Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tooting Your Own Horn

Molly Noble Bull

Is there a difference between promoting your books and tooting your own horn? I'm still not sure. However, I know it's important to advertise. Otherwise, how can I expect to sell my novels once they are published?
I would have no problem advetising somebody else's product--if I believed in that product. But somehow, when it's my books, I feel differently.
How do you spell VANITY?
Nevertheless, today I am tooting my own horn.
Read on or plug your ears.
I will be signing copies of Sanctuary, my long historical, at Waldenbooks in the Padre-Staples Mall in Corpus Christi, Texas on Saturday, May 3, 2008, from two until four in the afternoon. The address is 5488 SPID.
Sanctuary recently won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the Inspirational Category for published authors. The contest was sponsored by the Southern Magic Chapter of Romance Writers of America located in Birmingham, Alabama.
So now, I horn toot. Honk. Honk.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I'll know if you leave a comment below.

Monday, April 28, 2008


"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength..."
You all know the verse. I'm still waiting for those eagles wings, but I do know about waiting.
If you have been in the writing world for any length of time, you no doubt know that much of your time will be spent waiting.
The easy part is writing the manuscript. Okay, maybe not so easy. But once you've made sure your book is the best it can be, maybe you've even spent some money to send it to a freelance editor, which I do recommend if you can afford it, you then have to start sending out those queries.
And the waiting begins.
Since I've been at this a while, I can tell you, waiting is hard. And I don't seem to be getting any better at it.
Fortunately, a lot of agents and some publishers are now taking queries via email. You should hear back
from most people within a few days, check their websites as they will likely give you a response time.
Email can be tricky though. If you don't hear back within the alloted time, don't be afraid to follow-up, via email
of course. I've done this a couple of times only to find out that my query got lost in cyberspace.
However, once you know your query has been received, what then?
I'll share some things that have worked for me in the past, and some things that don't work.

* First of all, do NOT spend hours reviewing the manuscript you just sent out! You will find a million heinous mistakes
and you will want to shoot yourself. If it's gone it's gone. I still haven't mastered the art of not looking if any of you
have, let me know how to beat this devil.
* Try working on something new. I am the Queen of Unfinished Projects. At this point in time I have at least four unfinished manuscripts waiting for me to get started on. When my completed project first left my computer, I think I went into mourning. I really couldn't bring myself to work on anything. But I gave myself a little time, and then got cracking on the next book. How did I pick which one to work on? I chose the one that spoke the loudest, the story that wouldn't stop playing in my head.
* If you need to take a break, do. While you're waiting for news on a proposal, you may need to rest. Sometimes stepping away from the computer and recharging those batteries can do you the world of good. I once rested for five years. I'm not recommending you stay away for that long, unless you need to, but it certainly allowed me to put things in perspective, and when I was ready to write again, I knew it was because God wanted me to.
* Spend time with God. I do this while I'm cleaning the house, gardening or just relaxing outside. I sometimes get so busy I have a hard time hearing Him. I need to stop and listen, and seek His will. If I didn't do this, I'd be a nervous wreck.
* Finally, remind yourself just how far you've come. Whether you have a query out there or a full manuscript, you've accomplished something many writers never do. Trust in yourself, your ability, and the plan God has for you. After all, as the verse says, you're not really waiting on that publisher or agent, you are waiting on the LORD.

And when all else fails I definitely recommend eating out a lot at your favorite restaurant because you're just too stressed to cook, and shopping.
Happy Waiting!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Montana Romance Writers

Well, I'm excited to announce the new RWA (Romance Writer's of America) chapter that is forming in Montana!

We met Sat, Apr 26th at the Missoula Public Library.

We have a new Google calendar and a new blog/website. But be kind to us as we get ourselves up and running:-) All you have to do is go to Montana Romance Writers and follow along as we ramp it up this year!

We even have officers. And guess who is the Newsletter Editor! Moi!

Anyway, I'm not planning on much rest today as we get ready to head out to Thailand. We're picking up our daughter and touring to learn all about her experiences this last year.

So for the next Sunday, I'll be letting my daughter order all my food! I won't have a clue!

See you in a few weeks.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Coffee, Tea, & Me

You know, there's a lovely prayer I once read. It's the Tea Cup Prayer. I lent the book out years ago and don't remember where it went. Sad really. But the good writing that stuck with me over all this time still influences my thoughts.

The gist of the Tea Cup Prayer is that you put your thoughts visually into the steam that rises up toward heaven.

I love that idea because it meshes really well with one of my favorite verses, Romans 8:26.


So glad you asked ;-)

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that our prayers can only be heard if they are spoken. But Romans 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit searches our hearts and minds and takes our needs directly to God. (Angie's paraphrased version.)

One day, 16 or 17 years ago, I hit bottom. I couldn't even voice the pain in my soul. I didn't think God could hear me anymore. Then I read that verse. I was surprised, but I needed so badly to be able to pray in images rather than words. The grief, pain, need was too great for words.

Then later, I read the Tea Cup Prayer and more fully understood the concept of silent prayer. I'm sure there are many ways to pray silently. It just so happened that this idea struck a chord.

Now whenever I can take a moment with that first hot drink, I watch the steam rise and curl toward heaven. I picture the faces of people I want to pray for, I place my fears and needs into the aroma, and I release the pent up feelings as the aroma lifts to the nostrils of God.

I ask him to see, hear, and accept my prayers. I ask him to breathe them in. I picture the curling mist streaming into the throne room. Then I imagine God's eyes closing as he inhales. His chest lifts with the breath. And his eyes open.

They glow love and compassion.

They look directly into my soul.

He lifts his hand toward me.

The answer is already on the way.

I thank him.

I rest, waiting for the answer to arrive.

Enjoy your coffee or tea in a new way today,
PS Please visit me over at God Uses Broken Vessels for my daily posts :-D

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Article Writing

Like fiction writing, an article should begin with a hook to catch the interest of the reader. Articles should tell a story, report an event or teach a lesson. If it teaches a lesson, it should never include more than three points.
But no matter what type of article you choose to write, whatever was mentioned in the first of the article should be repeated at the end -- but in a different way.
Below is one of my articles.
I would love to know what you think of this lesson on article writing and the article below as well. If you click COMMENT at the end and write something, I will know.
Molly Noble Bull

Heavenly Music

The Bible states that the stars and planets once sang together--produced sound. (Job 38:7) I have always known this was true because the Bible said so. [The Heavens declare the glory of God. . . . Psalm 19: 1-5] The music of the spheres was even mentioned in a song elementary school students once sang in public school music.
Now science proves this to be true. The sun produces music. Apparently huge coils of hot, electrified gas in the Sun’s atmosphere produce sound waves much like the sound carried in a pipe organ.
Click below or copy the web addresses to read all about it.;_ylt=AnH.T7S5jVS.ziUephf3UOP737YB
Other scriptures prove that the Lord knew about all this thousands of years ago. Here is one more.
Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over us with singing.
# # #
Molly Noble Bull is a published novelist and writes for the Christian market only. Her newest long historical, Sanctuary, won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2008 in the Inspirational category. To find any of Molly’s books at an online book store, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot.
To learn more about Molly, her family, her books and her testimony, please visit her website.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Some friends and I went to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conference in Jacksonville, Fl. a couple of weeks ago. It was a time for fun and refreshment, but we actually learned a few things along the way, too.

One thing I love about Beth’s Bible studies and teachings is that she often digs into the Greek or Hebrew meanings of passages and explains where our current translations originated. She did that quite a bit with the passage she taught that weekend, Philippians 3. She touched on things within the whole chapter, but especially focused on verses 12-14 about pressing toward the goals – and the prize – that Christ has laid out for us.

Part of verse 12 reads, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Here’s part of what I loved from Beth’s lesson: the original Greek word that many translations (such as the NIV) record as “take hold” is katalambano – which means “to take eagerly, to seize, possess, apprehend, perceive, (over)take.” The King James translation actually reads “I follow after, if that I might apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Doesn’t a word like “apprehend” sound much more deliberate than something like “possess” or “take hold”? Gets your attention, doesn't it? Webster says “apprehend” means things like “to take into custody, capture or arrest.” To me, using a word like “apprehend” is much more action oriented and shows that Christ doesn’t just claim us – He claims and captures us for a particular reason!

Still with me? I hope so, because here’s the tie-in with writing (I know … finally!). If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re interested in writing for the Christian market. Well, guess what? You don’t have all those plots, characters and interesting tidbits floating around in your mind for no reason. You don’t overhear snatches of conversation at the grocery store and find ways to weave them into your novel just because you’re bored. You have these things because God has given them to you. But He didn’t give them to you just to keep to yourself in your imaginary mind world. He gave them to you because He wants you to share them with others!

Christ has apprehended you to write His words and tell His message. How cool is that?! He has certain messages for you to write, but probably also has certain audiences in mind for you to reach. I love writing for women and speaking to women’s groups, but also have a special place in my heart for middle school girls (which probably goes back to my own memories of how hard that time in life was for me). I believe God calls me to write and speak to them – which I take even more seriously than my writing or speaking for women, because pre-teen and teenage girls are in such an impressionable phase of life. I teach upper elementary and middle grades Sunday school, have taught Bible studies for middle school girls, and have 2 devotional books for that age coming out this year. And although I’m currently working on a novel for women, I know I’ll go back to writing for girls at some point – God just won’t let me let go of them.

So what about you? What audience has Christ captured your heart for? Who has He apprehended you to write for in a way no one else can? The inspirational market covers all genres and age groups, and they’re all important. Let’s start the week by sharing stories about who God is calling us to write for and why we think He’s blessed us with that calling.

Have a beautiful week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

To Plot or Not?

I confess, I'm a SOTP'er. For those not familiar with this term, it means Seat of The Pants Writer. Which means that I don't generally plot anything before I sit down to write.
Is this a good thing? I'm so glad you asked. Um... I'm not sure.
If you receive the ACFW loop emails, you'll know there has been much, much discussion on the subject. Those who plot just don't understand why the rest of us don't.
In my humble opinion, I think it comes down to doing what works for you.
When I get an idea for a story, I'll jot down a few things on paper, names, locations etc... But my yen is to just write a few chapters to get a feel for the mood, setting of the story, and who my characters are. Then I can sit back and take stock of what I've got so far to see if it feels right. What usually ends up happening is that those first few chapters get scrapped. But it gets the story out of my head and into the computer which is where it needs to be. I breathe a lot easier if I know I have at least five chapters under my belt, even if they're not great chapters. Something is better than nothing.

So what's wrong with plotting? Absolutely nothing. I really admire those folks who get their ideas and immediately
set out to draw timelines, bar graphs and elaborate storyboards before they've written word one. When they do start writing,
they know exactly where they're going and why. I'm sure their story may change a few times along the way, but they have a plan.
I prefer to wander aimlessly through the forest until I find the right path to walk down.
I have tried to plot. I've read books, tried the snowflake method, spent a couple hundred bucks on Dramatica Pro - I just can't seem to get the hang of the whole plotting thing.
With my last book, I did end up having to do a lot of re-writing because of course, the plot that wasn't plotted didn't work.
But I didn't mind the extra time and effort. After all, when you're learning something, no time is wasted time.
Now I kind of tend to plot as I go. I'll write things down, but I really won't know for sure how the whole thing is going to turn out until I get to the end. I like it that way. For instance, I struggled with naming a particular character. I finally came up with something but I'm still not sure it works. Until I've written him, I won't know him.
We're all wired differently and that's a good thing! The world would be really boring if we weren't and God wouldn't have nearly as much work to do. I can't really explain how my writing process works, but it does. Once I start a book, it comes alive in my head. I'll get scenes playing out in my mind, then I'll write them down. They either work or they don't.
However, a caution. If you're thinking this freestyle method of writing sounds like a blast, please don't misunderstand me. There are rules and we must follow them. Yes, I know, we don't like rules.
But if you are an unpublished writer and you really do hope to change that status one day, find out what the rules are and obey them.
First and foremost, your story must make sense! You must be able to create characters that will draw a reader in and want to become a part of their lives. Your characters must have certain goals they need to achieve, and they must be believable.
Study the genre you want to write in and know your craft. Get a handle on POV. Don't head hop. Don't write in first person...
Oops, did I say that out loud? Okay, you can write in first if you must. It's not my preference. But that's okay. As I said, we're all different!
If you're not a member of American Christian Fiction Writers or another writing organization, sign up today! The cost is minimal compared to the wealth of knowledge and encouragement you will receive.
Join a critique group. Grow a thick skin.
Believe in yourself.
So many things go into becoming a writer that I could sit here for hours just telling you about them.
But I won't. Not today anyway.
It's your turn. Tell me about your writing methods. What works for you and what doesn't?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Writing About HIM

Who Hold the Wind?
by Molly Noble Bull

Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down? Who holds the wind in His fist? Who wraps up the oceans in His cloak? Who has created the whole wide world? What is His name--and his son's name? Tell me if you know.
Proverbs 30: 4
After reading scriptures verses like this, how could Israel have missed him when he came the first time? How could our friends and family miss him now? How could they not know that he is the only begotten son of God the Father?
I know His name and His son's name. Do you?
If you know, say or sing His name and his son's name aloud. Shout it from the house tops.
For Jesus (Yeshua) is coming soon.

Proverbs 30: 4

Monday, April 7, 2008

Season's Change

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

It’s becoming clearer that it’s spring. At least, in my neck of the woods. The temperature is warmer, the trees are starting to look healthy again, even a flower has popped up here and there.

A new season has begun.

In a way, a new season has begun with my writing, too. In January, an opportunity plopped into my lap which allowed me to quit my job to stay home and write. This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I mean, what writer doesn’t dream of sitting in front of the computer all day getting paid to do what he or she loves to do? Now, when people ask me what I do, I can say without hesitation, “I am a freelance writer.”

My job consists of different assignments – ghostwriting web content, writing monthly newsletters, conducting author interviews, and moderating two separate forum communities. I am so grateful to God for providing me with all of these wonderful opportunities to earn money for my family. And not for one second do I ever regret my decision to quit my job. I love what I do!!!

But…my freelance work keeps me extremely busy. On the surface, this is great! But, unfortunately, it doesn’t leave much time for my first love…fiction.

I entered two manuscripts in the Genesis contest. Of course, I am hoping I final and the results should be announced soon. Since neither novel is finished, I am itching to work on them. I want so badly to have an extra couple days per week to work exclusively on my novels. I want to lose myself in my stories and simply create. I want to spend more time on the ACFW loop. I long to join another critique group. I want to write fiction!

But, for now, a new season has begun.

This season, I am freelancing to make money for my family. I may squeeze in twenty minutes here or there to work on my novels (and I'll take that!). However, at that rate, it will be a long time before I type, “The end” on either of them.

Looking out my window today reminds me that season’s change. And before I know it, the time will come when my season of freelancing will fade and the season for writing fiction again – regularly, anyway - will begin to appear.

Today, my prayer for you is that whatever season you’re in, you’ll find beauty.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I know, I know. Unusual title ;-) But this week I did something very unusual. I took a really long nap. In fact, it lasted 2 or 3 hours. The kitty, Ted E. Cat, snuggled with me. Ah, it was so comfortable.

I'd been to a physical training session that was INTENSE! Afterward, my body shook from the work out. My trainer told me to get some food in my body quickly to replenish the energy stores.

I did that. And then I worked the rest of the afternoon in my home office.

About 4:30p.m. I absolutely couldn't keep my eyes open any more. Plopped on the couch, my feet managed to migrate up onto the cushions.

I woke up around 7p.m.! I felt great, hungry, and totally surprised!

I guess sometimes we need to listen to our bodies and sleep for restoration.

When you are just too tired, nap!

PS Please visit me over at God Uses Broken Vessels for my daily posts and a tour of Montana.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Some Favorites

On the ACFW email loop recently, there was a discussion about what kind of things we would like to read more of. What kind of heroine, type of plot, style of writing. It’s been interesting to see what everyone has to say on the subject because I, um, sort of like to read. Okay, I love it. In fact, I’m addicted.

I’ll read funny, heart-wrenching (in small doses), thriller, mystery, historical, whatever. If I don’t have a book in front of me, I’ll read the back of the cereal box. I read while I wash the dishes, take a shower, and walk the dog. In elementary school, I read while I walked in line, in between songs in band, and whenever I could sneak the book out of my desk. I've read a lot of good books that have provided an escape, made me laugh out loud and (rarely, but still) made me cry. Many have taught me things, and there are some that have left me feeling challenged to become a better person, to change my outlook, to hold more tightly to my faith. Here are three, in no particular order:

A Voice In The Wind, by Francine Rivers: The first in her Mark of the Lion series, this book is set in Rome. It has a rich, historical setting, a love story, and most of all, a slave girl who is an amazing witness for Christ. It's a book that challenges me to live my faith, unashamed, no matter the consequences. (Warning: make sure to read the first chapter of book 2. Otherwise, you might want to burn this book. :-) )

Quaker Summer, by Lisa Samson: This book has a contemporary setting, and is a light, quirky read with deep truths. The heroine is a middle-aged mom, the wife of a doctor, and a compulsive shopper. She's confronted with her need to get past the material and see things in the light of eternity. (Warning: don't read this while on vacation! :-) )

Waters of Marah, by Sylvia Bambola: A contemporary story of a woman finding independence and, eventually, herself. It's a gentle read--nothing earth-shattering or brilliantly new--but there's something about the heroine's growing relationship with God that warms my heart. She calls Him Beautiful Jesus, and her attitude toward Him makes me yearn for that close, sweet relationship as well.

What about you? What books have you read that challenged you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Writing With Sticks and Stones

by Molly Noble Bull

We have all heard the saying. Sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will never hurt me.
But is this a true statement? Do words hurt?
The answer is yes. Words spoken in anger and sarcasm hurt. Sometimes our words harm others when that is the last thing we want to do.
But did you know that words also heal?
When I sit down to write an email to someone, I begin by writing out all the important things I want to say in my message. Or I reply to what someone else has said by putting in my two cents. Sometimes I present a need and ask for prayer. At other times I simply report what I consider to be important facts that I read about or heard on the news.
Let us say that today I want to report something that I heard on the news. My message might sound like this.

Dear Sally,
Be sure to tune in to the Fox News Channel tonight at seven central time. They are going to interview a doctor who once preformed abortions but is now pro-life.

Now I am ready to check for mistakes in spelling and send my message.

Often, at this point, the Lord steps in and reminds me to say something personal to Sally, the one who will be receiving my message. In other words, it’s time to send my words of healing. It is at this point that I go back and write something between "Dear Sally" and "Be sure to tune in--." This is when I write in something that may be pleasing or helpful.
Sally might not be able to watch the Fox News Channel that night. She might have a previous engagement or not be especially interested in the topic I mentioned. But everybody needs words of encouragement.
Here is a sample of what I might then write to Sally.

Dear Sally,
Good morning.
I was so glad to hear that your daughter placed in that swimming match she entered last week. Tell her I said to keep up the good work.
And please know that I will be praying for you when you go in to have your Mammogram on Friday. Since I always pray in the name of Jesus, I think that means that Jesus will be praying for you, too.
You might want to tune in to the Fox News Channel tonight at seven central time. They are going to interview a doctor who once preformed abortions but is now pro-life.

When you tell someone you will be praying for them, be sure to pray. To do otherwise would mean you were telling a lie. What I often do is pray for the person a head of time. That way, instead of saying "I will be praying for you," I say, "I just prayed for you."