Sunday, June 29, 2008

Write Where You Are

by Carla Gade

Where are you today in your writing journey? You may be a multi-published author, a newly published author, an experienced writer, or just starting out. Yet, there is one thing in addition to the desire to write that we all have in common. Today.

So what happens when today seems to be void of anything worthy of writing about. Anything outstanding to say. Anything extraordinary.

We don't only need to write with a specific purpose or project in mind, that may come later. As writers write because thats what we do. So stay in the moment. Write those thoughts down and and ask the lord to refine them, to make something of them. At the very least, if not best, it may help remove some of the clutter in your mind and ultimately make for a better place to write.

As for me, writing has always been therapeutic as well as fun. During times that I would think that I am in a place that I might not have anything decent to say or even the ability to articulate mye ideas, I have found myself with pen in hand writing away. What a great creative outlet for stress relief. Sometimes I am able to begin to formulate my thoughts and consider possible solutions. Other times it is merely a delightful distraction.

Whenever I continue to write, in season or out, I maintain my writing ability, foster my creativity, and can bless others with words that overflow from my heart and mind, even if the sharing comes at a later time. What has brought me to today is unique. It is an experience I will have on no other day.

So when I feel like I'm at an impass. In reality, I may be at a crossroad. Wherever that place is the Lord is there. And I can write.


To Consider:

What brought you to today? How does that experience impact your writing?

What is in today's experience that is unique? What may seem insignificant now may become very pertinent later.

"All writing comes by the grace of God."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where Are We Heading?

Last week, I rode with a friend to a paper crafting class. My friend needed to make one stop first so she drove to where she thought the address was located. We pulled onto the road and noticed the houses were in the 800 range and we needed to find 118.

Clearly, we were heading the wrong direction. We turned around and headed the opposite way. At times, our road ended and we had to pick it up again further down. We drove clear across town and still couldn't find 118 2nd Street.

We examined the information given and both felt it had to be close to where we'd started somehow. Confused, we retraced our steps in a meandering sort of way until I asked for directions to a road that met up with the one we were looking for.

Within a few minutes, we found the house. If we had driven straight up the road where we had originally turned around, we would have reached the end of the road and entered the ladies driveway. The address was located on the road intersecting with 2nd Street, not on 2nd.

What's this got to do with writing? I'm so glad you asked.

Our readers are smart people. They get an idea of where they think our story is heading early on. Many times they're even right. The pull to turn the page lies in not knowing how they will get there, and wondering if, once to the end, it turns out they were wrong.

It's the writer's job to mix in twists and turns, to lead the reader away from the real ending and throw them of track. The direction they think the story is going seems to dead end. They keep reading hoping the writer will bring them back to where they think the story ought to go.

When they can't take much more, we show them a glimpse of the destination. Then we throw them one more small hurdle before finally reaching the end.

This ending has to be satisfying to the reader. We've brought them through a maze and they need closure. Sometimes this will be a happy ending. The one they thought would greet them.

Other times, the ending is a complete shock. They never saw it coming. This one can still be gratifying as long as they see there was no other way. The story had to end this way. With a wistful sigh, they close the book content. They have closure.

Where are we heading and will our readers accept where we lead them? Will they throw the book at the wall or hand it to a friend?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Conference is Coming!

Are you ready?
I'm talking about the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, an annual event, this year to be held in Minneapolis.
See our sidebar ad for all the details.
This will be my third year of attending, and I have to say, whether you're a new writer or a seasoned author, you should seriously consider making every effort to attend this particular conference.
I'd like to address three particular things that come to mind when I think of the ACFW conference, then I'll offer some tips for first time attendees.
It's a common misconception that writing is a gift and something that really can't be learned. Well, okay, I can't argue on the gifting part. Writing is a gift. You really need to have a love for the craft and a desire to do it, day in and day out. But please don't ever think you know it all. I think we will continue to learn until the day we die, that's life.
Now if you're like me, when I first heard about writing conferences and the word 'teaching' came up, I immediately shook my head. Done with school, done with lectures and essays. No thanks.
Let me say this: if you are passionate about your craft, you owe it to yourself to do all you can to improve upon it. And if you're actively seeking publication, you really will learn so much from the sessions at this conference.
Granted, they pack a lot into four days, but don't be put off. Select your choices wisely. This year there were so many excellent choices in both the Continuing Education and the Elective Workshops I really did have a hard time choosing!
You are guaranteed that all faculty at an ACFW conference possess a level of excellence, a gift for teaching, and a willing servant's heart. They're doing it because they want to see you succeed. How cool is that?! Okay I think they get paid something too, but seriously, I know many of these folks, and I can promise you their hearts are in the right place.

Your Continuing Education session will carry you through the conference, so you'll want to be sure you're really selecting something you're interested in that applies to your genre or where you are as a writer.
Now, here's the thing. And I don't mind fessing up to this. When I signed up for my first conference, I really didn't like the way they divided the courses into tracks. A, B, C, D. I felt like I was back in high school, being classed according to my level of ability. But I quickly realized this is exactly the way it should be. We are all at different levels in our writing journey. Some have been attending conferences for years, they can handle pov issues in their sleep and they can talk circles around anyone who dares to listen when it comes to high concept, marketing and making a profit. Many of the attendees are multi-published authors who don't want to sit through kindergarten again. I understood that I didn't really know as much as I thought I did, even though I'd been writing for years, so I signed up for mostly beginner level courses.
I'm so glad I made that decision. There is SO much to learn you just won't believe it.
So don't let the letters put you off - there is a right place for you - the right course at this particular time in your journey. If you're still not sure, pray and ask God to show you where you need to be. And don't hesitate to ask any of us for advice.

Which brings me to my next point.

Fellowship: Wow. If all the teaching stuff seems intimidating to you, then just go for the fellowship. You're not going to be put in detention if it all gets to be too much and you skip a couple of sessions. Honestly, the friends you will make at this conference will be well worth the money you spend getting there. Trust me.
I'm from Bermuda. When I went to my first conference, I didn't know a soul. I'd chatted with a couple of people online and through the email loop, but I'm pretty shy in general and I was really scared to go. I actually made my hubby come with me that year! He spent most of his time at Home Depot and the movies. Suffice to say, within two hours of Registration opening, I realized he didn't need to be there at all. Take a deep breath, put yourself out there and make some friends.
You've got two things in common right off the bat: You love to write and you love the Lord.
Each year now I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones too. And if you haven't yet heard about the Chocolate Party, go find Michelle (Sutton) Hutchinson (at, and she'll tell you about it.
You're also going to get the unique opportunity to fellowship not only with writers, but with agents and editors. Outside of your fifteen minute appointments, you can sit with an editor or agent during lunch or dinner. The tables are labeled, so if you're able to get to the dining-room early you can sit with the one you most want to talk to. I'll be giving some tips on this.
As has already been mentioned on the ACFW loop, if you're shy and don't know what to do with yourself, volunteer. There are many opportunities to get involved from being a greeter and ticket taker at meals to working in the bookstore. You can also volunteer for the prayer room. Which brings me to my third point.

This is NOT a secular conference. If you missed the word Christian in ACFW, it's definitely there. First and foremost, this conference is about giving glory to God. We come to worship Him, to thank HIm for what He's doing in our lives, and to seek His will in our writing journeys. Most of us are writers because we truly believe God has placed this desire on our hearts, and we want to use our gift to glorify Him.
At this conference you will worship like you've never worshipped before, pray like you've never prayed before, and you will see God move. It's the most amazing experience and I'm getting super excited just thinking about it! Come with an open heart and mind, come expectantly. He will meet you where you are. And so will your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As I said, there is a prayer room available, people there to pray with you if you want, or you can just sit in silence with God.
There is corporate worship at meals, every one, and you don't want to miss it. The keynote speaker is also a blessing you don't want to miss. Yes, they're going to talk some about writing, but they're also going to minister to you.

Some tips:
Shoes - Some people are perfectly comfortable in heels, I'm not. I don't know what the hotel is like in Minneapolis, but in Dallas, you needed to do quite a bit of walking to get from A - B, and there was a lot of standing around too, chatting or waiting in line for something. Do yourself a favor and make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes!
Dress - Smart Business Casual. You'll see everything from dresses, skirts to nice jeans with, um, heels. I usually wear smart trousers or capris with a nice blouse, loafers or sandals. If you don't have an appointment, you don't have to over dress, be comfortable, but remember what you wear does say a lot about you.
Editor and Agent Appointments - My least favorite thing in the world. I get all sweaty, nervous and tongue tied. Don't even talk to me about an elevator pitch. I'm going to defer this one over to Tiffany and ask her to post something about this in the near future.
What to Bring - Don't over pack. I do this all the time, but especially now with the bag restrictions, you really want to plan out what you'll be wearing. And there is a Banquet on Saturday night, so don't forget a nice dress or pantsuit for that. Given that we're in such close proximity to the Mall of America, I'm sure you'll want to leave room in your luggage for a little shopping! And also leave room for all the books you'll be buying!
Don't bring your complete manuscript! Do bring a one sheet. I've heard it said that you shouldn't even bring sample chapters. I always have and I've never used them. This year they're staying home. If you have business cards, bring them as well as your one sheet. The editor or agent will ask you for what they want, and if they like what they see they'll ask you for a proposal, which you can send them when you get home!

Finally, pray. Pray that God would bless this conference abundantly. Pray for all those involved in organizing and teaching. Pray for those who may leave with broken hearts, it does happen. Don't hedge all your bets on getting published by the end of the conference. Think of it as a stepping stone along the way.
Pray for those who may leave rejoicing, whatever the reason. Pray for yourselves. For wisdom, for patience, and for peace.
We say it every year, but here's to the best ACFW conference ever!

Any questions, leave them in the comments!
I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis in September!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meet Darlene Schacht!

Yes, we know it's Wednesday. We're changing things up this week and doing our interview today, because tomorrow we're
part of the blog tour for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.
So, today we're talking with Darlene Schacht, founder and editor of the very popular Christian Women Online mag.

Hi Darlene, Welcome to Writers' Rest.
What can you tell us about yourself?

I'm a forty-something-year-old Christian mother of four with blessings that range in age from six to sixteen. We live in Manitoba, Canada where my husband Michael and I own a company that empowers writers to Self-Publsh (Art Bookbindery). When I'm not driving, I'm usually writing or in the garden.

You're the Editor of the highly successful online mag Christian Women Online. How did this evolve?
A few years back, I mustered up the courage to approach an online publication with my writing. I was secretly hoping to hop on board as a monthly columnist, but the voice in the back of my mind kept scoffing, "Ha! You? A monthly columnist?..."

Finally I pressed "send," but immediately after, I had major hesitations. A different voice (a much kinder one I must say!) encouraged me saying, "You're a designer, and a writer--why don't you start your own website?" Come to think of it, that was the voice of my husband.

Rather than just merely a website, I decided to create an online magazine. I wanted to give it as much of a magazine feel as I could. Turns out that a few hours later, the letter I sent was returned "undeliverable." I can only assume that the cyberspace angels were rerouting my mail, or that God was on board with my plan.

I contacted a few of my writing friends who immediately said "I'm in!" and CWO was born, February 2006. A few months later, the other online publication that I was so hoping for, contacted me offering to publish my work. God works in mysterious and wonderful ways, doesn't He?!

Did you ever imagine your vision would take off in such an amazing way?

No--never--not in a million years. :) I imagined a little writing website where my friends and I could hang our hat, but CWO grew faster than I had ever imagined it would. That first year I was often approached by advertisers and hopeful columnists, but I knew that growing too fast would be more than we could handle. I kept a Christ-centered pace as best I could. In fact we even got approached by a Hollywood agent who wanted her client to write a monthly column with us, but after much prayer I turned that down. It likely would have been great for appearance and hits, but I didn't sense God's leading on that. I've taken sure and steady steps along the way, cafeful to keep our focus.

I have felt God's unmistakeable leading through other paths we've taken, such as the addition of actress/writer Candace Cameron Bure, with her monthly advice column. Who would have thunk that this little girl from the prairie would be writing with such wonderful faith focussed women? Not me!

If there's anyone out there who hasn't yet read Christian Women Online, can you tell them what to expect?

The purpose of Christian Women Online Magazine is to unite women of faith, regardless of our differing ages, our roles as women, or the signs that mark our church doors. We believe that one of the best ways to do this is to encourage each other in faith, by our spoken and written words. It is our hope that as we unite women in Christ, the young will glean wisdom from the old, one will gain strength from another, and together we'll shed light to the world.

That's what we're about, and what to expect? Great writing by faith-focussed women.

Have you considered taking CWO to print form?

Since I own a book printing company, one would naturally think that would be on my mind, if not already in the works, but for now we've decided to keep it solely online.

When you first started CWO, I was privileged to be your featured author and my novella Just A Little Walk ran in monthly installments. Do you think CWO will be featuring fiction again at some point?

The privilege was all ours, Cathy--I loved your book! There are times that I wish our audience would have been bigger at the time, since you joined on near the beginning, and so many readers weren't around yet to read that novella, but it was very well received by those who did. Coincidentally just last week an author asked me to publish her book in the same way, I told her that I'm chewing on the idea, but I suspect that it will be a yes.

You've had a lot of amazing interviews over the last few years. How did you snag them? Which stand out to you the most and why?

You're right--we have! I suppose I've just always been bold that way. There is no one that I wouldn't approach if I thought their interview would be good. American Idol's Mandisa was a hard interview to snag. I had a difficult time getting contact information on her. I even wrote a letter directly to American Idol, but didn't get a reply. Finally about a year later, when Mandisa was writing a book with Angela Hunt, I seized the opportunity and asked Angela how I could get in touch with Mandisa. She got me in touch with her agent, and we were thrilled to have her as a guest shortly after.

One of my other favorites was Liz Curtis Higgs. She is an amazing woman who warms my heart, and inspires me to accept who I'm created to be in Christ. I still keep in contact with Liz when I can, and hope to have her back again soon.

You're also a writer yourself. Tell us a bit about your last book, The Mom Complex, and what you're currently working on.

The Mom Complex is a collection of stories that are written both to humor and to inspire the soul of mothers who are seeking daily devotion with God. It urges us to search inside ourselves, so that we may uncover the path that God has placed our feet on. It's on that path, where we often discover that His plan for our life is different than ours.

In the earlier stages, my writing leaned toward humor, but in the past year or so, God's been nudging my pen in a slightly different direction. I've started a ministry through CWO called Live Well! which is a Christ-centered journey through weight-loss to freedom. Candace Cameron Bure and I have teamed up to write a book based on this ministry, and our agent is currently looking for a publisher. Every now and then I still jot down a humorous story or two, so I don't think that tendency toward humor will ever completely be gone.

Darlene, you're a busy mom, wife, and businesswoman. What advice do you have for women that are struggling to 'do it all'?

Wanting to "do it all" is human, but the ability to prioritize is divine. :) I believe that God has given us different seasons in our lives--that of wooing our husbands, raising our children, building a career, etc. Learning to prioritize ensures that the important things get taken care of first, and the rest follows suit. For me it's God, marriage, and children in that order; when those things are firmly in place we find the strength to do more. In combination with that, I rarely take time for TV, other than the odd episode of Dr. Phil.

Finally, what's your favorite Scripture verse, the one you might stick on your computer or refrigerator?

I don't know about my computer, but my fridge? Well that would have to be Proverbs 25:16:

Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

Love the blunt way that Solomon put that. It really helps when I have the late night munchies, but I think it's a great rule to apply to one's entire life--moderation. Without balance it's difficult to run the race, and keep the pace.

Thanks, Darlene! It was a pleasure having you!

Darlene's writing talent and design skill, combined with determination has placed Darlene at the hub of this rapidly growing online ministry, as founder and editor of CWO. Christian Women Online has brought about a new wave in the ability to reach out to people both to share faith and to minister to them.
In addition to her monthly column, "Live Well!," Darlene can be found at her website,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marketing with One Sheets

Tuesdays with Tiff

By Tiffany Colter

On my daily blog I have been discussing how to market yourself to editors/agents this week. With people preparing for conference I decided that I'd use this space to talk about using one sheets to market yourself.

First of all I encourage you to keep these in perspective. One sheets are simply tools, like a resume, that will help you present your project in a professional manner. It will not sell a project all by itself.

Next, do not invest large amounts of money to make these. I am NOT good with computers but was able to put one together using a picture from clip art, my own proposed back cover blurb and my bio.

I used the tagline that I'd created for my story and the title at the top to grab the readers attention.

So think about how you'd summarize your book, what the back cover would look like, then add a graphic.

This is really the key to creating an effective one sheet and then what you do with it will get input from agents on the project...oh wait, I'll be discussing that Thursday on my main blog. I hope to see you there.

And if you'd like to know more about any of these topics then leave a comment and I'll address them next week.

See you soon.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, June 23, 2008

Handling the Word of Truth

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" ~ 2 Timothy 2:14-19

The Bible has been a source of hope and inspiration through the ages. Yet sadly, throughout history the Scriptures have also been misquoted, misunderstood, misconstrued, and misapplied. So-called "proof texts" have justified many atrocities, been foundational to false doctrine, and have abused many believers and would be believers, all in the name of Christ. Some writers have even misused scripture to meet their own ends.

It is critical not to misuse scripture by taking verses out of context to support what we have written. We must be cautious not to take creative license with our ideas and then randomly find scripture to support it in an effort to justify our own opinions. Rather, we should incorporate the Biblical principles to our work and let our ideas form and flow from them. Then we can be assured that the work is supported by scripture. How do we do this? By becoming intimately acquainted with God's Word and thinking on His precepts continually.

The ability to correctly handle the word of truth is important for every follower of Christ, both in understanding God's Word and communicating it to others. As Christian writers we have a particular responsibility to administer the truth of God's Word correctly and appropriately as we convey those truths to our readers.

Imagine developing a plot using the theme "Money is the root of all evil." This misquoted Bible verse implies that all money is bad, which it is not. It is a useful tool of which we are instructed to be good stewards. How might the story change if the correct verse is applied to the plot, "The love of money is the root of all evil." Now we are talking about greedy people and the consequences of that greed. Clarity is everything.

Yes, we need to have a good handle of the Bible ourselves. We need to spend time in the Word devotionally, in study, and in life application. It is good to be equipped with the proper tools to handle the Bible. Concordances, reliable commentaries, lexicons, and most importantly prayer. The Holy Spirit will help illuminate the truth to us if we seek his guidance throughout the writing process.

Our characters need also to handle the Word correctly. Recently I was reading from Molly Noble Bull's book Sanctuary. A non-believer came right out and asked what the sited Bible verse meant (Psalm 91:1). She was on her road to discovering faith and had honest questions about it. Another character had invited her questions and responded with a correct answer, although it was mentioned that even as a devote believer he still was growing in his faith and knowledge of the Bible. The key concept continued to be reinforced throughout the novel. The truth was presented with such authenticity and accuracy that it would surely bless a seeker as well as a committed Christian.

I cannot tell you the countless times that I have been touched, challenged, and grown in my faith walk as a result of reading a book written by a Christian. I hope we can all rise to the task and handle God's Word with skill and sensitivity. The Bible is an essential and effective tool in the hands of a writer. As we continue to polish our skills, let us remember that as Christian writers the ability to properly handle the word of truth is vital


To Consider:

Am I growing in my understanding of God's Word? Am I accurately able to handle the Word of Truth?

Bible study tips: prayer is essential for discernment, scripture interprets scripture, context is key, obtain proper definitions of words and idioms, seek the full counsel of God's Word on topics, and again pray for correct application.

Key principles:
Examine the truth in content, context and concept. Confirm the truth, consider the truth, confess the truth, care for the truth, correctly apply the truth, and accurately convey the truth.

"Studying the Word of God
is something that demands diligence

It is a craft that calls for craftsmanship."
~ John MacArthur

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sometimes we give up rest for a bigger plan...

Today, I'll be nodding off on an early flight to Denver. It's 2 a.m. and I've been finishing online training for the speaker and leadership training I'm going to for the next 3 days.

I believe that rest is crucial, but I understand that sometimes we need to sacrifice to achieve something greater. My dream is to be a speaker and writer full time. That means, on occasion, I have to choose to put achievement over rest. I plan for as much as possible. I even plan for downtime now just to get some rest from my busy schedule. If I didn't, my daytimer would plan me.

It's very important though that I do not overdo like that every day. I get tense and irritable if it goes on too long, just like anyone else would.

The take away from this? Push through what you need to do now and again. Then make time to rest! Do not make a habit of being sleep deprived or you will be imagination and peace deprived.

So I'll nap on the plane, then sit through 8 hours of training and go to sleep with a very satisfied feeling ready to get up for 2 more days of training. :-)

Are you planning your schedule or is your schedule planning you? What do you have to do to be in control of your daily schedule? Do you need to schedule downtime? Would you honor it if you did?


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Meet Christy Barritt!

Today we're excited to have my friend and critique partner, Jenness Walker share with us her recent interview with author Christy Barritt. Thanks, Jenness!

A few months ago, I was privileged to be a first reader for Suspicious Minds, the second book in Christy Barritt’s Squeaky Clean series. Though it was a different experience reading the story in manuscript format, I loved it just as much as her first funny mystery, Hazardous Duty. Suspicious Minds just came out this month, and you don’t want to miss it!

Christy kindly consented to answer some more questions. If you missed my first interview with her, check out my rambling archives. And now, without further ado…

JW: In your Squeaky Clean series, who is your favorite secondary character?

CB: It’s so hard to pick! I have to say, I really like Sierra. I’ve had a lot of fun with her. She’s an animal right’s activist and she’s always getting herself into some sort of trouble. I based her character off of some people I met while doing a newspaper interview at the headquarters of a really large animal right’s group.

JW: I do love Sierra. Of course, the new guy in Suspicious Minds…Well, yeah. It’s definitely hard to pick! Here’s another tough questions for you. Hazardous Duty or Suspicious Minds—do you have a favorite?

CB: I like them both in different ways. I probably couldn’t pick a favorite. I will say I had a lot of fun in Suspicious Minds because I already knew the characters. Writing that book was like sitting down to coffee with old friends and asking them, what’s been going on?

JW: Can you give us a sneak peak at what Gabby’s next adventure might be?

CB: It’s a mystery that involves Sierra and her friends. She actually starts to date someone who’s a freegan. No, I did not make up the word freegan—they’re real. Freegans are people who feel like the U.S. is wasteful so instead of buying things, they go dumpster diving to find what they need for free. That’s where they get their food, their clothes, almost everything. Anyway, this freegan that Sierra starts dating ends up being trouble. The book also addresses the “Going Green” trend that is so popular in our culture right now.

JW: Another must-read, I’m sure. Hurry up and finish it! Meanwhile, I have just a few questions about your writing journey. First, where do you see God leading you?

CB: I know I have a lot of stories in me that I would love to write. I honestly feel like writing is what God has called me to do. But I also feel that God has brought me to a place where I have to be willing to lay it out if he says so. It’s too easy to base your self-worth on your successes or failures. I think God wants me to be content in him.

JW: What has been the hardest thing so far?

CB: The past year has probably been the hardest, to be honest. I think people are surprised to hear that, because I’m published. I like to compare being published to being married. Before people get married, they think about wonderful marriage will be. They dream about finding their soul mate. And then they get married and realize (hopefully) that marriage is wonderful--but it’s also a lot of hard work. Being published is similar. Before getting the big contract, you dream about how wonderful it will be. But after you’re published, you realize the amount of work you have in front of you. There’s pressure coming at you from different directions. Being published is wonderful, but also challenging.

JW: That’s really interesting (and a little hard) to hear. Thank you for sharing that. I’ll keep it in mind since I hope to, um, sign the knot? soon. Ha. Last question. What is your favorite part about the writing life? The biggest reward?

CB: I love the creation process. I love getting to know my characters and seeing where they’ll take me. I love dreaming up plot twists and making life miserable for my story people. The biggest reward for me is when someone really “gets” my book—I don’t mean purchases it and reads it, but when they really connect. When my story has given them a temporary escape from their life. When they can relate to my characters and their conflicts and hurts and triumphs. That’s the biggest reward.

JW: Thanks so much for sharing, Christy. I can’t wait to read Suspicious Minds in its final form!

If you want to learn more about Christy and her books, check out her website at You can purchase the Squeaky Clean series on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tips On Books and Book Titles

Tips On Books and Book Titles
by Molly Noble Bull

Have you ever gone into a bookstore or on the Internet and had trouble finding the book you wanted? If so, you are not alone. Sometime I simply give up and walk out of the store without buying anything.
Well, I have tips for people who have a hard time finding books they want at bookstores.
To find the book you want at a walk-in bookstore like Barnes and Noble or Waldenbooks, ask for the book using the name of the author instead of the name of the book.
After Sanctuary was published, I went to and discovered that there were dozens of books with the word Sanctuary in the title. So to find one of my books at a walk-in bookstore, requests books by Molly Noble Bull.
To find one of my books at an Internet bookstore like Amazon, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot and click.
Another thing to know about books is its ISBN. Know what that means?
I am not computer savvy. But I will explain it as best I can.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and every book must have one in order to be sold in stores. An ISBN is part of a book’s bar code. If you know a book’s ISBN or bar code number, you can find that book anywhere even if you don’t know the title or the name of the author.
As an example, here are the bar code numbers for Sanctuary.
ISBN-10: 1933853506
ISBN-13: 978-1933853505
And these are the numbers for The Winter Pearl.
ISBN-10: 373786115
ISBN-13: 978-0373786114
I know. That is a lot of numbers to remember. That’s why I suggested using the author’s name as it appears on the cover of books or write that name in search slots when looking for books on the Internet. It saves a lot of time and effort.
I have found that publishers seldom use the title I selected and for a lot of reasons. I won’t go into them here.
However, if your publishers do allow you to choose your book title or titles, do a little research first. Go to Amazon to see how many books, if any, will be sharing your title. Then decide whether or not you really want such a popular title for your book.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What if I don't want to market

Tuesdays with Tiffany
by Tiffany Colter, Writing Career Coach

Okay, so you can see I've made a selection. I really had a hard time deciding because I liked the idea of being clear what it was I was teaching....but then again I like the whole alliteration thing. :-) So Tuesdays with Tiffany won out. It had the "feel" I was going for. This is just a chat. You and me.

Today I want to talk about "What if I don't want to market".

There is really no simple answer to this question. To be honest my biggest rant is when people in the body of Christ sit on their rump and expect God to do all the work. Even Jesus said, when calling his disciples, COME FOLLOW me and I WILL MAKE YOU fishers of men. For me there is great comfort in that verse. I'm called to follow him and as I obey he will transform me in to what I was created to be.

But there is an action...follow.

We cannot simply sit in our home and expect books to fly off the shelf. There is work that must go in to them. There is marketing that must be done.

Yes, I know each of you have a story to share with me about how a friend of a friend did nothing and their book took off. Well, I'm not willing to wait on that. God gave me a story in my spirit and he wants to minister to people through that book. If I'm at home trying to pray it off the shelf how will my hurting neighbor find it? If I don't open my mouth how will a lonely woman in another state hear?

For me it isn't always about the money [but sometimes it is. The Bible says a worker is worth his wages.] I just know how fiction has helped me overcome some real battles. I also know how marketing has helped me find help. If I hadn't seen a commercial on TV I would never have found my current church. That is a place that loved us and embraced us as no other church EVER did before. These people have held us up during some of our roughest years. But it was because I kept seeing a commercial that I decided to check it out. That was when God met me in that place and I grew as a christian.

Do you truly believe that God wants to work through you? Then you have to WORK. God can't work through an inanimate person full of free will.

We must prayerfully ask each day how God wants us to reach out. Then we must obey.

Marketing isn't about becoming famous. It is about getting stories of hope and healing to a wounded person.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoroughly Equipped to Write

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

"Every good work." Yes, even your writing. Especially your writing.

When we think about being equipped as a writer several obvious things come to mind: having the necessary tools and research materials, learning and improving our craft, and so much more. Though as Christian writers, the one thing that will equip us the most is God's Word. The Bible is not only a wealth of knowledge, but it connects us, provides for us, and inspires a deeper faith in our Lord and Saviour. It is the fabric of who we are as persons and as writers has a profound influence on our writing. The more we nurture our relationship with God, through prayer and the study of his Word, the more our experiences and thoughts will be impacted with his Truth. And the better equipped we will be as writers.

We've all heard, "Write what you know." In non-fiction, it is not advisable to offer medical advice if you are not a medical expert. In fiction, well, if we must "know" everything then I ask, "what is imagination for?" But to know is to be intimately acquainted with something. Be it fiction or non-fiction, one who knows grief or loss or redemption can certainly write about it. And please do. The overflow of your own relationship with the Lord and your own unique experiences can bless others through the sharing of your words.

As master storyteller George MacDonald said, "A true imagination is beholding a truth of God." Even in fiction one can impart spiritual truths. It is essential that we convey these truths clearly as we pen our words. Yet, it is not necessary to preach, rambling on with great discourse. The story itself can reveal God's intervention in the plot, a character's growth, and insights for the reader.

In essence, the story is a sermon, but without "sermonizing". Christian romance writer and author of Writing the Christian Romance Gail Gaymer Martin puts it this way, "We are to show that despite our flaws, fears, weaknesses, doubts, and sins, God loves us and keeps His promises. If we weave this into our story just as these same elements are woven into a Christian's daily life, then an author will not be preachy but will just create a lovely tapestry that will make an impact and be remembered."

The Biblical principles that are shared will be interwoven throughout the pages of our work. And what is our work? Well, that is worth considering.

To Consider . . .

Do you have a motto, a mission statement, that conveys your purpose in writing? Mine is "Sharing the truth of God's redemptive love." I've seen many others on Christian writer's websites. I challenge you to pray about this and set it before you in a prominent place.

What do you know? Are there any major themes in your own faith journey that equip you to write on certain subjects? What are they?

What are you doing to nurture your relationship with the Lord today?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shouting It Out

Sometimes we can't rest. Our minds whirl and twirl. Our day feels like Star Wars coming at us.

I've found it not only healthy, but restful to find a way to shout all that pent up stuff out.

No, lol, I'm not talking about going around yelling for no reason or yelling at people unreasonably...

After a rough week, today found my husband and I at a basketball camp for our son. He was on his 3rd game. We didn't make it to the first 2 for various reasons. But making it to that last one was definitely a smart call!

We began shouting encouragement with the other attending parents. Soon, we found ourselves laughing along with each other. We'd come in stressed and pressured. We left arm in arm and smiling at everyone. Rooting for the team and opening the steam valve felt much like that first soak in a hot tub when you have sore muscles. Relief!

Just being able to shout out the emotions from a hard work week helped both of us.

I learned today that releasing pent up pressure in a healthy manner is restful.

What could you do to release some of that stress you've been holding back?

Can you watch a movie that makes you laugh? Can you find a game to go to so you can shout with the crowd? Can you hike a mountain and shout at the sky? (Yep, I've done that too.) Could you sit in a hot tub and simply let go?

Let your blood pressure rest. Find a way to shout it out so you don't keep it all inside and never relax.

Share some of your ideas with us too. How do you release tension and pressure?

God Uses Broken Vessels

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Delivering Emotion

Posted by Eileen Astels

Revealing, or showing emotion in your writing isn't the easiest thing to do, but boy is it worth taking the time to do right.

Think of the last book you read that made your throat tighten, salty tears fall to your lips, your stomach muscles coil, laughter erupt, or a smile take shape on your face. How did it feel to you as the reader? Were you engrossed in the story? Where you feeling what the character felt at that particular moment in the story world? Where you experiencing that fictional world as if you were that character?

The answer to any one of those questions is reason enough to study and learn how to infuse emotion in your writing. The sources of such study are endless. There are writer's manuals galore that touch on how to show emotion and there are whole books dedicated to the topic, such as Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias, and then there are online courses you can take and online lecture packets you can order, such as Margie Lawson's Empowering Character's Emotions. One of my critique partners took this course of Margie Lawson's and she's now writing the creepiest scenes in her suspense thriller wip (work in progress) that literally make me feel isolated, frightened, and even humiliated, depending on the scene, to name a few. So I know this one is worth taking a look at.

Many excellent bloggers also post on how to bring emotion to the page, so google it up and start surfing the web to fill your emotional tool box. The more ways you discover to infuse emotion in your writing the better your story will be.

Here's a few of the ways I've learned so far to make emotion shine:

Utilize your setting: If you want a joyful happy scene, try bringing bright colored objects into the setting, funny paintings and comfy chairs. Make the setting a place your characters can be happy in.

Also, if you want to evoke a sense of unease, you might want to consider adding cold, cracked cement, a mist in the air, or some other form of visual hardship. Anything that spells out 'unease' to you is likely to give your reader the same feeling. Use the setting that you describe in narrative and dialogue to help the desired emotion seep into the reader as well.

Deep POV: By writing in deep POV you can offer more of your characters thoughts that are triggered by his or her feelings and mood. If your character is frightened, they aren't going to be thinking of the best play date they had as a child likely, their mind might, however, take them to a time that they were trapped in a trunk and felt the wood closing in on them and the heat from their breath making them sweat and want to scream.

The Five Senses: Taste, Touch, Smell, See, and Hear--use as many of these as you can to reveal your character's state-of-mind. You as the writer have control over what your character senses at any particular time. Even if your character is at a county fair, the reader doesn't need to know that she passed by a cotton-candy booth if she's running from a confident attacker, but hey, what about her passing by one of those vendors selling smoked turkey legs. She could smell the rotting meat from the garbage can, hear the buzzing frenzy of flies feeding off it, and see strewn turkey legs on the butcher block ready to be tossed into the kiln. Gives a whole other feel, doesn't it? And it's the one we're after, so go for it.

Okay, that's got my creativity juices flowing, so I'll leave you with that and hope that it helps you, too, to up the emotional impact of your writing! Please share the tools you use to create emotion in your writing in the comment section so that we can all learn together.



Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Many of you are new to my blogs so today I wanted to step away from marketing to really look at us as people. Until we come to grips with who we are we will never understand why we haven't moved to the next level in our writing [and the marketing of our writing].

So I hope you enjoy this blog which first appeared on my main blog October 8, 2007


As an author of suspense/thrillers I love to work with fear in my stories. People enjoy being scared to a certain extent. But Fear can also cause you to miss out on incredible opportunities.

Last Monday [Sept. 30, 2007] I discussed the book Failing Forward and this blog ties in to that quite a bit. Fear of Failure will prevent you from trying a new marketing technique, or sometimes submitting a proposal in the first place.

I've never been one who was afraid to send my work off. There was nervous anticipation, even a bit of excitement at the new adventure, but never fear. What keeps me awake at night and makes me become a shivering ball of nerves...the phone.

Yep, I have phone fear.

I knew that from previous sales positions I've held but not until I started working for an Executive Recruiter did I realize how terrified I was of a complete stranger on the other side of the country. I have literally dialed the phone wiping tears from my eyes and hand trembling.

But I learned Fear is good.

It pushes you to become more than you could be. It gives you an enemy to conquer. I've learned a great deal of empathy for people who are afraid of rejection [in their writing] and as I've continued to learn from my boss [who btw is a wonderful example of integrity in business and a great mentor] I've applied it to my writer's life.

I've learned that I can do more than I thought I could. As I push past my fear I'm learning to overcome. As I make phone calls all day I'm becoming more comfortable with it [though my heart is still beating like a hummingbird's wings thinking of the list of calls I have to make after lunch]. The skills I'm using now also help me market my work and my writing career course. You have to be willing to meet people and face rejection as an author. I'm blessed to do it dozens of times a week.

Fear is bad when it causes you to miss the mark and give up on your dreams. There are many times where I've wanted to throw in the towel on writing projects when they got too hard. There are times when I wanted to give up on my full-time job because I've felt like a failure. [Notice: I said FELT LIKE a failure, that doesn't mean I WAS a failure]. But by pushing through that, getting up and doing it one more time, I'm determining my level of success...not fear or its cousin frustration.

So think about it, are you allowing fear to push you forward or hold you back?

Share with us when you've conquered something that scared you. How did it help you grow?

And if you'd like to learn more about how to build your writing Business sign up for my Writing Career Mentorship Course. Details are at my website

Monday, June 9, 2008

About Writer's Rest

Today we'd like to tell you a little bit about Writers' Rest.

Writers' Rest . . . A place to sit a while and share your ups and downs as you navigate the road to publication and beyond.

We're a group of writers just like you on the journey of our lives. Some of us are already published and some are still pressing on toward that goal. Our desire at Writers' Rest is to encourage, inspire and equip you as Godly writers. We're honored you've chosen to stop by our blog and we pray it meets a need for you. We hope you'll stop by often!

We'd love to hear from you. Feel free to post in our comments or send us an email. Suggest topics, share your heart, whatever - we're here for you. If you'd like to email one or all of the authors, feel free to contact us: awritersrest (at) gmail (dot) com.

Meet the Writers' Rest team of contributing authors:

Catherine West, Writers' Rest founder
Converstations with Cathy -
Industry insights and interviews

Catherine West lives with her husband and two teenagers on the beautiful island of Bermuda. She enjoys an active church life, where she is presently involved in Women's Ministry, as well as serving in the community as a volunteer for Bermuda Riding for the Disabled.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Wordserve Literary. Catherine writes Contemporary Romance and Women's Fiction. She hopes not only to entertain her readers, but also to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ through her books.

Visit Catherine at her website

Eileen Astels
Writers' Wisdom Wednesdays -
writing advice

Eileen Astels lives in rural Southern Ontario with her amazing husband and three equestrian-crazed daughters and various family pets. She is an early-retired systems analyst who teaches Sunday School to youth at her country church and is actively learning the craft of fiction writing as she pens Contemporary Inspirational Romances and revises like crazy. It is her prayer that the stories God leads her to write will not only entertain but also illuminate His will for us all.

Eileen posts study notes of writing resources, Authors-Helping-Writers Interviews, book reviews, musings and vocabulary enhancement, and giveaways regularly on her writer's blog, A Christian Romance Writer's Journey.

You can learn more about Eileen and her writing journey on her blog and website:

Angie Breidenbach
Sunday Siesta -
resting & refreshment

Angela is an author, speaker, spokesmodel, and mother of a combined family of six from Montana via Las Vegas, Denver, Spain, and Phoenix.

She is president of her toastmaster club, a Stephen Minister, and a die-hard volunteer in youth ministry through her childrens' schools and church. Angela mentors young women, sings as a liturgist/soloist, and is a synchronized swimmer.

The dream in her heart is to make a difference in the world for the Lord by doing what she loves: writing and speaking.

She recently won first place in the Touched By Love (RWA) contest and a second place winner in The Heart of the Rockies Inspirational Writing Contest. She is so excited that she scared her dog and daughter whooping it up! As a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers, she loves attending the conferences to meet other writers, learn, and present her work.

Visit Angie at her blog: God Uses Broken Vessels.

Molly Noble Bull
Writers' Wisdom Wednesdays -
writing advice

Molly Noble Bull is married, the mother of three grown sons and a grandmother, and she was born in Kingsville, Texas, home of the famous King Ranch. Her father and maternal grandfather were real Texas cowboys and managed the Santa Rosa, a sixty thousand acre cattle ranch where Molly spent part of her growing up years. If anybody knows about Texas, cowboys and ranches—first hand, it’s Molly. All three of her grown sons are involved in ranching in Texas today.

Molly has published with Zondervan, Love Inspired-Steeple Hill and Tsaba House, and her two Zondervan novels also came out from Guideposts, the Book Division. Tsaba House published Sanctuary, a long historical, in September 2007.

Molly Noble Bull entered three national contests for published author this year, and she won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the Inspiration category for published authors. She also tied for first place in the 2008 Winter Rose contest for published authors in the inspirational category.

To learn more about Molly, her books and her Christian walk, visit her website:

Tiffany Colter, Writing Career Coach
Tuesdays with Tiffany -
advice for meeting your writing career goals

Tiffany Colter is a freelance writer and writing career coach. She is a 2007 Daphne du Maurier Award winner. She has written for Todayʼs Christian and Charisma Magazine, and is currently a regular writer for the Toledo Business Journal and Afictionado. She received her BA from the University of Toledo in 1998 with a Summa cum Laude distinction.

Tiffany is passionate about not only creating a great story but helping other writers learn how to build a strong writing business.
Her Writing Career Coach Course includes students in the US , Canada , and Australia.

Tiffany has a daily marketing blog for writers:

Carla Gade
Mission Possible Monday -
inspiration and encouragement

Carla Gade lives in rural Maine with her husband, two young adult sons, and two cats. She is the Program Coordinator for an adult literacy program and an adult literacy tutor. Carla is a website developer, graphic designer, and adult education computer instructor. She has been active in ministry for over 25 years leading Bible studies, serving as a small group leader, teaching and discipling, speaking, and coordinating women's and youth programs and events.

Carla is a freelance writer, an aspiring author of inspirational fiction and non-fiction, an avid reader, and a creative thinker. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers, she has also been a two year judge for Romance Writers of America's Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest and is the coordinator for the Carnival of Christian Writers.

Carla invites you to visit her online at
Carla's Pathways ~ Journaling the Journey.

Audra Silva
Saturday Scribbles - a little bit of everything

Audra Silva lives in Oregon with her tall, dark and handsome hero. Together
they manage the craziness of six fun-loving kids, four too-cool-for- humans
cats and two regal-who-are- we-kidding- goofy Standard Poodles. Writing helps
her remain sane although that is often called into question due to the voices
in her head and the conversations she has with them.

Audra is a member of ACFW and is currently honing her writing skills through
her poetry, articles, blog posts, novels, journals…she' s even known to write
on napkins. When she's not penning prose, she can be found homeschooling,
taking photos, crafting, getting into water fights and whatever else strikes
her fancy.

Her heart is to help people develop authentic relationships with Jesus, their
families and other believers through her humor, her prose and her conversations.
She is the founder and leader of CHAPS (Christian Homeschoolers Ablaze with
Prayer and Support).

Audra would love for you to visit her at Penning Prose with Audra Silva.

We'd love to get to know our visitors. Please leave us a comment and briefly tell us about yourself and where you are in your writing experience.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Massage-the next best thing to sleep-and other health reasons

Massage seems to be some folks idea of an extra. For me it has become a necessity. NO, I'm not rich:-) You don't have to be to utilize the simple health restoration of massage. And, there are many different kinds for many different needs!

Think about Swedish Massage, Pressure Point Release, Athletic Massage, Therapeutic, Thai, etc.

How do you know what you need? I think that is one for a book! Hey, I am writing one on health and beauty. I think I'll have to add a chapter now!

The reality for me is that with arthritis, muscle tension, and a massive on-the-go schedule, my back and neck muscles will lock up and cause me great tension pain.

I began going to the Montana School of Massage because of a gift certificate (if I remember correctly.) I've continued going for the health benefits I receive.

Massage rests my mind and body. Sometimes while releasing my tension, I'll also relax enough to release my mind to find those unconscious problems untangling. It could be a plot issue, a character motivation, or even a family problem.

I've had chats with many massage students through the years. I explore their reasons for learning the art and find out all sorts of motivation. I've even been inspired with a work in progress!

It's possible that the adage is true: A one hour massage is worth two hours of rest.

It feels like that to me.

If you don't get massage at least now and then, why?

If you do, what benefits do you see?

What would it take for you to care enough for the body and mind that God gave you to go get a massage in the next week?

What do you need to learn to be comfortable with something new, if you've never had massage before?

Or if you are trying a new massage style?

Chat with me:-)
God Uses Broken Vessels Blog

Friday, June 6, 2008


I have a confession. My writing has been, well, non existent lately. We went through a winter where we seemed to catch all the bugs going around. I was exhausted from trying to get better myself and taking care of sick kids.

In the middle of this chaos, I received back my entry to the Genesis contest. To say the timing was bad would be an understatement. The comments in themselves weren't overly negative, but I wasn't in a place where I could receive the constructive critisism well. I felt discouraged and figured I'd never make it in the writing arena. Why not give up? I put it all aside and refocused on getting my family well.

Then we watched P.S. I Love You. This movie struck a chord with me and I found myself sniffling through it. When it was over, I shut myself in my room and had a good cry. I'm not usually weepy over movies and I felt a bit foolish, but I thank Jesus for reaching through this movie and touching my life.

You see, I was moved by the deep love the man had for his wife. He knew he was dying and he knew his wife would struggle once he was gone. So he planned a series of letters and events to walk her through her grief. I thought to myself, wow - to be loved like that. Then I thought about how I didn't deserve such love. I thought about how I long to be a wife worthy of her husband's praise.

Then it hit me. The wife in the movie wasn't a steller wife either. She struggled with her wounds and couldn't fully trust her husband's love for her. She didn't have to earn his love, she already had it. I talked to my husband about the movie and my thoughts and how I wish he wasn't disappointed in me. You see, I'm great at starting things, but not finishing them. I've known for years that he wanted me to accomplish the things I set out to do. One of those projects is my novel.

What he said next freed me to fly again and unlocked a key writing flaw. He told me he wasn't disappointed in me; he was disappointed FOR me. One simple word change, but a profound difference in perception. I had felt a burden to live up to this false expectation he didn't have. He loves me for who I am and his disappointment stems from that love. He wants me to finish simply because it's the desire of MY heart.

I pondered this as I thought about my writing. I didn't really want to quit, but what about my hero who seemed a little too perfect? My heroine had plenty of conflict, but my hero lacked some serious flaws. Then it clicked. The characters reflected my husband and me. I saw all of my screw ups, but my love for Bob blinds me to most of his. I give him grace, but myself, not so much.

Writers put a lot of themselves in their work, but when we aren't seeing clearly, it can have an undesirable effect. Our writing will lack authenticity and readers will catch it. Our novel will fall flat. My heroine was wonderfully flawed, but my hero lacked depth because the reader couldn't see his inner turmoil.

Allowing God to shine His light into our lives and correct our faulty thinking will bring authenticity to our words. Our characters come to life as flawed people saved by His grace. Readers will see the truth of it in their own lives.

The story we write doesn't begin in our head, it begins in our heart.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Meet Author Trish Perry!

I first met Trish in Dallas a few years ago when I was a somewhat nervous first time attendee at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. We somehow struck up a conversation and Trish put me right at ease. With two successful books behind her and a third on the way, I asked Trish if she had a moment to put her feet up with us. Lucky for us, she did!

Hi, Trish, welcome to Writers' Rest!
Thrilled to be here, Cathy!

You've got a new book, Beach Dreams, from Harvest House, coming out in July. Would you tell us about it?
People who read The Guy I’m Not Dating and/or Too Good to Be True will recognize the protags of this new release. Beach Dreams features reforming bad girl Tiffany LeBoeuf, who recently lost both her mother (to cancer) and her job (for taking time to be with her dying mother). She escapes to a wonderful San Diego beach house to relax and regroup. Due to a scheduling mix-up, Tiff ends up sharing the house with a less-than-genial woman named Eve. When Eve’s charming British boyfriend, Jeremy, arrives to surprise her, he’s surprised to see Tiff there, as well. The ensuing two weeks involve secrets, deception, revelations, more unexpected arrivals, and a healthy peppering of humor and romance.

Sounds like the perfect summer read! Where did the inspiration for this particular story come from?
Both Tiff and Jeremy were characters in my first two novels. Not only did readers express the desire to know what happened to those two, I wanted to see what would happen, especially if I threw them together. I started writing their story, set in the Washington, D. C. area, where the first two novels happened. But when Harvest House asked me to write the book as an installment in The Beach House Series, I started over, and engineered matters to get Tiff and Jeremy to the other side of the country. The change in setting was fun and made for an entirely different story than what I originally planned.

I'm looking forward to reading it. What are you working on now?
I have another romantic comedy proposal floating around out there, and I’ve started working on a historical, set in 1890s America. As I foresee the historical so far, the heroine’s story will begin in New England but move out West early on. I also plan to use humor in the book, regardless of whatever else happens. Of course, I’m fairly new to historicals. So I hope to be funny on purpose, rather than by making a huge gaffe, such as having my heroine leave her cell phone in the carriage or gushing, “Why, Rhett, darlin’, how could you doubt I’d be here for you twenty-four seven?”

Interesting. Good luck with those projects! Let us know how it goes.
Trish, can you share a bit of your writing journey with us?

I wasn’t an avid writer growing up. I dabbled at poetry and short stories, just for myself, but I didn’t have the slightest thought of actually publishing anything. I returned to school in my adult years and earned a Psychology degree. While there, I got the bug for writing, just by working on projects for my required English courses and hearing such positive feedback from my professors. Subsequently, I took as many creative writing credits as I could, and by the time I got my degree, I wanted to write fiction more than I wanted to practice therapy. So I scratched the grad-school plans and focused on writing, learning about writing, and submitting. I actually started submitting before I finished college. Amid plenty of rejections, I published a poem here, a short story there, an essay here, and (finally) a novel there!

There's been some talk lately of the Chick Lit genre being put on the back burner. What's your take?
Yeah, what’s up with that, right? As if! You can never have too many stories about designer fashion and chocolate—isn’t that what makes the real world go ‘round? Actually, I think good romantic, comedic stories will always find an audience, but they might not be billed specifically as Chick Lit. You’ll notice I didn’t use the term anywhere above. There have been so many books released in the Chick Lit genre that were about as deep as a topcoat of nail polish. Novels like that start to run together in readers’ minds. But humorous young heroines who confront heavy-duty challenges? I think there’s still a market for them. My books have all contained humor and romance, and the heroines were in their late twenties or so. But my typical gal has more conflict in her life than mismatched earrings or toilet paper stuck to her shoe in the middle of a job interview. My heroines have struggled with issues such as purity, infertility, adoption, infidelity, divorce, cancer, diabetes, controlling parents, dying parents, being unequally yoked, and more.

What do you love about being a published author, apart from the royalty checks...
Ah, yes, those massive royalty checks. Hang on, let me just move this pile of money out of the way so I can get to the computer. Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m a published author. For me, this is an absolute dream come true. I love hearing from readers, probably more than anything else. You know, you try to put together an entertaining story that will honor God and connect with readers somehow. When a reader takes the time to write to you (or Amazon or any other online venue) to explain how your book made her laugh or how it fit perfectly with a concern she faced or how she and her daughter read the book together and had a good talk about it, WOW. God totally blesses me with that.

That's great. So what's the hardest thing about being an author and writing as a career?
Hmm, probably being your own boss. I’m not only a laid-back boss, my employee takes full advantage of me.

Self-discipline is a killer for me. I love those moments when I’m so into what I’m writing that time gets away from me and I have to run to the car and drive like a lunatic to get to that doctor’s appointment, arriving late, in a full sweat, disoriented, still in my fantasy world, wondering if Biff really came back to town just to see me—uh, I mean, my heroine. But those moments only happen when one is disciplined enough to stay at the computer without getting up for potato chips every half hour.

Ha, ha. Well, you're certainly busy these days. Do you do any speaking engagements or teaching sessions?
I’ve spoken to writing groups a few times, and I’d like to do more of that. I don’t actively seek engagements or teaching opportunities, but it’s time in my career to take that step.

They say hindsight is 20/20. With regard to your writing, if you could have an opportunity to do one thing differently, what would it be?
Actually, one thing that stands out for me is membership in the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. In hindsight, I would have joined sooner in the journey. I was a member years ago, but I didn’t opt to receive emails from the members, and I didn’t participate or learn much about ACFW. After I had my first contract, my agent encouraged me to join again. This time I interacted, and I was struck by how accessible everyone was—how helpful, especially to new writers. Notice I said, “new writers,” not “published writers.” Highly regarded Christian authors are right there, online and at conferences, contributing advice and giving solid counsel to spanking new authors. Had I paid attention to the talent in ACFW when I first started, I think I may have been published sooner.

What does a typical day in life of Trish look like?
In a perfect world: I start my day with a short, silent time with God before getting myself tidied up a bit. After I drop my son off at school, I get in a quick workout, shower, and then I sit down to work on my current writing project. I break for lunch and occasional peeks at my email. If I’m under a stiff contract, I’ll work while I have lunch. Then I return to the computer and work until late afternoon, when I pick my son up from school. Again, when I’m under contract, I’ll get a couple more hours in before stopping to make dinner and relax for the evening.

In my more typical world, all of the above happens, but the workouts aren’t quite as regular as I’d like, and the email peeks are more like longing gazes. A contract is the whip I need to stay at it. I wish it weren’t so, but at this point I’m willing to admit I allow myself to be distracted all too often. And you know, they say admitting to the problem is the first step in overcoming it.

When you're not at the computer writing, what will we find you doing?
Reading (almost always fiction), viewing films, working on my new town house, getting together with friends and laughing until we cry.

If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
I would have become a psychological therapist, had my career path not veered in this direction. Now I use my psychological training to invent people with problems, rather than trying to help real people solve theirs.

Finally, do you have any advice for new and still-to-be-published writers?
Yes! If you aren’t starting every day by getting in touch with the Lord, asking for His guidance for the next 24 hours, you’re starting each day incorrectly! Imagine that. I swear, if you do that one thing and listen for His answers as you go about your business, He’ll clear your path, even if you don’t quite realize it while He’s doing it. Having started your day with Him, if you feel drawn to write, you absolutely must do it, regardless of how many rejections you receive. If He keeps putting that desire in your heart, He’s telling you to do this for Him. So learn everything you can about the craft and business, make every effort you can to write and submit your work, and get in touch with fellow authors who are Christian, even if you don’t write for the Christian market. The Lord will use those authors on your behalf.

Thanks for visiting us on Writers' Rest, Trish! We'll look forward to Beach Dreams!

My pleasure, Cathy. I hope readers have a good time with Beach Dreams, and I invite them to let me know what they think!

The author of Beach Dreams (2008), Trish Perry lives in Northern Virginia with her hilarious teenaged son. She discovered her love of writing while earning a degree in Psychology. She switched career paths in 1997 and never looked back. Her debut novel, The Guy I’m Not Dating, placed second in the 2007 FHL Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, and her second, Too Good to Be True, is a current finalist in the 2008 FHL IRCC. To learn more about Trish and her novels, visit her web site:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Premise and the Strongly Held Belief

Fiction Writing
by Molly Noble Bull

Like all my articles on fiction writing, many of my teachings come from Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain.

Question: In a novel, what is a premise and why is it important?

Answer: A premise is often a proverb or scripture verse like those found in the Bible. Example: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
However a premise need not come from the Bible to be a suitable premise for a novel. Example: Honesty is the best policy.
A premise is important because it tells what your novel is really all about, and in my opinion, every novel MUST have one if the author hopes to sell. The premise relates to the plot and is important because it gives your novel meaning and substance.

Q: Why should a premise come from a proverb or saying that required the characters to make a choice?

A: In a story, characters must choose whether to take one path or another. Therefore, the premise must be designed to allow the characters to make those choices.

Q: Why must a premise contain a decision?

A: A story is not a story unless characters make decisions to follow one path or the other.

Q: Give an example of a premise that causes the characters to make a decision.

A: Here are examples of premises that cause characters to make a choice.
Honesty is the best policy.
Honesty is not always the best policy.

Q: What is a strongly held belief and why is it important?

A: A strongly held belief is a saying that influences the characters or a belief of the hero or heroine in a novel.

Examples of strongly held belief:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
A lady never hangs her dirty laundry in public.
Always wear nice underwear because you never know when you might be in an accident and end up in the hospital.
A gentleman never hits a woman even when provoked.
Always eat everything on your plate because others around the world are starving.

Q: Are the premise and the strongly held belief sometimes the same?

A: No, they must be different. Every novel must have one of each.

Q: How does the premise help keept the novel moving forward?

A: The premise helps keep a novel on track by constantly focusing each scene on proving the premise to be true.

Q: How does a strongly held belief infulence character?

A: Let us say that the hero's strongly held belief is that you never hit a woman even when provoked. In the novel, a woman hits him again and again. He is tempted to hit back, but because of his strongly held belief, he doesn't.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is marketing boasting?

By Tiffany Colter

I want you to know your comments have totally messed up my plan!!! Laugh.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm a huge planner. I plan my life weeks or months in advance and I don't do well when things change. Although I'm learning to adapt.

So when I saw the great comments left for me last Tuesday I had to change what I had planned on talking about [fear] and focus a bit on something else.

Cath presents an interesting problem. She lives on a tiny tropical resort island where there are beautiful skies, warm breezes...far away from the frozen tundra up here by Toledo, Ohio [I'm sorry...I am not sounding very sympathetic, am I? smile]

Seriously, what do you do when, for whatever reason, you aren't able to market with book signings, personal appearances and other more conventional forms of advertising?

This question is important enough that I'm going to ask a few people I know well who have faced just such a dilemma [in addition to what I've learned about marketing] and I will write a full blog on this later this month. So Cath, I haven't forgotten you. I want to give you the most thorough answer I can.

Now, Carla, yours is a question I hear VERY often in Christian circles. It truly saddens me that we have become so beaten down that we feel genuine pride [happiness] over a job well done is the same as the sin of pride. [thinking ourselves better than others]

First of all, there was rejoicing in the presence of the angels when we gave our life to Christ. God REJOICED over us. Isn't that incredible!! I celebrated when my little girls learned to walk and talk. And when they responded to my enthusiasm with their toothless grins and clapped their hands together with me, I didn't rebuke them.

I think too often we focus on God as LORD and JUDGE and forget that He is also a loving daddy who came down in the body of Christ to lift an adulteress from the mud as well as a forgive a sinful man who hung on a cross beside him.

When we are called to write our writing is a ministry and a calling. Our obedience pleases God. When that book goes to print God is excited with us. He is working through us and that makes him SO happy.

Now, I wouldn't encourage Christians to go to a local bookstore and say "See this Christian fiction book...Mine is better." But if God brings you to publication, you need to let people know your book exists.

"Let your light so shine before all men that they may see your good work and give praise to your father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

This verse comes at the end of the Beatitudes. A section of the Bible famous for its words about the meek inheriting the earth.

Now, I will not get in to a theological debate here. If someone does not agree that marketing our writing is scriptural then by all means, don't do it. However, I saturate my writing in prayer and I ask God to lead each story to the person who will be healed through it. God led me to a few different Christian novels 8 years ago when I was at a low point in my life. They showed me the love and power of God in a way I'd never thought possible. They took me back to the Bible, not because they quoted scripture, but because I became hungry for a God who could help hurting people.

That is why I am so passionate about the body of Christ pushing past their fear and focusing on stewardship.

I think that as all of you start to see my philosophy on marketing you will realize my goal is never to grow at the expense of another. I genuinely want to see the body of Christ bring their fiction to an even higher level. It has grown for more than five years.

God is blessing Christian novelists and he is blessing the world through Christian novels. What we need to do now is really build on our successes. We have the anointing of the Holy Spirit to guide us. We need to draw on that wisdom to write stories that honor God and then to get those stories to a hurt and dying world.

Wow, I get so excited when I start to talk about the goodness of God. It is just such a wonderful feeling to know that the God who spoke the worlds in to being is doing the snoopy dance when I get my first book deal. Isn't that AMAZING!!

So now I need some feedback on another issue. All of my other Writer's Rest bloggers have these cute names like "Mission Possible Monday."

What should I call this blog?? Today I called it "Name this Blog" but I want a better name to start next week. This blog will be about marketing and staying motivated as a writer. So c'mon everyone!! Let's get motivated!! Think of a name for this blog. I don't have a prize...just my eternal gratitude! :-)

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I almost forgot. I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching on "Get organized for Greater Efficiency" at the Christian PEN. The class will run online from July 21-Aug 11 and you can get full details here. Please help spread the word about this class. There is a fee involved but there are a limited number of scholarships available [and if you do not want to take the course, consider providing a scholarship for another author]. Registration will go through the beginning of July but I hope to have a fairly large class [30-40 if possible] so we can learn from each other.

I have to go, I finally have my plotline reworked for my WIP!!!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter