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Guarding His Secret Giveaway!

Guarding His Secret Giveaway by Jill Kemerer

Guess what? There’s only one month until GUARDING HIS SECRET releases! I’m celebrating by hosting a month-long giveaway. Woohoo!

Here’s what you need to know about the book. It’s part of not one, but two series–Book 3 in my Wyoming Ranchers series and the June installment of Love Inspired’s K-9 Companion series. I’m honored to be a part of it. All of the books have been so good and unique!

GUARDING HIS SECRET

Telling the truth could set him free

He’s hiding something…

Can a special K-9 encourage him to reveal all?

When a family crisis leaves rancher Randy Watkins caring for a surprise baby nephew, he turns to longtime friend Hannah Carr for help. But Randy has a heart condition—a secret he’s determined to hide…until Hannah’s clever retired service dog threatens to expose it. As friendship turns to something more, can Randy trust Hannah with the truth?

Want to preorder GUARDING HIS SECRET? Click HERE for purchase links and more!

So what’s in the giveaway?

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April 2022 Goals

Writer Productivity. April 2022 Goals by Jill Kemerer

My writer productivity skyrockets when I set monthly goals. At the beginning of each week I break them down into daily tasks that will work within my current schedule. Do you know how great it is to finish projects? Of course you do! For me, setting monthly goals makes it all possible.

Every month I share how I did the previous month as well as my new goals. Let’s get to it!

How Did I Do? Jill’s March 2022 Goals

  • Writing
  • Revise and polish Wyoming Ranchers Book 5. CHECK!
  • Work on my nonfiction project for 30 minutes/day, 4 days/week. CHECK!
  • Continue plotting new cowboy series. CHECK!
  • Health
  • Exercise 5 days/week (Alternating between the two 12-week programs). CHECK!
  • Two raw veggies/weekday (I’m cutting myself some slack on the weekends). CHECK!
  • Drink minimum of 72 ounces of water every day. MAYBE CHECK. I haven’t been tracking. Whoops!
  • Other
  • Read 15 minutes of fiction every weekday. CHECK!
  • Work on a craft, jigsaw puzzle, research project or anything to get me out of my boring winter routine. CHECK!

The dregs of winter are good for keeping me inside and focused. I met all my goals, but I have to admit, March is always a bummer for me. I’m ready for longer days, T-shirts outside, regular walks and sitting on my deck. It’s pouring rain right now, but at least it isn’t snow!

Writing is on track. I ended up getting final edits for a book, so I squeezed those in, and I drafted the first fifty pages of my next book. It was a very productive month. Health? Well, the exercise and veggies is on track, but my portions keep increasing and I’ve been eating too many sweets. I’m no longer tracking my water intake–I always drink a lot of water. As for Other, I’m happy. I’ve read several good books lately, did a jigsaw puzzle, broke out the old crochet project (for one night, but still!), and experimented with pressure canning.

Jill’s April 2022 Goals

  • Writing
  • Fully plot each book in my next series.
  • Draft the proposal for next series
  • Start setting up promotion for Wyoming Ranchers book 3–Guarding His Secret.
  • Work on my nonfiction project for 30 minutes/day, 2 days/week (I have multiple commitments every week of this month, so I’m only working on this for 2 days as opposed to 4 days/week.
  • Health
  • Exercise 5 days/week (Alternating between the two 12-week programs)
  • Two raw veggies/weekday (I’m cutting myself some slack on the weekends)
  • Other
  • Read 15 minutes of fiction every weekday
  • Enjoy all the friend/family “dates” on my calendar.

April is shaping up to be BUSY! I’m okay with that! I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family I haven’t seen in quite a while. My writing goals are ambitious, and I’m fully aware I might not meet them. That’s okay. I still want to list them all, just in case.

What were your March goals? Did you meet them? What helped you this month? What held you back?

What are your April 2022 goals?

Thank you for sharing with me!

The Unsatisfying Days

The Unsatisfying Days, Jill Kemerer blog

As I write this, I’m pushing through another Monday. I’ll be honest. The second I woke up this morning I knew it was going to be one of those unsatisfying days. Why?

  • Well, Monday. That probably says it all.
  • I didn’t sleep well.
  • It’s the end of March and STILL snowing.
  • I needed to get groceries this morning.
  • I had almost no clean clothes (which meant in addition to the general Monday-ness and groceries, I’d be doing laundry as well).
  • I’m pretty sure I gained ten pounds overnight.
  • The workout plan I’m doing this week features LONG workouts. The thought of 45-50 minutes of difficult exercise this morning made me gag.
  • My original plan for my writing this week has to be adjusted because I received copyedits for a book on Friday (this wasn’t unexpected, but I still have to figure out how I want to approach the week).
  • I just wasn’t in the mood. For anything.

I’d love to tell you that as the day wore on my mood improved and I thought, Yeah, Monday, you and me–we got this! Alas, no.

I took extra time over my coffee. I’m very glad I did.

I got groceries, and they took longer than normal because the store is resetting its layout. Also, they were out of half and half, which threw me. Like, I’m taken aback in a bad way. I can handle no bread on the shelf. But no half and half? Mind. Blown.

Since meat was on sale, I spent 30 minutes trimming fat, cutting it up and repackaging it for the freezer. Dealing with raw meat is not my favorite activity. At one point I seriously gagged.

All that laundry? Still doing it. Still folding it. Still putting it away.

The workout? Sweaty.

My writing plan? Still unsettled.

Look, I know I’m a whiner. And I know, I know, I can hear that chirpy friend in my ear, “You should be thankful the store has food. You should be thankful you have money to buy the food. You have your health. You have a working washing machine. You have the luxury of working from home and making your own schedule. At least you had your coffee, right?

That chirpy friend (who is non-existent and probably just a fragment of my personality) is correct. I am very blessed. And most of the time I’m grateful for every little thing.

Not today, though, my friends.

I’m not going to pretend I had a 180 in attitude from morning to now. I didn’t. I’m also not going to spout off about what a great day it was and how much I got done. Admittedly, I did get a lot done. But it was the core stuff, the behind-the-scenes stuff, the not-fun-stuff that allows me to spend the rest of my time working on things that DO satisfy me.

I guess those unsatisfying days lead to the satisfying ones. Maybe they make them sweeter. Who knows?

I’m off for another cup of coffee…

Do you have unsatisfying days? How do you deal with them?

Enjoy your week!

Plotting Blues? Try Something Different

Plotting Blues? Try Something Different Jill Kemerer

Last month I took a few days to flesh out my next novel and promptly got a case of the plotting blues. Almost eighteen months ago, I’d figured out the basic plot (it will be the sixth and final book in my Wyoming Ranchers series), but I knew I needed to develop it further before I can begin writing it.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been anticipating writing this book for a long time! I know the hero. I’m excited to write his story. But when it came time to flesh the story out? Nothing.

I prayed about it and relaxed. The story would come to me at some point. They always do. But in the meantime, I decided to try something different.

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The Temptation to Over-Simplify Secondary Characters

The temptation to over-simplify secondary characters by Jill Kemerer

The temptation to over-simplify secondary characters, especially bad guys, hits me every time I write a first draft. Since my books are short, I don’t have much space to devote to sub-plots, and some of the characters are off-camera anyway.

These bad-guy characters are typically exes—ex-boyfriends, ex-wives, ex-in-laws. You know, the people who shaped the main characters’ internal conflicts. The reader needs to know how they affected the characters, and it’s easy to make them caricatures.

Another reason I tend to draft caricatures is because the reader doesn’t get to experience their point of view in my books. I’m only giving the main character’s impression of them, and let’s face, it a one-sided impression tends to be skewed. For instance, the current book I’m writing features a woman whose husband not only demanded a divorce when she told him she was pregnant, but he also wants nothing to do with their unborn child.

He’s not a villain in the sense that he’s stalking her or trying to kill her, but he’s a villain nonetheless.

The problem? Readers don’t want one-dimensional characters, even if he is the jerky ex-husband who is off-page the entire book.

Even if my readers give me a pass, I don’t want to write caricatures. It’s lazy. And it doesn’t reflect reality.

No one is all bad. No one is all good.

Yes…some people are ethically challenged. Other people have very real mental health problems that causes them to make poor decisions. There are also people who live their lives selfishly, not thinking about how their actions affect those around them, and not taking responsibility for it either.

So, there’s the dilemma. How can we write the “bad guy” without making him a caricature? How can we make her a real person, with motivations we might not agree with but we at least understand? And how can we humanize them enough so the reader isn’t taken out of the story wondering, would anyone really act like that?

I’ll be honest with you–there have been times I’ve failed at this. As much as I try to produce multi-dimensional characters, sometimes the cookie-cutter ex shows up.

How to combat over-simplifying secondary characters?

When I have a character (usually from the past who doesn’t play an active role in the book) who caused my heroine or hero a lot of pain, I come up with reasons why this person would behave that way. Jealousy, greed, narcissism, desperation, chemical imbalance, addictions–all of these can bring out the dark side in people.

When I have an idea why the “bad guy” was so awful, I then try to incorporate this into the main character’s thoughts 0r even a conversation with someone they trust so the reader gets a better understanding, too.

Going back to my current heroine…she’s long suspected her ex-husband had a personality disorder of some sort. This is confirmed later in the story. Their entire relationship was basically long-distance. They only saw each other a few weekends per month because of his job. These details help the reader understand why the heroine would have married this guy in the first place and gives credence as to why he wants nothing to do with their child.

He’s not an endearing character. His actions affect my heroine. But he’s not evil or just bad to be bad. He has problems, and since he’s chosen to cut himself out of the heroine’s life, there’s not much she can do about it.

If the secondary character plays an active role in the book–say the ex-husband is showing up at her house or she has to work with him and he’s lying about her–I would spend even more time weaving in reasons and motivations for the reader to understand why he’s acting like a jerk. Readers can handle a “bad guy” in the book. They will find him or her more believable if they understand why he or she is acting that way.

Readers don’t have to like every character. The book might be boring if they did! But they do need to understand each character.

The temptation to over-simplify secondary characters is basically telling not showing. Hate this ex-husband because he’s a lying, cheating jerk who doesn’t want the baby!

If that’s all his character is reduce to, it makes me wonder why she married him in the first place? He must have had some redeeming quality, right?

When I’m revising, I actively search for ways to make secondary characters more believable. If the character is a bad guy, I try to either make him or her a little less villainous or weave in more reasons for why they act the way they do.

How do you handle secondary characters who are bad guys? Do you have any tips on making them more believable? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

On a side note, I’m linking an OLD blog post I wrote back in 2014, “Strengthening Weak Areas in Your Writing.” I’m still finding lots of weak areas to strengthen!

Have a great day!

March 2022 Goals

March 2022 Goals. Jill Kemerer blog. Writer productivity

My writer productivity skyrockets when I set monthly goals. At the beginning of each week I break them down into daily tasks that will work within my current schedule. Do you know how great it is to finish projects? Of course you do! For me, setting monthly goals makes it all possible.

Every month I share how I did the previous month as well as my new goals. Let’s get to it!

How Did I Do? Jill’s February Goals

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Cover Reveal! Guarding His Secret

Cover Reveal! Guarding His Secret. K-9 Companions Love Inspired. Book 6 by Jill Kemerer

There’s something magical and lovely and fun about a cover reveal! And this one is delightful. Guarding His Secret is part of TWO different series. It’s the third book in my Wyoming Ranchers series, and it’s book 6 in the K-9 Companions series through Love Inspired. I’m beyond excited about it!

Before I get into the fun stuff, I wanted to let you know GUARDING HIS SECRET is available on Netgalley if you’re interested in reading an early review copy. Here is the NETGALLEY LINK!

Okay, drumroll…

Cover Reveal! Guarding His Secret

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Writing Slow: What Went Wrong?

Writing Slow: What Went Wrong? by Jill Kemerer

Last week I finished writing the first draft of a new book. It took a week longer than usual for me to finish the draft. Getting started each day was a struggle. It usually is. This time, though, it was also hard for me to stay writing once I’d gotten started.

Basically, I was writing slow.

Writing slow is not the same as being deliberate. Some writers naturally write slow–it’s their process. However, I write a hefty chunk every weekday when I’m drafting a novel, and when I’m writing slow, it typically means something is wrong.

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Basic Story Structure: 5 Plot Points

Basic Story Structure: 5 Plot Points by Jill Kemerer

If you’re like me, you probably have twenty-plus books on the writing craft hanging around. They’re on my office shelf. Stacked on my desk. Lingering under my nightstand in my bedroom. I can’t seem to get enough books on writing!

Not only do I keep buying books (which is part of my personal continuous education plan), I review old ones periodically to refresh my skills. One of the topics I return to again and again is key plot points.

Since I’m a novelist, creating a cohesive plot is very important to me. What’s more, I write commercial fiction. Readers of commercial fiction have clear expectations for story, specifically what makes it good and what makes it compelling.

Writers don’t always know how to translate the idea in our head to the page in a cohesive way. That’s why understanding basic plot points can be so helpful for plotters (writers who plan the story out before writing) and pantsers (writers who pour the story out as it comes to them).

What I’m sharing today is my personal bare-bones, essential 5 plot points. These were derived from various plotting methods (I’ve included links at the end of the post).

One nice perk of knowing this basic story structure is that the 5 plot points make a simple synopsis. Expand on them for a more detailed synopsis.

You might have a different take on key plot points. That’s fine. Whatever works for you! This works for me.

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February 2022 Goals

February 2022 Goals by Jill Kemerer

My writer productivity skyrockets when I set monthly goals. At the beginning of each week I break them down into daily tasks that will work within my current schedule. Do you know how great it is to finish projects? Of course you do! For me, setting monthly goals makes it all possible.

Every month I share how I did the previous month as well as my new goals. Let’s get to it!

How Did I Do? Jill’s January Goals

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