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Christmas in July News: Writer Wednesday

Do you love Christmas stories? I certainly do! I usually buy one or two Christmas novels in October and November to savor during the holiday season. Did you know many writers actually write Christmas stories in the summer? I’m writing one now!




My December release, Yuletide Redemption, will be hitting stores late November, and I just got a sneak peek at the cover. I can’t wait until I’m allowed to share it with you! It’s so beautiful! And the Christmas story news doesn’t end there…I was asked to write a Christmas novella for Harlequin Love Inspired’s online reads! It will be released one chapter at a time for FREE on Harlequin’s website, starting in December. Don’t worry–I’ll list all the dates as soon as I know them.

So I’ve been writing this cozy, wonderful Christmas novella all month while the sun blazes down outside. I have to admit, I love writing Christmas stories in July. It gets me all excited for the holidays. And, hey, watching a Hallmark movie or two can be counted as research, right? :)

Writers who want to submit Christmas stories often write them during the summer months, but a Christmas story can be written at any time. If you plan on submitting one to a publisher, recognize it might be a full year before your book will be released. Holiday releases book early, so yours might get put on hold for a year. Also, if you’re submitting short stories to publications, you might need to submit 4-6 months in advance. Check the publication if you’re unsure.

A few other things to keep in mind when you’re writing Christmas fiction. Readers want warm, cozy, heartwarming stories that make them sit back and sigh in happiness. Sure, there can be plenty of drama and conflict–there should be!–but throw an extra heavy dose of warmth in. We read Christmas stories to get in the holiday mood!

Do you love reading Christmas stories? When do you read them–all year round or right before Christmas?

Big news! I’m going to be on television this Sunday!! If you’re in the Toledo, Ohio area, tune into 13 ABC at 12:30pm for Rebecca Regnier’s morning show, Full Plate! I’ll be sharing the video clip on my Facebook page next week, too.

I won’t be blogging on Friday, so check back next week Wednesday for another post. :)

Have a terrific day!

3 Tips to Do As Soon As You Finish a Manuscript: Writer Wednesday

3 Tips to do as soon as you finish the manuscript

When you’re writing a new book, the details of the story–characters, setting, scenes–consume your mind. You can recall any detail easily at will. If someone were to ask you about your book, you could go on and on for hours. However, months later when you’ve been pitching it to agents and editors or entering it into contests, you’re usually writing another book. And the details of the new story are fresh in your mind.

Fast forward a year. Let’s say you’re at a conference and you pitch your new book. The editor doesn’t seem interested, so you mention the previous book. Their eyes light up, and a little buzz of excitement runs through your chest. You tell them the story basics and wonder of wonders, they request the manuscript along with a synopsis! Yay!

You arrive home giddy, but when you open your files, you cringe. It’s been over a year since you’ve even thought about that book. The manuscript is there, but you never got around to writing the synopsis. You really want to send this book before the editor’s interest cools, so you brew a pot of coffee and tell yourself it’s just a synopsis. You’ll whip one up. How bad can it be?

Hours later you have an eleven page synopsis, but you’re only halfway through the story. You want to pull your hair out. The coffee left you jittery, and you’re barking at anyone who looks at you. Tears threaten. A wail rises deep within your soul. Who invented this torture named writing a synopsis??

The next day you power through, finish drafting the synopsis and sigh in relief that it clocks in at seventeen pages. At least it’s under twenty, right? You work into the night to tighten it up. Is fourteen pages too many? Who cares. I need to send this already!

You close your eyes, compose an email and attach the manuscript with your synopsis. You hit Send.

The next day you’re nervous. For some unspoken reason you open the synopsis file. You see a typo on page one. Ugh! No! Then you read blogs to take your mind off the glaring misspelling and come across one about the proper length of a synopsis. Five to six double-spaced pages for a full length novel? How can anyone condense it to that length?

Now you’re panicky. Did you just blow your chance with the editor? You feel woefully inadequate, unprepared and you just want to go to bed for two weeks…


Writers overanalyze things. It’s what we do. I’ve panicked about a million little things–none worth my energy. But I know myself. I’m going to freak out about stupid things because it’s how I’m wired. So I decided to make life easier on myself. Years ago, I took a few worry inducers out of the equation, and you can too.

Here are three of my tips to do as soon as you finish your manuscript.

1. Always have a synopsis.

For six years I’ve written the synopsis before I even write the book. If you don’t want to get that carried away, write the synopsis right after you finish the book. Don’t wait until you start submitting. Do it while the story is fresh, the characters are close to your heart, and you can easily recite their goals, motivations, conflicts and other themes. I know writing a synopsis is horrifying. It is. But force yourself to write one within a few days of finishing your novel. Aim to keep it under eight double-spaced pages, shorter if possible. Some agents and editors want a 1-2 page single-spaced synopsis, so you might want to draft a compact one, too. By preparing one now, you save yourself anxiety later. You want everything you send to be as error-free and easy to understand as possible.

2. Keep your digital files organized.

Do you have a system for easily retrieving old files? I recommend a sub-file system on your computer. Have a master folder “Books.” Create sub-folders for series, “Lake Endwell.” Create sub-folders for individual books, “Her Small-Town Romance.” Create sub-folder for various book related items, “Business,” “Drafts,” “Synopses,” “Art Department,” and so forth. Name your final manuscript something simple, like “Title-Final-Full-Manuscript” and keep it in the main folder for that book. This helps you quickly locate the final draft when someone requests it.

It will look like this:


–  Series (Lake Endwell)

– Title (Her Small-Town Romance)

– Business

– Drafts

– Synopses

– Art Dept

3. Track your submissions.

I use Microsoft OneNote to keep track of important dates for my books, but you can use any system that works for you. For each book, I keep a plotting log, writing log, and a revising log. I have tabs for plot notes, research notes, and my promotion list. I also have a tab for Business, and this has a submissions log. I jot down important dates and responses. When I was unpublished, I kept track of which agents I queried/pitched, which editors I queried/pitched, the date they requested (if they requested) and the date of their response if they ultimately passed. This took the guesswork out of “should I follow up” or not. It’s easy to lose track of time when on submission. What feels like two months might only have been three weeks. Plus, it’s simple to look up who you’ve queried and how long their response took.


Bonus tips for published authors:

After my first book was published, I realized there were several other things I could do as soon as my manuscript was finished to make life easier down the line.

1. Create a short title list.

I’m always asked to submit more titles. Having a shortlist makes it easier!

2. Jot 3-4 possible scenes for my art sheets.

I also create a Pinterest board while I’m writing the first draft. I search for pins that might work for the cover and pin them to my board.

3. Write a 500-750 word synopsis.

I have to include a 500-word synopsis to the art department when I’m filling out art sheets for a contracted book. So after I finish the manuscript, I take a few hours to throw a super short synopsis together. I don’t bother revising it. When the art sheets are due, it doesn’t take long to polish it. It’s made my life so much easier!


I’d love to hear your tips! What do you do when you finish a manuscript?

Have a fabulous week!



2016 ACFW Pre-Conference Mix and Mingle!

Laurie Tomlinson is hosting a pre-conference mix-and-mingle for the upcoming ACFW conference! Naturally, I’m 100% in for mixing and mingling. It’s been a few years since I was able to attend the ACFW conference, so I’m extra excited to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

Laurie created a list of questions for anyone going to ACFW to get to know each other better. I’m including them and my answers below. You’re welcome to join the mix-and-mingle, too! Simply go to Laurie’s blog (the link is at the bottom of this post), and follow her instructions.

By the way, Laurie is an extremely savvy author who recently sold her debut novel to Harlequin Heartwarming! Congratulations, Laurie! She offers a variety of services for writers, and she’s a contributor to The Writer’s Alley. Here’s a little more about her:

Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who enjoys stories of grace in the beautiful mess. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and regular contributor to Her work is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary, has won two Genesis Awards, and was runner-up in the 2015 RWA Lone Star Contest.




Mix-and-Mingle time!

Name: Jill Kemerer

Location: Toledo, Ohio

What you write/tagline/trademark: Christian contemporary romance with love, humor and faith.

Place in the book world: Multi-published author with Harlequin Love Inspired. Yuletide Redemption releases December 2016.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Hug-a-licious!

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Cappuccino, yum!

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, University of Michigan football (Go blue!), Day Planners, brainstorming plots, and recipes from The Pioneer Woman.

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, our son–a freshman in high school, our daughter–a freshman in college, and our mini-dachshund, Sophie.

Conference goals we can pray for? I get migraines very easily, so I’m praying for a migraine-free conference. I’m also praying for God to use me wherever He sees fit.

Anything we can celebrate with you? Sticking with my health plan? Haha! I’m honored to be on Rebecca Regnier’s Full Plate, a local television program, next week. July 20 at 10:00am! You can check out her website, here:

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Stop by my page on  Facebook HERE and sign up for my newsletter HERE!


Be sure to head over to Laurie’s blog (linked) to “meet” the other participants!

Here’s how to play:

– Copy/paste the questions and fill out your own answers in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that specific post (not your homepage) using this handy link-up tool. Just click on the button below that says “Add your link”. If you don’t have a website, feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!

– Make sure to link back to this post after you fill out your answers so any of your readers who are conference attendees can participate, too! The more, the merrier.

– Click through the links below to get to know other conference attendees before Nashville!


What can we celebrate with YOU?

Enjoy your weekend!

Do You Write in the Summer? Writer Wednesday

I’m always fascinated by other writers’ processes. Where they write. How much they write. Any weird rituals they have when writing. So today we’re talking about summer and writing. One question I’m often asked is if I write in the summer.

summer gardens
We toured the Toledo Botanical Gardens last week. So pretty!


Yes, I write in the summer. After an extremely busy winter and spring, I considered taking off the entire month of July to just chill, read, and putter. But I’ve been blessed with a writing opportunity that needs a fairly quick turn around, and I have a neglected project I want to bring back to life. This means I will be writing most of July.

We had a little stay-cation last week. I relaxed, read and got caught up on chores, but this week I’m back in my office and loving it! Even a week off can be a huge benefit for my creative side.

My summer hours are similar to my winter hours. I do sleep an extra hour in the summer. This makes me extremely happy since I’m not a morning person! My day begins with Bible reading, my prayer journal, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Then I either exercise or go upstairs to my office and get to work. I spend most of the day writing, revising or plotting, depending on the project. It works for me!

Here are a few of my writing essentials lately.

  1. 32 ounce souvenir cup of ice water. Usually a University of Michigan cup or a Toledo Mudhens cup. I’m fancy like that.
  2. Best of Air Supply CD borrowed from the library. Come on and sing along with me, “I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you…”
  3. My Happy Planner!! Yes, it really does make me happy! I love that each day is divided into three sections. I use the top for my work To-Do list, the middle for Home stuff, and the bottom to track my healthy habits. Perfect!

And on that note, here is some Air Supply for you. You’re welcome. :)


Congratulations Judy Jordan for winning the 2 Great Books by 2 Great Authors giveaway! Thank you to everyone who entered!


So ‘fess up. Do you write in the summer?


Have a great day!

2 Great Books Giveaway! Week 2: Almost Like Being in Love

2 Great Books by 2 Great Authors Giveaway

The 2 Great Books by 2 Great Authors Giveaway continues! Last week I featured Becky Wade’s Her One and Only, the fourth and final book in the Porter Family series. This week is Beth K. Vogt’s Almost Like Being in Love, part of her Wedding Destinations series! I’ll be giving away a gently used copy of Becky’s novel and a new copy of Beth’s novel on July 10, 2016 so be sure to scroll below for the easy entry form!

2 Great Books by 2 Great Authors! Week 2: Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt


Almost Like Being in Love


She’s won a luxurious dream wedding—now all she needs is the groom!  

Winning an all-expenses paid Colorado destination wedding might seem like a dream come true for some people—but Caron Hollister and her boyfriend Alex Madison aren’t even engaged. How is she supposed to tell him that she’s won their wedding and honeymoon when he hasn’t asked her to marry him? And while everyone says they’re perfect for each other, how strong is a relationship when it’s built around protecting secrets?

Realtor Kade Webster’s business savvy just secured his company’s participation in the Springs Tour of Homes. He never imagined he would run into Caron Hollister—the woman who broke his heart—right when Webster Select Realty is taking off. When Kade learns his home stager won’t be able to help with the Tour of Homes, he vaults past all the reasons he should avoid Caron, and offers her a temporary job helping him on the project. This time, their relationship is purely business—Realtor to Realtor.

Spending time with Kade again has Caron questioning who she is and what she wants. The man intrigues her—at times infuriates her—and reminds her of what she walked away from. Has she been settling for what everyone expects of her? How can Caron say “I do” to one man when she’s wondering “what if?” about another?  


Beth’s Wedding Destination series has been so much fun! Don’t miss the other books in the series, Can’t Buy Me Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and You Can’t Hurry Love! You can purchase Almost Like Being in Love Here!



About Beth K. Vogt ~

Beth K. Vogt


Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Beth is a 2016 Christy Award finalist, as well as a 2015 RITA® finalist, and two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. She continues her destination wedding series with You Can’t Hurry Love (May 2016) and Almost Like Being in Love (June 2016). Visit Beth at


Giveaway time! Use the form below to enter to win one gently used copy of Her One and Only by Becky Wade and one new copy of Beth K. Vogt’s Almost Like Being in Love!

US residents 18+. Starts June 29, 2016 at 6:00am and ends July 10, 2016 at 9:00pm EST. Full terms and conditions in entry form.



Are you as sappy as I am when it comes to weddings? I love them!

Have a terrific day!

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