Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Defining Genres by Diana Flegal with Eddie Jones

This week I had the privilege to be part of the faculty at the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novel Retreat held at Lifeway’s Ridgecrest Conference center. Today and next week I will be sharing material (with permission) from notes I took while listening to several conference speakers.

Eddie Jones, founder and Publisher of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and award winning author, facilitated a workshop this week on defining genres. Since authors sometimes question what category their title falls under, I thought this list might be helpful.

Romance verses a Love Story

Romance: the developing love relationship between a boy and girl, facing obstacles, ending happily. Boy eventually gets the girl.

Examples: An Affair to Remember/ You’ve Got Mail/ The Caretakers Son by Yvonne Lehman

Love Story:   A journey of falling in love ended by tragic deadly circumstances.

Examples: Love Story/ Romeo and Juliet/ The Notebook/ Titanic/ Gone With the Wind

Mystery verses Suspense

Mystery: The solving of a puzzle by an amateur or professional sleuth. The Dead body shows up in the first chapter.  Several suspects, all knew the victim. Often has a surprise ending.

Examples: Murder She Wrote/ The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun/ Castle  

Suspense: There might be a body or not. But there is a crime to solve. The protagonist’s (detective/sleuth) life is continually threatened.   The reader is exposed to information   the protagonist is not yet aware of causing suspense for the reader.

Examples: No Where to Turn by Lynette Eason/While You Were Sleeping/ The Fugitive

Speculative/ Fantasy/ Science Fiction

Speculative: Life the way it could be if…

Examples: E. T./ Enoch by Alton Gansky/ The Day the Earth Stood Still

Fantasy: The author creates a new world but brings into it present day rules.

Examples: Lord of the Rings/ Harry Potter/ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Science Fiction: The writer creates a new world in a different galaxy.  Has a lot to do with science or technology.

Examples: The Matrix, Star Wars/ 1984/The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells


Impress your friends the next time there is a lull in the conversation. "Hey, did you know Nicolas Sparks is NOT a romance author?"












Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's Your Pace? By Andy Scheer

How many words did you add to your writing project this week? More than your critique partner added to hers?

Who cares? So long as you're still progressing, your pace on this stretch doesn't matter.

This past week, my wife and I enjoyed a three-day getaway in the mountains west of Denver. Each day we hiked about three miles. But for each hike we fell into a different pace—reflecting the altitude and terrain.

Day one's trail, around a mountain lake, was mostly level. A few times muddy stretches or uphill sections slowed us, but we averaged a steady pace and finished the circuit in good time.

Day two found us trekking up Mayflower Gulch to an old mining town. We'd enjoyed the hike enjoyed two summers ago. But this time the steep track was covered with snow and ice. We'd expected some snow. But not the effort of walking uphill for more than a mile and a half when every step meant unsure footing.

We took the trail slowly. We paused often to catch our breath. Some younger hikers passed us. But we arrived safely. We enjoyed the scenery. Then we descended the mile and a half—without falling. But only because we took our time.

Day three's trail was dry but steep. Several times my wife outpaced me, especially on stretches where scenic vistas beckoned me to take a photo—and catch my breath. Again we were overtaken by a much younger hiker. But she lived nearby and said she hiked the trail daily. For us, it was the first time. So we took it at our own pace, enjoyed the journey, and finished the hike.

Having completed those trails, my wife and I are better, more experienced hikers. If we ever take those paths again, we might be able to complete them more quickly—conditions permitting.

What terrain are you experiencing on your work-in-progress? If you've reached a steep, uphill section, don't worry if you're moving more slowly or have to catch your breath. It's a good time to look over your shoulder to see how far you've come. Then start writing again—at your own pace.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Never Too Late by Linda S. Glaz

It’s never too late to finally get it.
I finally got it.
I managed to snag a bundle on Amazon for less than a buck. A bunch of awesome authors, great stories, the whole works. Opened to a multi-pubbed, award-winning author I had always wanted to read. I got to page three. I went back; must have missed something. Reread, got to page two and a half. Went back again. What?
Back and forth, in and out of POVs. Yessiree, head hopping like a rabbit on steroids.
My apologies Sally Stuart for the tough critique you gave me fifteen or so years ago. You were spot on. And I was horribly wrong.
Admitting my foolishness, let’s just say that I never really got why omniscient doesn’t work as well as controlled POVs. I really didn’t. I grew up on authors who wrote that way. Now, mind you, I taught the company line. I’ve given numerous classes on POV, deep POV, deep—deep POV and so on and so forth. I tell my authors to be sure their POVs are easily understood. Even though I still was not convinced all of it was necessary.
And yet, here I was on page three, so confused that I had to reread the opening pages three more times to try and connect with someone. I hope you know, I haven’t picked up the story since. It was too much work to try and figure out who was thinking, feeling, expressing themselves.
Sooooo…there you have it. Lesson taught. Lesson learned.
I finally got it. How about you?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2014 ACFW Random Observations From My Corner of the World by Jim Hart

I was able to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in St. Louis in September and here are a few random observations:

For me, the best part of conferences is meeting authors, whether at an appointment, sharing a meal, or waiting for the elevator. And I had some great conversations with a number of editors. It’s energizing to be around so many creative types.

As I met with my appointments I discovered that the range of genres represented was very diverse. I never knew what story an author was going to pitch: A cowboy love story? A deaf musician? A boy who rides dragons? A young pick-pocket who goes to work for the police? A story of racism in a farming community? A story featuring a major Biblical character? It’s almost like digging into a box of chocolates (without hearing Tom Hank’s voice). As a short-attention-span person, I really enjoyed it.

I found the number of writers who are writing YA and/or YA fantasy amazing. It seemed like every fourth person had a YA fantasy to pitch. Obviously a lot of people are reading that genre. It’s a shame that they are so hard to sell. I tried to be as encouraging as I could, because it seemed that nearly every editor at ACFW was NOT looking for for YA or fantasy/sci-fi. Although I did read a blog today from an editor who acquires YA fantasy for a general market publisher and her advice was to write from your heart, not to what is trending. Great advice!

So to all the authors that pitched to me at ACFW – thanks! You were the highlight of my day(s)! Especially those who had their proposals, one sheets, samples and manuscripts on a flash drive.
One author handed me a flash drive business card, which I had never seen before.  I had to wait until she got up from the table to try and figure out how to open it. I would suggest to every writer who has to make a pitch to stop what you’re doing now and google ‘flash drive business card’. It was a pretty impressive piece of tech, one that’s probably been available much longer than I realize.

And it was especially great to be able to share a meal…..and a long walk…..with a nice group of our Hartline clients. A special thanks to those that helped push Mom’s scooter across the street as it’s battery began to die. (That’s one way to work off a plate of lasagna).

Because Joyce and Linda Glaz were both nominated for the ACFW agent of the year award we were anticipating the awards banquet. The saying "two out of three ain't bad" says it all! And though the award was presented to Chip MacGregor there were a lot of authors in the room rooting for our Hartline agents!

And now…..back to reading the proposals and samples that I picked up at the conference!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 Ways to Break Writers Block by Diana Flegal

Writers block has been known to hit the most well published authors as well as the newbie on deadline. Blog block hit me this week. 

All creativity damns up behind a wall of fear and dread fueled by new insecurity.

Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artists Way” recommends ‘Artist Dates’. Getting out and seeing beautiful things, imagining creative ways to use cast off junk, and soaking in creations beauty – all of these things do help to refresh me and recharge my efforts at my desk.

 Julia has posted on her blog 101 artist date ideas for us. Great list. I hope you check it out.

  1. Go on an artist date

I belong to a group of creative’s here in Asheville that gather under the name The Worship Studio. We meet most Monday evenings in Matt Tommey’s River Oaks studio, in our River Arts District here in Asheville, NC. The River Arts District is home to over 180 working artists within 25 studio buildings.  It's one of the largest working artists communities in the country and certainly the most interactive!   We believers gather together to encourage one another in the gifts we have been given. Matt is a published author and successful skilled basket maker that sells commissioned pieces. But it is his vision to come along side of artists (writers included) and create community for them all over the world. Right now we are reading together, Erwin McManus’s book, The Artisan Soul.

    2. Gather with like minded people/ writers critique group/ phone a friend

Author Cindy Sproles said when she gets stuck, she accesses a ‘trash bin’ file of stories she started and walked away from. Usually she finds something there or is inspired enough to go back to the story she was stuck on.
     3. Recycle the thread in old stories

Well published author Yvonne Lehman said she doesn’t run into writers block often. When a character of hers doesn’t quite know what to do in a situation, she lets them wonder, pray about it, or throws them into a crisis. Problem solved.

      4. Re-imagine your character’s situation

Last but not least: Thank God for the challenge. Author Lilly Sanders Ubbens reminds us of this here in her blog, Christ Across Culture. Your challenge might not be mine- or mine the same as any others. But our challenges all serve a higher purpose.

     5. Pray

What do you do when you are stuck? Hope we have given you a few ideas to get your wheels spinning again or at least distracted you enough to go back in fresh. At least you know you are not alone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dream Big by Andy Scheer

Business magazine Forbes recently reported the past year’s top-earning authors.

Totals include earnings from print, ebook, and audiobook sales, plus TV and movie earnings.

James Patterson, $90 million

Dan Brown, $28 million

Nora Roberts, $23 million

Danielle Steel, $22 million

Janet Evanovich, $20 million

Jeff Kinney, $17 million

Veronica Roth, $17 million

John Grisham, $17 million

Stephen King, $17 million

Suzanne Collins, $16 million

J. K. Rowling, $14 million

George R.R. Martin, $12 million

David Baldacci, $11 million

Rick Riordan, $10 million

E.L. James, $10 million

Gillian Flynn, $9 million

John Green, $9 million

That represents a lot of books, but just the tip of the publishing iceberg.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Life Creates the Best Stories by Linda S. Glaz

I’ve always told folks I’ve had so many life experiences that I have a lot to write about. A friend asked me what happened in the Air Force that would make a good story. There are so MANY things. Where would I begin?
I’ll tell you just one and you see if somewhere in your mind you can’t see a story slowly developing.
I was lucky enough, and yes, that was pure sarcasm, to be the dorm chief of my flight. That meant any and all problems from the other WAF landed in my lap.
Now, we had inherited the old condemned men’s barracks which had supposedly been refurbished for us. I honestly didn’t see anything remotely related to refurbishing. It must have been something beforehand, that’s all I can say.
The very first day of boot camp, a young lady who I’ll call Airman Doe, rushed up to me in the evening with a mound of shampoo in her hair. Her fingers were digging for gold.
“Sharon, what on earth are you doing?”
Her eyes sparkled with excitement as she danced foot to foot. “Airman Mapes! Airman Mapes! You’ve just gotta come see the handy little shampooer they put in the bathroom just for us girls!”
Urinal…I didn’t really know what to say as my mouth unhinged.
After talking with her more that evening, trying to explain some of the intricacies of a barracks, I learned she had also brought one black and one red cocktail dress with her for “all the parties they said we’d have. I guess the jokes on me, Airman Mapes.”
Sharon was one of the best airman I worked with. She cared about others and didn’t take offense at a single thing in her life. She thought the recruiter had played a real fine joke on her.
I know she’ll find her way onto a page one day, and who knows, she might even take the urinal with her.