Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Terry Burns, author of Beyond the Smoke

by Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Today I am interviewing Terry Burns, a fellow Texan from Amarillo. He writes westerns.

Welcome to Writers' Rest, Terry. Now, let's find out about you, and name some of your adult westerns.

Terry: No problem, I write inspirational fiction and I'm fond of setting it in the old West. I'm also a literary agent for Hartline Literary. I have 24 books in print, including Shepard’s Son, Brother’s Keeper, Trail of the Dime Novel, and Don’t I Know You? I have a new novel hitting the shelves this month from BJU Press titled Beyond the Smoke.

M: The plot of Beyond the Smoke sounds great. And didn’t you say this is a Young Adult Novel?

T. Yes. I feel a real need to get younger readers introduced to the western. Most of us older folks grew up on it, but the younger group needs to know those days were pretty cool as well. After all, most of them don't know that there was no such thing as a teenager before WWII. You went straight from whatever education you were going to get to the workplace. Had they lived back then boys might have been working on a ranch, making trail drives or riding with the cavalry. Most of the pony express riders were young men that today would be teens. That's a theme I'm exploring that I think will interest them.

M: Are you switching to the young adult market?

T: Not necessarily, besides, the only difference between a young adult and adult novels is the age of the main characters. Adults enjoy reading about these characters "coming of age" too, so I expect those who have read my earlier books will like this one just as much. I do know boys don't much like to read about girls, but at that age girls love to read about boys. Looks like it's aimed at the best of all three markets. I do know the style, voice, and writing just isn't that much different from my earlier works.

M: Where can we buy them?

T: Most bookstores should have them or be able to order them. And there are always links at my website www.terryburns.net that have direct links for purchase.

M: You can also write Terry Burns in the search slot at Internet bookstores. Now, give me a taste of this new novel?

T: It's the story of two young people who find themselves orphaned very early in the book and how they had to adapt to a difficult environment and grow up much faster than young people today could even imagine. It's an engaging yarn with a lot of subtle West Texas humor, a bad guy you'll want to kill off yourself and a larger than life Texas Ranger who understands how to set things right without any courts having to get involved.

M: You write inspirational novels. Right?

T: I'm a Christian writer, which means most of my work has a little of my faith in it, never preachy, but you don't have to wonder about my motivation. It simply means my books are always clean enough for the whole family and written at a fast and easy pace the whole family can enjoy. Most of the time there's a light tongue-in-cheek humor involved.

M: In a story, what do you want to give the reader?

T: If I don't make myself laugh, cry, or maybe get mad while I'm writing then I can't expect the reader to get emotionally involved with my book. I like to read books that stir my emotions in some manner and hope I've done the same with my own writing.

M: Did becoming an agent affect your writing?

T: It did. I don't have as much time for my own writing now, but I like helping other people get their words out there. I don't plan to give up on my own writing though.

M: It was great having you, Terry, and I hope you will come back real soon.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snoopy Dancing


I am so excited! I'm taking a much needed rest today because I finished writing my book, Insanity Rules: Gems of Wisdom at 3 a.m. today!


It's been a hard and fast write since Oct 1st, but now it's finished!

Have you had a reason to Snoopy Dance over an accomplishment?

Angie
Please visit my daily blog too. It's God Uses Broken Vessels.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One smart chick

Last week I was sitting at the kitchen table and I had a moment where I said "God, I want to hear from you. I'm going to Esther and I want to know what you have to say to me."

Immediately my eyes fell on a verse in Esther I'd highlighted a long time ago:

Esther 2:20 "But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai's instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up."

This struck me because I've seen so many people begin to walk in to their blessing and then they quit doing what made them successful. I've seen honors students get a full scholarship and maintain only the minimum to keep their scholarship.

I've seen writers get published and stop studying the craft.

I've seen business people neglect customer service once they become profitable enterprises.

I don't want to fall in that trap. In the verse God led me to we see Esther who has found the favor of a powerful king. She took wise counsel and listened to the advice of her uncle as well as the man in charge of the harem.

Once she became Queen she didn't think she could 'go it alone'. She still listened to wise counsel.

Then the time came where her obedience put her in an uncomfortable place. Obedience isn't always fun but it DOES always promise great rewards.

In our writing there are times where we have to take advice. There are also times where we have to do things that make us uncomfortable [for many people that is marketing].

Take the example of Esther.

She's one smart Chick!

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sara Probasco, author of Treasured Recipes and Remembrances

by Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Molly: Today I am interviewing Sara Probasco, my very good friend from Uvalde, Texas. Welcome to Books That Inspire, Sara.

Sara: Thank you, Molly. I’ve been looking forward to this.

M. Even though you love writing fiction, I understand you’ve recently published two distinctly different non-fiction books.

S. That’s right. The first is a cookbook titled Treasured Recipes and Remembrances.

M. There are so many cookbooks on the market! What makes yours different?

S. For many years, I was a successful dinner and wedding caterer based on my private collection of easy to prepare recipes. Many were handed down to me through several generations of wonderful cooks. My book includes not only old photos and comments about the recipes and their donors, but tips and tricks learned through my years of catering that the average cook may not know.

M:. That sounds like my kind of cookbook.

S. I hear that comment a lot. Here’s one of my crowd-pleasing favorites for your readers to try:
Sara’s Own WHIPPED CREAM CAKE Serves 12-20

Your favorite moist, white layer-cake recipe (I use Duncan Hines Deluxe Cake Mix)
32 oz. (4 small cartons or 1 qt. carton) unwhipped Whipping Cream
¾ cup granulated Sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped Pecans
1 cup chopped pitted Dates (For best results, chop your own; Pre-cut are too hard.)
1 8 oz. package “Angel Flake” Coconut
16 oz. can Crushed Pineapple, very well drained

At least 10 hours before serving (24 is best) bake the cake in three 8-inch round layers.
Cool thoroughly.
Whip Cream until soft peaks form.
Slowly add Sugar while continuing to beat until beater leaves stiff points when raised.
Carefully fold into Whipped Cream all remaining ingredients until well mixed.
(Do NOT beat!)
Fill cake between layers and all over the top and sides with Whipped Cream mixture.
Cover with cake dome or loosely cover with plastic wrap
Refrigerate 10 - 24 hours, until ready to serve.

M. That sounds delicious.

S. It’s also beautiful and very easy.

M. You said your second book was quite different from this one. In what ways?

S. In the first place, it’s not a cookbook. In the second place, it represents my initiation into the world of electronic publishing.

M. Sounds exciting. Tell me more.

S. My E-book is titled Say YES! to SUCCESS in Business.
It’s packed with information on how to build a small business and keep it profitable.

M. That sounds like something anybody in business would find helpful. But
tell me, as a writer and former caterer, what prompted you to write a book about business?

S. Well, Molly, both writing and catering are businesses, no matter how closely held or
far-reaching they may be. I’ve enjoyed thirty years’ experience as a successful
entrepreneur. For the past twelve years, I’ve even taught business seminars throughout
the U.S. and in Canada, “on the side.” The reader can derive the same basic information
from my E-book as he would by traveling a distance to attend my seminar, but without
all the monetary expense and the time away from his business.

M.Where can we find these wonderful books?

S. Just visit my website www.saraprobasco.com , the “Works” section. You’ll find a
table of contents and sample page under the E-book and free recipes under the cookbook,
along with complete ordering information on both.

M. I know I’ll be visiting your website to check out your sample recipes and business information. I’m sure my readers will, too. Thanks for sharing your latest work with us, Sara. It was great having you today, and I hope you will come back real soon.

S. Thanks, Molly. I’ll look forward to it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Learning Curve

I've spent a lot of time the last 2 weeks learning about how the operating board and my new position as the ACFW Publicity Officer works. Although I'm very excited and honored, I can now see that it's going to be quite a lot of work.

I've spent today doing a lot of marketing surfing on the web so I can learn more about what's available. It's fascinating and so full of information. I'm supposed to spend the next 2 years in this position. But just from the little bit of time I've had, I can tell you that I'm just scratching the surface.

The other thing it caused is quite a bit of exhaustion. Since the position is new to me, I am going to have to learn the boundaries and then set them. For instance, right now it's really late in Montana and I need rest. So I am actually going to be a good little role model today . . . And actually go to bed for some sleep.

I need it since I work, write, do appearances, cook, train, etc. I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open tonight!

Good idea, Angie, yes. Great idea to rest when I'm tired.

That rest idea sure keeps eluding me :-)
How about you? Are you allowing yourself to rest?

Thanks, 
Angie

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Get paid to learn

Tuesdays with Tiffany
by Tiffany Colter

One great thing about being a writer is there are so many opportunities for you to be paid to learn skills that will build your marketability.

Even if you don't make much money [or if you do it as a volunteer] these are still skills that will serve you well as you grow and develop as a writer. I'm going to point out three today. Take some time to research these areas and see how you can build your writing business while helping others.

Short articles
Many people know that they can donate articles to the church newsletter or to the small gardening group they participate in, but have you looked in to the free local papers that are available at businesses and the library? Contact these editors and see if they have need of freelancers. Then include your blog/website in your bio at the end of the article.

Newsletters
Putting together a newsletter can do a great deal to build your readership when you speak at events or even distributing an e-newsletter periodically. If you can find a small business who wants to hire you to do these for them then you can practice and build your skills by working on someone else's publications. Get paid to learn. [It should go without saying that you still want to produce high quality work.]

blogs
Blogs are a great way to build readership but many people don't have the time or don't have the skills to write an engaging blog. If this is something you can do then get paid ghostwriting blogs. While you may not get bylines on these kinds of blogs, they will be a source of revenue for you.

So start thinking of things you'd like to do in your business plan, then look for ways you can be paid [in cash or exposure] to develop those skills. That is called working smarter rather than harder.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the Road again

I bet you wonder if I ever stay home, lol. I really do. But today we are returning from one of our kid's college graduation.

I can tell you one thing for darn sure, I can't wait to rest in my own bed. I never sleep as well as on my own pillow.

In this last year, we have had 2 kids get married, 2 kids graduate high school, 2 daughters-in-law graduate college, 1 daughter graduate college, 1 relative fighting severe cancer, one grandson born, and various business trips.

I think about rest a lot :-D Then I pick on myself for not getting enough done each day. 

Now when I look back on all those changes, they are tiring even though full of joy. Then throw in the day job, the drive to achieve a goal and all the unexpected happenings like out of town company or cars breaking down or regular grocery shopping--of course I'm tired!

How about you? Have you thought about all you've done in the past year or do you constantly berate yourself for not getting enough done?

How can you be kinder to yourself?

What if we simply acknowledge how much we really do and allow ourselves a little bit more time for our bodies to catch up to our lives?

Going to get some rest soon,
Angie


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mae Nunn, author of Lone Star Courtship

by Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Today I am interviewing my very good friend, Mae Nunn. Originally from Houston, Mae lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Michael. Mae and I are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, a national organization geared toward meeting the networking and educational needs of Christian authors.

Molly: Welcome to Books That Inspire, Mae.
Mae: Thank you so much for inviting me, Molly. I especially love opportunities to connect with readers in my home state where they especially identify with my series.
Molly: Speaking of your series, you write stories set in Texas, don’t you?
Mae: Yes, I do. The fourth book in my Texas Treasures series was released in May 2008. Lone Star Courtship is set in Galveston. When a stuffy English lawyer butts head with a determined American businesswoman he finds Camelot in the last place he ever expected. Texas!
Molly: That sounds like a fun premise. How long have you been writing?
Mae: I sold my first book to Steeple Hill in 2003. I hadn’t originally intended to write for the Christian market. But during the five years it took to complete my first manuscript (I refer to that period as my college education), the calling of the Holy Sprit on my writing became undeniable. When I committed the work to God and strengthened the spiritual focus of the story, a submission that had been sitting in an editor’s reading pile for over a year sold within a matter of weeks. Staying true to that calling and to my writing style has proven to be a successful publishing strategy for me.
Molly: What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring writers?
Mae: #1 Network and get educated about writing and publishing! There are excellent groups that unpublished writers can join at a reasonable cost either in person or online. There are also many state and national organizations who offer contests and conferences to advance your career. #2 Don’s submit to an agent or editor until you’ve had a professional critique of your work! By that I don’t mean pay somebody to read what you’ve written, but find an author from your networking who will be willing to review your proposal before you submit it for consideration. Many published authors give graciously of their time in order to repay the same kindness that was shown to them earlier in their careers.
Molly: And what would you like to say to the readers in our South Texas area?
Mae: If you haven’t discovered the Inspirational market you are in for a treat. There is award-winning writing (including Molly’s!) in every genre to meet the needs of the reader who would prefer not to have to deal with foul language, sex and gratuitous violence in order to experience stories that will hold you spell bound from the first page to the last.
Molly: It was great having you today, Mae, and I hope you will come back real soon.
Mae: It was my pleasure! I hope the South Texas Living Magazine readers will visit me at www.MaeNunn.com. I welcome their questions and comments and encourage them to sign up for my great prize giveaways.
Molly: Next month my guest will be Sara Probasco from Uvalde, Texas with two books to tell us about. See you then.
Molly

The works of our hands

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. [Deuteronomy 28:12, NIV]

So, what are your hands doing?

I've heard many writers talk about the years they've been writing and how they aren't published but when it gets down to it you'll learn that many of these people only spent a couple of hours a week writing and doing the things a writers needs to do to succeed.

All of us were required to write essays in school as children and teenagers and somehow we think a book should require the same effort. While a term paper written in an all night cram session might earn you a C in college, a book that warrants a second glass cannot be a first draft.

I ask you again, what are your hands doing?

If you take the time to watch your hands you'll see that God is blessing it. Your clothes are folded, your children are safely shuttled around, the bills are getting paid, the remote control is well worn. Even your email box proves that you have many friends.

But what about your book? What about the articles? What about the story growing deep inside you. Are you sitting down and giving God an offering of your words on paper so He can bless you? Are you only willing to write if He'll promise publication? Are you only interested in stories if they'll give you applause.

Are you only willing to try if you'll always get acceptance on the first draft?

So as your hands are busy this month think about what your works are. Can God bless them? Do you really want Him to?

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Being Not So Perfect

I'm an Assisting Minister. That means I lead worship through liturgy, response, Psalm and prayer. 

That also means I'm up front and in full view.

That means when I blow it, cover up is not an option.

You guessed it. I blew it today. In fact I blew it so badly that we had to start the liturgy over. Then I started laughing. Not because the first time was so funny . . .

Or the second . . .

But by the time my mind kept repeating the liturgy from a couple of weeks ago over and over again, it was just down right ridiculous!

I can even read music. Or so I thought. :-D

For whatever reason--hmm, I think I know the reason.

Let's just say for a moment that ministers get put on the pedestal a bit too quickly. Then how about I mention that on this tad bit higher spot, it's easy for some people to think only ministers can do such and such correctly.

Well, today I proved that opinion entirely wrong. 

Did you notice that I called it an opinion?

Extremely important word usage here because God doesn't place anyone higher than another. We silly, peevish, selfish human beings do that all by our little selves. We form opinions that lead to beliefs that have nothing to do with reality.

Today I couldn't help flushing from toe to head (in that order) until my cheeks felt as if I stood in front of a roaring fire. I haven't blushed that hard in I don't know how long! I rarely blush as a matter of fact. I'm too used to doing what I do. I'm good at what I do. And sometimes, sometimes, people think I'm a little bit higher than someone else.

You know what?

So glad you asked ;-)

I like being not so perfect. It gives other people the chance to realize that they can do what I do too. It takes that wobbly pedestal away. Being not so perfect allows other people the freedom to realize that you don't have to be perfect or say the right words or even sing the right song to be useful to God.

Blushing is good now and again. It brings me right back down to earth when I get a little too far off the ground. I kind of like being not so perfect.

Angie
Please come visit this not so perfect vessel over at God Uses Broken Vessels too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Leave an inheritance

A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.[Proverbs 13:22, NIV]

Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. [Ecc 7:11, NIV]

The Bible has a great deal to say about leaving an inheritance. If you type the word in to a search engine in the NIV version you get literally HUNDREDS of hits on the word.

As I was doing my daily reading recently I came across the word "inheritance" and it quickened in my spirit that this word could also mean a legacy.

What will my kids have when I die financially, spiritually, emotionally? What will the world remember about me?

And how does that line up to the gifting and call that God has placed on my life.

It is hard to believe some days but God planned on us being born.

In America we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. There is a great deal of planning that goes in to making a meal of that size. Groceries must be bought. Homes must be cleaned.

What if you made that meal and no one showed up? Or what if everyone showed up but there was no Turkey?

That is what we do to God all the time. We either don't bother to come with our gifts and talents to sit at His table of provision OR we show up but don't bring all of our gifts with us [like the Turkey] and so the plan is incomplete.

There is someone here that God sent you to reach. Maybe many people. But until we focus on God and His giftings there will be an incomplete picture.

So as you're sitting with family, whether this week or next month, consider whether you're showing up in God's family.

What you do is leaving an inheritance to your kids. You're modeling to them the kind of person you'd like them to be.

What is your legacy?

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Family Dinners

We've been enjoying family dinners on Sunday nights for several years now. Our adult and college age kids come home and bring friends. We just take a short time to connect.

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with the amount of people I feed on any given Sunday. But on nights like tonight, I sure missed them.

Unusual circumstances had us short several people. It was still a lovely dinner and conversation time. But it's amazing how I've grown accustomed to this tradition.

I love when they are all here. Then I love the quiet when they all leave. I sit and rest in the satisfaction of a full stomach and a full heart.

Some of the meals that help me feed an accordion style meal (one that expands or contracts) to meet the number of mouths are:
Spaghetti
Stroganoff
Stews
Soups
Casseroles
Stir Fry of any kind
Lasagnas of any kind
Chili
Salads with all sorts of toppings
and breakfast for dinner :-)

All these and more. I just add more frozen vegies and none are the wiser, lol.

One of the reasons I pick from a list like this is that I've gotten so good over the years at expanding to feed just one more friend.

Another is that I've learned to start with simple basic recipes and build on them. 

So here's a trick for Potato/Cheese Soup.
First, buy Bear Creek Potato/Cheese Soup. Add water. Yep, that's all, lol. 
Second, add broccoli to your hearts content. Yep, that's all.
Round out the meal with low fat crescents or crackers and sliced cheese with sliced fresh apples dipped in caramel sauce.

Dinner for 9 was on the table in less than 45 minutes and that was only because 2 were late.

But, alas, 3 called to cancel. And 2 called to join. Quick, do the math. Dinner ended up for 7.

No stress. I just took plates off the table and went on with the meal. Now I have left overs for another meal with no effort except the microwave.

I'm thinking it was a pretty good evening with a simple meal and loved ones. 

I'm also thinking that this is one way to celebrate the rest God commands for Sabbath. Good, simple food served around a table connecting with our loved ones and friends. 

Angie
PS Visit me over at God Uses Broken Vessels for my daily blog and interesting book reviews. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meet Margaret Daley, author of Forsaken Canyon

by Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Molly: Today my guest is Margaret Daley, a friend as well as an award-winning author, and she is going to tell us about her newest novel, Forsaken Canyon. I understand it was set in northern New Mexico. So Margaret, what inspired the storyline for Forsaken Canyon?

Margaret: When I wrote Buried Secrets, Zach’s cousin jumped off the page and demanded his own book. So Forsaken Canyon was born. It is Hawke Lonechief’s story. But you don’t have to have read Buried Secrets to enjoy Forsaken Canyon.

Molly: All your books are great. Can you tell us a little about Forsaken Canyon?

Margaret: The back blurb reads: “I’ll arrest you.” So threatens the tribal chief of police if Kit Sinclair dares enter Desolation Canyon alone. Hawke Lonechief insists Kt’s too dangerous. He lost his wife to the treacherous canyon. He knows the ancient ruins Kit seeks aren’t worth her life. But Kit is sure all that hiking and searching will help put her traumatic past behind her. When she risks Hawke’s wrath by going alone, he finally agrees to lead her. On his terms. Impossible. Because someone else is following their every move. Watching them grow closer to danger with every step…

Molly: Have you actually done all these adventurous things your characters do in the series that includes Heart of the Amazon, Buried Secrets and Forsaken Canyon?

Margaret: I wouldn’t be alive if I had, but I have been in several jungles, caves and the barren, harsh terrain of the Southwest. I’ve hiked in canyons and the mountains. I’m trudged through a hot, humid rain forest. But best of all I have a vivid imagination! I live through my characters.

Molly: What was your most daring vacation/recreation?

Margaret: Rio de Janeiro where I couldn’t speak the language and ended up in some perilous situations, where I nearly drowned in the Atlantic Ocean and where I swam in shark infested waters. (I wondered why the man was in the crow’s nest with a rifle pointed at the ocean. I didn’t ask about it until I swam back from the island.)

Then there was the time I came up out of the tube in London into the middle of a riot that was about to explode into violence. Now that was scary.

Molly: Wow! How are you able to integrate the suspense element into your inspirational stories?

Margaret: It’s a natural. I love to read romantic suspense and adventures. I love a good puzzle. What better place to have faith than in a story where you’re running for your life (or something similar). We tend to turn to our faith when our life gets tough.

Molly: Why do you write for Steeple Hill?

Margaret: What I like about Steeple Hill is that I have been able to write inspirational romances and romantic suspense novels. I like changing back and forth between the two types of books. Yes, I have written longer books. I try never to say never. We don’t know what the future holds.

Molly: What other kinds of books have you written?

Margaret: I never thought I would write a non-fiction book and yet I just finished part of one. I am one of five authors of a book called The Overcomers, written by five Christian authors who have dealt with a learning disability in their life. It should be out next year in 2009.

Molly: I feel I must mention that I am one of the five Christian authors who wrote The Overcomers with Margaret. Yep, I am a dyslexic—more about The Overcomers later.
What is so amazing about Margaret is that despite the problems she just mentioned, she has sold fifty-eight novels.
Margaret’s romantic suspense novel, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. This year she is a finalist in the Short Contemporary and Short Contemporary Suspense categories for Heart of the Family and Vanished.
Visit Margaret’s website and read excerpts from these books
at http://www.margaretdaley.com.
Thanks for coming Margaret, and come back and visit us again real soon.
Next month, Mae Nunn will be visiting us. Mae is also a Steeple Hill author.
See you then.
Molly

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Christian Excuse

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter


Philippians 4: 13 " I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Look at this verse above. This verse has been twisted and warped and quoted and memorized. Today I want to apply it. I want to look at it as it pertains to writers.

The life of a writer can be excruciating with all of the rejection, perfection and trying again. We pour months of our life in to a manuscript that may only get a 15 second glance from an acquisitions editor or other designated gatekeeper. So this verse is very encouraging. It says God strengthens us.

Recently the ACFW was talking about how a person knows they're called to write. Every writer who serves Jesus will ask that. When we feel overwhelmed or rejected we'll ask again and again "Did you actually call me to do this?"

I was thinking about that and I remembered a few other people in the Bible who had it a little tougher than me.

Samuel was taken from his mom to live in a church where the priest [Eli] was not living the faith. So he was in an abusive church. He was hungry for God's presence and trying to grow in faith while having no example [other than the mom he saw once a year]. Then he spoke over Saul who ended up being rejected by God. He was only trying to do what God said and look at the mess he made.

Sometimes I feel like Samuel. I'm trying to pursue writing but no one in my family is really in to the writing thing. My step-mom who lives 1,200 miles away is a voracious reader of fiction but, like Hannah with Samuel, our rare visits don't allow me a chance to really talk about craft.

How about Jeremiah? He has that great verse in Jeremiah 29:11 where God says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

But, did you read first in Jeremiah 20 where Jeremiah was beaten? God was reassuring Jeremiah because the prophet had gone through of the ringer.

Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah. I see what is going on around me. Everything is falling apart. The industry is slowing down. Things aren't selling. I need to know what is going on. Why was I called when there is so much destruction? So God reassures me! Like Jeremiah God says "I'm still protecting you."

And then there is Isaiah. He lived through the death of a righteous king. When a king died the future of the prophet was uncertain. King Uzziah died and Isaiah faced an uncertain future, but God was reassuring. When Isaiah was worried-God appeared. Isaiah 6:1,8 "1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"

Sometimes I feel like Isaiah. I have an uncertain future in this writing thing. Sometimes I work hard with no results and sometimes a project comes easily and sells just as easily. I never know what result I'll have until I try.

And then there was Paul who endured beatings, stonings and loss of all he'd ever wanted to win others to Christ.

We need to pursue God, no matter the result. We need to do EVERYTHING as unto God. We need to pursue perfection and trust God for the results. If we are giving God our best He says He'll keep us on the right path and lead us to a wonderful future [no matter what we feel based on what we see around us.]

So is our lack of publication due to a lack of preparation on our part or a lack of God's call? Are we working to improve or looking for escape? Are we inspired to pursue our dream no matter the cost?

Or is the statement "maybe I'm not called" nothing more than a Christian Excuse?

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Exhaustion

A week's worth of prep and financial management classes have left me exhausted. But we leave right from Seattle (where I'm at now as I write) to go pick up furniture from a graduating college kiddo. We drove out here from Montana to go to these classes and take back the furniture.

UGH! I'd say I've never been so tired, but I have.

It's really hard to keep writing towards my goal of finishing Insanity Rules by Nov. 30th. I just realized the two biggest hurdles. They are that I've been in the wrong side of my brain and exhaustion.

So as I prepare this post, I've stopped trying to up my word count on the book and determined the smartest thing for me to do is sleep. I won't get much, and that's why calling it good is the best decision.

I have to say thought, it's hard to let go of writing. It's the first time all week that I've been in a quiet place. But it has to be. My creativity dried up and needs to be refreshed. So refresh I will.

And in the morning, after the last business meeting, I'll try writing in the truck.

I'll keep trying. How about you?

Are you at a point to realize you may need to switch gears?

How will you do that?

Angie

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Turning A Single Sentence Into Several Scenes

Posted by Eileen Astels

I received a critique back earlier this week and one of my wonderful critique partners pointed out that the contents of one of my sentences would be better shown with the use of several scenes, than told in that single grouping of words.

Here it is:

"He had a lot to learn with only being a Pastor for five months, but he could learn a whole lot faster without the popular dramatic intros that Emmanuel's members were prone to give."

The fact that this is one long sentence, with a repetitive factor as well, should have been enough to call my attention to it. It's not very well written, I admit. In fact, another wonderful crit partner of mine narrowed in on this mess as well, and suggested altering it to the following.

"Having been a pastor for only five months, he had a lot to learn. But he could learn a whole lot faster without the slow intros that Emmanuel’s members were prone to give."

This is a definite improvement. Yes. But I like the idea of showing this information, too. Partly because I need to add word count, but also because it provides the base for scenes with conflict, action, and even humor. By converting this information into scenes that will also move the story forward, I can accomplish several things.

1) Reveal the POV character, his emotions and conflicts more fully.
2) Provide concrete evidence of what he deals with.
3) Introduce several more important characters in an entertaining and useful way.
4) Allow the reader to draw their own conclusions about these parishioners without first being told of his own impression.

So, have you ever turned a single sentence in that first draft into a set of scenes? Will you try to now? It reminds me a little of the snowflake concept, only caught a little later than intended. I'd best get working on those scenes now.

Until next time, may your writing shine and come naturally to you!

Blessings,

Eileen

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do you follow me?

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

I remember when I was younger [as in during the 80s] the expression "Do you follow me?" was synonymous with "Do you understand?".

With the advent of social networking sights this expression has a whole new meaning.

There has been a recent influx of chatter about twitter [yes, I love that alliteration!!]. It seemed to all explode at once. I heard one person talk about it [Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson] in a blog that was not related to Twitter. I decided that since I respect Michael Hyatt on other things, maybe I should check this out.

Within less than 5 days I had literally 10 articles [as well as an entire discussion on the ACFW member loop] on this topic. It seems people are all starting to do this.

After only 2 weeks I guess you'd call me an expert. Laugh. While not that, I have already begun to see a marketing benefit to this program. I'd encourage you to consider the following:

1. I tried it first as a time management/accountability tool. That didn't work after the first day because as soon as I scratched it off of my to-do list I was on to my next project [without letting Twitter know]
2. Then I realized the true value was to point out things of interest to others. This has actually served me well. As I stumble upon articles that interest me I can quickly put out a tweet that says "If you're interested in Regency headdress check out this article..." Since you have about 100 characters or so you can't copy and paste a giant URL. I go to www.tinyurl.com and change it to a short one and post it. It is one more way I can provide information to people who might be able to use it.
3. Trisha Goyer mentioned on her blog about Twitter that she keeps her finger on the pulse of the CBA by following certain people on Twitter. I think that is brilliant.

So what do you think? Twitter, friend or foe? Has anything I said changed your mind? Do you have other ideas of ways to benefit others by using this social network version of flash fiction?

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Writer Needs A Little Inspiration Too

People ask where writers get their ideas. I get them from life. My mind goes off into a line of questions. Usually started by something that strikes me with a special beauty or wonder.

I could be driving down the road on a drizzly day and be struck with awe at the small rainbow dancing in the field as I go up a hill. The rainbow stretches from one hillside to another, but hangs low over the tall grass. And I wonder, what would it be like if I could feel and touch a rainbow.

My cat curls up beside me. He's all damp from the rain, but fluffy and soft. I wonder, why did God create cats? Are they purely for my pleasure? Then I wonder if cats have a sense of humor and we don't speak cat so we don't know what their laughter would sound like?

I lose weight, I gain weight. I wonder how it is that my body was made that way. What will it look like transformed in heaven? Will our spirits be contained in some sort of heavenly styled body? Will I still be brunette so people will recognize me? Will I know the people I love on sight?

This is the stuff of inspiration. To follow our random thoughts and play with them. That's the fun part of writing. Playing with ideas.

The hard part is taking those ideas and creating some sort of cohesive book with them.

I'm finding inspiration from listening to other people's stories about their life experiences. Then they all get blended into a mish-mash of ingredients. The rough draft is the mixing of the batter. The story bakes as we expand and develop on a second pass through. Then we frost the cake by polishing what we've written.

But the ideas, they come from what we see and do and then playing with those things that stick out. Rolling them around as if we are rolling out sugar cookies. We cut them out and take the scraps and try again.

Ideas. They come from playing with everyday curious moments until they weave together into a story. Each curious moment another piece of a huge puzzle that we can't leave until it's finished.

So now you know where writers get their ideas.

Angie
PS Please visit me over at God uses broken vessels and Writing by Faith.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interview With Jill Elizabeth Nelson

by Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Today I am interviewing Jill Elizabeth Nelson, my good friend, critique partner and fantastic mystery author. Her second book in the To Catch a Thief series, Reluctant Runaway, won an award this year. Tell us about it.

Jill: In May, I was surprised and pleased to hear from Romance Reviews Today, a prominent site on the web that majors on reviewing any type of romance genre book. Their site voted Reluctant Runaway the Best Inspirational Novel of 2007. A link to their Perfect 10 review, as well as many other features like a monthly contest for a signed book, opportunities to purchase my books, and excerpts, are found on my web site: http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com.

M: Congratulations! Give us an overview of the book.

J: Reluctant Runaway opens four months after the traumatic events of the first book, and Desiree Jacobs is very much in charge of her museum security company since the murder of her father in the previous book. As always, the story opens with a caper, and Desi strikes out across a narrow beam in the dark, ten stories above the ground.

The plot heats up with Desi and her steady date, FBI agent Tony Lucano, locking horns over her risky lifestyle—but hey, what about his? And then crisis strikes her best friend, plus a museum secured by Desi’s company is robbed of priceless ancient Indian artifacts, and so it’s off to the high desert country of New Mexico to defend her company, help her friend, and save a missing woman. And Tony’s right on her heels. But when the horrifying purpose for the stolen artifacts comes to light, can they even save themselves?

Each book in the To Catch a Thief series is complete in itself, but the same main characters and some of the secondary characters carry over throughout Reluctant Burglar, Reluctant Runaway, and Reluctant Smuggler. The books should be available in any bookstore or through any on-line book outlet.

M: Tell us a little about your publication journey.

J: Since the sixth grade when I penned—er, penciled my first tale of mystery, my writer’s journey has taken me in many different directions. I’ve worn the hats of journalist, columnist, essayist, poet, short-story teller and book reviewer. My current chapeau is the one I’ve coveted all along—novelist.

The dream of becoming a published novelist has come to life and died an unsung death several times. As I look back, I see that I wasn’t ready for the fulfillment until, in the Lord’s grand plan, it happened.

In the year 2000, after writing little or nothing creative while I was raising four young children, a storyline grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I wrote the book and started seeking fellowship with other writers. Since I live in a small rural community with little access to other writers, on-line writers groups like American Christian Fiction Writers have been my lifeline.

After several years of persevering and writing more manuscripts, I got The Call about the contract offer during a writers’ conference that was themed, interestingly enough, “Answer the Call.” Oh, my yes, God’s got a sense of humor.

M: How do you balance your writing time with your other responsibilities?

J: In the same way that other people go home from their day job and do woodworking or crocheting to relax, I go home to write. It’s what I do. It’s not who I am, because my identity is found in God, not some outside activity. But writing is a divine assignment, a fire in my bones, so I fit it in whenever, wherever.

I’ve had to make hard choices to cut out a few things from my schedule. I do still need to be a wife and mom, even though my kids are grown. That’s non-negotiable, but you’d be surprised what you don’t miss if you just say no.

M: Thanks for sharing with us, Jill. You are a great writer and a wonderful friend. Come back soon. And remember, to find Jill’s book on the internet, write Jill Elizabeth Nelson in the search slot.
Next month, author Margaret Daley will pay us a visit. Margaret writers Christian suspense novels for Steeple Hill.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Interview With Jill Elizabeth Nelson

by Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Today I am interviewing Jill Elizabeth Nelson, my good friend, critique partner and fantastic mystery author. Her second book in the To Catch a Thief series, Reluctant Runaway, won an award this year. Tell us about it.

Jill: In May, I was surprised and pleased to hear from Romance Reviews Today, a prominent site on the web that majors on reviewing any type of romance genre book. Their site voted Reluctant Runaway the Best Inspirational Novel of 2007. A link to their Perfect 10 review, as well as many other features like a monthly contest for a signed book, opportunities to purchase my books, and excerpts, are found on my web site: http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com.

M: Congratulations! Give us an overview of the book.

J: Reluctant Runaway opens four months after the traumatic events of the first book, and Desiree Jacobs is very much in charge of her museum security company since the murder of her father in the previous book. As always, the story opens with a caper, and Desi strikes out across a narrow beam in the dark, ten stories above the ground.

The plot heats up with Desi and her steady date, FBI agent Tony Lucano, locking horns over her risky lifestyle—but hey, what about his? And then crisis strikes her best friend, plus a museum secured by Desi’s company is robbed of priceless ancient Indian artifacts, and so it’s off to the high desert country of New Mexico to defend her company, help her friend, and save a missing woman. And Tony’s right on her heels. But when the horrifying purpose for the stolen artifacts comes to light, can they even save themselves?

Each book in the To Catch a Thief series is complete in itself, but the same main characters and some of the secondary characters carry over throughout Reluctant Burglar, Reluctant Runaway, and Reluctant Smuggler. The books should be available in any bookstore or through any on-line book outlet.

M: Tell us a little about your publication journey.

J: Since the sixth grade when I penned—er, penciled my first tale of mystery, my writer’s journey has taken me in many different directions. I’ve worn the hats of journalist, columnist, essayist, poet, short-story teller and book reviewer. My current chapeau is the one I’ve coveted all along—novelist.

The dream of becoming a published novelist has come to life and died an unsung death several times. As I look back, I see that I wasn’t ready for the fulfillment until, in the Lord’s grand plan, it happened.

In the year 2000, after writing little or nothing creative while I was raising four young children, a storyline grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I wrote the book and started seeking fellowship with other writers. Since I live in a small rural community with little access to other writers, on-line writers groups like American Christian Fiction Writers have been my lifeline.

After several years of persevering and writing more manuscripts, I got The Call about the contract offer during a writers’ conference that was themed, interestingly enough, “Answer the Call.” Oh, my yes, God’s got a sense of humor.

M: How do you balance your writing time with your other responsibilities?

J: In the same way that other people go home from their day job and do woodworking or crocheting to relax, I go home to write. It’s what I do. It’s not who I am, because my identity is found in God, not some outside activity. But writing is a divine assignment, a fire in my bones, so I fit it in whenever, wherever.

I’ve had to make hard choices to cut out a few things from my schedule. I do still need to be a wife and mom, even though my kids are grown. That’s non-negotiable, but you’d be surprised what you don’t miss if you just say no.

M: Thanks for sharing with us, Jill. You are a great writer and a wonderful friend. Come back soon. And remember, to find Jill’s book on the internet, write Jill Elizabeth Nelson in the search slot.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Expectations of your readers

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

You have a certain expectation when you read this blog, don't you? I am a writing career coach who teaches on craft, marketing and the writer's life.

If I suddenly wrote a blog that told you how to make a pumpkin pie you might find it interesting...but it wouldn't reach your expectations.

If you paid money to hear me speak and instead of teaching on ways to grow as a writer I told you about my flight, how they lost my luggage and the shuttle to the hotel-would you leave satisfied?

The same is true for your readers. When they read your book they have a certain expectation of your level of craft, the topic, genre and tone. The more books you write, the stronger that expectation. Your readers will feel betrayed if you don't meet expectations.

Likewise, don't build up expectations for a heart stopping thriller when you're going to write a literary novel.

Knowing your reader, setting expectations and delivering on those promises will help build loyal readers who will market future books for you with their recommendations.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Good Dinner and Good Conversation

Tonight I was given a gift. A gift of friends and family that loved my cooking and expressed it with gusto! They loved each other and showed it. Our table was full and so was my heart.

We had lots to talk about and plans to make. Ideas and laughter flowed freely.

Oh how I'd missed having my kids together. That they brought their friends was even sweeter. They were proud to bring a friend to have a home cooked meal.

They joy was almost too big to hold.

One young man will be going into the Navy Seal training. Another young woman moved out on her own last summer and needed a hot meal to break up long work days. Another young man was just happy to be a part of the group and build friends. Two more young men were so excited for the Chicken Lasagna because they'd had this dish before. (I think they have ESP for when I make it, lol.) Of course, we passed around my new little grandson to eager arms!

Each person had a different reason for being there. It's a lot like writing genres. We're there for the same meal, but we experience it from a different filter.

The biggest surprise of all was that 5 of the people who came were unexpected blessings. The sheer bliss they displayed during dinner will carry me for the next week!

Next week, we travel next door for a Thanksgiving meal made by two bachelors. They want to host Family Dinner.

That means I'll get to rest and enjoy the meal without the preparation. Hmm, I think I lucked out on this one.

Unexpected blessings come in plain wrappings. A small baby, a new friend and especially someone who loves my cooking!

What makes your heart full?

What unexpected blessing happened recently?


Angie

Friday, October 31, 2008

ASK ANNE


FRIDAY-OCTOBER 31 -HALLOWEEN


Today's Halloween and I'll tell you what's scary. National elections will soon be here and the Democratic candidate has consistently voted pro-abortion. I, personally do not want a President who sanctions murdering innocent babies. This Holocaust against innocent unborn children occurs in "free" American every day. I don't much care for the Democratic candidate's socialistic politics either. SCARY.


However, this is Ask Anne Day and I have a question to answer. Anne, do you think I should give up my day job to write novels full time?


Oh, valid question. The nitty-gritty, down and dirty short answer is no. Writing novels is hard, competitive, and lonely work that pays very small potatoes for the hours spent toiling on your hot computer.


True, after years of writing and building up a loyal following, or, for the blessed few that God chooses to become recognized household names, writing offers rich bucks. But for the rest of us, our driving force is not money, or even making a living. We write because we must.


If you do not have that burning desire to keyboard those movies playing inside your head and the voices you alone can hear, seek a different career. Sure, it's fun to watch the players and construct their lives into scenes, and scenes into chapters. But you've got to love the process. You've got to love words because those pesky polishes and ruthless rewrites go on and on. But for a writer, that's not the real problem.


The real problems usually start with the synopsis. Each book proposal must have a synopsis that sells. Yep, the dreaded synopsis. Condense an eighty-thousand word novel into a three-page synopsis that spells out character, motivation, and plot in such a stunning way that editors salivate to read your manuscript. Not easy.


Then come query letters, pitching your baby to agents and editors . . . and the bitter taste of rejection. Hard.


Then there's sacrifice. Sitting at a computer year after year as your rumpus grows rounder and rounder and your eyesight weaker and weaker. There are many times when you'd rather be with family and friends, when you'd rather travel or shop . . . anything but sit trapped at the computer. Sure, you can set your work day hours, but deadlines don't wait. Ideas don't wait. Books don't get finished without self-discipline.


And I haven't mentioned money spent on computer, printer, paper, conferences, sell sheets, how-to books, contests, postage, travel, and websites, all without earning one cent.



Then there's promotion. Yep, every author must promote her book. Not even going to go there in this post.


But if that desire to put your thoughts on paper won't let you sleep, do keep you day job, but don't give up your writing. In between raising children, taking care of dear husband, and earning your living, work in every free minute to write that novel burning in your heart. Today, with computers, on-line classes, and writer's groups, the process of producing a novel grows easier.


So, go ahead write - you may be one of the blessed ones.


But don't quit your day job until you have a signed book contract in hand.


Okay, I'm open for your other questions.


And, please visit my website for a book review of Diamond Duo and a chance to win a free book.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Future of the Book Publishing Industry:

In a Disastrous Economy

Terry Burns is a western fiction author as well as an agent for Hartline Literary, and he has written a fantastic article on the future of the book publishing industry. So with Terry’s permission, I am reprinting his article here today.
Molly Noble Bull
www.mollynoblebull.com

Take it away, Terry Burns.

I have my own ideas about where things are and where they are going with regard to the book publishing industry, but I wanted a better look at this subject. I interviewed over 60 editors, agents, and publishing industry professionals. What I found was nobody was publicly talking about it. That made no sense. You can’t turn on any kind of news or comments without that dominating it, The economy is bigger news than the Presidential race. What is the deal?

One place that is talking about it is New York magazine. They ran an article entitled “The End” which proclaimed darkly that: “The book business as we know it will not be living happily ever after. With sales stagnating, CEO heads rolling, big-name authors playing musical chairs, and Amazon looming as the new boogeyman, publishing might have to look for its future outside the corporate world.” Well, now that opened the ball, that’s scary stuff. It went on to say the “current state of unease pervading the book business is on people's minds.” . . .

If that’s true why aren’t we talking about it? Perhaps the largest reason is in order to really understand what’s going on we’d have to talk about stuff that is really boring.

One place there was a lot of book people gathered was the Frankfurt Book Fair. The word from there as reported by Publisher’s Lunch is:

There's a quality to this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, in these perilous times, that leaves one speechless. But that makes for a very short column. The final accounting--and it is all about accounting these days--won't come for a while. So the best handle on the show I found is stolen from a prominent journalist at last night's still-packed Bertelsmann party "So book publishing fiddles while Rome burns?"

With no one knowing just how bad the wreckage of the financial crisis will be when all is said and done, most rights traders appeared to let hope and innocence prevail over market news and went about the business they came here to transact.

Any time you engaged in a serious conversation about the key retailers and wholesalers in peril and the dual impact of a potentially major recession and a continuing liquidity squeeze in a business that always operates on small margins and tight cash, it could only end one way. But for most people that conversation was ancillary to their traditional on-the-half-hour pitches, and a persistent hope that maybe it won't be so bad for books.

As noted previously, here at Publisher Marketplace we reported a record number of deal transactions in the week prior to the show. While most of the biggest books have their primary sale prior to the show, following the recent trend, the better part of rights buyers and sellers insisted they were doing reasonable business. Of course as one person noted, if you weren't prepared to buy, then you simply didn't come.

"That's all we can do, keep selling," one person told us.

One of the more definitive things I found in my search was by Bob Sacks in Publishing Executive magazine. It’s magazine publishing oriented, but still very applicable: He says What does this mean for the country, what does it mean for the industry, and most importantly what does it mean for us and our families?

I don't know the answer to this problem. Nor do I think there is a printer or supplier that I can call for an answer as I have done in times past. This is bigger than anything we have had to face as an industry or personally as family members and providers. There is no road map and there is no past experience to guide our way. Except perhaps to stay calm. That is what I intend to do. Panicked people generally make bad decisions, while calm people tend to be rational and capable of solving the problems on hand.

There are several things to remember. The country, the world, and our industry have gone through this before. In fact, there were many new magazines started in the last depression that are still around today. Did you know that the first issue of Fortune magazine was published in February of 1930, four months after the stock market crash of 1929?

I'll close with this thought -- the magazine industry, the advertising industry and the newly emerging digital information industry are not going to go away. All three will survive, get stronger and be better at what they do. Your job is to stay calm, stick around and be there as they do.

One of my most detailed responses came from Ken Peterson at Multnomah / Waterbrook. He wrote: Have time for just a few things, but happy to help:

1. For publishers in general, the larger concern predated the current economic crisis--that is, the declining health of retail book publishing. People are not buying or reading books as fervently as they used to, and this is not economic per se, but more about the competition of other forms of media for people's time.

2. Consequently, long before this crisis, many houses have been cutting back on their new acquisitions and trying to focus their strategies on fewer titles that hopefully will sell better.

3. The economic crisis is likely to cause publishers to reduce staff before end of year. Some of this will be in editorial, but much more will be in publishing services and marekting.

4. Fortunately, at Waterbook Multnomah, we are not cutting titles drastically, but all year we have been more careful and more focused in what we acquire. It doesn't seem like we will be cutting staff, but all year we have been shifting a few people from a bookstore focus into Internet and church development channels.

5. I can't stress enough the importance of writers being smart about writing what might sell. The wise writer needs to address the potential market of the idea first, before writing it.

6. Anything that was marginal before--poetry, children's books, etc--is even more marginal now.

7. A writer does not need to write a best-seller but should think about bigger, broader subjects an avoid writing on subjects that are niche ideas or well-worn categories. It will be nearly impossible now for an unknown author to get acceptance for a book about, say, the challenges of grandparenting of stepfamilies" (a niche of a niche) or simply yet another book about marriage.

8. It's also more critical now than ever before that writers develop their own promitional opportunities. They need to be proactive online, in blogging, facebook, etc. They need to think about establishing an email newsletter, building a list of fans. They need to think about speaking ops, media ops. Publishers more than ever are looking for authors with self-promotion built-in.

Another house says, “The key thing I want writers to know is that they need to be realistic about their advances. Publishers are focused on making sure that every book earns out within the first year. The days of progressively larger advances with each new contract are over--unless the author's sales can be proven to have increased. Sales and Marketing are definitely looking at past performance as they sell today's new book. So be realistic, if the last book sold 10,000 copies, don't expect the next publisher to advance beyond that. The author will see the money if they do better. I would much rather have them get continuous royalty checks than be seen as an author that does not perform to expectations and does not earn out the advance.”

Bethany says: We are not cutting our list as other houses have. We are always looking for strong stories and the economy won't end that. That said, the performance of your first book is more crucial than ever. Folks with poor sales track records are having books cancelled and are having a difficult time finding new publishers. We're leery of taking on cancelled contracts. You need to make sure your first book gets a strong launch.

Andy McGuire at Moody writes: We do seem to be getting more conservative with our sales projections on various projects as the economy struggles. With that, we end up lowering the advances offered. I would advise authors to think about sharing the risk with the publishers a bit more. If the author really believes in his/her work and thinks they can help the publisher reach the market, then perhaps offer to go with a very low advance (or no advance) in exchange for a higher royalty rate. Then, if the book takes off, everyone wins. That said, many books don't take off, so I know this is a big risk for a hard-working author. But desperate times...

Dan Penwell from AMG: We are cutting back some on titles and moving certain spring 2009 books to the summer or fall/winter. The slow economy and buying from the internet (rather than retail stores) have made things tough.

Another extensive response from Nancy Lohr at BJU Press: Regarding BJU Press and the economy: We are trying to reduce the unit cost of each title in this way. This is only a piece of the puzzle, but it is a piece.

We know that we cannot change the economic environment we all find ourselves in, and we know that for believers the hand of our good God is not shortened. So we are looking for ways to control or manage what is in our human purview. We are continuing to acquire manuscripts that meet our mission, but I am probably being a bit choosier.

So what can authors do? They can work to write fine literature that will stand the test of time, that can remain in print without looking dated or faddish. They should wait to submit a manuscript until they are truly finished. We read too many pieces that look more like a draft than a polished submission, and even if my assistant passes me a diamond in the rough, I can't spend the time it would take to help finish the piece.

Our advance against royalties has been based on what we project an author would earn in the first year of sales, and that is likely to go down some during this period of economic uncertainty as the initial risk is shared between publisher and author. This is a reality that we all have to acknowledge, like it or not. If earning a living is the goal (and that is noble), then the market has to be a consideration. If the ministry of the written word is also a goal (one that we won't know the results of in this life), then the market an author approaches can be expanded accordingly.

So . . . we are staying the course knowing that the Lord is in command. We are learning what we can to do our work better, and we are staying true to our purpose. What does the future hold for JourneyForth? That we don't know - whether we will prosper financially or not. But, as my pastor reminded us yesterday, no matter what happens to our 401K plan, we still have a 419P plan - "my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

An editor at a large house offers advice for the Dennis Hillman at Kregel writes: Hi, Terry--sorry but am at Frankfurt bookfair, so will have to be brief and this is a German keyboard.

--everyone wants to cut cost. Less room for a marginal book.
--there are too many books chasing too few customers. something has to give in next year. publishers have to scale back or go under.
--authors need to educate themselves about the business of bookselling. know something about the market conditions that pertain to their particular project. Who really is the reader--it's not all Christian women from 15 to
75 years of age.
--understand culture. there are generational shifts in readers as well.

I only found a couple of agents talking on the subject. One of course was Chip MacGreagor as he was asked on his blog: "Would you suggest writers with a ready book proposal hold off a bit -- perhaps submit later? Is there anything we should do differently in light of the economy?"
No way. I'm with one of the commenters who noted that publisher and bookseller stocks are down because the overall market is down. There's a mad rush to sell, and that's artificially driving down stock prices. But Amazon is a well-run company that makes good money. Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million may be facing a squeeze, but they're still the three largest bookstore chains in America. And all those publishers are still in the business of creating and selling books. Things may slow down in terms of acquisitions while everyone gets their bearings, but eventually the publishers will still need to be acquiring new titles, since selling books is the way they remain in business. The one thing I'd say is that, in a weak economy, the core truths of book publishing become even more pronounced: have a big idea, express it through great writing, and support it with a strong platform. If an author walks in with a small idea, or a book that's only 80% done, he or she is going to find a very tough time getting a book published.

It took a huge amount of research to get this much direct information – compared to the waterfall of information on the economy in general. But you’re sitting there thinking what does this mean to me as a writer?

I haven't seen a cutback in books coming out, but then the books coming out now have been in the pipeline for some time. Still I’m doing deals right now, October is usually a good month for me.

I guess what I think it says is that we’re going to see a more cautious approach to acquisitions over the next months and see it taking longer to get decisions. The advice at the beginning of this talk to stay calm and have patience is appropriate. That gives us time to make that submission as good as possible, because the competition is going to be stronger than ever. Books that are simply “finished” won’t get it done, because the market is looking for books that are excellent. Should we quit writing and quit submitting? Of course not! Just keep doing business as usual . . . with a little more patience.

And finally, I believe much of the response of the economy is going to depend on whether we turn out and vote in November and how prayerfully we consider that vote.

You are invited to stop by Terry’s website and look around.
http://www.terryburns.net/

Friday, October 24, 2008

ASK ANNE - INTRODUCTION


Hi,
I'm Anne Greene and I'm new to Writers' Rest and I'll be posting most Fridays.


I'm a published author and I'll be using this day of the blog to answer the writing questions you send in. For instance, you might ask me -How do I find an agent? Then I'll use the Friday blog to answer. From time to time I'll initiate other timely topics.


Today, I'll tell you a little about myself. I write historical novels, historical romance novels, and suspense novels - both historical and contemporary. I live in McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas and packers are filling boxes of my clothes and personal items to be sent to South Korea. Yep, my husband is a Colonel in the US Army and has been stationed to that country for the next two years. I'll keep the home fires burning and visit him from time to time. While in Korea I hope to take jaunts to Thailand, China, Japan, and Australia.


I'm a world traveler. I've visited England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Italy, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala, France, Lichtenstein, Austria, the American Virgin Islands, and sailed the British Virgin Islands. Yes, I crewed the sailboat that my husband captained. Now, it's on to Asia for us. A number of my books do have foreign settings. So, if you have writing questions about other countries, I may be able to answer them.


I'm a four-time mother, but don't expect me to answer any of those thorny questions about parenting. My children all turned out to be outstanding, but it's much more thanks to God than to any expertise I might have. I love writing about relationships because many times I find puzzling answers to the whys in my own life as my characters live out their lives.



I could write an entire post on how I met the Lord when I was twenty-one, but you can read some of the experience on my website at AnneGreeneAuthor.com.


So, now that you know me a little, feel free to ask those pesky writing questions that need answered!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meet Nicole Seitz!

Today we're priveleged to have author Nicole Seitz with us here at Writers' Rest!

CW: HI, Nicole, Welcome to Writers' Rest!

NS: Thank you, Cathy. What a pleasure it is to answer your questions. It's always nice to learn things about ourselves as authors through interviews.

CW: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

NS: I'm a happily married mother of two children, ages 3 and 5. I work from home and make time for writing and painting. I've been blessed beyond belief and try very hard not to take things for granted.

CW: When did you know you wanted to be a writer and when did you start to pursue publication?

NS: I knew I wanted to write when I was pregnant with my second child and the story in me couldn't wait to come out. I wrote and wrote and within five months had a book and a new baby boy. I sought agent representation immediately after and found an agent through writersmarket.com. My first novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, sold about eight months later in a two-book deal.

THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS, ISBN:1591455065, Mar 2007

CW: I really enjoyed Trouble the Water. How did you choose the topic of breast cancer, can you share how that book came to be?

TROUBLE THE WATER, ISBN:1595544003, Mar 2008
NS: Thank you, Cathy. That was my second novel that came out this March, and it was a difficult book to write at times. Trouble the Water is not really about breast cancer, but about the undying devotion between sisters, blood or otherwise. It was a book I had to write, not necessarily the one my agent or publisher wanted me to write. You see, my aunt Bonnie passed away in 1996 and did not tell us, her family, that she was ill until the very end. My mother and I were with her when she passed, and it shook our worlds. I needed to "become" my aunt for a short while to examine the reasons why someone might keep a secret like that. Although the book is fiction, there is a chapter in the middle that was written by my aunt in some of her unpublished short stories. In a way, we wrote this novel together, and when it was done, a lot of healing had taken place in my own life where Bonnie was concerned. The book is about healing and learning to live again.

CW: You have a new book coming out in March 2009. Tell us about A Hundred Years of Happiness.

A HUNDRED YEARS OF HAPPINESS, ISBN:1595545026, Coming Mar 2009

NS: Thank you for asking. I'm very excited about this book. It's a cross-gender, cross-generational book about the lasting effects of war on families and next generations. It's an important story for me to tell because my stepfather is a Vietnam veteran, and last year some events occurred with him, letting me know that war never really ends for those who were there. In that vein, I needed to explore what parts of my own psyche and personality had come about as a result of living with a man who held so much inside, and in fact, what I might pass along to my own children. I know this book will hit home with many people with similar stories. In writing this book, I also wanted to honor my stepfather and let him know how much I love him. Here's the back cover copy:

A beautiful young woman. An American soldier. A war-torn country. Nearly forty years of silence.
Now, two daughters search for the truth they hope will set them free and the elusive peace their parents have never found.

In the South Carolina Lowcountry, a young mother named Katherine Ann is struggling to help her tempestuous father, by plunging into a world of secrets he never talks about. A fry cook named Lisa is trying desperately to reach her grieving Vietnamese mother, who has never fully adjusted to life in the States. And somewhere far away, a lost soul named Ernest is drifting, treading water, searching for what he lost on a long-ago mountain.

They’re all longing for connection. For the war that touched them to finally end. For their hundred years of happiness at long last to begin.

From the beloved author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass and Trouble the Water comes this generous story of family, war, loss and longing . . . of the ways we hide from those we love, and the ways that love finds us anyway.


CW: What are you currently working on?

NS: I just turned in the manuscript for my fourth novel. I've not heard back from the publisher, so I won't share any details on that one just yet. I am under contract for a couple more books with Thomas Nelson. My next book is due in ten months, so I'm taking a tiny breather, enjoying family and painting. I have an art showing in Asheboro, NC next month and am preparing for that.

CW: I read you do the paintings for the covers of your books, which is really cool by the way, and a wife and mother. How do you juggle your time between all the jobs you have?

NS: I think I'm a stress junkie. I always seem to be going a million miles a minute...at least in my head! I'm not sure I've really got a handle on it all though. When I'm writing, I'm in my own little world for months on end, and I find it hard to stop working or thinking about work when I'm supposed to be doing other things.

CW: What has been the hardest part of your journey to publication, and what would you say has been the most rewarding?

NS: The hardest part is probably trying to separate art from business. By this I mean the art and inspiration of writing. I try hard not to think about market or anything regarding numbers when I'm deciding what to write. I struggle to write what God would have me write at each stage, daily even. The most rewarding part of publication is the readers, by far. Hearing that one of my books has touched someone in a profound way that I never even anticipated, fills me with awe and only encourages me to keep writing my heart and not to market.

CW: What advice would you give to new writers, something maybe you wish someone had told you?

NS: I would tell new writers that if they have the desire to write, do it. Don't stop writing. Earlier this year an author friend of mine passed away, Red Evans, author of On Ice. In the hospital he told me to "Always keep writing." And I plan to. I tell every writer I meet the same thing because it's truly important to put your heart and soul on paper. You never know who might need to read those words.

CW: Thanks for stopping by Writers' Rest, Nicole, may God bless you and your work!

NS: Thank you, Cathy. He's already blessed it immensely. I hope you and your readers will "always keep writing."

Contact Nicole:
Nicole Seitz, Author/Artist
PO Box 2073
Mount Pleasant, SC 29465-2073
www.nicoleseitz.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Romans 14:12 for writers

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter


Romans 14:12 [Amplified]
12And so each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God.

We will have to give an account one day.

That's what the Bible says. This past sunday my Pastor was teaching on this verse [among others] as he talked about what Jesus taught on finances. [My pastor is actually blogging so if you'd like to check him out click here.]

He was talking about what we invest. And when he came to this verse he said "We should make the most of every opportunity."

I scribbled that down and decided "I must blog on this."

Think about this, authors. God has given us a gift and one day we will have to give an account to Him. What will your accounting look like?

Played computer solitaire-3 hrs
emailed friends-4 hrs
thought about writing-7 hrs
talked about writing- 1 hour
Prayed-5 minutes
Bible study- 10 minutes
Watched TV-2 hrs
Wrote-??

I tell you one thing. I'm ready to write! I heard pastor's message and I was excited to write. I wanted to write. I realized this was a gift He gave to me and He not only expects me to do something with it. He's COUNTING ON ME!!

Yes, God is COUNTING on us to use the gifts He's given us.

And we will have to give Him an accounting.

Guess I should stop blogging and get back to work....How about you do the same.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Read Tiffany's full novel "A Face in the Shadow" one chapter at a time by going to http://tiffanycolter.blogspot.com

See you next Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

As unto the Lord

Right now I'm in a time of harvest. I have many opportunities to write stories I love. My creativity is flowing and life is getting back to normal.

However, as I've walked out this Christian life these last few years I've also learned that I cannot allow my confidence to remain in what I'm seeing now. Things can and do change.

Also, I can't be afraid of the changes that are coming.

As I was thinking about what to blog today I thought about the phrase "As unto the Lord". God tells us to do everything as if we're working for Him. I really think that is the key to not being overly confident in the good times, or being fearful in the bad times. We have to do everything for Him.

By that I don't mean "okay, God. This is yours." What I mean is if you were turning it in to God. If you walked in to work and told your boss you'd do your job "When you got a chance"-how long would you have that job?

I think many times we convince ourselves that God will wait forever on us-that we can put Him off.

But what if I got up tomorrow and I recognized that the creator of the universe has said "Here is your assignment. I'm going to give you the provision. The ability and the opportunity. I need you to work hard on this-be focused. Give me 120% of your efforts and abilities. Then let me multiply them."

How would your day look different? Your week?

If your kids come home tomorrow night and say "The teacher gave me a project. I have to make a paper mache volcano by tomorrow." Would you say "Well, let's sit down and think about the volcano." Then start watching TV. Play online solitaire and answer 27 emails. Then send your child off the next day.

NOPE!!

Whether a volcano or studying for a test...you'd have them do it.

Will the pay off be at the moment they turn that assignment in? Nope.

It could take years. A decade. More.

I spent 13 years in school [K-12], then 4 years of college and six years of studying writing. Most of my time was spent learning, trusting, asking, being rejected...and starting over again.

When we are writing for the Lord NOTHING is wasted.

But when we put Him off, you're wasting everything.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

I hope that you will all come over to my new fiction blog. I am posting an entire novel there, one chapter at a time. This is the book that won the Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in Suspense/Fiction Unpublished Division in 2007. It is also the story that turned my writing around.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Peace: Was it a plan from the beginning?

I was watching my new grandson, Jude, sleeping in my arms. He has no power other than his cry. He has no worries other than when he cries. He doesn't concern himself with schedules or work or all those lists. He merely rests until he wakes.

I know I cannot go back to that stage, but maybe I can start practicing the lesson in it.

It seems so hard to slow down and be at peace in the frenetic life we live.

Funny thing, though, when I hold little Jude, the world just slows down. No meetings, business or major issues can pull me away. I think babies, powerless, hold the power to relaxation and peace in all this craziness.

Consider God's thoughts from the beginning of time...He knew he could create human beings in any way he chose. Yet he chose to start us as completely helpless. As infants to be cared for by busy adults.

Is it possible that God uses an infant to reach into frantic adults and swing us back on track? Back toward the purpose he really made us for? Back to an intense focus on caring for others?

I kind of think so. And I'm at peace over that idea.

Angie
Please visit me over at God Uses Broken Vessels for a daily post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is Head-Hopping Amateur Writing or A Writer's Tool?

Posted by Eileen Astels

Well...let's see what the experts say:

"Head-hopping--shifts in POV from one character to another within a scene--signals the work of an amateur to an editor, who will toss the manuscript out without a second glance even if a good story might be hidden beneath the head-hopping POV." From Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin (pg. 128).

"When you jump from head to head, as in the Lonesome Dove example, you're trying to achieve narrative intimacy with all your characters at once, and readers will almost always find that more confusing than engaging." From Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King (pg. 52).

"I recommend the discipline of 'one scene, one point of view.' If you need to change POV, you should start a new chapter or leave white space to signal the switch." (pg. 65)

and

"Avoid Muddy Viewpoints: Each scene needs to have a clear point-of-view character. The rule is one POV per scene. No 'head hopping.'" (pg.241) From Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell.

"In general, I advise the less-experienced writer not to mix points of view within the same scene, chapter, or even the same novel. It is unsettling to the reader. If you mix points of view, the author's authority seems to dissolve. The writer seems arbitrary rather than controlled. Sticking to a point of view intensifies the experience of a story. A wavering or uncertain point of view will diminish the experience for the reader.

The experienced writer who has mastered point of view can experiment with tightly controlled yet shifting viewpoints." From Stein on Writing by Sol Stein (pg. 129).


The general consensus seems to be that head-hopping is ill-advised. It can not only confuse the reader, it also detracts from achieving narrative intimacy with your characters. Even in Stol Stein's Stein on Writing writer's manual, where he suggests that an experienced writer might utilize head-hopping, he recommends it be done in a "tightly controlled" way. That implies, to me, that he's not saying that the experienced writer may have the skills to flawlessly alternate POV multiple times on a single page, or within a single scene, or chapter, without disrupting the story flow or the bonding of reader to character. He is rather, suggesting, that if sparingly done, and for good reason, the experienced writer can alternate POV within their novels at appropriate break points in such a way that the readers can become intimate with more than one story character.

So why do we find newly published books with head-hopping, when clearly we are instructed for several good reasons not to mess with the "Stick with one POV per scene or chapter" rule?

Is it amateurs who produce these head-hopping books that somehow slip past the editor's desk unedited it would seem?

From my findings, head-hopping is usually found in works by established authors. It's almost as if the rules are relaxed for the multi-published. Either that, or the editors are trusting their authors, and no longer actually read what is submitted.

When an author can get away with switching point of view every few lines repeatedly within their manuscript, in scenes where it is clearly unnecessary, then to me it's lazy writing and not only messes with my mind, trying to bounce from character to character, it ruins the story. No longer am I anxious to discover what the other character thought of what just transpired in that scene. By revealing both characters POV at once nothing is held back, therefore intrigue or suspense is at best weakened, at worst, nonexistent. And that's just wrong in the eyes of this reader/writer.

There are readers out there who supposedly aren't affected by head-hopping. But I wonder just how much more effective the piece would be to them if the story were written in such a way that they could experience it for just a little bit longer through a single character's POV? Would they enjoy the anticipation of discovering what the other character might be thinking, rather than knowing it immediately?

When I write my first drafts, I admit, I often head-hop. It's so easy to do, and helps me understand my characters better. But then I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I learn about my characters as the story unfolds. It's in the second draft that I clean that head-hopping up and discover how to utilize the single POV rule to my advantage. By sticking to one POV per scene, I am able to add more intrigue and suspense to the story, but even more importantly, I'm able to deepen the POV character's characterization. A lot can be shown about who a character is and what makes them tick, when we see other characters through their eyes.

Does the non-existence of head-hopping in a novel ever bother a reader, I wonder? I've never heard of anyone complain of such a thing. So, for the sake of those readers who do find head-hopping frustrating and unappealing, it would be nice if all authors, established or otherwise, would take the time and energy to follow the "no head-hopping" rule. Then I could really enjoy every good story without technique getting in the way!

So what are your thoughts on head-hopping? Really, I want to know!

Blessings,

Eileen