Saturday, January 31, 2009

Contest Judges

by Molly Noble Bull

I have judged a lot of contests, and though I cannot speak for all published authors, my aim as a contest judge is to help, not hurt others. Therefore, it is often hard to critique the work of new writers.
Experienced writers want to tell new writers what is wrong with their manuscripts so their work will sell. But not all published authors are experts at giving helpful advice in a gentle way. We can sound too harsh.
I do not personally know any published author that would ever want to hurt a new writer. Please believe me on this. Since we don't want to offend new writers or discourage them, we don't like to critique their work. So often when new writers request help, published authors refuse. It's just too painful -- for us.
So we say we are just too busy to help. But for me, it is often that I just don't want to take the chance of hurting someone.
At the same time, if someone wants my honest opinion, I feel obligated to give it.
If you have the desire to write books, it is probably because somebody has told you that you have talent. I would guess that you DO have talent. Otherwise, you would never want to write books.
I was never good at sports. Therefore, I never considered trying out for the girls' basketball team.
We are all drawn to things we do well.
So I am going to make a statement I cannot prove. Most if not all new writers have talent in creative writing or they would never have the desire to write in the first place.
But that does not mean they are ready to sell their work.
Someone told me years ago that when you have finished your first novel, you just completed your freshman year in novel writing. For me, selling my first novel meant that I had completed four undergraduate novels, two more for a masters degree and was working on my doctorate in novel writing.
After reading the work of a new writer, sometimes my opinion is that the person must read a few more books on writing and do a lot of rewriting before they are ready to sell.
The truth is that probably all published writers have been hurt by gobs of rejections and bad critiques. We have also been hurt by what an editor said in her rejection letter. But we learned from these bumps in the road and kept on writing. New writers must learn from them, too, and keep on writing.
My advice for what it is worth.
When a published author gives you a bad critique, thank them for taking the time to read your work. And if they give you good advice, take it. You just might sell a book.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God is my market

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

As I continue to build my writing business I have encountered a few different kinds of people. The one I'd like to hone in on today is Christians. I am a Christian and I know that there are times where we hold up our hands in frustration and want to scream "God, what in the world are you asking me to do?"

The trait that I'm noticing more and more is "Well, if God wants me to write He'll bring the projects my way."

Excuse my irreverence but that is like saying "If God wants me to give He'll cause my wallet to jump out of my pocket."

The reason I act so strongly to that statement is because most of the time when I am talking to someone and they say that they've done virtually NOTHING to improve their craft. They've submitted very few queries [if any at all] and they're "Waiting on God."

Anyone who knows me knows that I want to live a life of obedience that honors God. I also know that He knows how to get my attention. Once He told me to write I went full speed ahead except for the eight months when God CLEARLY told me to stop for a season.

Other than that I have taken classes, read books, written words, learned to market and any number of other skills to grow as a writer.

Spend time in His presence to find out if He wants you here...and if you know He does then get out there and do it. Even the Israelites in the desert had to walk out of their tent to collect the Manna God sent.

Do we think we should do any less?

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
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.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wit's End?

Sometimes we just get to our wit's end with people. Maybe it happens in long meetings or when we get tired of the discouraging nay-sayer. Sometimes we just get to our wit's end.

Thank God that He provides friends who listen.

I've found a wonderful resting place in friends who are willing to let me release my feelings. An ear to hear and an understanding heart works wonders on a worn out stressed brain. I feel so blessed to realize that God created friendship for just this purpose.

Friends are a resting place for our weariness. They are also the gift of comfort, the voice of reason and a superb celebration station!

But today, I celebrate that when I'm at my wit's end God has given me friends to rest my burdens and to help carry theirs.

Have you ever thought of your friends as a resting place?

Please visit with me over at God Uses Broken Vessels too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Michelle Sutton, author of It's Not About Me.

by Molly Noble Bull

Molly: Today I am interviewing Michelle Sutton, my good friend and a fellow author. Michelle’s first novel, It’s Not About Me, has just been released. Okay Michelle, let’s get right to the big questions. Who is Michelle Sutton? What is your web address? And tell us about your online magazine.

Michelle: I’m an edgy Christian fiction author who loves to tell a story. I write YA fiction and Women’s fiction. My web address is
I am also Editor-in-chief of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, which was born July 1, 2008 and is an offshoot of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Both CFBA and CFOM promote Christian fiction by providing information and tours on the latest novels coming out in the Christian fiction world. See and

Molly: It’s Not About Me was written for teenagers. What made you decide to write for that age group?

Michelle: Actually the characters are 19, 20 and 23 so they aren’t exactly teens, but the story has a young adult voice. It just came out that way. There are few books for young adults in high school and college, so I am targeting that market, though I’ve had people as young as 9 and as old as 83 read my book. They say it has universal appeal in that as long as you remember being young and in love, you will enjoy it. You don’t have to be YA.

Molly: Tell us a little about your novel, introduce your characters and the main conflict or conflicts.

Michelle: This is a story about a young woman who is an only child and has great parents and a happy life. She was also blessed with good looks and a sharp mind. However, when a senseless attack happens to her (based on a real life event that happened to a friend of mine) her life is completely ripped apart. As a result of the attack her boyfriend of four years avoids her due to his guilt as he blames himself. But she is lonely so his older brother steps in to provide moral support and they develop feelings for each other. So she is confused due to split loyalties and the brothers’ relationship hits the rocks as they both love the same girl. The story is fast paced and loaded with conflict.

Molly: You are known for liking edgy fiction. Define edgy for us and tell why you feel comfortable writing on those topics.

Michelle: To me edgy is more than real life, it’s about dealing with subjects Christians tend to avoid in the church and at home. I enjoy writing about stuff that makes people evaluate who they are and what they believe by exposing the sin in our hearts, our need for a savior, and our longing for healing in our lives. Edgy fiction is about taking people through the trials and temptations and allowing them to make mistakes and have honest thoughts so that readers will see a bit of themselves in the characters’ lives. However, sin is never pointed at as something Christians should want to do, such as the world teaches, but sin is something best avoided, though it’s not easy to do. That’s the honest part. If it wasn’t tempting no one would ever sin.

Molly: What message or messages do you hope to send to your teenage readers? Will your future books be for teenagers? And what are some of your future titles?

Michelle: Actually, I wrote the entire Second Glances series three plus years ago. I’ve also written five full length, publishable women’s fiction titles. The YA books in the Second Glances series are; It’s NOT about Me (2008), It’s NOT about HIM (2009), and It’s NOT about HER. All but the last one has been contracted. If the first two do well the third book should release in 2010.

Molly: Thanks for sharing with us this month, Michelle. And to find Michelle’s book at an Internet bookstore, write Michelle Sutton in the search slot.

Next month historical author, Sharlene MacLaren, will pay us a visit.
See you then.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God of the Harvest and of rest

Tuesdays with Tiffany
by Tiffany Colter

As writers we are on a constant path of self-discovery. We wonder what it is that makes us tick. I do this quite a bit when I'm in moments of quiet. Last week I was spending time reading my Bible when I came across this verse:

"Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest." (Exodus 34:21, NIV)

It is tempting as authors to work ourselves silly once we finally come in to a season of harvest. It is not enough to sell a book, we want a 3 book deal. We sell an article and suddenly start writing articles every day imagining that we will finally make a living that way.

God was prepared for us. He said, even when we are in a time of plenty I want you to rest. That means in a time of lack we ware to rest as well.

I realized that I was seeing so much success with my writing and the Writing Career Coach that I wasn't taking the time I needed to rest. I saw my productivity go down dramatically and my stress level go up.

It goes back to trust. Do we trust God with our time enough to believe that we will have enough time to get stuff done with a day of rest?

When God wrote this he was preparing people to enter the promised land. If this is how God prepares those he's about to bless, I want to be on board.

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
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.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What do you do if?

Sometimes we get the extra blessing of time. Sometimes we have an intense schedule and don't see a moment for any choice.

So let's just say you get a few minutes reprieve.

What would you do with it?

Now what if it were a few hours?

Take it one more step . . . an entire day?

I've heard quite a few people talk about their busy schedules becoming such a norm that when a little bit of free time presents itself, they don't know what to do.

I've experienced that myself. I'm so used to being busy that one day I stood in my living room and turned circles a couple of times in confusion. I suddenly had a cancellation, my entire family was gone for various events, and I had, ack, two hours of free time. Once I got passed the stunned feeling, I asked myself what I really wanted to do most.

Do you know, it actually took me several minutes to figure out? Sheesh.

So now I have a little list going for things I can do (that I really want to do) in the event of finding extra time that I didn't expect. Funny, I know, but for a busy woman it is necessary. And really, when you have a plan, the plan works. My list has several things of varying length. I've even included a hot bubble bath while reading a book!

Mainly, I carry around a couple of books for those times when I have to sit and wait in appointments or lines. (That's often how I get my book reviews and studying for research done.) It's easy to find a few lost minutes while you wait for an oil change, but not so easy if it isn't a habit. I feel better when I use my time wisely. I also really enjoy catching a few minutes of reading time, especially when the research or a new book fascinates me. Time passes so fast in the waiting ;-) I always wish I had more time to wait, lol.

It's those little things, those few moments when we feed our spirits that can be so restful as much as using our time wisely.

How do you deal with unexpected extra time?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Listen to your body signals

People get headaches all the time. But what do you do when you get one?

Normally, I admit, I just take some over the counter medicine and cope.

But today, I did not have that luxury. The acetamenophin did not work. My body needed more than that to deal with the stresses and other issues causing the headache. The sharp, vice grip not only throbbed, but also burned. So I chose to lay down and try to sleep it off.

An hour and a half later . . . my hubby came in to wake me up.

Holy cow! An hour and a half had passed. It felt like five minutes, but I felt better albeit a little groggy.

Sometimes, what our bodies need is not a "band-aide" fix. We really need to let them take the time to heal. We need to just plain stop. But that idleness seems somehow wrong. Why is that? Habit? I've found that I keep moving because that's what I'm used to doing. I actually have to be intentional about being still.

Have you been listening to your body's needs?

Or have you been ignoring them?

PS Remember to visit me over at God Uses Broken Vessels, my daily blog.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Come On In!

Welcome to a new year at Writers' Rest! I know it's been pretty quiet around here lately, but now we're back on track, it's 2009 and we have a whole new year of challenge and opportunity ahead!
So why don't we put our feet up, grab a beverage and chat a while? Have you set any goals for yourself this year?
How are you doing with meeting them so far? What are you working on? Got any great highlights from last year
to share with us? How do you hope to grow as a writer this year?
I could ask a ton more questions, but feel free to answer those and share a bit with us!
I'll start.
This year I've determined, with God's help, to be far more disciplined in my spiritual life. I hate the word discipline, it conjures up some bad memories for me, but really, what I mean is that I must take time to be with the Lord. For me, the queen of distractions, that is a discipline. It's not that I don't want to spend time in prayer and worship, and most of the time these are spontaneous things for me anyway, but over the last year I really didn't spend enough time in HIs Word. And it showed.
So how do I plan to fix this? Well, I found this link: and I have been doing the readings every morning while I have my coffee. There are generally four sections of Scripture for the day, right now it's Genesis, Matthew, Proverbs and Psalms. I confess I'd forgotten what a tapestry the Bible is. The words are so rich and full of meaning, the stories vivid and so applicable even today. No wonder God got published before any of us!
Well that's my big goal for the year. Hopefully by this time next year, I will have read through the Bible!
As far as my writing goes, I just want to keep learning and growing. I'm working on a new manuscript which is going to be the sequel to a book my agent is going to be sending out hopefully this month sometime. I'm having a hard time getting back into the writing groove, but I have so much going on in my life at the moment that I suppose it's inevitable. We'll be moving into our new home in a couple of months, so until then, I'm not going to set any writing goals that I know I can't meet. I never thought I'd say this, but at this particular time in my life, I'm actually glad I'm not contracted! I'm not saying it too loudly though!
Last year was wonderful for me in a lot of ways. I became an agented author, got a lot of rejection letters but they were mostly good, and I had the privilege of seeing at least four of my critique buddies get contracts. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...and yes, I did mope a bit, I wouldn't be human if I didn't...but I'm trusting God that my time is coming. If it's not HIs will, then I'm also trusting HIm to tell me that. So far He's using a lot of people to encourage me and prod me forward. So, hand in His, off I go into this new year, wide-eyed, hopeful, and filled with anticipation for what is to come.
How about you?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A willing Vessel

Tuesdays with Tiffany

by Tiffany Colter

If you read this blog or my Writing Career Coach blog you know that I'm a person who focuses on planning-then executing your plan.

As important as that is the month of January for me is about being a willing vessel.

Are you opening yourself to be that willing vessel? Are you willing to put in the effort to pursue His call for you? Are you willing to learn the marketing skills to help advance your writing career?

These are the questions I've asked myself as I began 2009.

As you look at 2009 are you preparing the year to be obedient to God's call to write?

Be ready to step out of your comfort zone-and be a willing vessel.

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
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.