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Thursday, April 17, 2014

A matter of taste by Terry Burns

I pick things to represent that I like to read.

That's not hard to understand. It's something I like and it holds my interest. I feel good about trying to get it out where others can read it as well. I'm happy to have my name attached to it. It's a matter of taste.

But what if an acquiring editor that I send it to does not share that taste and it isn't something they like to read? Well, duh, they're going to pass on it. They are looking for things that fit the catalog slots that they are trying to fill, but they are also looking for things that they personally enjoy. That's a matter of taste too.

I have editors who are good friends but have never bought anything from me. Our tastes are different. There are others who like similar things that I like and we've done quite a bit of business together. Often I take something because I do know somebody is looking for it. Maybe it is not my normal fare but I feel I know where it goes. The danger there is the fact that if the place I think it is supposed to go doesn't want it, there may be a limited market for it otherwise.

Then there are the editors that I just am not sure what they want. When I submit to them I don't get any feedback that will tell me what they like or did not like in a submission. Nothing to narrow it down and help me to better find something that would be a good fit for them. I can read something they edit for publication and maybe get an idea that way, but unfortunately with the large number of incoming submissions that I have to handle I don't have the kind of reading time that I would like to have.

I ask my clients to read in their genre. Perhaps between us we can stay abreast of books that will help us nail down these areas of interest, better define particular editor tastes. After all, we don't sell books to publishing houses, we sell them to an editor that really likes the offering personally.

It is, after all . . . a matter of taste. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Word Origins and Meanings by Diana Flegal

Shakespeare once said: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Did you know all written languages were originally figures of speech?

"Get out of town!", you say?

The American language is constantly changing, influenced by the many cultures living here as well as technology. Years ago someone coined the words Hot Seat for the electric chair, which we now use in a much broader sense, meaning under pressure.  Silly originally meant happy but now means foolish. If enough time passes, the original meaning will be lost as the broader one takes it's place.

When an author is writing a contemporary story, they need to use words that their reading audience can relate to, but they can not be too trendy, as the words meaning will quickly be replaced. Just as Groovy dates a story to the 70's, it is best to choose words that might still be in use 10-15 years ahead.

Wikipedia tells us the definition of many words that have origins specific to the internet. One example is the word Meme: A meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".[3] Planking is a meme example. Someone is photographed laying face down, posts the photograph online and they have planked.  Check out these hilarious photos of planking.

To get an idea how old words are given new meanings, and new words are created, check out Global Language Monitor's list of the top trending words of 2013.

A new word that got my attention was Twitflocker — The Next Big Thing in technology.

It is so common for us to say, "Is there an App for that"?

A new expression my friends and I are using now was coined from a T.V. advertisement:

"I unfriend you"!

"That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works".

What fun new words have become your favorites or have at least made you smile?

I like this one: crickets! Meaning silence - no one is talking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Edit It Cold

My writing, like me, could stand to lose 30 pounds.

Try as I might to write lean and edit leaner, surplus words still slip in.

Ironic, since much of my time as a freelance book editor goes toward liposuctioning fat from another's writing.

Overwriting is certainly one of my literary vices,” my current client said after I'd emailed him a sample of how I'd edit his novel, “so please feel free to apply a chainsaw (rather than a scalpel) as you see fit.”

He may not realize I do the same with my own words.

At my day job, I sometimes adapt articles from material I first posted here. I open the file hoping I won't have to change much. I'm almost always wrong.

The difference? Months have passed, giving me a fresh perspective. Instead of viewing the words as my own, I can see them more objectively.

Instead of seeing what I meant to write, I see what I actually wrote.

Time to start cutting.

New York Times bestselling novelist Jerry B. Jenkins advises writers to print their work, put the pages in the freezer overnight, then look at them cold.

With some metaphoric allowance, that works for me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Power’s Out…What’ll We Do? By Linda S. Glaz

We had a huge wind plow through Southeastern Michigan last night stronger than a bulldozer and about as dangerous. Not only were trees older than Methuselah uprooted, power poles downed, and lawns covered with an inch of thick hail, but the power went out.
What? No power?
What will we do?
My Kindle had registered only 15% the night before, and I hadn’t recharged. However, I had found my old one (when I cleaned my office, something that had been desperately needed) two days earlier and had charged the poor thing. It hadn’t seen juice in almost a year.
So my evening consisted of holding a flashlight over the dinosaur Kindle, then giving up and allowing it to ‘tell me’ the story in that wacko computerized voice that sounds like a kid talking into a fan (yes, this IS something we all did as kids).
Didn’t sleep well at all: worried about the flooding in the yard, the downed trees and branches, and the possibility of the crawl space filling up once again. We have workers waterproofing our home as I write this. And many of the older homes in our area have very limited space beneath them. In our case, 8-12 inches only.
Then my mind kicked in (as always, there’s a story in each situation). If they drained the water, what might they find? Our home is over 140 years old. Coins? Hunks of wood? Old pieces of insulation? Maybe a live groundhog. Our yard is a wild animal refuge. Not by choice.
Can’t you picture it? A guy is in a white suit (why on earth do they choose white when going under an old home like ours?) crawls under and comes out screaming. You can’t make out the words, only that he’s whiter than some of the hail had been, and his eyes are the size of last night’s salad plates.
He starts blubbering, rambling, crying. I mean, this guy’s scared!
Eventually, he convinces his boss to crawl under. Boss man comes out two minutes later with a bone. A human bone. Eventually, an entire skeleton.
Yeah, I know. I find a suspense novel in every single thing that happens.
How about you? What do you do when the power goes out? Do you think up a new novel?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Few Housekeeping Comments by Joyce Hart

I’m trying to decide how to write what I want to say without sounding like a cranky lady.  And then probably the ones who need to see what I have to say won’t see this blog. I’m talking about queries and proposals I get via e-mail.  Probably 70% of the queries we receive are not suitable for our agency.   I write back and say “have you looked at our web site?” or “did you know that we are a Christian agency?”  Most would answer no to both those questions.

On our web site we have listed our proposal guidelines and the genres’ we represent and the ones we do not want to see.  Yet many inappropriate proposals come to us. Others come without headers and without the pages numbered.  I even write back and request those two items be added; explaining for them to use the insert tab to place the page numbers and put the name of the book/author’s name on every page.  And I get them back without either the header or the pages numbered.  Am I the only agent who wants these on the proposal pages?  

Maybe it’s because today so many people read on the computer, their iPad or another reader, but sometimes I still like to read from hard copies and if the proposal pages get mixed up, it’s hard to find my place.  I have to admit I’m doing more reading online than I used to.  I ordered an Ink Toner yesterday from HP - $149.00.  I probably should not take the time to read any unsolicited queries or proposals, but it’s hard for me to hit that delete button.

It really helps when writers go to conferences and learn how to put their work together so it’s easy for the agents & editors to read them and made a good decision.  There are many good conferences coming up.  Check out the Christian Readers Market Guide for dates & places.  The more professional your work looks, the more apt we are to take it seriously. Writing is a business and the competition is stiff.  

We’re here to help you get published and we love doing that.  We’ll look forward to hearing from you, just please do your homework before hitting that send button.

God bless you abundantly,


P.S. check out this interview with one of our authors, Jane Kirkpatrick.  It’s terrific!        www.c-span.org/LocalContent/Bend 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moved with Compassion by Diana L. Flegal

All of us are drawn back to our favorite authors. We like their particular voice, how they build their suspense or weave the happy ending to their love story, place us into an historical event, or construct a world we could never imagine ourselves but enjoy all the same.

My favorite authors, fiction and nonfiction, are skilled at putting into words my thoughts I couldn’t have expressed. They also teach me something of myself, providing me A-hah moments. Yes, I do feel that way or stoop that low at times. A light is shown in a corner of me and I am usually the better for it if I allow the words to do what words can do.

Well said/placed words can convict and set free the reader/listener.

One of the best examples of a convicting word is found in 2 Samuel 12. “Thou art the man.” Powerful.

In Sundays message my pastor, Nick Honerkamp, shared a picture of Jesus that I knew I appreciated but he boiled it down to three things.

He saw

He was moved with compassion

And He prayed.

Not everyone sees us. We scurry about, pass our neighbors, our coworkers, and fail to see the heartbreak in their eyes, the questions they desperately seek answers for. Maybe we avoid them on purpose. Our lives already overwhelmed with personal troubles. Our light hid under a bushel basket.

Sunday, after that message, I pulled onto my lap Christa Parrish’s recent release, Stones for Bread.  And I realized why I love her writing and anticipate her next books release. She helps me see, moves me with compassion and I pray- for those around me, in a fresh way. These are the stories I am drawn to.

A reviewer of this book of Christa’s said…’this book is not an easy read, I struggled through it…

I agree, It pained me reading of her protagonists painful childhood, yet I celebrated each baby step forward, fell in love with the various members of the community that enfolded her, and the unexpected love that broke through her defenses. I saw, I was moved and I was prayerful, even brought to worship as I closed the book at her stories end. God is good. He sees us and waits to meet us.

I encourage you to write thoughtfully.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Cleaning by Andy Scheer

Lately my little computer has been showing its age. Files have taken longer to open and to save, and more often I've gotten a “not responding” message.

I'd started to look at laptops in the weekend ads from big box stores.

But I don't want to learn Windows 8, and what use is a touch screen? Besides, our household is still digesting the expense of a new water heater.

So this past weekend as snow and fog kept me inside, I decided my computer needed a spring cleaning.

I deleted the download cache, transferred little-used video and audio files to my backup hard drive, and ran some overdue diagnostics. I discarded in-progress versions of long-completed projects. And I emptied the recycle bin.

Now the C and D drives show significantly more free space. And this past hour, each function again seems normal.

Looks like the next few assignment checks can instead go toward the water heater.