Friday, October 31, 2008



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

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.

Friday, October 24, 2008


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

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 My first novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, sold about eight months later in a two-book deal.


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 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

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

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

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.


Whether a volcano or studying for a'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.

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)


"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!



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Create Buzz

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

What do you think of when you hear "Create Buzz". I think of some movie star and their roller coaster life going out for a movie premier.

But we don't want to be movie stars. We don't want to see the insane climbs and drops of their life. So what so we want.

We want to be seen. We want to be recognized.

My degree is in political science [so yes, this year long presidential race in the US is a BLAST for me!!] and so I understand the importance of name recognition. Studies have shown that unknown voters unfamilar with a candidates views will superimpose their own beliefs on to that candidate and vote for them.

For writers this mean that name recognition may get the reader to give you a chance when they are browsing a bookstore looking for something to read. Seeing your name-and recognizing it-may be enough to simply grab the book.

Book jackets and cover art are great only but in a bookstore your name and title will be sideways on a shelf. The only chance you have is a great title or a recognizable name.

I have a few ways that I'm working to get my name more recognized.

* I have 'followed' blogs that I read often on blogger. This not only provides one convenient place on my dashboard to scan blogs that interest me, but if the blogger shows their followers people will see me among them. This could lead to someone checking my blog out.
* I leave comments on other blogs when I have something meaningful to say or a legitimate question. I used to email the blogger to ask a question but now I create more of a dialog by posting my question in the comments. I've had a few people come over to my blog because they saw my comment.
* Writing Articles. I write for online Ezines in addition to print media. Anything to get my name in front of people. And then I talk about being in those publications.
* I talk about speaking engagements. All of you should know by now that I'm speaking at the Midwest Dreams Writer's Conference and the Y-City Writer's Conference. I promote those conferences and they tell others about me.

What ways do you have to increase your name recognition? Are you doing them?

Come on over to my main blog and join the discussion or join my fiction blog and be the first to see chapter one of "A Face in the Shadow".

So now you know my name, what are you doing to help us learn yours?

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and Writing Career Coach. She offers business building classes to writers as well as mentorship and career planning. She can be reached at

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Writer Retreats

I am so excited to be planning on the Montana Romance Writer's retreat in a week and a half. These ladies are becoming very close friends who don't even mind when I go off track and write non-fiction on them.

We are cloistering in a mountain cabin with no electricity, phones or any way to be interrupted.

How cool is that?

I can't wait. I did go buy a new back up battery for my laptop. Lol, I have to use Lila, my handy-dandy laptop. Lila was named by my son a few years ago for the lilac brocade bag I carry her around in. And yes, Lila has to be a she :-D I don't think any fellow would like wearing lilac brocade everywhere ;-)

I am looking forward to the intense writing time, the friendships, the brainstorming and getting away from all the normal daily activities.

It's a retreat, yes, but I think it is also a soul rest. So different and so necessary for me. Refreshing and invigorating for my work. My biggest goal for that weekend is to finish my book, Insanity Rules. Okay, that IS my goal, lol. But I'm also looking forward to a few nights of solid sleep. I haven't had many of those in the last several weeks of business travel.

I see myself celebrating finishing the non-fiction book of my heart. I see the goal. And I'm thrilled that I'll be able to share it with other women who can completely understand the heart that has gone into it.

Thanks for letting me share today. Please visit over at God Uses Broken Vessels for my daily blog :-)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Some Thoughts on Rejection

Well, the ACFW conference is over for another year.
Many of the attendees will have returned home excited, perhaps even elated, at how their appointments went or with the positive feedback they were given on their work. But others will have left feet dragging and hearts heavy.
I've experienced both. This year I was blessed to be in the first group, but today I'd like to encourage any of you who might place yourself in the second. I would like to share a piece I wrote over the summer that appeared on my agent's site when I was one of her guest bloggers. I got a lot of encouraging comments from it, so I thought it might be worth posting here, incase someone didn't read it when it first came out in August. I hope it will meet your need today. My email is at the side, I'm always around if you need someone to vent with or just need a cyber hug or some extra encouragement!

Grace in Rejection

by Catherine West

Ah, the freedom of summer vacation. No schedule to keep, no early wake-up calls, able to stay up until 1 a.m. watching gymnastics…

I’ve taken this opportunity to clean out my laptop. Going through some old files, I came across some emails written during a very painful time in my life. I’d searched and found my birth mother, and I discovered I had a sister who knew nothing about me. My birth mother refused to tell her. Ever. I was backed into a corner—do I contact my sister against my birth mother’s wishes or do nothing, and live with the pain of never knowing the sister I so desperately wanted?

Tough call. After a few excruciating months on my knees, I knew God wanted me to walk away, to not contact my sister, but let Him deal with it.

I found the email I’d written, letting my prayer partners know of that decision. I told them I felt led to offer my birth mother grace, by this definition:

Mercy; clemency;
A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
An excellence or power granted by God.

I also said I knew it was the right thing to do because it hurt the most. My pastor wrote me that day, saying he had no doubt that God would honor my obedience. Four months later, God blew the doors wide open on that situation, and I now have a very strong and wonderful relationship with the sister I thought I would never know.

That’s great, Cath, but how does this apply to my writing life? I’m so glad you asked. Three points: Rejection. Obedience. Grace.

If you’ve been at this writing thing a while, you’ve probably been hurt a time or two. Let’s face it; rejection is no walk on the beach. You spend hours, days, months, years maybe, working on something you’ve poured your heart and soul into, send it out and wait with bated breath, only to be told it’s just not good enough.

Translation - you’re just not good enough.

We know rejection really isn’t personal. But in those few minutes after the discouraging words sink in, no matter how kindly put, it sure feels personal, doesn’t it? I know. I’ve cried more than a few tears over those rejection letters. But did you ever think that in each rejection you receive, God is offering you grace?

Maybe you need a few more months to work on that manuscript. Perhaps you’ll go back to it and find a whole new angle you hadn’t thought of before that really kicks your story up a notch. Perhaps the publisher who just rejected you is headed for bankruptcy. Could be they just weren’t the company or the person God wants you working with.

Accepting a rejection letter is an act of obedience to God.

It’s easy to wail, tear your hair out and aim darts at pictures of agents and editors (I have never done this), it’s not so easy to accept that the door you wanted to walk through so badly has closed for a reason. But, if you trust God with your life, if you truly believe you are called to write, called to pursue publication, then you have to trust God with your career.

God does have a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan includes the grief rejection brings. But after years in the field, I can tell you there is something to be learned from each no you get.

Don’t give up when that SASE shows up in your mailbox. Just put your hand in His, let Him dry your tears and lead you on down the road a stretch. One day, if you persevere, there will be rich rewards.

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4 NAS

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How I Market My Novels

by Molly Noble Bull

Don’t you just hate those maddening telephone calls from telemarketers?
I do. But as authors, we must market out books. Otherwise, nobody will read them except our moms, siblings, aunts and high school English teachers.
What I Did
My marketing plan starts with the basics, and I do some of the same things that most authors do. I have bookmarks and other such advertising materials printed and distribute them. I attend writers’ conferences and have book signings. I send out letters or emails to people I know from high school, college, family gatherings, work, and in my community and tell about my newest novel or novels. Whenever possible, I include photos of the covers of my books. I take part in interviews. In other words, I answer questions about my books and my personal history via blogs, newspapers, radio and/or television interviews. I also send out copies of my books to be reviewed and enter contests for writers.
Besides these activities, I had articles on fiction writing published in the Christian Communicator magazine. At the end of each article, I added my personal bio that included information on my books as well as my upcoming ones.
I had a short story, “Getting It Right,” published in an anthology, and it was reprinted in a Chicken Soup anthology. Therefore, I was paid twice for about a 1000 word story. What made the short story especially fruitful was the fact that my bio and book information was published each time my short story came out.
I thought of it as being paid to advertise my books.
Finally, I write a monthly hardcover column, “Books That Inspire,” that appears in a local magazine called South Texas Living. In my column, I inform readers of all my books as well as the books of fellow authors, and at the end of each article, my web address appears under my byline.
You might be thinking. “Okay. We know what you did, Molly. Now tell us how you did it.”
How I Did It
To answer the “how I did it” question, I must stress the word bold. Waiting for these opportunities to fall into my lap is not my style. I seek them out. I make the first move. For example, I phoned my local Christian radio station and asked for a radio interview. I noticed the local magazine and called the publisher, asking if she might like a monthly column on books. I also contacted a Christian television station and asked the same thing. All three were interested.
Though I still refuse to phone strangers as telemarketers do, I am open to most other marketing ideas. I hope my marketing ideas will inspire you to come up with new ways to market your books, and don’t forget to be bold.

Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award and tied for first place in the 2008 Winter Rose contest, both for published inspirational authors.
Click below to hear a two-minute excerpt from Sanctuary.
Proverbs 30: 4