In 2007, I was working a stress-filled day job as a purchasing manager, working part time for ACFW, had teenagers at home, and was struggling to find time to write.
As an unpublished author, I wondered more than once if all the hard work was worth it. I was so busy doing what needed to be done, that there wasn’t much time—or energy—to pursue much of the dream.
But as we celebrate Seekerville’s 10th birthday, I started looking back on the last 10 years of my writing life, and found a plethora of amazing things that I wasn’t doing then that I’m doing now. Really, I had a hard time stopping at ten!
1. Writing - Keeping to a writing schedule because it’s my job now. This seems like a no brainer, but life and exhaustion can get in the way of producing good copy. I’m in a season in my life where I was able to quit my high-pressure corporate job a few years ago. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but I put in my time at the office. I’m still at “the office” every day, it’s just in my own home.
2. Speaking/Signing - Ten years ago, groups had no real reason to invite me to speak. Even today as I’m blogging in Seekerville, I’m packing my SUV with books and heading out to visit the library in a neighboring town. I’ll be signing books at a local festival in a couple of weeks, along with two more appearances before Christmas.
3. Keynoter - I’m listing keynote speaker separately because there’s just something extra special about being asked to keynote at a conference or retreat. In August, I gave my first keynote speech at a Christian ladies retreat in Indianapolis, Indiana. What an honor! I never, ever, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be able to add “keynote speaker” to my resume.
4. A Taste of Fame - Okay, fame is relative, but it’s a big deal to be standing in line in my small-town grocery store and have someone recognize me and tell me — loud and proud from across two checkout lanes — that they meant it when they posted on social media they want to know what happened next [to secondary characters].
5. Sharing the Stage with Francine Rivers - Yep, ten years ago, who would have thought that in 2015, I’d be standing on the same stage with Francine Rivers at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX as we and six other Tyndale authors addressed the 700+ ladies in the audience and signed books afterward. Surreal!
|Tyndale Authors, Editors and Marketing|
at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX
6. Conference Calls - Since I worked as a purchasing manager, I’m no stranger to phone convos with salesmen and the occasional conference call to hash out some major problem. But even those daily interactions working out $100K steel deals weren’t nearly as fun or as dear to my heart as conference calls with my editors and marketing. The time just flies as both sides work to make my latest project shine as bright as possible.
7. Books, Books, & More Books - Books with MY name on them. Should this be listed as #1, or #10??? Isn’t it the reason for this post, for all the time and effort, writing, speaking, signing, and being tied to my laptop 24/7? Yep, what I wasn’t doing 10 years ago was holding my books in my hands, and seeing my books in bookstores and online.
8. Industry Recognition - The dream was just to become published. Just to get my foot in the door, have a book with my name on it. But then to have those books win awards and land on the CBA and ECPA Bestsellers lists is just above and beyond anything I ever imagined.
9. Savoring Morning Coffee at Home - Okay, this is a bit of a departure from all the writing-related points above, but for someone who loves, loves, LOVES being at home, it’s just about the best of the lot. My dream has been to work from home just about all my adult life, and it seemed as if that dream would never come true. Granted, I still wear many “business” hats since my husband and son are both self-employed, and I’m the bookkeeper for their businesses, plus the work I do as the treasurer of ACFW. All these jobs are what enables me to stay at home.
10. Bring on the jammies and grungy hair - There’s a lot to be said for working at home and being able to wear whatever you want all day. Get up and twist your hair up in a clip, throw on an old t-shirt and a skirt or jeans and call it good. What I’m not doing, is jumping out of bed, scrambling to get dressed, and driving thirty minutes to the day job, rushing to get there on time. (Uh, did I say that I’m not exactly a morning person?)
Okay, I’m out of numbers, so this last one is just a plain out BONUS…Because of the blessing of working from home and my flexible hours, I have the absolute JOY of baby sitting my sweet and sassy grand baby twice a week. It doesn’t get any better than that!
So, there ya go. Ten (plus one!) amazing, wonderful things I wasn’t doing ten years ago.
Now for some Seekerville birthday fun! Leave a comment sharing at least one amazing thing that you weren’t doing (experiencing) ten years ago. It can be writing related, but doesn’t have to be. Today’s birthday prize is a grab bag with ten cute and fun items - along with a signed copy of Pam Hillman's latest The Promise of Breeze Hill.
Janet here. All month we're celebrating Seekerville's birthday with delicious food, fantastic prizes and terrific posts!! Ten years ago the Seekers started on Unpubbed Island. Once we sold, we moved to this quaint village on the mainland. Seekerville is populated with some of the nicest writers and readers you'd ever want meet! I'm thankful for this community and for each and every one of you! Thanks for making these ten years fabulous!
In honor of our birthday, I've asked these wonderful authors to share the best writing craft tip they ever received.
Laura Scott: My best craft tip is to consider each protagonist's goal, motivation and conflict for the story. External goals drive your plot and internal goals drive the romance. If you can nail your characters internal and external conflicts your story will write itself! (Okay not really, but you'll have a good start.)
Louise Gouge: When I started writing seriously in 1984, I was happily unaware of any writing “rules.” I had the freedom to create my story as I saw fit; therefore, my first novel was a masterpiece…or so I thought. But just to be sure I’d done everything right, I went back to college to earn a creative writing degree. In my senior year, my mentor professor read my book, then called me in for a conference to ask, “Whose story is this?” Not realizing this was a trick question, I quipped, “It’s Janice’s story. Well, and Buck’s. And maybe a little bit is their son’s.” Professor Wyatt deadpanned, “And the desk clerk, the fry cook, the truck driver, etc.” Seems I had head-hopped my way through two hundred pages, making sure my readers would know everyone’s reaction to whatever was happening in the scene. I mean, don’t they do that in movies when they cut away from the hero or heroine to show a bystander’s reaction? Turns out it doesn’t work that way in fiction. Readers are distracted from the story when they have to figure out whose mind they’re in. Thus was I introduced to Point of View (POV), meaning, through whose eyes we experience the story. Professor Wyatt taught me the importance of staying in one character’s head per scene. And the fewer POVs per book, the better. In romance novels, we mainly want to know what the heroine and hero are thinking. Anyone else’s thoughts need to be revealed through dialogue or actions seen by the main characters. I’ve stuck with that principle throughout my twenty-five published novels.
Jan Drexler: My number one craft tip: You can't edit words you haven't written. Just get them down and fix them later. (Seekerville)
Regina Scott: The best advice I ever received on craft is to know your core story. As writers, particular themes and ideas call to us. Across everything we write, there is a core truth. Mine is realizing your place in the world, how you can contribute. Once I recognized that, I could go deeper with my writing, shine the light on stories that had been only glimmers. Knowing my core story helped me understand who I am as a writer.
Denise Hunter: The best craft tip I ever received is pretty simple: get into and out of your scenes as quickly as possible. When you do anything else you risk boring the reader. Of course, one needs to set the scene. Give the reader an idea of who’s there and where “there” is. But that can usually be done in a few sentences. Come into a scene too early and we make the reader weed through a bunch of needless information. Same thing when it’s on the back end of the scene. Get in, accomplish your scene goal, and get out. It'll keep your story clipping along at a nice, brisk pace.
Rhonda Gibson: Lauraine Snelling shared this tip with me. Keep a notebook of the book you are currently working on. Or a notebook with your ideas in it. I keep one notebook with my current book that I'm working on and I have a divider at the back with a section called 'Future Ideas' at the back. This notebook has been a lifesaver for me. I can take it everywhere
Sherri Shackelford: Never listen to any piece of advice that says you 'have' to do something. You don't 'have' to write every day to be a writer. You don't 'have' to use hundreds of note cards and fourteen multi-colored sharpies to plot out every sentence of your story. You don't 'have' to use The Hero's Journey, or The 'W' Plot, or the The Snowflake Method. The only thing you 'have' to do is find out what works for you. Your method, your rules, your words. Then remember that your process may change over time, and that's okay too. Your talent doesn't desert you--even on bad days.
Carol Post: I’ve received lots of great craft tips over the years, but the one that made the biggest difference in my writing came from a contest judge. She said I needed to learn to write in deep point of view. Since I had no idea what it was, I had to google it. There are lots of great articles out there, but one in particular really made it click. I learn well by example, and this article was perfect for that. It started with a scenario in a single sentence. Then that short passage was reworked several times, each time including more depth. The fifth and final attempt pulled me thoroughly into the character’s head. The passage filled a good half page and really came alive, with so much emotion, some great sensory details and even some symbolism. Although I copied and pasted the examples, I wish I had saved the link to the article. I’ve looked for it since to be able to share it and have never found it again. But what I gleaned from that one post pretty much changed my writing overnight.
Cate Nolan: The best CRAFT writing tip I ever got was actually from the title of a book. I was browsing in Barnes & Noble's reference section and noticed a book called Writers Write. I picked it up and flipped through, but after a bit, I realized all the wisdom was actually contained in the title. Writers Write. I went home, typed those words, printed them out in a huge font, and posted the sign by my computer. That's when I began my commitment to a daily word count. At first I only demanded a minimum of 100 words per day every day. Eventually I increased it to 1,000. I know this is supposed to be a CRAFT tip, and I think it really is because I learned that everything about my writing got better if I just sat down and put in the time to put down the words every single day. In keeping with that is another quote I found. I have no idea where it came from, but I wrote it on a little slip of paper and kept it beside my bed for years. "She wrote what she loved until she loved what she wrote. And she sent it out one more time." Writers write. Best advice ever. Sort of like Nike's Just do it.
Allie Pleiter: Play "what if"--but an extreme version. Take any scene or plot (this works especially well when you are stuck) and brainstorm 25 "what if"s. You can't do five or six because all those will be reasonable. Expected. Boring. You want to force yourself to be unreasonable, surprising, or even shocking. It's always in the last ten ideas that the real gems unearth themselves. What if he's lying? What if she knows? What if they're both lying? What if they're both telling the truth but each believes the other is lying? Take a thread and run to extremes. You may come up with 24 ridiculous or boring options, but you will likely discover the one option that ignites your story. I have found this to work not only when you're just generally stuck, but especially when you feel you are too stressed to write--somehow the stress in your life shuts down your internal editor so that your ideas become that much more extreme--and exciting!
Two Bonus Craft Tips because writers can't have too many!
Debra Clopton: I'm not certain which of these has been most important in my career but both have been instrumental. First, sit in the chair and write. Production has been my friend from day one of my publishing career and it still is. But second, and what I believe everyone needs to know, is the tip my first and long time editor Krista Stroever, advised me soon after she bought me, when edits came in from her or the other editors my main job was to protect my voice. I took that advice and picked my battles carefully, but when it came to changing my voice that was where I stood my ground.
Lenora Worth:An argument is not conflict. Two people fighting in a scene is not conflict. Conflict is what they are NOT fighting about in the scene, the things they hold back and internalize--that's the conflict.
For a chance to win one of two $10 Amazon gift card, leave a comment. Yes, that's two prizes, one for a writer and one for a reader.
Writers please share the best craft tip you've ever received.
For readers, tell us the best tip you've ever received for doing anything. We all can use good advice!
In honor of our 10th birthday, I brought coffee and tea and trays of ten different cookies. Choose from chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle, molasses, sugar, peanut butter, lemon bars, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter blossom and monster cookies.
Welcome to week THREE of our 10th birthday celebration. That means Seekerville is starting year 11! Every single day in October there is a giveaway!
Every comment you make goes into the drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card given away every weekend and at the end of the month, we'll draw a name for a Kindle Fire with Alexa.
If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes. Send to Seekers@Seekerville.net
The $50 Amazon gift card winner of the week is Jeanne T!
Monday: Bethany House Publishing's fiction publicist, Amy Green, was our special guest on Monday! Her winners are:
Tara Johnson -- Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette
Patti Jo (CatMom) -- A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander
Suzanne Baginskie -- Her One and Only by Becky Wade
Lyndee -- King’s Folly by Jill Williamson
Vince -- From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden
Amber Schamel -- The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green
Tuesday: Despite Myra's objections, Grammar Queen invited herself to the party! Winner of GQ's giveaway of a surprise bundle of books is Leslie McKee!
Thursday: Ruthy Logan Herne celebrated 10 Years of Seekerville and the release of her 20th Love Inspired Book The Lawman's Yuletide Baby. Three winners (yes!) of "The Lawman's Yuletide Baby" are Kathy Eberly, Becky and Amy Grochowski! The winner of the $20 Amazon gift card is Kav! Friday: Stephanie Karfelt was today's birthday guest. Winner of her giveaway package is Jan Drexler. Winner of an extra copy of "Nobody Told Me!" Love in the time of Dementia being given away by Ruthy is Karen Sargent.
Saturday: Seekerville's own marketing guru, Vince Mooney returned to Seekerville with "The Ten Most Effective Ways To Reward Readers for Reading Your Novel." Winner of a Seeker ebook of choice is Glynis.
Monday: Janet Dean is hosting ten plus a bonus of two, so make that twelve wonderful authors who are sharing the best craft tip they ever received. Janet is giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards, one to a reader and one to a writer. In order to win, leave your best tip in the comments. Tuesday: Pam Hillman is your hostess on day 16 of our Birthday Celebration with 10 writerly things she wasn't doing 10 years ago. Grab bag gift including a signed copy of Pam's latest, The Promise of Breeze Hill.
Wednesday: Debby Giusti brings you today's post. She'll be talking about her 10-year journey since publication. Stop by to say hello and enter the drawing for a copy of Undercover Amish, the second book in her Amish Protectors series that just hit the Publishers Weekly Bestsellers List!
Thursday: Orly Konig is our special guest today. She is the founding president of the Women's Fiction Writers Association and an active member of the Writers in the Storm blog. Her post is "The Mystery of Women’s Fiction." Stop by to chat and you could win a copy of The Distance Home, her debut release from Forge and a SPECIAL mid birthday celebration surprise!
Friday: Seekerville welcomes back Raela Schoenherr, Fiction Acquisitions Editor, Bethany House Publishers. She brings a fantastic post, "5 Ways to Make an Acquisitions Editor Say Yes," and we have a fantastic birthday giveaway in her honor!
Saturday: Glynna Kaye is sharing reflections in "A Decade of Dreams (and FEARS) on the Writing Journey" and welcoming you to share yours as well. There will be a drawing for one lucky winner to win a $25 Amazon gift card as well as a Kindle copy (winner's choice) of one of her books!
|Pam Hillman will be at the Winston County Library|
in Louisville, MS on Tuesday signing her latest
The Promise of Breeze Hill. She'd love to see you there!
|Join Julie Lessman for the video of her latest FACEBOOK LIVE and get a WHOLE new take on "Herb Therapy"! JULIE'S FB LIVE VIDEO|It's that time of year when we ask you to please consider nominating Seekerville for the 19th Annual Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Award. Send an email to email@example.com with “101 Websites” in the subject line. We are an Inspirational Romance Writing Community.
Are you missing those summer days of reading on the
beach or by the pool? This Fall, relive the dog days of
summer with a FREE sampler of seven of Tyndale's
#Crazy4Fiction Summer 2017 releases.
(Includes Seeker Pam Hillman's The Promise of Breeze Hill)
Click on the image to read our entry in the Writer's Digest 101 Best WEbsites for Writers issue.
Good Endings: What Should Yours Include? (Writers Helping Writers)
How to Crush It on Social Media as an Introvert (Social Media Just for Writers)
Four Questions to Jumpstart Your Novel (WITS)
Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Beta Readers Help You (Dean Wesley Smith)
Want To Win NaNoWriMo This Year? 7 Tips On Writing And Productivity (The Creative Penn)
Writing Insights Part One: Becoming a Writer by Hugh Howey (Amazon Author Insights)
More on querying agencies with "one and done" policies (Janet Reid, Literary Agent)
Getting Jiggy with the Nitty Gritty, or, Improving Your Sentences (Writers Helping Writers)
From Twitter @EmilyRodmell Oct 12 You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. So don't rush to submit or publish. Take your time to get it right.
Thanks for the link love!
The great debate. Birthday cake, or birthday cupcake?
What's your favorite?
In the meantime, enjoy more of our fun birthday videos. You are welcome to submit your ten to fifteen-second videos firstname.lastname@example.org for use in October, on our blog and/or Facebook as space allows. Deadline is October 28th.
Let's throw in one more birthday present.An ecopy of Debby Giusti's release,Undercover Amish to one commenter who lets us know they want an ecopy.Winner announced in the next Weekend Edition!
with guest Vince Mooney. "What Gets Rewarded Gets Done." -Michael Leboeuf
Advertisers learned over 100 years ago that if you wanted people to read your ads, you had to reward them for reading at every step along the way. That means rewarding your readers sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and even subhead by subhead.
The best writing advice I ever received was from Clyde Bedell, my boss and a charter member of the Retail Advertising Hall of Fame, who told me:
“No one has to read advertising. People won’t be bored in print. You have to keep them reading or the most powerful selling message in the world will do you no good. The way to keep people reading is to reward them every step of the way.”
This same advice applies to fiction. Over the years I have found that the writers who reward their readers the most often also happen to be best-selling authors.
There are many ways to reward readers. While I'll mention the top ten in this post, as a way to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Seekerville, there are many more ways as well. As a creative writer, it would be wise to always be on the look-out for new ways of rewarding readers.
The Golden Rule for Using Rewards:
"Attract The Favorable Attention of Those Readers Who Will Most Enjoy Your Book."
Rewards work best when they are offered to readers who already have an interest in what you are writing.
To do the best job of doing this it is a must to know your readers and what they like.
Consider the below headline:
"Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Which Cost Investors Thousands?"
This headline promises to offer investors valuable information as the reward for reading the ad. It also attracts the attention of investors -- the advertiser's target audience.
For fiction writers, this means you should design your marketing so that it grabs the attention of the very best prospects for your book. This is your target audience. They are the easy to sell, 'low hanging,' fruit you simply must capture.
The best way to grab the attention of these prospects is by having a headline, a title, and cover art that show what kind of book it is. It would also help of the cover art shows some of the rewards readers will get by reading your novel.
For example: if a 'hidden child' theme book is set in a beautiful seaside location and the story involves ballooning, then cover art showing the seashore, sailboats, a lighthouse, and balloons in the air above, can promise these rewards to the potential reader. If possible the cover could also show the moment when the father discovers the child is his. This is often the most anticipated scene in the book. Of course, you must play fair with your readers. That scene must be in the book. (Ruth might even include an adorable dog in the story.)
The Top Ten Rewards 1. Write to the needs of the reader and not just the needs of the novel.
Write like you are around a campfire telling a story to the audience before you.
Note their reactions. Keep them entertained. Always be looking for ways to add rewards to each page. Avoid a series of low or no reward pages in a row. 'Sagging' rewards can happen anywhere in the novel, not just the middle. Ask your self: "How is my reader reacting to this page as she reads it?"
2. Write rich copy which moves the story along faster and with more information.
I call this 'paragraph packing'. For example, a scene can accomplish its main objective like informing the hero that the heroine is upset and on her way to his office. However, the same scene could also accomplish many other objectives. I've seen eight or nine goals accomplished in a single scene and sometimes this can be done without adding many additional words. James Patterson goes over each scene many times not to find errors but to make the story better.
For example, a paragraph could: start a new anticipatory event (AE)resolve or answer an (AE)reveal a secretcreate a secretgive a clue or create a red herringlay a foundation for a coming eventforeshadow a turn in the plotprovide a factoid (information that is interesting) provide a little backstorycontain a sparkle -- a beautiful use of languagedo some five sensingspark an emotion in the reader mirror environment conditions to story developmentPacking paragraphs with powerful story elements makes the reading richer. As the reader learns more about the story that reader becomes more invested in the story. The sooner this happens the better.
3. Make each scene important by having it change the trajectory of the story.
If a scene does not change where the story is going, then cut it out. This gives the story a strong sense of movement. This is James Patterson's advice. Doing this can make a 400-page novel seem to move as fast as a 200-page book.
I've read some Marion Chesney Regency Romances that were about 180 pages long and were very satisfying romances. However, they also featured complete mysteries which were complex enough to fill a 300-page book. She did this with excellent paragraph packing. Marion eventually moved into the mystery genre to become the best-selling M. C. Beaton.
4. Keep asking questions that the reader simply must have answered right away.
These are often Anticipatory Events (AE) that the reader looks forward to having answered. They can be short-term (answered in a page or two), chapter long (resolved in the same chapter), medium term (answered in a few chapters) and global (answered by the book's end).
For example: Sandra Byrd in Asking for Trouble.
London Confidential writes about a 15-year-old girl who starts school in London when her family moves there from America. She wants a job on the school newspaper. Will she get the job? Will her lack of experience cost her? Is a new girl also coming to the school? Will she be a friend or enemy? Will she want to work on the newspaper? Will she take the job from me? All the above is going on before the new girl even shows up. I think most writers would just have the new girl show up one day with no AEs. Also by creating these AEs the author shows the mindset of a 15-year-old. I found this book a super page-turner with its dozens of AEs.
5. Make it easy for the reader to read your writing.
Readers like white space, short chapters, short paragraphs, and crystal clear prose. It's important to check each sentence for alternative meanings. A sentence which is given an alternative meaning can confuse the reader and cause her to reread the sentence several times. This will surely pull her out of the story. This is the opposite of rewarding the reader.
Also be careful with names. Make names unique to the story. Try to use different letters of the alphabet to start each name. No Richards and Roberts as major characters in the same story. A reader should never have to ask: "Which character is this? I'm not sure. Is Richard the uncle or is it Robert?" Be especially aware of famous names or mythical names like Phoenix -- the bird… or Butch … a favorite bully name. It's best not to color your characters with the baggage of these names unless the name's connotations actually apply to your character. 6. Add value to your base story.
This additional value often makes the reader feel smarter for having read your book. Added value is a big reward for some readers. Nevada Barr sets each novel inside a National Park. This is a great way to experience national parks. I read "Ill Wind" just before visiting Mesa Verde where the mystery is set.
Ask: "What will the reader get from reading this story besides the story itself?
7. Give your characters a variety of emotions that the readers will also be vicariously feeling.
I like to color code my copy with highlighters. For example: red for anger, green for jealousy, yellow for happiness, blue for sadness or depression, etc. This lets you easily check your writing to see if it is colorless or monochrome. Many readers read romances for the vicarious feelings they want to experience. These feelings include being loved, appreciated, victorious, desired, admired, etc. When your reader feels these emotions your book comes alive. This is how to reach out and touch your readers.
Don't write a downer which is depressing until the HEA arrives. Give characters some victories along the way. Watching the tv show "Call the Midwife," can cause some highly emotional experiences. Over the years I've noticed that every emotional high (like a difficult birth being successful) there is a balancing low point (a death).
8. Move beyond telling and showing to 'being' in which the reader feels what the character feels.
For example: you can tell the reader that a character was angry. You can show the reader that the character was angry by showing him leave his office and slamming the door. For 'Being', making the reader feel anger, you could have the character kick the sleeping dog as he leaves the office. A writer can't always do this but it can be done more often than one might think. When the story happens to the reader that's a major reward.
9. Keep it fresh. Avoid clichés and stock romance scenes.
Create new future clichés. Also write what I call sparkles -- colorful, beautiful or even surprising use of words when describing events or settings like a beautiful sunset or waterfall.
Suggestion: make a list of the most popular clichés in current use. When you get a chance, like on line at the post office, try to think of new ways to say the same thing. Write these down for future use. 10. Invest the reader quickly in the story.
Use headers like:
Summer 1887 Tombstone Territory.
By packing your paragraphs you can inform the reader as to what is happening, who the characters are, why the reader should care, what is at stake and the character's goals and motivation.
If you want your readers to buy your next book, make the book they are currently reading as rewarding as possible.
"What gets rewarded gets done."Readers, which of these reward methods are your favorites? Feel free to share authors who you've read who provide memorable rewards.
Writers, which of these rewards do you find the most challenging?
Leave a comment today. Seekerville is giving away a Seeker ebook of choice to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. Vince Mooney is a friend of Seekerville. He’s a retired marketing creative person and college teacher who now runs a real estate school by mail and writes romances and nonfiction books on writing. A university training philosopher, it’s been said that sometimes it’s hard to tell when he is being serious.
Day 14 of our October Birthday Celebration. Every comment today gets you in the running for our weekly $50 Amazon gift card (This week's winner announced tomorrow!) and the Kindle Fire with Alexa!
I first met Stephanie years ago when her daughter Bailey interviewed me about my Men of Allegany County series, set in the Southern Tier of Western New York... Stephanie and I, both new authors, working toward a dream... and I've liked her ever since (and she didn't run screaming, always a plus!) Here she is today, author of several great stories, and new non-fiction author of a book that touched my heart and my soul after watching my father-in-law fade into the nasty oblivion of Alzheimer's four years ago... Steph, the book is great. So are you.
Welcome to Seekerville for our 10th birthday bash, amazingly talented speculative author S. R. Karfelt!
There’s a quote by Stephen King that’s one of my favorites about fiction.
“Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ~Stephen King
That speaks to me. Writers can tell the bald truth wrapped in a nice and easily digestible story. We can overcome race, politics, and religion in a wonderful fiction world. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Writing out the first draft of a fiction novel into the wee hours of the night is my happy place. I never planned to take my happy writing soul into that dark dank alley of non-fiction.
Reality Bites. Compared to fiction anyway.
My plan for the next book was a fiction one I’ve had rolling around in my psyche for ages. In fact I thought I’d whip it out in no time because I’ve drafted it and rewritten it a couple times over the years. That book was even scheduled with my publisher. But. Reality bit in the form of my mother-in-law with dementia moving in with us.
Before she came, when I knew she was heading our way, I made grand writing plans so that I could make this work. I’ll take a couple months off while I get her situated. She can get used to being here. We’ll get her on memory meds. When she’s comfortable, I’ll start writing again.
That thought process strikes me as ludicrous and darkly amusing now. The one and only steadfast fact I’ve learned about dementia is that no one gets used to it. Getting comfortable with losing your memory is not a thing. It didn’t take long for me to come to that realization and contact my publisher. I told them I couldn’t make my deadline. Fortunately for me I’m with a small press and they’re more flexible than some.
But as I was talking to them they made a suggestion. Why don’t you take all of those Facebook posts about your mother-in-law, and put them in a document and see if you can’t make a book out of it?
Okay, this is the next highly amusing LIGHT BULB idea I had. What a great idea! All I have to do is tell the truth! That’s easy! I can whip out a 50 or 60K word manuscript, fulfill my obligations, and I’ll have a nice little non-fiction book.
For the love of light, Seekers, that was probably the stupidest thought that’s ever rolled through my head, and believe me there have been some doozies. But I did it. I took all my Facebook posts about dementia and Gummy and put them into a word document.
The reason I’d been posting about her, to begin with, was because when my husband left me alone with dementia for a work trip to Asia, he made the mistake of saying, Do whatever you have to do to survive it.
Now, what do writers do to survive it? We write!
It surprised me how many people responded to those posts. I’d received a flood of responses, and suddenly I wasn’t alone with this avalanche of a disease.
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. ~ Helen Keller
Suddenly I felt the stirrings of inspiration. So I gathered up months’ worth of posts like these:
- It's not that Gummy packs all her stuff to leave a couple times a day. It's that somewhere in this luggage are all the pix from her room, the batteries from her clock, and a vase full of live flowers.
- I'm trying something new. The answer to "Where am I?" is, you are here. It's not that I mind answering it. It's simply that it is often asked 2-3 times a minute. The confusion that goes with the answer and the proceeding questions can eat an entire day—and it can bring on panic, tears, or acceptance, but even if it goes well, it is asked again immediately.
- Physically I can't answer that question 16 hours a day. I'm exhausted halfway in, and she is shattered.
So I'm experimenting. You are here, we love you, you're safe. This is an evil ugly disease, but it can't make us not love her. Take that you evil _______. #dementia
And thanks Target for the perfect nightlight.
That nice easy non-fiction book took nine months of hard labor. Isn’t that
indicative? I like to say it’s both the easiest thing I ever wrote and the hardest.
The easiest because all I had to do was tell the truth. The hardest because all I
had to do was tell the truth.
Part of the difficulty was because Facebook posts are not an outline and had to be slowly edited out. There’s a reason it went through eighteen rewrites and ten edits. Part of the difficulty was I spent my days dealing with dementia and my nights writing about it. The other problem was I’d never written a memoir before. In the end, I just started writing the truth and crying. All I know is I’m super tired now and my tear ducts are desert-dry, but I have what I call Gummy’s book.
It’s the story of us, us against dementia, laughter through tears, and that deep love when adversaries become friends. I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful mother-in-law, and in the end it’s been an honor to stand by her through this hellacious disease and to write this book. I can’t control dementia, but it can’t stop me from telling our story.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't. ~Mark Twain
That quote could not be more apt.
Dementia isn’t obligated to stick to possibilities either. Memory loss is the dark side of Wonderland.
If Gummy and I both face it with rude gestures and naughty asides, that’s because we’d both rather laugh than cry.
Since Gummy collected teacups for what must be centuries, judging by how many she has, I named a chapter in the book after them. When I thought about a Seekerville giveaway, I decided it had to be tea related with some of my travel goodies thrown in. (Stonehenge cookies, chocolates, and bookmarks!)
The cover of Gummy’s book has a broken teacup on it. I cried all over the place when I saw it. By then my tears were little puffs of dust. When I showed the book to Gummy and told her it was about us, a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law and our eons together, about her fight with dementia, and the funny stories when she tried to make me a better housekeeper or when the dog jumped into a puddle of oil and she washed him with Tide, she said, “Really? Nobody told me!” And that is the book’s name, and Gummy’s tagline. Nobody Told Me love in the time of dementia.
If you’d like a chance at the tea giveaway, tell me a quick story and I’ll guess whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. I have a theory that the really off the wall ones are the true stories!
S.R. Karfelt writes fiction with a twist of fantasy, like the ancient immortal moonlighting as a cop in Kahtar, Warrior of the Ages and The Covenant Keeper Novels, or the witch in B*tch Witch who inherited an evil gene but refuses to be evil just because it’s in her blood. Nobody Told Me love in the time of dementia is her first work of non-fiction.
Wife, mother, explorer, and part-time hermit, S.R. lives in that hidden part of New York she likes to call The Shire. www.SRKarfelt.com
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