Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why should I bother in this Economy?

I was reading an article yesterday on the changing economy of the publishing industry and the news doesn't look good.

Heads are rolling, companies are downsizing, advances are being questioned....bookstores are going bankrupt.

In this economy where the news screams fear and financial fallout why should we even try to write books? Will anyone want to read what we wrote? Is there any point at all?

These are reasonable questions to ask, however I think it is more important to ask a different set of questions:

Is it okay to watch the wind and waves rather than obey the voice of Jesus?
Is the book you're writing about your ego and pocketbook or about His ministry?
What is the point of what you write?

To be honest with you, despite the current circumstances, I'm encouraged. I've already seen what God can do with just a little bit of obedience. I've passed through an intense fire and realized all the things I wanted won't ever make me happy.

I realize I serve a God who fed a prophet in a drought with birds [1 Kings 17:1-6]
He gave a besieged city who was eating their babies food in abundance in 24 hrs [2 Kings 7]
He told a prophet to buy a piece of land during drought and the prophet received a 100 fold return in that same year

And I serve a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever

So instead of looking at what is raging around you spend time in God's presence and find out how to market and what story he has in your heart. It may be the book He gives you that touches the heart of a hurting person who doesn't realize that God even cares.

And in the spirit of marketing I am posting up a FULL NOVEL free on my new blog tiffanycolter.blogspot.com Go check it out and sign up to have each chapter delivered to you as I post it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

So What Did You Do Today?

Was your day a good one?

Do you feel accomplished?

Did you do something today to enrich your life or that of someone else's?

I think these are good evaluation questions to end our days with. Some friends and I have begun to ask these questions back and forth in order to recognize that every day has value. That every day has some sort of redeeming value. That every day IS a good day.

How would you answer these questions?


Friday, September 26, 2008

You're invited to a SHOE Contest :-)

Okay, this is just pure fun and silliness! Guess which ACFW author over on the F.A.I.T.H. Girls blog belongs to which shoe :-D And there are several other posts about the ACFW conference...

Of course, the prizes are being awarded on Sunday. So get your guess in for a chance to win In the Shadow of Lions, foot cream and another book from Missy Tippens, Her Unlikely Family.

Again, just for fun:-D

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Passion follows practice

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

Hello everyone. Sorry, this won't be about ACFW because I wasn't there this year. :-(

What I am going to talk about is what I learned this morning in my time of devotion and Bible reading. [That is why this is so late today.] What I read made me think of our life as authors and our passion to write books that really minister God's word to hurting people.

The scripture was James 4:8 and it says when we draw close to God He will draw close to us.

She used the example of golfing, you can go months without golfing but as soon as you do it once you want to do it again. The same is true with other activities. You find that as you do something your desire to do it again increases.

The same is true of our time with God and our writing. I have found that when I simply decide that I will sit down and do writing, it gets done. I get excited about doing it. I start thinking about what I'll write even before I start writing.

This is the single best cure to writer's block. Writing.

I know everyone has those spells where they simply can't find a way to put words to paper. What I do then is read books by other people during my writing time. I stop and say "Now, how could I do that in my own writing?"

And the same is true with time spent with God. I spend time with God and find my desire to be in His presence increasing. I have also found that my creativity flows. I read the Bible and say "How can I apply that to my life? How can I show that to my readers?"

So if you're not passionate about your time with God or with your writing start practicing...and watch your passion grow.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

If you enjoy this blog and would like to read my regular blog click this link

If you'd like to receive the daily email devotion I read this morning go to this website.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On the way home from the ACFW Conference!

Ho! This was one exciting conference. I'm reporting in from the Minneapolis Airport of all places. As soon as possible, I'll upload some fun pictures of blog partners and friends that were with me this weekend. (Hah, it only took me a day to find the time to upload these photos...yay.)

Our own lovely, Cathy West, and Angie on the last day. If there is an unclaimed day later in the week, I'll post more conference stuffness:-D I'll do my best to get photos on this post by Monday at the latest.

Sometimes we get refueled by sleep and taking the day off. Okay, most of the time. Then there are times like this that are exhausting and invigorating all at the same time. For a writer, it's like celebrating Christmas or something, lol.

We had so many classes that my little brain is reeling from the great teaching. Fav teacher is the amazing Margie Lawson. She has some upcoming online classes that I would urge you strongly to attend...No, let me say that again...STRONGLY...no, not quite enough...STRONGLY heh heh heh. Can you tell how I feel about her teaching?

In fact, go to her site and check them out. Affordable, excellent, in-depth. According to everyone there, it takes their ability from a race car to a rocket ship! REALLY!

Be quick about it because one of her best classes is starting October 13-26, 2008. Then in January is the Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors. I promise you will never be the same again with these new skills and opportunities.

Much appreciation to the friends, faculty and visiting editors/agents! All the people who worked so hard to make the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference happen are truly servants. They served with a heart for pouring into others and they succeeded.

Please plan on coming to Denver, Colorado for the 2009 ACFW conference. You never know when you might find a chicken van indoors!
PS More individual experience from me over at God Uses Broken Vessels or over at the F.A.I.T.H. Girls blog too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Win a Fiction Writing Contest

by Molly Noble Bull

Most contests for fiction writers have similar score sheets. One way to help assure that you win or score high in contests is to try to get a copy of the score sheet from previous years and study it well. Next, send a copy of your proposal along with a copy of the score sheet to someone you trust and ask them to tell you if your chapters and synopsis fit the contest guidelines listed on the score sheet.

Below are some typical questions found on score sheets for fiction writers. The first item on many score sheets is the beginning hook. Make sure your beginning hook grabs the reader.

Now for the questions.

Is there an opening line or paragraph that immediately hooks the reader into the story?

Does the story hold your interest to the end of the book?

Does the setting support the story without intruding?

Are the characters kept clear?

Do inspirational elements grow out of character or plot?

Do scenes flow smoothly, giving a sense of movement?

Is there a good balance between narrative and dialogue, showing and telling?

Do sensory details (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) enhance each scene?

Are subplots interwoven seamlessly into the main plot?

If you are unable to get a copy of an actually score sheet, use the information above. The questions should help you prepare a manuscript that will appeal to readers as well as contest judges.



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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Take Correction

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By. Tiffany Colter

Proverbs 9:8-9 (New International Version)

8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.

9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

This morning as I sat down for my daily Bible reading and "Board Meeting" with God this verse jumped out. I knew I had to blog about it with you.

This week is ACFW's National Conference. Hundreds of writers will be in Minneapolis meeting with Editors and Agents hoping to make an impression, land a deal and learn that "One Thing" that will change their writing forever.

But how many will use what they learn?

This year I am NOT attending ACFW. I've blogged before how God told me that until I use what He's already given me. I accepted His instructions and, as I look at this weeks calendar, am again overwhelmed by God's wisdom.

I am working on a few different writing projects and three of the 'converge' this week. That means I have major finishing work on 3 projects for this week. There is NO way I could have enjoyed conference under that pressure.

But what about all of you? Those of you who are going...and those who aren't. This blog is for everyone.

One thing I DID learn last year that applies to many writers is their unwillingness to receive wisdom. All of us think that first Manuscript is BRILLIANT. But are we able to lay it on the altar of God and let it go? Do you know that I've written 3 1/2 full Manuscripts and I'm still not published in book length fiction. In 2006 I wrote over 100,000 first draft words [that means I didn't count the revisions, additions, etc. so that number is at least double.]

In 2007-2008 it was all about correction, perfection and reflection. [Be impressed!! I worked really hard to get three rhyming words :-)

During that 18 month time it was all about God correcting me in spirit, mind and body. I had to eliminate some bad attitudes, I had to listen to people wiser than I am and I had to trust God through the process. It was very humbling...VERY HUMBLING.

However, as I look at what God is now doing through me I am even more humbled. That the God of the Universe took the time to correct me and make me in to this.

Oh, I haven't arrived by any means, but even as I share my heart with you, tears are in my eyes. The Bible tells us that "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

So whether you're told by an agent "You need to work on dialog" by an editor "Work on your character arc" or in a conference class "manage your time better" or even in your time alone when God says "Not now."

Take correction...you'll grow as a person AND a writer.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

*** Scriptures complements of NIV and Bible Gateway [www.BibleGateway.com]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Such a great day!

"Ufta, what a day!" my grandma would say. In Swedish it means something like "Oh My Goodness." At least it does in my family:-)

I had most of the day to myself. I know, unheard of!

I worshiped on my own, worked on some projects online and updated my website.

While I was spending time alone with God, I asked him to help me listen to hear his voice.

Next thing you know, I've written the opening to a whole new book.

Even though today was very restful and peaceful, I accomplished more than I had in weeks. That sense of accomplishment came with a good dose of joy and surprise, lol.

I think I learned a dash more how to listen to God, but I have miles and miles compared to the tiny bit today.

Today was a very good day. Now I just have to figure out how to repeat it:-)

What would you do if you had one whole day to listen? The house is quiet, no one will be home and the phone ringer is off. How do you spend that gift of time?

PS Take a look at my updated website! It will continue evolving as we add a cool and artistic page for my non-fiction book, Insanity Rules.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good Dialogue

Posted by Eileen Astels

Writing good dialogue takes practice, and then some more practice. Here are just a few pointers I've picked up so far. I've got a long way to go to learn this concept, so this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else interested. Hopefully these pointers will help us all.

One of the basic things to consider when creating dialogue segments is to cut out all the "boring" chat. Use a quick transition sentence to get through the pleasantries that everyone knows happens, but doesn't want to be bothered reading or experiencing through a book. Cut to the chase, as they say. Get to the good stuff immediately. And by "good stuff", I mean have the characters talk move the plot forward, or at the very least, reveal important characterization. Your readers will thank you for doing so.

Make the words spoken on your page sound like the unique characters you've created. Give them individual speech rhythms, patterns. If your hero has a habit of clipping his sentences, then make his dialogue clipped--don't complete all his sentences. If your hero is a rambler, let him ramble, but be sure to make his rambling interesting. Again, so as not to bore the reader, you may want to make use of a beat or transitional phrase to reveal the never-ending spiel without making the reader sit through every single word.

Favorite words. We all have words we tend to use more than the next person. Give each of your characters some pet words and sprinkle them into their dialogue, there's alone.

Anything that will help define who is speaking is a great element to incorporate in your dialogue segments. The less speaker attributions required, the better. Even mannerisms within beats can be used when the dialogue can't be phrased in a unique-to-the-speaker way.

Read your dialogue aloud. Listen. Do you hear the difference speech patterns, cadence, choice words? Go through each quote and make it as unique to the speaker as possible.

Okay, now it's your turn. If you have any other suggestions, please drop them in a comment. I'm listening.



P.S. A little heads up: Kaye Dacus will be running a series on writing dialogue, called "Say What?" on her website starting in a week or two. You may want to check it out, I know I will be. Here's the link: http://kayedacus.com/ Hopefully I'll see over there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Countdown to Conference!

Those of us attending the American Christian Fiction Writers' Conference next week are beginning the big countdown.
Many will be participating for the first time. I'd like to give out a smidge of advice for the first timers, based on my last two conferences, this will only be my third so I'm by no means a veteran!
First of all, remember that attending a writers conference is NOT the means to making or breaking your future career in publishing. It is simply a valuable tool, something that will benefit you greatly along your path to publication. I could be wrong, but I believe it is rare to receive a contract or snag an agent AT the conference. Not to say that sometime down the road the connections you made there will flourish into something more, but please don't go into conference expecting to come away with your golden ticket. I've been there done that, and having those unrealistic expectations ups the pressure of your appointments by ten thousand percent. In other words, don't be stupid. :0)
I think a common dream many of us unpublished writers have, sadly. "Oh, they'll be SO impressed with me..."
Uh huh. Do you KNOW how many other writers are attending this conference? Last year I believe we overshot 400.
That said, it's great to have expectations, just make sure they're realistic. Dreams are different. Hold onto your dreams for dear life, because they'll keep you going. Just don't put the farm on them coming true after one appointment.

If you're pitching, come prepared to do so, but don't stress. Yeah, I know. So my first conference I didn't sleep for three nights...okay, I can't talk. Try not to stress. How's that? Yes, it's intimidating sitting down in front of a total stranger who could very well show an interest in your work and *gasp* ask to see it - catch word could.
I've found the best way to get through the nerves that invariably come with these appointments is to remind yourself that you're making connections. You're giving the editor or agent a chance to put a face to a name they may or may not have seen before.
Even if they're not interested in what you have to offer now, it's not the end of the world. You may have future projects that might work for them. It's all about timing, and in this business, timing is a fickle creature.
If you happen to stumble and stammer, don't worry too much. Pitching isn't my thing at all, but I always make sure I have a great one-sheet, maybe I go a little OTT on this, but oh well, and I at least know something about my story! LOL.
Relax. Seriously. Editors and agents are people too. I've met quite a few by now and I can tell you they're all nice. Really.
That said, if you want to make a good impression, respect their time. Show up early for your appointment and keep an eye on your watch so you don't run over time. Now, IF the person ahead of you is taking their sweet time and running into your time, what can you do? Well, for one thing, I believe there are coordinators in the area that keep an eye on these things. If not, you can move slowly toward the table, usually the editor or agent is also aware of the time and will wrap it up. Unless of course they're sealing a million dollar deal, then you might have to wait.
Make friends! Yes, even if you're shy, you can do this. If you don't squeeze a little extrovert out of the introvert, you'll regret it.
There are so many great people in ACFW. You'll love meeting them and they'll make you feel at home right away. I'll be around, so come find me, there's at least one person you know already. If you're still skeptical, jump on the Forum at ACFW and join in the Conference Chatter. My crit partner and I actually 'met' this way - we started IM'ing a few weeks before the conference so once we met in person it was like we already knew each other. And guess what, we're still friends!! Don't ask me how she puts up with me and all my craziness, but she does. You'll have plenty of standing in line time at lunch and dinner, so make the most of it. Strike up a conversation and see what happens!
Speaking of meal times - again, this is an area where I saw people stressing a lot - scrambling to sit with the agent or editor they really, really wanted to talk to. Last year I decided to leave it up to God. I sat where I sat and whatever happened, happened. I talked about my book once but mostly I just enjoyed the food! LOL. Actually, one of those meal times was a definite God thing. I happened to sit at Susan May Warren's table, there was an empty spot and hey, who doesn't like Susie? She asked what we were all working on. I'd just been giving some serious food for thought from the agent I'd met with that morning and thinking of ways to improve my manuscript. I gave Susan the gist of the story and within minutes she'd put her finger on what needed to be fixed and suggested ways of doing so. The funny thing about this is that months later, once I secured an agent, Susie worked on an edit of that same manuscript for me! That's what I mean when I talk about the God-ordained appointments.
As I said in my other conference post, go to have fun, go to learn and meet people. Most of all, go trusting God. He knows what you need more than you do. It's really important to believe in yourself and your writing, but just know that things don't happen overnight. Even when you have an agent, things don't happen overnight! Patience and prayer. I'm still learning as I go, so we're all in it together.
And if you're reading this and can't make the conference this year, you can still purchase all the teaching tapes online. Infact I highly recommend doing so. Every year, ACFW makes sure we have the best teachers and awesome speakers. Even if you can't be there in person, you can still share in the wealth of information so graciously doled out to us by these awesome authors.

These are just a few thoughts I had to share. If you have any questions about the conference for us, fire away, we'll do our best to answer them.
See you next week!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Letting Go of Worry

This weekend, I had a massage. Now I may have mentioned this before as an excellent form of rest. But one of the most potent things massage can do for you is release muscle tension.

Where do you suppose muscle tension comes from?

One cause is worry. Another may be injury or illness.

Honestly I think muscle tension is a great tool. Consider it a warning sign that you are spinning too fast and need to slow down.

The therapist barely brushed her hands down my back. Not only could I feel all the little bumps and lumps, but she could.

Jessie was pretty funny. She exclaimed, "My goodness you are all knotted up."

And I was. And I still am, just not as much.

What? You thought massage would take care of all that tension?

It sure does. BUT...(I couldn't resist a BIG but here.)

Massage is like physical therapy. That is exactly what massage should be considered. When you have injured your body, the doctor often prescribes physical therapy. It's one of the main things I've been prescribed to manage arthritis in my lower back. Basically that means you need a series of visits for the full treatment to work.

Often I can go months in between massage therapy visits now. However, not this time.

Massage can be used for a relaxing rest or it can be used to restore rest to your life by reducing pain that is interfering in your rest.

So if I could suggest one thing to you today that would make a difference in your life, it would be massage. Find out if you are in need of relaxation or therapy to release triggers that radiate into headaches or locked muscles. Then explore the various types of massage. Personally I love deep tissue and trigger release. I go for the therapeutic value.

I do feel sore for a few days afterwards. Very much like after a tough workout. The most amazing thing happens. My headaches go away and I sleep deeply.

Nope, you do not have to get deep tissue or trigger release to feel excellent benefits. You only need those if you have knots like I get :-) I do challenge you to get massage to overcome headaches or tension. There are several pleasant styles that work very well.

So how do you find a good massage therapist?

If you aren't going to someone you trust, ask for referrals. Look for a massage school in your area. That way you can try several styles of massage at less cost. If you find a favorite therapist, you can continue with them after their graduation.

Sometimes a school will offer short half day seminars for the community to learn massage techniques for use at home. A very nice touch if you have strong hands and an endurance longer than 5 minutes. Lol, that's about how long any massage I give can last. sigh. I'll never be able to do that for a living. I'm in awe of people who can. I believe it is as much a calling to bring physical therapy to someone as it is to minister or serve in any other calling.

Please visit me over at God uses broken vessels too.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

You have not been delayed

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

Is it September already!!

I have enjoyed days where it wasn't so cold that my fingers hurt to type!! In less than 70 days there could be snow on the ground. Yuck!

Well, one thing I do like about the fall is the ACFW Writer's conference. Today I want to take a little different spin on the whole "Conference Prep thing." I want to talk about building your writing career if you are NOT going to a writer's conference soon.

Last year I told "My conference story". It was really a God word that He allowed me to share and if you'd like to read it you can by following this link.

What I want to talk about in this blog is what you CAN do when you feel like your writing career is stalled by your inability to network at a conference.

For years I was not able to attend a writer's conference. I had 3 young children at home and the cost of 2 in diapers, ear infections, ballet lessons and the growing pains that come with having a young child left us with very little extra money. The idea of spending over $1,000...well, there was NO way I could.

I was blessed, however, to have some alone time with God. During that time He reminded me that I was not being delayed; I was being prepared. There is a difference between the two and often times we forget that in our enthusiasm to "arrive". This isn't just in our writing; it is in every area of our lives. We want things to proceed on our timetable.

What I see now is I wasn't READY for a writer's conference all those other years. I lacked the maturity and professionalism-and the fortitude. All those years of delay I learned how to improve my craft and take a long term approach to my writing. I used to get so excited about WRITERS that I'd giggle at the idea of meeting one face to face. [Does that REALLY sound like a person who is ready to pitch to an editor/agent??]

I also built up MANY publishing credits in my articles. I was prepared with 2 full manuscripts that had been buffed and polished. I had learned a great deal from friends in ACFW, and I also got over my "groupie giggles".

And this year I have to miss again. While I had peace about it, I was disappointed until a few days ago when I was sitting at my computer and I suddenly thought about all I'd learned at the last two conferences. I realized that THIS year God was having me sit out on a conference that I REALLY wanted to attend because He wanted me to spend that time APPLYING what I'd already learned. Once I do that I can move to the next level in my writing and will-again-benefit from what I can learn at a conference.

So for all of you who feel you've been forgotten...you haven't been. God still has you on track.

And you haven't been delayed!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter