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Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #11


Welcome! You have arrived at Stop #11 in the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt.

WHERE: The hunt begins with Stop #1 at Lisa Bergren's site. (Hunt through the site using Chrome or Firefox, NOT Explorer.)

WHEN: Starts on Thursday 11/7 at noon, mountain time and ends on Sunday 11/10 at midnight.

HOW: Collect clues (in RED) at each stop. Write them down as you go. Submit your entry at the final stop (back on Lisa Bergren’s site).

WHAT: Win over $1500 in book prizes and more!

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Hey everyone! I'm Jody Hedlund and I write historical romance for both adults and teens. You can learn more about me and all my books here on my site and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

EVERMORE is the first novel in my newest medieval fairy tale series. Here's a little bit about the book:  Raised by a noble family, Lady Adelaide has always known she’s an orphan. Little does she realize she’s one of the lost princesses and the true heir to Mercia’s throne…until a visitor arrives at her family estate, reveals her birthright as queen, and thrusts her into a quest for the throne whether she’s ready or not.



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Four Reasons Why Fairy Tales Are Important

 By Jody Hedlund

I love reading fairy tales. I always have. And now as an adult, I've had the fun opportunity to write a medieval, fairy-tale series. My Lost Princesses series, which just released this fall, is for youth and adults alike.

But why the fascination with fairy tales? Why do such stories have timeless and ageless appeal?

1. Fairy tales teach us about right and wrong. In a world that perpetuates so much gray, fairy tales show us that good is still good and evil is still evil.

2. Fairy tales teach us how to persevere. As we watch the heroes/heroines figure out how to push through their difficulties and come out stronger, we learn to do the same. G.K. Chesterton once said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

3. Fairy tales teach us life lessons. In a time when chivalry and decency have become antiquated, fairy tales give us lessons on how to sacrifice, show kindness, be noble and heroic, live with integrity, and more.

4. Fairy tales give us hope. Let’s face it. Real life can be super hard and depressing. Fairy tales remind and inspire us to rise up and find justice, work for fairness, and triumph over terrible odds.

Hans Christian Andersen said, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” If you’re like me, then your life doesn’t usually resemble a “wonderful fairy tale.” But such stories give us the optimism to see life as a glass half full rather than half empty. And for Christians, we have hope for the ultimate happily-ever-after in the life to come!



If you’re interested in learning more about the series, you can find out more HERE on my website or order the series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore!

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WRITE DOWN THIS CLUE: oak-and-maple   

NEXT STOP: Link to Stop #12: Tamara Leigh’s site!    

BEFORE YOU GO: Please Enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win the entire Lost Princesses series  

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your favorite fairy-tale?

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Book Release: October 2019


It’s here! HEREAFTER, the last book in my Lost Princesses series is now available!

Since this is the first time I’ve written books that are contingent upon one another for an overarching plot, I’ve been wondering how readers will like the ending I crafted. After all, it’s no easy feat to wind a plot through a novella and three books and bring the entire saga to a satisfying conclusion.

Honestly, as I sat down to write HEREAFTER, I didn’t know how I was going to wrap up the epic battle for the throne. I knew my heroines had to come out the winners, and I had some thoughts on how that might happen, but I didn’t really know how I was going to pull it all off. It was kinda scary!

As I started writing, thankfully the creative neurons started zinging. And I was able to pull all the loose threads together into a grand finale. When I finished, I put it aside with some trepidation thinking to myself: I like how it turned out, but will my readers? After all, I didn’t want to disappoint those who’d invested their time and emotional energy into the early part of the series. I hated the thought of them loving the series and getting excited about the final book, only to read it and feel let down.

When early readers started reading the book, I crossed my fingers and waited anxiously. I was delighted when positive reviews started rolling in. The first few said this:

“Jody Hedlund definitely saved the best for last in her Lost Princesses medieval series.”

“I loved it! My favorite book of the series!”

“A heartwarming and thrilling conclusion to a captivating series.”

Now that the final verdict is out and it’s positive, I’ve heaved a huge sigh of relief. And I’ve rolled up my sleeves and started work on the next series, which actually takes place in the same story world as the lost princesses, but about a century earlier. So for those of you familiar with the story, I’ll let you speculate who the antagonist will be!

If you like fairy tales and medieval times, then what are you waiting for? Give the Lost Princesses Series a try! All of the books are now available, so no waiting required!

To find out more information on HEREAFTER, go here: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/hereafter/

To find out more information on all the books in the Lost Princesses series, go here: http://jodyhedlund.com/series/the-lost-princesses/

New Book Release: September 2019



FOREMOST, the second full length novel in my new medieval YA Lost Princesses series is hitting shelves!

For those of you worried about a second-book-slump—the point in a series where you hit the doldrums and have to force yourself to keep going—well, let me put your mind at ease. Reviews are rolling in and readers are declaring that the second book is exceeding expectations!

One reader said: "Okay so wow. I wasn't sure if I would like this one as much as the first. I mean how could I? I loved the first. I thought this would be the slow story of the series that I would have to suffer through. I readily admit it. I WAS WRONG. I loved this book a bajillion times more than the first."

Another reader said: "Wow! Jody Hedlund has outdone herself with this one! Each book in this series just keeps getting better and better."

Here’s one more review: "I didn't think you could top the first two books and yet you DID. I stayed up late to read the whole book in one sitting! I couldn't put it down and I was squealing with excitement by the end!"

When an author hears praise for a second book in a series, let me tell you, she releases a huge sigh of relief. That middle book is always the toughest because an author faces the danger of slowing down the momentum of the larger series’ plot, leaving too much dangling, or veering off on tangents.

The other thing that’s tough is being able to write a complete love story in and of itself while also moving the series forward to its conclusion. Yes, each book in the series is interconnected to a larger plot, but each is also an independent love story that finds resolution by the end of each book.

Finally, the second (and third) book are more challenging, because a writer has to continue to relay backstory (history, family genealogy, etc.) as a memory refresher and just in case a reader doesn’t start with the first book. For some readers, that information simply becomes repetitious.

Whatever the case, I’m relieved to know that readers are enjoying FOREMOST as much or more than the previous books! To find out more about FOREMOST head over to the website page here: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/foremost/

Another New Book Release: August 2019



Yes, it’s that time! Time for another release! EVERMORE, the first book in my Lost Princesses series, hits shelves.

You might be thinking, sheesh, didn’t Jody Hedlund just have a book release a couple of weeks ago? What’s up with all these books coming out so close together?

I’m glad you asked. That’s a really good question!

Most of my books release anywhere from six to nine months apart, which has worked really well in juggling the work involved in getting the books ready for publication. It also helps build reader anticipation (especially with the second and third books in a series).

However, with this young adult series, I decided to do something a little different and release the books in quicker succession.

First, since I already had all the books written, I didn’t have the pressure to write them quickly (and risk being sloppy). In addition, the books were professionally edited and proofed months ago, and my beta readers have also had plenty of time to provide feedback. That means I feel confident I’m not compromising quality for quantity.

Second, my release schedule for my adult books for the next couple of years is pretty full (including branching off into a new genre that I’m excited to tell you about hopefully soon!). So, I decided it would be better to try to keep the releases in the Lost Princesses series closer together instead of interspersing them with my other books (and having conflicting release schedules).

Finally, I wanted to see how readers prefer the rapid-release (versus the longer wait). So far, early readers seem to be eager to keep going and are expressing excitement that they don’t have to wait long for the next book’s release. While each book in the series is a complete and full love story, the plot is more intertwined than other series I’ve written, and so I expect that readers will be more anxious than normal to find out what happens next.

So there you have it! That’s why EVERMORE is now available! The second and third books will release in September and October respectively. If you like the rapid-fire release, make sure to shoot me a quick message on social media or via my contact form and let me know!

Find out more about EVERMORE on my website page here: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/evermore/

New Book Release: August 2019


I'm thrilled to announce the arrival of a brand new medieval YA series, The Lost Princesses!

To kick off the series, you won't want to miss ALWAYS, a prequel novella, that sets the stage for the three full length novels that follow (and are releasing this fall 2019).

I can already hear some of you saying that you don't like novellas, that they're too short and the stories always feel incomplete or rushed. Yes, it IS challenging for authors to fit a full and fulfilling story into a shorter novel. But I hope you won't miss out on this novella because it provides important backstory for the books to come.

As one reviewer said:  "This story may be short, but it packs an impressive punch! Jody Hedlund has woven a dynamic story with endearing characters that will have you holding your breath and rapidly turning pages for more!"
  
I can also hear some of you saying that you don't like YA (Young Adult) novels, that they're not deep enough or have immature characters. Yes, often YA characters are a bit younger, the action is a bit more intense, and the romance a bit sweeter. But I've had non-teen readers telling me that they've loved the series just as much as my adult books.

As another reviewer said: "I am a longtime fan of Author Jody Hedlund, and I can’t believe I had never read one of the books in her Young Adult genre. I realize after enjoying Always I have been missing some excellent reading."

Unlike my previous series (Noble Knights), the Lost Princesses leans more toward fairy-tale than historical. So if, like me, you love princess fairy-tales set in medieval times, then this series might be right for you! (See all of my medieval YA here on my website: http://jodyhedlund.com/young-adult/)
 
For more information, visit the ALWAYS page on my website:  http://jodyhedlund.com/books/always-prequel-novella/






Answering a Few Questions About Publication


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Recently I returned from a national writers’ conference. One of my favorite things to do there was talk with aspiring writers and answer any questions they had about publication and being an author.

Even though I’m home now, I still love the opportunity to answer questions, most of which come via emails. While I don’t always have time to write back, sometimes I answer the questions here on my blog, especially when they’re the kind of questions other writers might have too.

Recently I got just such an email from Hannah, one full of lots of great questions.

Hannah said: I am currently an English major who would love to have a career in writing novels. I would love it if you could share how you got started in the writing world and became successful. How long did it take before you first got published? How long does it generally take for you to write a novel? Do you work for someone who gives certain deadlines or are you self-employed and work at your own pace?

1. How long did it take before you first got published?

It took me approximately 7 years (nonconsecutive) from when I first started writing seriously as an adult to when I got my first book contract. During those years, I read every writing how-to book I could find, and I wrote five practice novels that now collect dust in a closet and will never see the light of day. My sixth book became my debut novel.

The number of years and practice books it takes will vary from writer to writer. BUT what won’t vary is the NEED TO LEARN. Every writer has to take the time and do the hard work of learning the craft of writing by reading technique books, practicing, getting critiques, and honing their skills.

All too often nowadays with the ease of self-publishing, I see too many writers skip the hard work of learning and practicing. Whether going the traditional or self-publishing route, a writer won’t find success without taking the time and work necessary to become skilled.

Once a writer is consistently getting feedback (from critique partners or editors) that their work is starting to look ready for publication, my advice is to seek out agents and writing contests. I made my big break into traditional publication by finaling in a prestigious writing contest. After my final, I re-contacted the agent who already had my manuscript in her slush pile. She offered me representation a few days later. A few months after that I had a three book deal.

2. How long does it generally take for you to write a novel?

After writing close to 30 books and having about 25 of them published, my writing muscles are much stronger now than when I first started. I like to compare writing to running. When a person first decides to take up running, they lumber down the street and can hardly go a block without having to stop for a break. After years of practice and running consistently, they can often go many blocks without needing to stop. Maybe they’ve even worked up to running marathons.

Writing works the same way with lots of slow lumbering, often much fumbling, and eventually going longer with stronger output. I started by writing 500 words a day during my kids’ nap-times. It took me a year to complete one book. That was all I could manage as a busy (and exhausted!) mom. Now, after years of writing, I can complete the first draft of a novel in 8 to 10 weeks. My kids are teenagers and more independent, and I’m in a season where I can devote more time to my writing.

3. Do you work for someone who gives certain deadlines or are you self-employed and work at your own pace?

With my traditional publishers, I’m under contract to write a certain number of books in a specific time period. Generally for me, that means I turn in a book every 6 to 9 months. During contract negotiations, my publisher gives me deadlines for when I need to turn in the first draft and also with the various stages of editing.

For my indie books, I don’t have any deadlines, although I do try to work carefully around my traditionally published books so that releases don’t conflict with each other. Even without strict deadlines for my self-pubbed books, I’ve still found it very helpful for my productivity to establish my own goals and publication schedules. I try very hard to stay on track with the schedule, especially so I can remain timely for the editors, cover designer, beta readers, etc. who are a part of my self-publishing process.

All that to say, I approach my writing career in a business-like way. Not everyone does nor do they need to. It’s just what works for me and my personality. I like to establish yearly goals (sometimes even plotting out my writing and publishing schedule for a couple of years). Then I know what I can fit in and where.

Your turn! How long have YOU been writing? What is YOUR writing process like and how long does it take YOU to complete a novel? 

Should You Become a Writer?

 
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I received an email from a young writer named Noor who asked: “I’m in middle school and will be in high school soon. I was wondering if I should become a writer. I love to write and it's one of my passions. But I know a career in the arts can be a tough thing, so I'm not sure if I could do it. Can you give me some advice?

Should you become a writer?

This is an excellent question and one that many budding writers struggle with no matter their age.

First, let’s define what it means to “become a writer.” Many people love to put words on paper in a variety of formats and do so for personal inspiration or pleasure. There are some writers who decide to pursue publication with their inspired words because they want to share their stories with others. Then there are those who want to make a career out of sharing their words and stories with others.

So my simple answer is, yes, if you love writing, be a writer. Bring life to the words bubbling inside you and find great pleasure in it.

Should you share your words with others? And should you pursue a career of sharing your words?

It depends.

Should you share your words with others? Just this week my husband told me about a facebook post from a high school student getting ready to self-publish her first book. As he read the post, I cringed. And then I said: No one should ever publish their first book. Ever.

My daughter is a freshman in college studying to become a nurse. If you went to the ER, would you want a freshman nursing student to treat your injury?

She has to study, learn, grow, and practice (A LOT) before people will want her to fix their problems.

You have to take the long hard road of a educating and practicing the craft of writing before people will want to read your words (that is anyone besides family and loyal friends). A first book is simply part of that process of becoming a writer.

(Sidenote: I’m guessing some blog readers will probably argue that a first book isn’t always un-publishable. Maybe there are writing geniuses who can pull off a first-book wonder. Some might be able to eventually overhaul their first book and make something of it. But most of us scrap that first book and chalk it up as a practice effort.)

In other words, don’t rush to share your words with the world. Take your time to become the best writer you can be first.

Should you pursue a career of sharing your words? Let me be honest. Being a full time author (where writing and publishing books is your main job) is extremely tough in today’s saturated book market.

Yes, you may hear stories of both traditional and self-published authors hitting it big. But the large majority of career authors struggle to make a living off their books. I’ve been writing full time for close to ten years. I’ve published over twenty novels, mostly with traditional publishers with a couple of indie books in the mix. I haven’t gotten rich off my writing.

And in rubbing shoulders with LOTS of authors, I’ve come to realize that most of us are in the same boat. We’re staying afloat, but our careers are more like steamboats chugging upstream, not luxury liners with smooth sailing.

All that to say, if you want to make a career out of writing, be prepared for the realities of a competitive publishing market and the possibility of having a supplemental job that can pay the bills.

Rather than end this post on a negative note, I’ll close by saying that if you have a love and passion for writing and want to make a career out of it, then definitely go for it. Chase after your dream. I can honestly say I LOVE my job. I can’t imagine any other career more fulfilling than sitting down every day and creating stories.

But as you chase after your dream, be prepared to work harder than you ever have for anything else. Give it all you have. And with enough hard work and determination, someday you may find yourself chugging upstream too.

What about YOU? What advice would YOU give if someone asked you if they should become a writer?
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