skip to Main Content

Writing Roundup: October 11

Writing Roundup: October 11


Writing Roundup October 11, 2017


I’ve read several great blog posts about writing lately. I’m not always great about reading blogs, but when I do, I’m amazed at the timely content. I figured you’d be interested in them, too, so I’m sharing them here!

Amy Green, fiction publicist at Bethany House Publishers, was a guest on Seekerville Monday. She shares her “Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About.” While all ten are terrific, I was drawn to Writing in Community and Time Management. Both are dear to my heart. I’ve linked the full article below. And stop by Seekerville all of October for chances to win prizes. They’re celebrating ten years of blogging with a month-long party! (Happy birthday, Seekerville!)

“Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About” by Amy Green via Seekerville


Novelist Peter Leavell discusses how to find an adoring audience in “Gather a Flock” at Seriously Write. It’s a clever, true post, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it. The link is below!

“Gather a Flock” by Peter Leavell via Seriously Write


And, last but not least, author Jody Hedlund shows how reviews–good AND bad–are helpful in “Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive,” at Inspired by Life and Fiction. I especially like Jody’s points about how readers need reliable reviews and how feedback keeps authors from growing complacent.

“Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive” by Jody Hedlund via Inspired by Life and Fiction



Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels

Yesterday, I wrote “Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels” for Ladies of Love Inspired. Pop on over for a few book recommendations!

Do you read blogs? Have a favorite? Please share in the comments!

Paperback Release of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride!

Paperback Release Of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride!

Guess what just hit store shelves? The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride–the first in my brand new series, Wyoming Cowboys! Aaaahhhh!!!



I’m super excited about this one. I’ve never written about cowboys before, and, let’s face it, I live in northern Ohio, which isn’t exactly out west. With loads of research and help from social media friends who live in Wyoming, I was able to create a fictional town–Sweet Dreams–where all four books will be set.

I’ll be guest posting around the blog-osphere in the upcoming weeks and giving away copies of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride. Save these dates!

I’m hosting two giveaways right now! I’m giving away a prize package with a copy of the book, a super cute memo pad, a cowboy-ish mug, candy and biscuits!

Go to “The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway,” (linked) and scroll down for the easy entry options. US only.

I’m also giving away four copies of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride on Goodreads! The entry form is in the sidebar of my blog, or you can find it on my Home page. This contest is open to both US and Canada.

If you’re looking for the ebook, it will release on October 1, 2017. You can preorder through any of the major sites. Purchase links can be found at The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride. (linked)


Game On Fall Sale!



One more thing. Fall sports are here, and my book, Game On: The Christian Parents’ Sports Survival Guide is on sale! The ebook’s list price is $7.99, but it’s on sale for only $3.99 until October 31, 2017! That’s 50% off! If you have kids in sports and you wrestle with anxiety, struggle to brush off other parents’ competitiveness, need help figuring out how to get multiple kids at different practices, have no idea where to begin with fundraising or any other number of common sports worries, this book is for you!

Purchase links:



Are you watching football this fall? Yay? Nay?


Have a great week!

The Right Character to Open Your Story #WW

The Right Character To Open Your Story #WW

Last night I opened a novel I’d borrowed from the library. It didn’t have a prologue, so I dove right into the first chapter. Within one page I knew who the main character would be (at least I assumed he was the main character), and I had a basic understanding of the setting and tone of the story.

The book is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I’ve only read one or two short stories by Mr. Bradbury, but I’d recently come across an interview of an author who rereads this book every couple of years. I figured why not?

I’ve only read a few chapters, but my initial expectations were correct. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding, and the story is set in an American town during the summer of 1928. I’m not sure if the town is in New England or the Midwest, but the descriptions make me believe the region must be one of those two.

Douglas is an imaginative kid, very intense, and he’s throbbing with anticipation over what a great summer it will be. There are sour apples and peaches and plums to be picked, meals to be baked with Grandma, and the town habits are so familiar to Douglas that he pretends to orchestrate the movements of the morning. It’s a delightful opening.

It made me think about a common mistake inexperienced writers often make. They open their story in a secondary character’s point of view.


The right character to open your story #ww


Who is the right character to open a story?

The main character.

Readers are taking a chance when they start a book, especially if the author is unfamiliar to them. I have certain expectations for the first chapter. One of those expectations is that the character I’m getting invested in will carry the book. If it becomes clear in the next chapters that the viewpoint character from chapter one isn’t the main character, I am much more likely to stop reading.

What if you have more than one main character?

Romance novels have two: the hero and the heroine. I’m fine with either beginning the story. What I’m not okay with is reading from the heroine’s sister’s point of view in the opening pages. Or the hero’s funny best friend’s or the sweet old aunt’s. If it’s not their story, don’t let them open it.

What about a book with multiple points of view?  You know, the one following the lives of three best friends?

Ask yourself which character has the strongest arc. Which one has the biggest journey? If you’re convinced they all have equal arcs, pick the one who has the most to lose when your story begins. And make sure she carries the book all the way to the very end. If she doesn’t? Rewrite your opening in the point of view of the character who does.

Are there any rules of thumb about characters and story openings?

I, personally, love books where the opening scene and closing scene are in the same character’s point of view.  I’ve been with him or her throughout the ups and downs of the book, and I get all emotional when the story comes full circle. Since I write romance, I have to determine which of my main two characters has the most to lose when the book opens. Who will have the bigger journey? The hero or the heroine? When I figure this out, I know which character will begin and end the book.

Secondary characters should never take over your story. The reader wants to find out what happens to the main characters. If you write too many scenes from other viewpoints, the reader will care less and less about your hero or heroine. I’m not saying the plot won’t be furthered by utilizing other viewpoints, but be careful. Readers can’t care equally about every character you introduce. Let the main ones do the heavy hitting.

To recap: the character who begins your story should be a main character, the one with the biggest journey, the one the reader will get most invested in. Wait until the main characters are established before switching to a secondary character’s point of view. And think hard before allowing a secondary character to take over a scene. Ask yourself if it will further the main plot? Or is it taking precious time away from the hero or heroine?

How do you determine which character will open your story?

There is still time to enter my gift package giveaway! Click on “The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway” and scroll down for the easy entry options!

The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride Giveaway

Have a great day!

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway!

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway!

In just a few short weeks my sixth novel, The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride, will be in stores! Aaahhh!! It’s also the first book in my brand new series, Wyoming Cowboys. I love this book. I loved writing this book. I loved researching this book.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about this one!

To make matters even better, it’s a Christmas book! I love Christmas books. I love writing Christmas books…

Okay, you get the idea.

The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride

Coming Home for Christmas 

Wedding planner Lexi Harrington needs a manager for her inherited Wyoming ranch. Clint Romine is the perfect man for the job, but the ruggedly handsome cowboy soon presents a new dilemma—distraction. Lexi can’t fall for a small-town rancher when she’s planning to return to her big-city career after the holidays. Home has always been elusive for former foster kid Clint. Working alongside Lexi at Rock Step Ranch feels too cozy—and too risky. Opening up to her means revealing a secret about his past that could jeopardize everything he holds dear. This Christmas, can Clint learn to trust Lexi with the truth…and with his heart?

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  | iBooks

To celebrate I’m giving away a prize package to one blessed reader!

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway includes:

  • One true large print signed copy of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride
  • A cowboy-ish coffee mug
  • The most adorable typewriter memo pad I’ve ever seen
  • A bag of chocolates–yum!
  • A super cute tin of biscuits

Entry options are really easy. Just use the entry form below! The giveaway starts on September 8, 2017 at 5am EST and ends on September 30, 2017 at 9pm EST. Full rules are in the entry form. US Residents 18+


The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride Giveaway





Thank you for entering! Feel free to share this with your friends!

Pitch Prep #WW

Pitch Prep #WW

You know what season it is? Yes, football…duh. It’s also conference season. Yay!

Writers attending conferences usually sign up for pitch sessions. *Just got a shiver down my spine.* Pitch sessions are basically “here’s my project, you’re going to love it,” sessions. Writers are trying to woo an agent or editor into requesting a partial or full of their manuscript. Maybe woo is too strong a word. Perhaps entice is better.

Whatever you call it, you don’t have much time to get to the meat of your book. Pitch sessions are typically short. Ten to fifteen minutes. Rambling is never a good thing.

Full disclosure: I’ve had lousy pitch sessions. I’ve gotten too cutesy. Focused on the this is why my book is unique aspect over the this is why readers will buy it and love it aspect. But I never let a bad pitch stop me. I took what I learned and got better. As a result, I’ve had awesome pitch sessions.

There is no magic formula for pitching, and I’m glad! Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Agents and editors are there because they want to find new clients and books. That being said, you’re not going to sell your book in a pitch session, and you’re also not going to be offered representation. You’re simply giving the agent/editor an overall impression of you and what you write. Best case scenario? They want to read your work. Worst case? They don’t. Either way, you’ll survive!


Pitch Prep!

So how do you prepare for pitch sessions?


1. Introduce yourself, share what you write and any relevant experience you have.

Example: Hello, I’m Jill Kemerer. I write contemporary romance novels for the Christian market. I’ve been writing for several years, and the book I’m pitching is a finalist in X contest.

2. Chit chat if appropriate. If it feels uncomfortable, dive right into your pitch.

3. State the name of the book, the genre, how long it is and if it’s finished. Also mention if it’s part of a series.

Example: Chasing the Agent is book one in a three book series. It’s an inspirational romantic suspense. It’s 95,000 words and is complete.

4. Condense the story into 50-75 words.

This is like the back copy of a book. Include the main characters, what they want, why they want it and why can’t they have it. Don’t give everything away at this point. It’s the teaser.

Example: Neil Delaware knows his book is destined to be a bestseller, but no agent will take a chance on him. Desperate, he flies to New York to convince top agent, Babs McCoy, to listen to his pitch. But when a deranged writer with one too many rejections holds Babs hostage, Neil must choose what is more important–his book or the life of the woman who captivates him.

5. Be prepared to mention your other books if asked.

At this point the agent or editor will either give a reason or two why the book doesn’t work for them, or they will ask you for a partial/sample chapters/proposal or the full manuscript. If they’re criticizing your idea, your heart may be pooling into a devastated puddle on the floor, but prop a smile on, thank them for their time, and later, ask yourself if they have a valid point. Maybe you focused on the wrong aspects of your story in an effort to stand out. Maybe they simply didn’t connect with your idea. That’s okay.

If they ask for a partial, send them the first fifty pages of your book along with a synopsis. Ditto with sample chapters. If they ask for a proposal, check their agency’s website for further direction. At the least, a proposal includes a cover letter, sample chapters and a synopsis. It may also include a marketing plan, books for competition and a biography. If they ask for the full, send the synopsis with it.

6. Thank them for their time.

The publishing industry is a very small world. Be professional. Be friendly. Be courteous.

No matter how well you hit it off, you are not their new best friend. It’s fine to be friendly throughout a conference, but be mindful of their time. They likely have meetings scheduled with their current clients. If you didn’t hit it off at all, don’t get a chip on your shoulder or spout off to the people around you what a jerk the agent or editor was. You might end up working with them someday.

The final step–and this is important–send whatever they requested!!

You’d be shocked at how many writers get cold feet about actually sending requested material. If agents or editors request your work, it means they actually want to see it. So send it already!

I really recommend practicing your pitch at home. Use the voice recorder on your phone or practice on a friend. This will give you a much needed boost of confidence when you sit down at your session. Jot down the important details and review it before your pitch, too.

And hang in there. It’s not easy putting yourself and your work out there. It takes guts. I’m applauding you!!

Have you ever pitched your story to an agent or editor? Were you nervous? What tips do you have?

Have a terrific day!

3 Ways to Get Feedback on Your Writing #WW

3 Ways To Get Feedback On Your Writing #WW

At some point in every aspiring writer’s life there comes a point where you are ready to get feedback. It might not be your first book. It might be your twelfth. But deep inside you can feel it–the need for an honest assessment of your skills.

But who can you trust to give you the kind of evaluation you need?

Ideally, you want someone who loves fiction and is a good judge of story. One who recognizes your strengths while gently pointing out your weaknesses. If they have experience in your genre, even better. And if they are further along on their writing journey than you are, be thankful!


3 Ways to Get Feedback on Your Writing


I didn’t have anyone I could ask to critique my work until I’d been writing full time for almost two years. At that point, I’d written three novels and was drafting a fourth. Finding a critique partner made me very nervous. When I began working on my first book, I would go to a coffee shop once a week to write. A small group of women would usually show up too. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were writers critiquing each other’s work. One woman was quite loud. One day I remember hearing her shrill voice completely annihilate a story of one of the ladies. My heart hurt for the victim.

It wasn’t until I’d been a member of a local writing group for several months that I trusted anyone enough to share my chapters. I was so nervous about having my dreams smashed. All I could think was what if she tells me I’m terrible? What if the feedback is so negative I quit?

My fears were unfounded. I got great advice and my first layer of a thicker skin. Over the years I’ve been a member of several critique groups. My storytelling skills improved based on multiple people’s feedback. I also learned a lot about the craft of writing by evaluating other writers’ work.

So how do you find someone who will give you honest feedback?

3 Ways to Get Feedback on Your Writing

  1. Find a critique partner. Do you belong to a local writer’s group? Get to know the writers there. If you click with one, ask her if she’d be interested in trading pages. If you don’t belong to a local group, consider joining a large writing organization. Romance Writers of America has local chapters as well as online ones. Chances are you’ll find someone who is looking for a CP, too. American Christian Fiction Writers has a critique group members can join. I’ve also found critique partners through social networks. We followed each other on Facebook, Twitter or by commenting on blogs like Seekerville and agent blogs. There are plenty of writers just like you. It can’t hurt to reach out to them!
  2. Enter writing contests that offer evaluations. There are so many writing contests for unpublished authors. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on one, make sure you’ll get a detailed score sheet or critique on your entry. Most of these contests are judged by writers pursuing publication or who are already published. They’re serious about their craft and want to help you get better. Try not to feel down if you don’t final in the contest. Enter it with the intention of getting constructive feedback to make your writing better. And, if you don’t agree with the feedback, throw it out of your head. Opinions are subjective. You’re the ultimate decision maker for your story.
  3. Hire a content editor. Many writers and professional editors offer freelance editing services. The prices will vary by a wide range. You’ll come across various types of edits. Look for someone who offers a content edit (also called a developmental edit), not a copy edit, line edit or proofread. A good content editor will help mold your story to be as compelling as it can be without trying to change your voice. When you’re shopping for one, pay attention to any testimonials on their websites. Try to find one with experience in your genre. And don’t be afraid to ask how long the edit will take and how far out in their schedule it will be. If your goal is to get traditionally published, ask if they have any advice on how to make the story more appealing to publishing houses.

The downside?

Finding the right critique partner can be hard. Maybe you write the same genre and get along great, but she’s raising two toddlers, works full time and barely has time to shower let alone read your book, whereas you’re retired and can fit her book into your schedule easily. Critique relationships don’t need to be equal, but they do need to be fair.

Contest feedback can be a wildcard. One judge might love your book, rave about your characters and give you a high score. Another judge circles repeat words, doesn’t think the plot makes sense and lowers your score dramatically. Who’s right? Who knows? You just tuck the advice away and keep writing.

If you can find a good, experienced content editor, you’ll get great advice, but it will cost you. When you’re not making any money, it can be difficult to justify the expense. And if you get one who gives nit-picky feedback or tries to change your voice, you’ll want to scream.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with feedback–try a critique group, enter a writing contest, maybe even hire a content editor. Keep writing. Keep reading blogs, magazine articles and books on the writing craft. Little by little, your talent will develop, and before you know it, you’ll be confident in your work.

How have you gotten feedback? Any suggestions I missed?

Have a terrific day!


August BookSweeps


I’m taking part in a huge book promotion! If you’d like a chance to win a Kindle Fire and over thirty plus inspirational romance novels, including ones by Becky Wade, Susan May Warren, Courtney Walsh and Elizabeth Goddard, click on THIS LINK. The contest is open internationally (check out the entry for more info) and runs until September 4!

My Favorite Books on Writing #WW

My Favorite Books On Writing #WW

Today we’re talking about continuous learning. I’ve studied dozens of books on various aspects of writing, and these are the ones I return to again and again. I’m always on the lookout for new books to help my career, and I’m happy to share. If you’re interested in taking your craft up a notch, try one of these!


Books on Writing Downloadable List


Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King



Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing: Revised Edition by Libbie Hawker
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell



The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition by University of Chicago Press Staff
The Chicago Manual of Style Guidelines (Quick Study) by Inc. BarCharts
Essentials of English Grammar: A Quick Guide to Good English by L. Sue Baugh


Writing Faster:

2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron


Indie Publishing:

*Indie publishing changes often, so some of the information may be outdated. It’s still a good read.*

The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing: Update and Revised Second Edition by Jana DeLeon, Tina Folsom, Colleen Gleason, Jane Graves, Debra Holland, Dorien Kelly, Theresa Ragan, Denise Grover Swank, Jasinda Wilder


Writing Romance:

Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance by Kate Walker


If you’re anything like me, six months from now you’ll be wanting a new book on one of these topics, but you won’t remember where you saw this list. That’s why I created a downloadable/printable PDF with links. It will be available on my FOR WRITERS page under the EXTRAS tab.

On a personal note, we dropped our daughter off at college last weekend, and my son begins his sophomore year or high school today. How did the summer fly by so quickly? Yikes!!

I would love to hear YOUR favorite books on writing. Drop me a comment! And have an awesome week!

Jill Kemerer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This does  not affect the price of the product. Jill receives a small commission when you purchase a product through these links.

Writers Helping Writers: New Blog Direction

Writers Helping Writers: New Blog Direction

A decade ago when I got serious about writing, I found these amazing blogs by authors who shared tips and advice. I learned so much about the craft of writing, how to network, what to look for in a critique partner, the whole “build a platform” hoopla, as well as insight into the publishing industry. I’ve been blogging for nine years–wow, nine, really??–and my posts have always had a healthy dose of writing-related information.


Writers Helping Writers


This year the blog’s been quiet. Instead of my previous twice a week posts, I dropped to once or twice a month. There are a few reasons.

  1. I decided to challenge myself to write more this year. (The challenge is working!)
  2. The advice to “use a blog to find readers, not other writers” never resonated with me. Maybe it’s because blogging has taken a sharp downturn in the past two or three years. Or because smartphones make commenting more difficult. Maybe it’s because we’re all really busy! I don’t know, but readers never flocked to my blog, and I lost my ambition to come up with engaging content specifically written with readers in mind.

For three months I’ve been getting the internal nudge to get back into blogging. I still have these obnoxious writing goals, so rather than resuming my twice a week schedule, I’m dropping to once a week. And because I am so thankful for all the writing blogs that helped me, I’ll post something writing-related every Wednesday.

I love helping writers–aspiring, debut, multi-published–and I want to provide a spot for us to get new ideas, brush up on craft concepts, share platform strategies–you get the idea! A decade of writing hasn’t dampened my desire to get better. I’m always learning, always asking questions, always striving. I hope you are too.

If there are topics you’re interested in exploring, please let me know!

Writers, what are your concerns right now? What are you trying to improve?

Leave a comment or email me at jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com.

Happy writing!

Chance to Win 16 Books!

Chance To Win 16 Books!

The Boys of Summer Giveaway begins today! Woohoo!!

What does this  mean for you? Well, let me tell you…

All you have to do is use the super easy entry form below! You’ll automatically be entered. Simple, right? And if you are the winner, you’ll get all sixteen books shown on this nifty graphic. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE winning things, especially books!

Boys of Summer Giveaway!

Here’s the entry form:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

My June release, Hometown Hero’s Redemption, is one of the prizes.

Hometown Hero's Redemption

A Temporary Father 

When he becomes guardian to his friend’s troubled ten-year-old boy, firefighter Drew Gannon knows he needs help. But before he can get former social worker Lauren Pierce to agree, he’s got to prove he’s changed from the sports jock who gave her a hard time back in high school. Returning home, Lauren wants no part of her old profession. She only wants to forget the unspeakable tragedy she left behind. She can’t take responsibility for another child. Or a reunion with Drew—no matter how generous he’s become. But a desperate boy and his handsome guardian may be more than Lauren can resist…

Purchase Links:






Enter the contest anytime between July 24, 2017 and July 31, 2017!

What book have you read lately? I finished Jessica R. Patch’s Deep Waters recently, and I’m reading Janice Boekhoff’s Created right now. Loving it!

Have a wonderful day!!

Summer Reads: True To You by Becky Wade

Summer Reads: True To You By Becky Wade

Earlier this spring I downloaded a new novella by Becky Wade. Then Came You is written in a fun format–epistolary (no, I can’t pronounce it!), which is all letters, journal entries, texts and phone calls–and I loved it! It’s a prequel to Becky’s new Bradford Sisters series. So when True to You, the first book in the series came out in late May, I was all over it…until life intervened. Between baseball, deadlines, family stuff and an upper respiratory infection, I struggled with time.

Last weekend, however, I read True to You, and it’s a great summer read! Becky’s books are warm, witty and emotional. I laugh. I cry. I fall in love. This book is no exception. The late twist and emotional ending will leave you satisfied. I highly recommend reading the prequel novella, Then Came Youeither before or after book one because it gives you valuable insight into the family as a whole and to the sisters’ history. Best of all, the novella is free (Click HERE if you’re interested)! Here’s a little bit about True to You.


True to You

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry.

John enlists Nora’s help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match.  But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

For purchase links click HERE!


About Becky Wade ~

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.


What are you reading right now? Do you have a recommendation for a great summer read?

Enjoy your week!


My fifth novel, Hometown Hero’s Redemption, is in stores now!

Hometown Hero's Redemption

A Temporary Father 

When he becomes guardian to his friend’s troubled ten-year-old boy, firefighter Drew Gannon knows he needs help. But before he can get former social worker Lauren Pierce to agree, he’s got to prove he’s changed from the sports jock who gave her a hard time back in high school. Returning home, Lauren wants no part of her old profession. She only wants to forget the unspeakable tragedy she left behind. She can’t take responsibility for another child. Or a reunion with Drew—no matter how generous he’s become. But a desperate boy and his handsome guardian may be more than Lauren can resist…

For sample chapters, reviews and purchase links, click HERE!

Back To Top