everyone feels as I do.  There are those who believe an acknowledgment is like an Oscar acceptance speech and shorter and more succinct the better. The New Yorker calls it a "gratuitous supplement to the dedication page."

    I disagree. To me, the acknowledgment is a form of social media. It's a way to connect with readers and share your humanity and let the reader know where you are coming from. It's also a glimpse into the writer's life and I am grumpy and disappointed when the acknowledgments are skimpy. 

    A note of acknowledgment wisdom-keep track of who you want to thank as you write the book. Don't try to remember those important people at the end when your brain is fried. You will forget someone, as I have, and then, of course, you have to write more books that they can help you with, which can be time-consuming (ah...kidding on that point.)

     Then there's Nelson Demille's acknowledgment in Wild Fire....

    “…There is a new trend among authors to thank every famous people for inspiration, non-existent assistance, and/or some casual reference to the author’s work. Authors do this to pump themselves up. So, on the off chance that this is helpful, I wish to thank the following people: the Emperor of Japan and the Queen of England for promoting literacy; William S. Cohen, former secretary of defense, for dropping me a note saying he liked my books, as did his boss, Bill Clinton; Bruce Willis, who called me one day and said, “Hey, you’re a good writer”; Albert Einstein, who inspired me to write about nuclear weapons; General George Armstrong Custer, whose brashness at the Little Bighorn taught me a lesson on judgement; Mikhail Gorbachev, whose courageous actions indirectly led to my books being translated into Russian; Don DeLillo and Joan Didion, whose books are always before and after mine on bookshelves, and whose names always appear before and after mine in almanacs and many lists of American writers—thanks for being there, guys; Julius Caesar, for showing the world that illiterate barbarians can be beaten; Paris Hilton, whose family hotel chain carries my books in their gift shops; and last but not least, Albert II, King of the Belgians, who once waved to me in Brussels as the Royal Procession moved from the Palace to the Parliament Building, screwing up traffic for half an hour, thereby forcing me to kill time by thinking of a great plot to dethrone the King of the Belgians.

    There are many more people I could thank, but time, space, and modesty compel me to stop here."

       And of course, the acknowledgment for my January 2017 release, Rocky Mountain Cowboy!

    Many thanks to Beta readers, Nancy Connally, and Vince Mooney. They took the time to help me saddle the horse and get this story off on the right path. 
    Thank you to the people who assisted me with the research on this story. All errors are wholly mine.
     To real life Nebraska rancher, Ivan Connealy, and his author wife, Mary Connealy, thank you for your time, insights and information on cattle and hay.  
    Thank you to Rob Dodson, CPO, FAAOP Clinical Manager with Advanced Arm Dynamics who connected me with the amazing Barry Landry. Barry is a transradial amputee who utilizes the Michelangelo myoelectric prosthesis and happens to be an amateur rodeo cowboy. Not only does Barry ride horses, but he ropes cattle. Thank you, Barry, for taking time to answer all my questions. You can find out more about Advanced Arm Dynamics and the Michelangelo at 
     A final thank you to my editor, Giselle Regus, for her endless patience with a slow writer, and insightful editing on this book.  
    This book is dedicated to the heroes in my life, my husband Tom and my dad, Joe.

     Author Letter to the Reader

    The reader letter is the author's opportunity to speak directly to the reader and share a little insight into the writing of the book. Not just sharing why you wrote the book but also sharing the journey of the book creates an intimate conversation between you and the reader. It's also where you thank them for getting to this part of the book matter. It means they read the book. Please don't rush this love letter to your audience. They often include story **spoilers** which is why they're at the back of the book.

    Here's my reader letter for Mending the Doctor's Heart, my 2014 Carol Award winning release.

    Dear Reader,

    Welcome to Paradise. I hope you enjoyed Ben and Sara’s story. They’re head smart physicians who must learn to listen to their spirit and the leading of the Lord, who will never let them down. As we all do, they find themselves struggling with fear and condemnation and getting a little lost on the path to God’s perfect plan for their lives. During those times we are the most confused, the answer is simple: trust in the Lord for the answer.

    I never actually planned to write a medical story, but now that I look back, I think all my stories, published and unpublished, have a medical thread. I just didn’t realize it.
    When the editors at Love Inspired asked me to consider writing a book with a medical theme, I knew I was ready.
     Drop me a line and let me know what you think. I can be reached at or through my website,
    There you have my thoughts on these elements of book matter. But the question remains.

    Does book matter really matter? DOES IT MATTER TO THE READER? Do you read the book matter? What's your opinion? Any favorites you'd care to share? Feel free to drop me a line at and let me know if you read my book matter.

    Tina Radcliffe has lived in Western New York, Massachusets, Alabama, Southern Germany, Oklahoma, Colorado and now, Arizona, where the weather consists of two seasons: hot summer and cold summer. Sign up for her newsletter at for monthly updates and giveaways. Follow her on Amazon to get notices of new releases.

    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

    Baby, it’s cold outside. I’m obviously not talking about my home state of Kansas in August, but rather, outside of the comfort zone. You know the feeling. Shivers running down your spine, the urge to run back to where it’s safe, and “What was I thinking?” running through your mind. This is the first step outside of the comfort zone, and I’ll admit it’s a tough one. But here’s the thing. If we don’t step outside that tidy little circle we’ve drawn around ourselves, nothing wonderful is going to happen. Maybe, just maybe your comfort zone isn’t all that comfortable.

    I’m Cindy Regnier and I’m in Seekerville today to tell you that great things never come from comfort zones. Yes, it’s true. You can choose comfort or you can choose potential. I’ve discovered that God will sometimes coax me out of a comfortable situation so that I have to find a fresh dose of faith and trust Him. I’ve also learned that God usually doesn’t push me out of my circle. I have to choose to take that first step into His glorious plan for my future.

    So how does one do that? I don’t have a 12-step process guaranteed to work, but when I sense God is calling me to something I may not be comfortable with, here’s what I do. I pray for the impossible. I believe God loves to show us that nothing is impossible with Him. As in, “God, please publish my book, let people LOVE it, hear the message within, and may Your name be glorified.” Instead of  “God, if it’s good enough, please let someone publish my book someday.” One of my favorite quotes comes from Walt Disney. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Ever been there? 

    Walt Disney
    As someone who tends to doubt my own abilities, I have learned to make hope a goal. If I let myself hope for what I want, I must then put my faith into practice. It’s much harder than doubting, but it’s worth it. It also lets God show off. He likes to do that, you know.

    My personal story goes something like this. I wrote my first ‘book’ (a whole two pages long) in second grade. I’ve been writing ever since because I enjoy it. Over about the last ten years, I have put my writing addiction to work, so to speak, by actually beginning (and completing!) full-length books. I’ve written a total of 12 historical romantic fiction books. None of them have ever been published, but I have learned so much along the way that every word has been worth it. IMHO, the book I finished a few weeks ago is way better than my first one, and that’s called progress.

    So I could lament that I’ve never been published, or I can rejoice in how far I have come. I choose the latter. God has a purpose in every word He gives me to write, even if it’s only to hone my craft so that the next words I write can be even better.  

    I have stepped outside of my comfort zone many times. I do this by entering contests, asking someone to critique my work, writing a proposal for a prospective agent, pitching to a publisher, or something I never thought I’d do; guest blogging on Seekerville! Sure, I’ve had my share of rejections and red ink, but a rejection doesn’t mean I have failed. Not writing the piece in the first place is failure. Anything beyond that is just a step on the pathway to success
    As an example, several years ago I wrote a series of Biblical fiction, short stories about women from the Bible. I did this just for fun because I like to imagine what might have been. It makes the scriptures come to life for me. I let my husband read it, then my neighbor. Before I knew what had happened, the book had been (amateur) published by my local high school and 200 copies printed. My church gave one to every woman in the congregation that wanted one and now uses them as an outreach to people in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. The school has run reprints of the book several times. I’ve lost track of how many of those books are ‘out there’ now, but it’s a bunch. This is something I never dreamed could happen when I first wrote those stories, but I know they have been used by God in a mighty way. I do wish I could go back and apply some of the writing lessons I have learned since then to those stories, but God makes His point with the words, such as they are.

    We all have different boundaries to our comfort zones, but wherever you are, remember you don’t have to take gigantic steps all at once. Baby steps will do. I can remember being terrified when I first told my sister I had written a book and she asked to read it. If your sister is like mine, you know that she will love the book just because you wrote it. I have no need to fear critical comments or suggested changes I don’t want to make. Still, I was scared to death – but did it anyway. Of course, my sister loved my story, and guess what? It made the next time easier. I wanted to get her another book to read as soon as I could, so I got busy and wrote some more. That barrier is far in my past now, so I choose to look there and laugh rather than being afraid of those barriers still looming in front of me. There will always be another obstacle, another comfort zone to conquer, but don’t let fear get in your way. 

    So get out your pen or your keyboard, and write like nobody is ever going to read it. When they do, you’ve just passed your first comfort zone test. Onward and forward. Every obstacle overcome is one less in your path. 

    Sure, it can be scary, nerve-wracking, even overwhelming to leave that comfort zone. 

    Decide instead to be overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, and remember that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

    I’ve gained a huge amount of encouragement from Seekerville over the past few years. Thanks to the Seekers for having me here today to help encourage you.

    What about you?  Share in the comments a time when you dared to step outside your comfort zone. Or even better share about when you dared to step outside your comfort zone to encourage someone else. 

    I’m giving away a really cool writer’s notebook and cup to a writer. If you’re a reader, you could win a $10 Amazon gift card (Hint - buy a Seeker book, They’re the best!) Tell me which you’d like to win. Just for fun, I’ll  throw in one of those Women of the Bible books for both the reader and writer winners. Can’t wait to hear your beyond-the-comfort-zone adventures!

    Scribbling in notebooks has been a habit of Cindy Regnier since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Born and raised in Kansas, she writes stories of historical Kansas, especially the Flint Hills area where she spent much of her childhood. Cindy is married to her husband of 34 years, has two grown sons, a son residing in heaven, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and an annoying cat. Cindy is a member of RWA and American Christian Fiction writers.  

    A graduate of Kansas State University with a dual major in Agriculture and Business, Cindy works for her local school district as finance manager and is active in her church and community. Her experiences with the Flint Hills setting, her natural love for history, farming and animals, along with her interest in genealogical research give her the background and passion to write heart-fluttering historical romance. 

    Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    Top ten tips for writing great fight scenes

    Fight scenes

    Mary Thinks She Knows Everything!?

    Before I begin on this blog...that I wrote about two months ago...I need to explain why I have been totally (or almost) absent from Seekerville for a while, including missing my FIRST MONDAY OF THE MONTH POSTS for two months.
    One day post surgery. Tina yelled at me for being on social media
    I had a detached retina. I'm sure many of you have heard that, but I've never mentioned it (well maybe in the comments?) here.
    So I had the surgery then was told I had to spend TEN DAYS lying FACE DOWN. Oh My Gosh, never ever has a treatment seemed so STRANGE. "Seriously Doc, you are requiring me to SMOTHER MYSELF?"
    Doc sez, "Why you always gotta look at the dark side?"
    So ten days face down...I survived with my sanity me, I know this, because My Cowboy has serious doubts and insisted on having me tested!"
    Now I've been up for about a month and MY LEFT EYE DOESN'T WORK WELL! It's so weird, my left eye is all messed up and supposed to heal but it's so SLOW.
    So anyway, here I am, still a little shaky from the surgery. But finally writing again (I've been doing that for a while, but some days that's the limit of my computer time....
    And now, with out further ado, I am going to write about fight scenes.
    Go home. Lie face down. Ten days. Good luck.
    BTW when they asked me how I got a small tear in my retina...which started the process that led to a detached retina...the doc asked, "Did you have a car crash? A fall? Take a blow to the head? six months ago?
    I can't think of anything like that.
    Doc Sez: Well, sometimes these things just happen.
    Terrifying comment.
    But speaking of 'a blow to the head', I never got into a fist fight six months ago. And so my fist fighting blog makes some sense. (almost)

    1. First write the scene

    You need to write it out, over write it, not worry about the length…then tighten it, revise it.

    This is true of all writing, but never moreso than in an action scene

    2. Always remember character.

    Your characters must remain in character while they are moving faster than ever, fighting hard, swinging a fist.

    3. Advance the story with the fight

    Always remember that, although these scenes, as a writer, are tense, taut, hard, important…it’s not that uncommon for the reader to skim or skip them. Can you think of an example of this?

    My example: Have you ever read a Louis L’Amour book? I love Louis L'Amour. He's a huge inspiration. But his fight scenes are so cookie cutter that I never read them. My girls and I read the whole library collection of L'Amour, and we’d talk. The girls used to say L’Amour probably copied and pasted the same fight scene into every book, then went through and changed the names, and locations. Even though they were obviously climax scenes, black moment scenes, life and death scenes…we all skipped them.

    It reminds me a little of the modern blockbuster movies like the Batman and Superman movies, the Transformer and Ninja Turtles movies. The fight scenes are ENDLESS AND BORING. Seriously, if I have to watch the poor Statue of Liberty get knocked over one more time, I’m doing a boycott.

    Let’s face it, if it’s one of L’Amour’s Sacketts, or Superman, I KNEW the hero would win. Sure he’d get hurt, but he’d win. So if it's a movie, I check my email or try to get a few words written during a
    Marvel Comic Movies, if it's a book, I skim along looking for when it ends, and then read the AFTERMATH of the fight scene. That’s very often when the fun really lurks.

    4. Don't skimp on writing the AFTERMATH.

    This is often the point of the whole exercise. Emotions should be sky high. Blood needs to be staunched. If he's not too badly hurt, a man should be full of sap. (define that for yourself)

    5. Keep it short.

    Make the fight scene not one word longer than you need it to be. You need to reveal character and
    advance the plot with the fight. You need wit, action, surprises. You need to make the fight worth the read. Keep your reader in mind, much as you need to with backstory. You want them to stay with you, make what you write high stakes, charming, unique and brief.

    I can remember one L’Amour shootout where the villain called out the hero to do a High Noon type shootout.

    The hero came out of the saloon and just walked straight for the bad guy. No hesitation. This mental dialogue is going on in the hero’s head. Bad Guy expects us to exchange threats. He expects to tell me why he wants to kill me. He expects ‘brace yourself’ ‘face off’ ‘draw and fire’. Bad Guy's eyes are shifting, he's not as brave as he sounds. Thinking, walking, hero just keeps closing in steady, fast. Bad Guy is confused, hesitates, the hero walks right up to him and slugs him so hard he knocks him on his backside, then picks him up, punches him hard a few times, takes his gun and tosses him in a water trough.

    The point here is, I remember this scene. It was different, surprising. That’s the kind of fight scene you want to write.

    I rarely do fight scenes. I do running, shooting, falling, screaming, burning, chasing. But fist fights?


    I’ve done one. A fight scene in the end of Stuck Together. I can think of one other but the scene isn’t about the fight. The two brothers in the Cimarron Legacy start swinging at each other and knock over a lamp and the room catches fire while they’re fighting.

    The scene is about their sister, Sadie and hired man, Heath Kincaid putting out the fire while dodging the two men rolling around on the floor slugging each other. I’m attempting to write one right now for my WIP and it’s an interesting challenge…trying to make it good enough to keep the reader reading!

    5. Read great fight scenes.

    Several times. As Tina would say, Deconstruct it.

    6. Be true to genre.

    Do you use western words, words like right cross, left jab, those are boxer words, would your character know them and think them?
    If you're writing contemporary detective fiction, be aware of how those characters would talk.
    If you're writing Amish....well, if you're writing Amish you probably will be keeping your fights to a minimum.
    But you get my point right?

    7. EMOTION.

    There is emotion in the scene, this may be the MOST important.
    It's not just swinging punches.

    Emotion goes with pain, with fear, with anger.


    8. Make your fight movie worthy.

    Write like your book is a movie.

    Think in terms of visual, living and moving people. 

    9. Use the five senses.

    Punches HURT. Falling and crashing into tables and chairs is noisy. Knuckles bleed. Sweat has a smell and you feel it rolling down your face. Blood has a taste. Using the senses draws the reader into any scene better than any other device in your writer’s toolkit.

    10. Balance the elements. It’s very tough to balance the action, the thoughts, dialogue, the emotion, the scene setting. Any asides, any interior monologue had to be pared down and done just right or it stops action in it’s tracks. But neither can fists just swing and
    connect, swing and connect.

    A final bonus sort of non-writing tip.

    Get a second set of eyes on your scene.

    If you feel confident in your fight scene writing skills then go for it, but if you are new to it, get some neutral eyes on it. NOT YOUR MOTHER. She loves you too much to admit she daydreamed from sentence five on. A writer, not someone who will savage you, but who will be honest. Someone else can tell if the scene MOVES. They can tell if this piece of internal musing stops the action, the scene is emotionally flat. I'm amazed what others can see in my work that I can't seem to see.

    Leave a comment about a great fight scene you've read, watched, written or...if you've actually been in a fist fight, you can tell me about that... to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of 
    by Mary Connealy
    Click to Buy--just in case you don't win!!!!
    The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn't help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

    With her and the doc's timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It's clear now that everything that's occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    Story of a Budding Novelist

    with guest Linda Sammaritan.

    Hello, Seekerville and Villagers! I am so honored to contribute to this wonderful site. When asked if I wanted to guest blog, of course, I said yes. Who would say no? 

    And then. And… then... Deep breath. What worthwhile topic could an unpublished novelist add to Seekerville? I’m a teeny, tiny fish in a gigantic pond!

    I decided to share my journey into writing fiction. Every one of you has a story as to how you plunged into the world of novel-crafting. Or, if you haven’t yet tested the creative waters for yourself, you’re wondering what your story might be. I dove in eight years ago. With Nanowrimo. National Novel Writing Month. 

    The challenge: write fifty thousand words in thirty days. Wow! Several lifetimes ago, before all my boys were in school, I had slaved over seven hundred-word articles for a variety of magazines. Could I do fifty thousand? Of fiction? I love to read—three novels a week if time allows—but could I write one?

    With no outline and a vague sense of what I wanted in my story, I turned the calendar page to November 1, 2009, and placed my fingers on the keyboard. One thousand six hundred sixty-seven words per day.

    And what did I discover? Nanowrimo was a blast! I loved the challenge. I reached daily goals. I found out I was a pantser! I joined writers around the world, encouraged them when they flagged, and they did the same for me. A local group of Nanowrimers got together on various days and instigated write-ins. We were wild and crazy. I felt like I was back in college.

    I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days!

    Were the fifty thousand words any good? They weren’t terrible. They weren’t terrific, either. I would spend the rest of the year learning to edit, which led to the recognition that I needed eyes other than mine to evaluate the work in progress. 

    Enter  I stumbled upon the site and discovered a writer group as one of the options, a trio of rough men whose brand of writing was a far cry from mine, dark science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Think: Pollyanna meets the Three Billy Goats Gruff. I was petrified. These guys were serious about getting published, though, so I was willing to take whatever they dished out if it would help me forward. History proved us to be more like Goldilocks and the Three Teddy Bears. Fear is no longer part of my vocabulary when it comes to this wonderful group of writers.

    The more I learned about writing, the more research I did so I could learn even more about writing. That’s how I discovered the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). What a treasure trove of information. They’ve become my anchor by providing so many connections to new information, I’ll never be able to take it all in. One of those connections was Seekerville. Add another blessing!

    With ACFW, I joined a small critique group. Our personalities meshed so well online. When all of us but one were able to meet for the first time at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis, we were terrified. What if knowing each other in person spoiled the group friendship? Silly us! Time together cemented the initial bond. Now dubbed The Scriblerians, we post book reviews to help parents evaluate titles for children, middle grades, young adults, and new adults ( Our friendship flourishes across the United States and Canada. Whenever one of us is within a half day’s drive of another, we make sure to get together to chat, to play, to write, to pray. 

    ACFW and Writer’s Digest introduced me to the concept of writing contests. It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a little money to enter those contests, but I’ve found judges’ comments encouraging and reliable. With each contest, not only have I gained another inch of name recognition, I’ve improved my manuscripts. They’ve placed in contests, and every year I get a little closer to publication.

    That very first Nano novel made it to an editor’s desk, thanks to the ACFW Conference, where writers, agents, and editors are encouraged to meet and greet, to practice their pitches and request proposals. I received a very detailed rejection letter filled with constructive criticism. Unfortunately, the editor left that publishing house within weeks. Someday, I’ll get back to that novel and revise it with that kind editor’s suggestions in mind. In the meantime, I’m working on a trilogy (excerpts available at, and new stories and blog topics germinate in my mind every time I sit down to write. I’ve thought of two writing-related posts as I plug away at this one!

    So that’s my writing story. What’s yours? Did you know you wanted to write from near-infancy in the same way I knew I wanted to teach? Did God call you into this new ministry as a young adult, in the middle of a different career, or as a second career after retirement? Who helped you along your path to publication? I love to hear a good story. Tell me yours.

    And finally, 2017 Nanowrimo is coming up in November. Have you considered entering? Details here:

    Linda is giving away three print books from Scriblerians.Winners announced in the Weekend Edition! 

    Eight Notes to a Nobody by Cynthia T. Toney
    Mind Writer by Lisa Godfrees and Mike Lynch
    Mardan’s Mark by Kathrese McKee

    Eight Notes to a Nobody

    Wendy Robichaud doesn't care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks--until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don't leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall? 

    8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues. 

    Mind Writer

    Born with a rare genetic mutation, Eighteen-year-old Rinee Newburgh has been kept in a secret government facility all her life. Trained to enhance her skills as a Mind Writer, her unique talents give her the ability to transfer a person’s thoughts, memories, personality—their soul—into a clone created for those deemed vital to society’s continued survival.

    When Rinee’s friend and right hand to the President, Andrei Malotetnev, is nearly killed in an assassination attempt, she discovers the terrible truth—that Mind Writers are regarded as disposable, and life outside the Facility is nothing more than a pollution-filled world on the brink of collapse. She also learns of Malotetnev’s plan to kill millions of people as a means of freeing up dwindling resources needed by the government. Horrified at the thought of a modern day holocaust, Rinee escapes the Facility in a desperate attempt to warn the people of his evil intentions.

    Locked in a race against time, Malotetnev sends his most trusted assassin with orders to eliminate Rinee at any cost before the truth can be revealed. What he didn't count on was an assassin with a conscience.

    Mardan’s Mark

    Abducted by pirates and taken behind enemy lines across the Great Gulf, Princess Srilani is determined to save her sisters and younger brother, the crown prince, from captivity. 

    She convinces their caretaker, Aldan, and his brother slaves to share the perilous journey home. This ragtag group of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest — pursued by cutthroat pirates, merciless priests, and marauding soldiers — to return the heir to his kingdom before war breaks out.

    In this epic adventure fantasy, Srilani and Aldan risk everything to save a prince and a nation, discovering along the way that death is not their deepest fear.

      Mardan’s Mark is the award-winning first book in the Mardan’s Mark series.

    To enter the giveaway, share your story of how you got started in writing. OR if you love to read but you don’t write, tell me what first enthralled you about reading. In my case, I was calling out letters from street signs before I turned two. Combining letters into words, then words into sentences until sentences become stories has always fascinated me.

    Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle-grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.

    Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft. She still visits the school and teaches creative writing workshops.

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Giving Readers What They Want…Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)

    My name is Missy Tippens, and I am a cosmetics and skincare product addict. I love face creams and foundation. Primer and powder. Cleansers and concealer. I’m a sucker for just about anything that declares itself anti-aging. :) (Please bear with me. I WILL tie this in to writing and books.)

    My husband has always called me a marketer’s dream. Sales and advertisements draw me in. I love to discover new products, and once I love something, I’m a loyal user. For the last year, I’ve been a big fan of an up-and-coming cosmetics company. I’ve tried many new-to-me products, but have also experienced the release of new items. I have enjoyed the samples that come with every purchase. Very often, I use those samples and then buy the products, discovering new favorites. When I go to their website to shop, I always read the reviews before I buy. They seem to have a crazily loyal customer base, women who heartily share their love of the products with others. I found myself spoiled by the company’s business model and by those new product releases—the samples, the build-up, the special promotions.

    But recently, when it had been a while since a new product, I found myself losing interest a bit. I started looking around, clicking on links in newsletters from other companies, checking out products by other brands. Then, BAM! I got an email from my favorite company about a new product release, and I was once again excited about the brand!

    In that moment, it hit me… Oh, my goodness, what if books are the same? I suspect voracious readers are the same way I am with my cosmetics. If so, we authors need to stay in contact with our readers. We need to give them new products to sample and buy. We need to keep them excited about our product so they stay loyal. :)

    How can we give our readers more books and keep them interested when some of us are slow writers? Or when some of us are at a place in our lives where we have family or other commitments taking us away from our writing? What about those authors facing illness or grief? It got me thinking…wondering…feeling a bit overwhelmed…

    And then I got a promotional email from Nick Stephenson of the blog Your First 10,000 Readers. Nick said:
    They key thing to remember is that 'overwhelm' isn't an inherent personality flaw. It's not genetic. It's not communicable. It's not a fault with you. Overwhelm is a by-product of 'not having a plan'.”
    That was another BAM! moment to me. I was struck with the feeling that God was trying to tell me something: I need to work on a more structured plan.
    No more saying, “When I finish x, I think I’m going to work on y…or maybe z.” No more being anxious or indecisive. I need to fully commit no matter what. I need to make decisions about the order to work on projects and then set deadlines.
    I mentioned in the comments section not long back that I have a new Panda Planner. But I haven’t been using it regularly. I’m now reminded of how important it is to have a plan and to stay on track. Organization is key to keep from getting overwhelmed, which is key to producing more books, which keeps our readers faithful and excited about our work!
    So, while planners can be fun and even artistic ventures (some use stickers and artwork!), and while I love my planner because it includes space for recording gratitude as well as a place to list successes, the calendar area should be a priority.
    Today, I want to share some ideas I’ve had (inspired by my cosmetics addict lightbulb moment) for keeping readers interested and loyal:
    --Focus on our newsletter, and try to keep a regular schedule (whatever that frequency is for you).
    --Be generous with samples (first chapter or free prequel, etc.) on our website or wherever we connect with readers.
    --Don’t let big gaps of time pass without offering a product, even if it’s something short or just a freebie. Work toward being more prolific so readers will remain excited about new releases. I think several of the Seekers have a good handle on this by just sticking to a daily word count goal. Consistently writing 500 or 1000 or 2000 words a day (or whatever number works for you) can make all the difference.
    --Get readers involved in our work. I’ve recently read authors who recommend keeping readers engaged on social media. One author asks them questions and lets them give input on his books while writing them. And he always responds to comments. This is something I know I can improve on. I have tended to think I’m boring so haven’t posted much on my Facebook author page. But in the future, I want to reach out more often.
    --Don’t overdo the promotion. The last thing we want to do is shout, “Buy my book!!” over and over until our fans get so sick of our pleas they want to run the other direction. We don’t want to shove our books down their throats. We want to keep them excited and looking forward to hearing from us. Finding this ideal frequency may take a little trial and error, but I think we’d be safe looking at how often we like hearing from our favorite authors (or from our favorite products outside of books).
    --Finally, I think we should move beyond thinking of ourselves simply as creatives and try thinking of ourselves as a brand. We should be savvy business owners. Consider who our customers are and what they want. Come up with a plan, and schedule those product releases on our calendar. Break down those projects into manageable steps. Plan well ahead, especially for promotion. And always be learning from other authors who are successful.
    I hope you found this helpful! I’d love to hear your input, as I’m still in the process of shoring up my plan. Do you consider yourself a brand? How do you schedule your product releases and keep loyal fans reading? And readers, we want your input! What helps keep you loyal to an author? What can we do better?
    Today, I’ll be doing a fun giveaway! I’m giving away a hanging travel bag that’ll be great for cosmetics (you knew I had to go there :)) or other toiletries or shaving items. It can even be used for packing electronics (for the many chargers you have to haul everywhere). Please let me know if you’d like to be entered! (Giveaway item will be similar to this photo but may not be exact depending on what’s available when I order it. U.S. entries only this time please.)

    Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest and a 2013 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A House Full of Hope was a Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA® Nominee. Visit Missy at, and