Thursday, July 31, 2014

Conference Tips for a Shy Introvert by Dora Hiers

Dora Hiers
Last week I attended my first Romance Writers of America national conference. For you extroverts this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for a shy introvert like me? Epic proportions. For those of you on the fence about attending ACFW, maybe my experience will help you decide.

Did you know that shyness and introversion are not the same?

Shyness is a “feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness” around unfamiliar people especially in new situations, largely due to fear. Most of the time, a shy individual will avoid social situations.

Where does shyness originate? Some evidence suggests that shyness is genetic. It can also originate from a person’s environment or personal experiences. Perhaps mine resulted from being burned as a toddler and enduring countless pointed fingers and stares. Whatever the reason, I’m in my fifties now and fear still drenches my palms and tension knots my tummy during social events, so I don’t think it’s going away.

Introverts prefer to be by themselves, and “are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings.” Where extroverts thrive on energy from a crowd, introverts usually feel drained after interacting in a social situation…much like the beautiful hummingbirds that buzz across the neighborhood backyards, flitting from feeder to feeder.
Hummingbird in garage
Occasionally they find their way into our garage. Because they just keep fluttering to the ceiling, they exhaust themselves and sometimes die trying to escape. Just last week, I dragged the ladder out and rescued this little guy. Once outside the confinement of the garage, their energy is renewed. That’s a bit how an introvert feels in the midst of a social setting. Exhausted and drained, wilted until they can escape.

So, how can a shy introvert prepare for conference?

Persist. I refuse to let shyness rule my life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rear its ugly head. Keep putting yourself in situations where you are forced to deal with that awkward uncomfortable feeling. Don’t give up.

Practice. If you’re planning to pitch, practice every day for two to three weeks until you’re comfortable with the words and flow. Cover possible topics and get to know the person you’re pitching to by following them on Twitter. Doing this gave me tremendous courage.

Book a hotel away from the conference site. By the time I registered, the conference hotels were already booked, or I wouldn’t have discovered this valuable gem of a tip. My hotel was only a couple blocks away from the conference site but the short walk was worth the time to myself. Also, it was less crowded and quiet compared to the constant buzz in the conference hotel.

Pray. You’ve probably all prayed or read the NKJV of 2 Timothy 1:7 before ~ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, but here’s another translation (TLB) that spoke to this shy introvert:

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.

Isn’t that fabulous?

Tips for a shy introvert to stay calm during a conference:

Remind yourself that the benefits outweigh your fears. Determine what your goals are beforehand so you can remind yourself as often as necessary.

Limit caffeine as much as possible. It’s less upsetting on the tummy.

Schedule down time. Did you see the RWA 2014 schedule? Hundreds of workshops, parties, book signings, publisher spotlights, you name it. Events started at 7:30 AM and lingered well into the night. Not for me. I attended the classes but reserved evenings to recharge.

Riverwalk-San Antonio
Find a chill spot. It’s not impossible, and definitely worth the effort. Before my pitch session, I found this perfect spot to chill and pray. 

What about you? What's your biggest hangup about attending a conference? What suggestions would you share to help someone enjoy their conference experience?


Purchase Link
Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten.

Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death. Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart.

When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear, and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future?

Where one journey ends, another begins…

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her on Seriously Write, her personal blogTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mastering Your Writing Goals by Sandra Ardoin

If you write fiction, you know you have to dig deep into your character’s motivations. Writers must find that one thing their characters need, emotionally, so the reader sees their growth. We ask why and keep asking why until we scrape the bottom of their motivational roots. From there, our people bloom and blossom until we type “The End.”

Today I want to get you thinking about what will make you blossom as a writer, so I’ll ask:

At this point in your writing life, what is the one thing you feel you need on the way to mastering your writing potential, the next step to taking it up a notch?  

I’m not referring to a laptop, fancy pen, or any of the typical “tools of the trade.” Get practical, dig deep, and ask “Where am I now, where am I going, and how will I get there?”

  • Do you want to improve your talent? 
  • Do you want to improve your connections? 
  • Do you need persistence in submitting? 
  • Do you want to find more time to finish that WIP? 
  • Do you need to be a social media whiz? 
  • Have a top-flight agent or publisher?

How will you get there?

This is the hardest question and one that requires a plan. 

  • Will you participate in writing courses, read more writing blogs? 
  • Take part in groups on Goodreads, Facebook, and Google+ to build and boost your networking skills?
  • Seek the encouragement of others when it comes to submitting your work?

Once you’ve figured out what it is you consider necessary to your future writing growth, share it in the comments, along with ways you might bring about improvement.

The Seriously Write blog is all about encouragement for writers and supplying tips to help you along your publishing journey. There’s a lot of good information to be found here. Let's all pitch in and provide some of that all-important encouragement. Readers, if you have suggestions or experience that will help others, please share! It's brainstorming for our careers!

Since I asked the questions, it’s only fair that I start, right? J

From a technical standpoint, I feel I need to master plot when it comes to writing a synopsis for an unfinished book. Being a part plotter, part pantser, that’s tough. I do fine until the climax. Then I freeze, trying to decide how I can make that portion of the book unique. I suppose I could study books I’ve enjoyed, but remember, I’m going for uniqueness.

I've decided my goal requires me to improve my imagination. So how is the best way to do that? I can brainstorm the climax with others, something I just did and it helps. I can sit with a pad of paper and do a timed exercise in which I write down every idea that comes to me, logical or not. I can pace my office and talk to myself. (Okay, I already do that.)  Any other suggestions? Help me out here.

Do you have any tricks of the trade that will help others? Where are you in your blooming process?


(Cover Pending)
Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction. A fan of old westerns growing up, it’s only natural that she sets stories in the days of the horse and buggy. Her Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel will release in October 2014.

She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. Learn more about her at and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Click the link and sign up for Sandy’s newsletter to receive writing updates and event news, along with random historical and life tidbits.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adverse Adverbs? ~Tanya Hanson

...the Holy Spirit will teach you ... what you ought to say. Luke 12:12

     Years ago, a movie about a hapless teacher in a summer-school class of misfits had me laughing out loud. One dork needing at least a D used the word “very” 197 times in a 200-word essay. So in my own classroom, the word “very” was Number One on my freshmen’s Do-Not-Do This In Your Writing list.
     Very. The little filler adverb used to enhance another descriptor.
     In romance writing these days, adverbs, even healthy full-bodied adverbs, seem to be something to avoid.  You know, those lovely words telling how or why or where. In the deeper Point of View, the reader wants to Feel, not to be told. So the tag, he said angrily, might become:  He smacked his hand on the table.
     Something like that. And I get it. (Truth is, I’m finding most speech tags better off if they become an action by the speaker, but that’s another topic.)
     Back to adverbs:  Do you think: In the tight boots, she walked clumsily to the better off written as:  In the tight boots, she wobbled to the tractor.
     I can feel myself wobbling in awkward footwear, whereas in the “walked clumsily” I am the observer.
     Make sense?
     So...I checked through the short story I’m about to send to my editor. Yup. I found surprisingly spry in a description of an old man. Two definitely’s. One Quickly...One Seriously...Hands he shamefully ached to hold.
     I even came across a serendipitously askew in terms of a brown Stetson that’s crucial to the story. (Oh, the word is so lovely and so works.)
     I discussed this with my daughter, who graduated cum laude from one of the country’s top journalism schools. She said, "Mom, I’m always criticized that my writing is too flowery. I’m not the best source here."
     And so I come to you.
     What do you think about adverbs in general or mine in particular?
     Should I work on the ones I found in my latest WIP:
     Do adverbs make you nuts when you read them? Are they good when used sparingly? Do they make our works too flowery?
     Share your thoughts and ideas with me today!

Seeing Daylight, Book Seven in the Hearts Crossing Ranch series: A beautiful attorney widowed by a foolhardy man...a successful builder vanquishing guilt over his wife's death. Can they rebuild faith and find love enough to give each other and their kids a happy home together?

Come say howdy at I'm also at Tanya Hanson, Author at Facebook and @TanyaHanson, twitter. I am multipublished in many genres and will soon begin a series for Middle Graders under a pen name, to honor my two little grandsons. The final novella set at Hearts Crossing Ranch will probably be out late 2015. It's a little hard to say good-bye to those ranch folks, but there are many more trails for me to follow.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Finding a Focus for the Journey


Finding a Focus for the Journey

 by Mary Manners

"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10
Whenever the smallest kernel of a story finds its way to my imagination, I begin the process of praying over the message I'd like to convey to readers. That is when Psalm 46:10 is my focus...I seek wisdom to begin that particular writing adventure along my journey. Every story that I have ever written is based on a Bible verse. The words act as a guide map for where I intend to go and what I intend to say. Do I always end up at the destination I envisioned? No. That's when I know for certain that God is having His way with the words. Learning to let go and let God is not always easy for this control freak, but I have found ways (teeth gritting) to step back and relinquish the reins.
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." ~ Psalm 28:7
My song is a melody fashioned through words...through each story that flows forth from the fountain of prayer. Long ago, when I was barely double-digits in age, I stumbled upon Psalm 90:20, "Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Immediately I began to ponder just what types of events, exactly, might lead a person to gain a heart of wisdom. Out of those many days and nights of questioning grew my very first book, Wisdom Tree.
So, as you write today remember to take time to pray and to listen for His gentle guidance. You never know what you might learn...where you might journey along the wonderful and amazing bends-in-the-road that will most certainly come your way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.
Connect with Mary online:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Writing as a Prayer Warrior by Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes

As Christian writers, we want God to bless our creative efforts, right? But how diligent are we when it comes to inviting him into the process? Debut author Nadine Brandes shares her journey to publication and the role prayer has played. ~ Dawn

Writing as a Prayer Warrior
by Nadine Brandes

How often do you pray over your writing? I mean really pray over it?

I'll be honest, I flit in and out of the habit. Some days I'm on my knees surrendering my book to Him and other days I'm imagining myself famous off my own merit without even a thought of God. I'm ashamed when this happens, but I'm thankful I'm aware of it.

Genuine prayer has been my cornerstone to writing. And looking back at my publication process, I'm amazed at how...smoothly everything has gone.

It's important to write from your passion. I write because I must. God has called me a writer. I'm not content doing anything else other than following that calling. I started writing my debut novel, A Time to Die, in October 2010. The idea for the story interrupted everything—graduate school studies, work, my other writing pursuits. It needed to be written, so I completely handed it up in prayer.

Seven months later and only a third of the way into the book, I showed it to Jeff Gerke—the founder of Marcher Lord Press (now Enclave Publishing)—at a writer's conference, hoping for advice. He requested a full manuscript. I told him it wasn't finished, he said he'd wait. I told him I wasn't even pitching it, he said he wanted it.

Shock. Disbelief. Giddiness. All emotions jumbled together at such an unexpected request. Marcher Lord Press was my top choice for my publisher and, at that moment, I felt like God handed me a promise. "Nadine, I promise to publish you through Marcher Lord Press." Instead of wondering if Jeff Gerke would offer me a contract, I just wondered when. The when turned out to be July 15, 2013.

It's an amazing thing to see God fulfill a promise you never asked for over something you've always dreamed of. And every time I look back, I see little prayer spots. Prayers for courage, prayers for guidance, prayers for publication, prayers for inspired writing, and most of all prayers for God's glory.

“Remember Your word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:49-50

Even being the weak, unfaithful, distracted child of God that I am, my small hurried sometimes-selfish prayers resulted in...this—my debut novel contracted by my favorite publishing house. Imagine what strong, faithful, intentional prayers can do in your life surrounding your writing.

So, my friends. Whether you never prayed over your book or you've done it every day, pursue God with intentionality. Truly surrender your writing to Him every time you sit down at that computer, typewriter, or notebook. Trust Him to take it where He desires it. It's the most incredible journey I've ever stepped into and it's only just started.

Do you find it hard to pray over your writing?

What are some ways I can pray for you and your book right now?


It's an amazing thing to see God fulfill a promise you never asked for over something you've always dreamed of. Click to tweet.

Imagine what strong, faithful, intentional prayers can do in your life surrounding your writing. Click to tweet.

Truly surrender your writing to Him every time you sit down at that computer, typewriter, or notebook. Trust Him to take it where He desires it. Click to tweet.

A Time to Die

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall—her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

A Time to Die is scheduled for release in September 2014. But you can add it to your Goodreads Bookshelf now!

Nadine Brandes writes stories about authentic faith, bold living, and worlds soaked in imagination. She lives in Idaho with her husband and works as a freelance editor. When she's not writing, editing, or taste-testing a new chai, she is out pursuing adventures. A Time to Die is her first novel. Visit Nadine at

Connect with Nadine Online!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Showing with Deep POV by Maria Michaels

Maria Michaels
Dora here, waving from the RWA national conference in San Antonio! For our readers who plan to attend ACFW, I'll be sharing a little about my conference experience next Thursday. Today, please help me welcome Maria Michaels, who is discussing a character's point of view. Welcome, Maria!

Thank you, Dora, for inviting me here today. I’m so honored to be among such accomplished authors. It made it all a bit intimidating as I tried to think of a post on writing advice! So I decided to approach this from the perspective of a voracious reader first, and a writer second.

I’ve been writing for more than ten years, but if you had asked me about “deep POV” (point of view) when I started out, I’d have given you a blank stare. I might have said that I didn’t know anything about that branch of the government (don’t they all have initials? FBI, CIA, ATF).

As a reader, I prefer certain authors to others but never understood why. Many readers are like me and can’t necessarily pinpoint what draws them into a story, but I’d be willing to bet that nine times out of ten it’s because the author has mastered the art of deep POV.

Deep POV puts us in the character’s head, so we can experience everything exactly as the protagonist does. It removes the distance between the reader and the protagonist. When you get right down to it, deep POV is the best kind of showing.

For instance, if you change the point of view of the protagonist from “her mother would arrive tomorrow” to “Mom would arrive tomorrow” you have closed some distance.

Don’t forget that deep POV also involves giving each of your characters a unique “voice”. We’re not going to hear the same thoughts expressed from an 80-year-old grandfather that we do from a 25 year old woman. Make sure their POV is unique and distinctive and shows who they are at their core.

I’d love you to share some examples of how you were able to deepen POV.

Purchase Link
Vera Carrington loves her newly renovated home and her cafe, The Bean, but with a balloon mortgage looming over head and a man from her past ready to bounce on her misfortune, she may have to face the agonizing decision of keeping one and selling the other.

Deputy Sheriff, Ryan Colton, is a new man in Christ. His days as a flamboyant pro-circuit skier are behind him, but to help Vera keep her home and her business, he agrees to coach her for an upcoming open ski tournament. He even agrees to hand over the purse if he should win.

Can Vera beat the odds and win the tournament? Will Ryan save the day, or will they both learn to trust God, no matter the outcome?

Meet Maria: When early onset stage fright dashed dreams of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status, Maria Michaels tackled her first book in 2010, and now the people and voices that occupy her head refuse to leave.

She no longer sings unless you count randomly bursting into song to annoy her children (and the dogs).

Maria lives in northern California with her family, including two beagles, one who can say ‘hello’ and the other who can feel a pea through several pillows.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Promotional Giveaways—Are You Legal? by Laura McClellan

Laura McClellan is an attorney and writer. Today, she's giving us a general heads up on using those popular giveaways to market ourselves and our books. -- Sandy

Laura: Many writers use giveaways as a form of marketing, to gain attention for their books or subscribers to their blogs. They can be effective, and readers love them, but many of us are not aware that there are legal requirements that must be met. The full scope of the requirements is too great to adequately address in a short blog post, but I’ve tried to hit the highlights. Please note: this article contains only a general, very superficial, discussion and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your specific activities.
The main thing to know is that a giveaway in which the winners are drawn at random may be considered a sweepstakes. Each state has its own laws governing these, but the laws are similar in many ways from one state to the next. Following are some of the basics you should think about in planning your giveaway.
Registration Requirements: Some states—for instance, New York, Rhode Island, and Florida—require some sweepstakes sponsors to register with the state prior to commencement of the promotion. Usually this applies if the promotion is based on chance (i.e., a random drawing) and the total value of prizes awarded exceeds some minimum dollar amount (e.g., New York and Florida set a $5000 minimum, while Rhode Island’s minimum is only $500). Check the website of your state’s Secretary of State to see if there’s such a requirement, and what the process and costs would be.
Consideration: In some states, the act of entering the sweepstakes by getting online (or, for example, submitting a blog comment or posting a tweet about the contest) may constitute “consideration” (a legal word for compensation) to the sponsor. It’s advisable to offer an alternate entry method such as a mail-in entry or toll-free number.
Geographical Restrictions: The Internet offers worldwide exposure, which is a boon for marketing, but it could subject your giveaway “sweepstakes” to foreign laws that may actually prohibit this type of online activity. Consider restricting participation to U.S. residents only, unless you’re aware of and intentionally complying with a foreign country’s laws.
Age Eligibility Restrictions: Similarly, consider restricting participation to those over the age of 13, since an online promotion or sweepstakes that gathers information from children under 13 probably is subject to federal COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) requirements.
Timing of Entries: Specify both start and finish dates and times, including the time zone. For example, “All entries must be submitted between 12:01 am EST on August 1, 2014, and 11:30 pm EST on August 31, 2014.” If you offer a mail-in alternative (as discussed above), specify the postmark deadline.
Official Rules: A sweepstakes sponsor should publish official rules and make them available to potential participants. Those rules should provide specific information addressing the issues discussed above, including:
  • an opening paragraph, in all capital letters, stating that NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY and including the restrictions for entry;
  • the sponsor’s address;
  • the methods for participating;
  • a description of each prize, including verifiable retail value, odds of winning, and any restrictions, limitations, or conditions associated with the prize;
  • the method of redeeming the winning entry;
  • eligibility for participants (e.g., age, residence, etc.);
  • any general conditions (e.g., applicability of federal, state, and local laws and regulations, submission deadlines, etc.);
  • a statement of limitation on the sponsor’s liability and a disclaimer of warranties (the latter including specific language in all capital letters);
  • a choice of law provision; and
  • information about how a list of winners may be obtained.

In many cases specific language is required to protect both the sponsor and the participants. An example of official rules used by one blogger group can be found on the well known Seekerville blog at (NOTE that these rules state they were most recently updated in September 2013, so they might not be current; they also might not be sufficient in your state.)
Giveaways are a fun and easy way to increase your visibility and boost engagement at your website or Facebook page, but be sure to learn and comply with the laws governing them in your state. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Did you realize there is so much involved in those author giveaways that are so popular? Do you have questions for Laura?


Laura McClellan ( has been married over 35 years to the same man (she says she was a child bride). She’s mom to five, grandmother to five, and a partner in a large Dallas law firm. During her “spare time” Laura is polishing her first novel, a winner in several fiction contests.