Saturday, November 28, 2009

Traditions Old and New

I pray you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. The gathering of family and friends around food and football for us (our tradition) was a bit different this year. My brother married into a Chinese family from New York and we enjoy all getting together and catching up at least once a year. But this means some of our traditions have changed.

Change #1 began with a 5 ½ hour trip to Easton Pa instead of a short jaunt over the mountain to my hometown of Johnstown (1 ½ hours away) or staying here in Pittsburgh with my husband’s family. We are like many families- alternating our holidays between his and hers. We had a Cajun turkey this year (just my brothers culinary whim), spicy, no gravy. We had Scalloped potatoes instead of mashed and roasted green beans (yum my personal favorite of the day) instead of Green Bean Casserole :-( Spiral Ham, fairly normal fair and a few other things I do not yet know the name of (Chinese pork and slimy vegetables). Five small children, all under the age of 7 provided much joy and laughter and even though there was no football game playing in the background, we took turns at playing tennis and bowling (Wii). My husband hurt his shoulder hitting the ball out of the park in the only Wii baseball game of the day, fiercely competitive with a 6 year old!

So while it was different, we were Thankful to be together and trust you all enjoyed offering thankful thoughts and praise to a Faithful God who is still on the throne, who is for us not against us!

Another New Tradition I am beginning, is the yearly reading of a few favorite titles that have positively affected my life over the years. Missionary biographies, Practical Christian Living titles, and for my families sake, a collection of healthy cookbooks. I will include a few favorite fiction titles that are like old friends to me and have become my classics, mostly mysteries. Among the titles I plan to re read, I have added this month’s book club title.

The Noticer, written by Andy Andrews is one of those books that can change one’s life. This small book has mine and I challenge you to let it change yours. The Noticer is small, 5 ½” by 8 ½”, has just 156 pages, with 10 short chapters and is a narrative fiction. There are no chapter listing at the beginning of the book and it contains no chapter headings, but I have named them in the notes I have taken while reading it.

In chapter ONE, Andy is young when he meets a traveling sage named Jones who introduces him to the biographies of well accomplished individuals. Young Andy was discouraged and homeless, lacking any conceivable goals. These biographies dramatically alter the course of Andy’s life, which we follow throughout the book.

Jones, notices things. Things that others do not notice. He is a Noticer. As he points these things out to the folks he comes in contact with, they change their perspective and consequently their lives.

Jones told one character that was consumed with worry and fear that only 8% of the things we worry and think about are legitimate concerns. Worry is focus on the wrong thing. Perspective. Gave me a lot to think about.

Jones asked the question of another; Five seagulls are sitting on the pier and one decides to fly away. How many are left? Think hard about this one he cautions.

The answer? Five, because the one only ‘intended to fly away’. There is absolutely no power in ‘intention’. Jones asks again; Have you ever noticed how often we judge ourselves by our intention but others by what they do? Perspective.

Traditions. What new ones have you recently begun? What ones would you like to start? As we form a list of resolutions as the New Year approaches, maybe re reading a few favorite titles is something you will consider. Add The Noticer to your list of Need to Reads either way. I think it will give you a new perspective on things. It did me. And who can’t do with a little new perspective?

From my heart to yours,


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day, a day to gather around the table, gorge ourselves on turkey and dressing, a whole table full of deserts, leftovers in front of the football games. Family gathered around. What a day!

Like so many other holidays the celebration of the Holiday has become the holiday itself. We tend to forget the reasons behind the event. We do that so often at holidays like Easter, July 4th, and most of all Christmas. For this one it should be easy, the name itself reminds us. It’s a day for stopping in our busy lives and giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives, something that shouldn’t be restricted to a single day, but for sure should be the focus on this day.

I feel sorry for those who don’t know who to give thanks to. Who do you thank if you don’t believe in a loving and protective God? Do they thank themselves thinking the blessings they enjoy are merely the fruits of their own productive labor? How sad.

It started with the pilgrims. They had the first Thanksgiving to give thanks for surviving the very difficult period they had just come through. They invited some of the natives who had befriended and helped them but they knew even with that help where the blessings they had enjoyed had come from.

I know where my blessings come from too, and it’s good to take time to stop and count them, to realize all God has done for us and to sincerely thank Him for all we have received. Too often our prayers are centered on our own desires and needs and more of them should be genuine prayers of thanksgiving.

We at Hartline wish you and yours a wonderful thanksgiving. And once we have counted up our blessings and truly given thanks there is nothing wrong with enjoying the three F’s – food, family and football. As long as our priorities are straight.

Have a great one!

Joyce, Tamela, Diana and Terry

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Fisher of Men/ Bryan Townsend

Tell our readers a little about yourself Bryan. Where do you call home and who makes up your family?

All of my life, I have lived in and around Talladega, Alabama. One of my anscestors came here as a scout for Andrew Jackson and one was the first Mayor of Talladega. Judy Babe and I met in church, in the nursery. I was a bed baby and she was crawling around on the floor. I do not remember not knowing her. Our first date was to the Sweetheart Banquet at the church when we were in the 4th grade. We started dating as seniors in High School, but waited to marry til later in life; I was 19 and she was 20. Last year we celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary. I told her we could go to the mountians, to the beach, even to New York or Paris; anywhere to show he how much I appreciated her. We wound up spending the day riding around in the country.

We have three children and four grand children. Our two boys are married and each has a little boy and a little girl and we are blessed to have all four grand children within an hour's drive of our home. Our daughter is not married, but dating seriously. Patti Anne works with me running my office and marketing my practice as a professional speaker. In a great part, due to her efforts, last summer Speaker Magazine named me was one of the Hot 25 speakers in the profession.

Bryan you and I have a unique agreement that I do not have with all of my authors. I am attempting to get a small gift book of yours picked up by a traditional publisher. I was honest with you at the start by telling you I only had so many desks I could take something like this one to. I would love it if you share with them about your ministry and how from it your small gift book was birthed.

The Parable of the Fly came about as a suggestion by a dear friend, Kay Blackwell. Kay and her husband Bob were serving as missionaries in Damascus, Syria. Judy and I became friends of theirs whild Bob was serving as the rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church and we would e-mail them daily in our efforts to support them and I'd send them the lessons plans from my men's Bible Class, the Whosoever Will Men's Bible Class.

I started the class four years ago, while they were in Syria. It's an outreach class, reaching out to unchurched men. We meet in a house next door to our church and we have some unique rules that seem to appeal to today's men:
no one called on to read, no one called on to pray, no dress code, and no one will fuss at you if you don't show up. We serve sausage biscuits, hot coffee and soft drinks each Sunday morning and have a thirty minute informal Bible study. In four years we have grown from 3 men to 47 men. We had 20 in attendance this morning.

What are you hoping your book reaching a traditional publishing house to accomplish that you haven’t been able to do with it as is?

Kay suggested my lesson plans were unique in their appeal to unchurched men and should be published. So, with God's blessings it happened. We self published 100 books to be used as an outreach tool. We give them to prospects and visitors. People started wanting to buy extra copies so we printed 1000 more. We've sold probably half of those just through word of mouth, maybe more.

The title of the book (The Parable of the Fly) came from one of my lessons plans regarding sin. Sin, like a fishing fly, is deceitful. It appeals to a man's selfish nature, and once he has taken the bait, like a fish, he's hooked. Fortunately for me, and according to the Apostle Paul, all men, there is a Savior, who when summoned, will come to your rescue, cut the line, and set you free!

The book is a small paperback, an easy read, and according to my fishing buddy and former missionary to Syria, Rev. Bob Blackwell, is "...the best explanations of the 'bad news' of sin, and the 'good news' of salvation that I have read." My friend Liz Curtis Higgs, author of a number of very good books including Embrace Grace, wrote of the Parable of the Fly, "I think your mission here is clear and you have indeed accomplished it. With appropriate metaphors, you are making the Gospel real and pertinent to men today."

Dr. George Ricker, retired director of Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center says it's a must give book. He has purchased and given away dozens to men who need to know the Gospel.

Bryan, I see a real need for a title such as this one. I know at the church I often attend, on Father’s day they always give every man a small gift book as a way of saying they are appreciated. I can see this title being a great one for this type of offering. For those that know what your book teaches, what a tool to have to pass on to another they are trying to reach.
Your ministry has taken you all over the country. How many times have you spoken this year.

This year, I've spoken a bunch. This past week I spoke in Kansas City, Louisville, Dallas and Spartanburg, SC. I got home about one o'clock this morning and taught the class this morning. Tommorrow morning I'm out of here about 6:00 AM going to Bismarck, ND. Next Thursday I speak in Birmingham and on Saturday in Dyersburg, TN. A few years ago I was speaking just over 100 times a year. We cut it back to about 75 now.

How can folks get a hold of you if they want you to come to their church or mens group to share?
I'm easy to reach. Everything you need to know about my speaking including my schedule is available at My e-mail address is The site also lists products available which includes CD's, DVD's and a number of books I have written.

I would imagine that you have heard some life changing testimonies as you minister to these groups of men. Would you care to share one of them with us?

One of my members called and asked if I would conduct his father's funeral. His dad died in prison, serving a life sentence for murder. God used the occasion to make a difference in a number of lives.

My late friend Lester Massey was the first to join our class and became very involved in outreach. Often we talked about Rick Warren's suggestion that you have to get the unchurched on the porch before you can get them in the church. We consider our class in the house next door as a porch to the church. Lester died suddenly. All of our guys were honorary pall bearers. Lester got'em all in the church that day!

When people ask, "How are you doing?" I reply, "I've been better, but I was younger at the time!" A few weeks ago, I caught up with Judy Babe. We're both 61 and will be until her birthday in January.

Now Bryan, not being the young pup you used to be, how many years do you plan on continuing in this ministry? Are you training anyone to take your place? Are there others that are doing what you do?

I have no plans for retirement. My dad's favorite song was "We'll Work 'Til Jesus Comes" and he did. I plan to follow in his foot steps. I will speak and teach this class as long as God sees fit to keep me here in good enough condition to do so. I hope I'm training everyone in the class to take my place. Each Sunday morning I face a circle of 18 or 20 men who just a few years ago were not involved in Bible study or church in anyway. God has allowed me to watch them grow spiritually and I'm quite sure he has big plans for all of them. You know God, He uses the unlikely to accomplish the unbelievable. If He calls me home tomorrow, He'll have someone there to teach next Sunday.

Oh, I'm sure there others doing what we are doing. Sure, there needs to be more. That's part of my motive in seeking a publisher for the book. With greater distribution I believe there are many, many Godly men out there who could do a better job of starting an outreach class for men than I have done. Just reading the book might motivate them to do so, and it would certainly give them some ideas about how to do it.

Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your ministry?

No serious obstacles. You get a little criticism now and then, but that's a good sign. Where there is no friction, there is no motion.

The number one item on my to do list right now is Humor on the Square, a show our class sponsors each year to raise money for the Red Door Kitchen which provides food for Meals on Wheels in Talladega. We've sold half the tickets, the show is less than two weeks away, and we want it to be another sell out. As soon as I get back from North Dakota, I've got to get out and help the guys hustle tickets!

Where do you get your inspiration and energy? It has to be exhausting at times traveling like you do all year long.

Every good and perfect gift comes from above. There's really not much I can do. I just ask God to do it and thank Him for letting me be there when it happens. When I was younger, I did have more energy. Right now, I'm just trying to fake it as long as I can! I asked Mark Cubine to teach the class next Sunday, I'll try to be there, but will be driving back from Dyersburg, TN on Saturday night and do not expect to get in until about three o'clock in the morning. Bill Perry's going to kick me if I start snoring during class! That's another one of our many class rules, it's OK to sleep during class, but you are now allowed to snore.

Right now, I've got to pack and take a nap, otherwise, I'm going to miss the flight to Bismarck.

Thank you Bryan- such passion for the lost is an encouragement to us all. Let us examine ourselves and see what we might do to offer hope to those that have none.

From my heart to yours,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Becoming a Self Published Author

Because of the self-publishing discussion taking place on several blogs, I wanted to make a few comments. I am never involved in any author's efforts to self publish, but there are some authors who benefit from this process. Case in point is my uncle, Eldridge Bagley.
You can visit this link to read a little about him.

In case you're wondering, I call him Eldridge rather than Uncle Eldridge because he is like a brother to me. Eldridge is a self-taught artist based in Southside Central Virginia. The subjects of his oil paintings are unique to a certain lifestyle, time, and place in that area. He still lives with his wife and son on the same farmland my grandfather bought, using a loan from my great-grandmother, back in the 1930s. His paintings are usually nostalgic, showing glimpses of rural Virginia life in the mid-twentieth century. Since I'm from this area and my parents and other relatives still live there, (I am writing this just before going back to celebrate Daddy's birthday), the scenes Eldridge paints hold a special place in my heart even though many depict events that took place well before my birth.

Eldridge has published several books that are a natural extension of his work. I believe most people who seek out his art and books are:

1.) Eager to recapture their own memories of life on a family farm in Southside Central Virginia;
2.) Interested in the history of Southside Central Virginia;
3.) Collectors of his style of artwork; or
4.) Those with immediate ties to our family and/or the area.

Except for the third group, which includes art collectors worldwide (I understand a person in Switzerland bought one of his paintings), you can see that Eldridge's loyal audience is within driving distance of his house. He can reach them through relationships with local merchants, through art shows he attends himself, and the gallery that represents him in Richmond, Virginia. Here is the link:

Eldridge will never make the New York Times Bestseller list with his books, but since he can reach almost all of his defined audience on his own, he is what I would call a successful self-published author.
Eldridge also enjoys the fact he can control the content and covers of his books.

In light of seeing Eldridge's success firsthand, my advice to authors considering self publishing is to define your audience, and determine the best way to reach that audience. If self publishing is the best way, investigate the best company and process for you. Consider initial expense and level of editorial support. Don't depend on marketing support.

Whatever you decide, we at Hartline wish you the very best.

Until next time,


Monday, November 23, 2009

Interview with Terry's Client Andy Von Loenen

Today we'll be talking with client Andy Von Loenen:

Andy, how long have you been writing?

I sold my first article in 1987, so I guess you could say that’s when my writing career began. But I discovered the love for writing in my senior year of high school. English composition was my first-hour class and my curmudgeonly teacher would often walk in the room and, without saying a word, write on the blackboard a subject and expect at least a couple of pages on that subject by the end of the hour. Sounds tough, but I loved it. It helped me realize I had something to say and that writing was the way to say it. It kindled a little spark that, over time, became a fire.

What genre do you write and why?

I have written a lot of non-fiction—instructional materials, construction articles, that sort of thing. But I’ve taken up writing mysteries of late, romantic mysteries, if that’s a genre. I like mysteries. I guess it’s the who-dunnit aspect—trying to it figure out before I get to the end. And the ones I’ve enjoyed most always seem to have a romantic element to them. I think I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes adventures (in fact I give them away on my web site) and, as great as he was at solving mysteries, nobody, even Watson, was ever able to get really close to him. In that sense he was invulnerable, almost machine-like—somewhat less than human. I want my characters to be human, vulnerable, capable of suffering emotional pain, capable of knowing joy—of giving and receiving love. In the end, I think that’s what we all want.

Tell us about your book, Justice for Amy.

Justice for Amy is a story about redeeming love. It centers around a man, Clay Ramsey, a widower, who rescues a woman from a man who is attacking her in a parking lot—only to have her die in his arms an hour later. The police suspect suicide, but Clay cannot accept the idea. Even though he knew her for only a short time, something of a bond formed between them and he feels compelled to find out what really happened to her. Along the way, he meets her older sister and together they search for the truth. They fall in love with each other in the process, but there’s a real question about whether their love will come to fruition or whether they’ll even survive when they fall into the hands of the killers.

What inspired you to write this book?

As a Christian, I see writing as a way I can serve the Lord. I wanted to write a book that was a little gritty, because I think that’s the way real life is. I wanted to explore the subject of evil, its effect on people and why it exists in a creation that God pronounced, “very good.” And I wanted to try to provide some answers to the questions a lot of people have about evil and why God allows it in the world. What better way is there to do that then to show, in the context of a story, how it impacts the lives of people?

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel about a woman whose husband died in a boat explosion in Lake Michigan five years ago…or so she thought. Without giving away too much of the story, he winds up really dead and she winds up in jail for killing him. And you’ll have to read the book to find out more. I’m also thinking about updating and re-releasing a classic work on prophecy. But I haven’t made my mind up about it yet.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

The best way is through my web site, Anything I’m writing or working on finds its way there first. People can also contact me through the site, sign up for Sherlock Holmes, download the first chapter of Justice for Amy or access any of my other free downloads there. People who sign up for Sherlock Holmes are eligible for special pricing on signed books and they’re always the first to find out about book releases or anything else I happen to be working on.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

My pleasure.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book signings (and why we love to hate them)

From the Heart would like to welcome guest blogger and Pencil Box Crew Member Loree Lough today. Loree published this blog this past week and it was one of the best articles that we have read on this subject so Joyce invited Loree to share this vital information with our readers!

Say the word “book” to an author, published or not, and you’ll likely see their faces light up. If we didn’t love books, we wouldn’t write them, right?

Say the word “signing”, and you’ll get a slightly different reaction as they flip through the definitions of ‘sign’ stored in their memory banks: Contract with publishing house? Contract with literary agent? Contract to seal a multi-book deal? Better still, movie deal?

But put the words together and watch the fun start! This simple two-word phrase can strike terror in the hearts of best-sellers and gonna bees alike. Like it or not, book signings are high on the list of awful, annoying, aggravating self-promotional chores such as enrolling at Internet social networking sites, creating a web site, blogging, and other equally agonizing marketing chores.

Over the years, I’ve logged close to 100 book signings, myself, and in my opinion, book signings are right up there with childbirth, root canals, and hearing “Yes, that was me kissin’ Bethanie Miller” on my “Most Painful Life Experiences” list.

‘Saddle blocks’, Novocain, and a kick to the shin helped dull the ache of the other stuff, and learning how to “put on” a good book signing made those less painful, too. In the hope of sparing you some of the discomfort, I’m happy to share some of those learned-the-hard-way lessons here:

First, accept the fact that as a published author, book signings are part of your job, like owning a computer and having a dependable email program. And accept the fact that you’re gonna have to ‘do’ as many signings as possible to ‘hawk’ your latest novel.

If you can, choose a month or season that somehow 'connects' to your book's theme. (Like, if you write romance, Valentine's Day is a perfect date for a signing!)

If you're blessed to live in an 'author populated' area, invite them to join you. Multi-author signings are perfect examples of 'the more the merrier'.

Don't depend on the book store or organization to 'advertise' for you. Send press releases to the local papers, TV and radio stations announcing the date of the signing.

Don't depend on the book store or organization to provide a nice 'spot' for you to sit, either. Stash a card table and chair in the trunk of your car, just in case.

Don't depend on the book store to know where to 'put' you. You want to be as close to the front door as possible. So make a new friend of that store manager (or whichever employee has been forced to don the Author Liaison cap), and volunteer to take over as many of his/her duties as you possibly can.

Dress up your table with a tablecloth, a vase of flowers, a picture frame or placard that highlights your latest title. Display your books in a cool ‘stacked’ design to catch the attention of passers-by.

Put your business cards beside a bowl of candy or plate of cookies, and invite people to have a free snack, with permission of course! (They won't be allowed to wander the store while eating, so it's a perfect opportunity for you to talk with them!)

If the signing coincides with a holiday, decorate your table to commemorate it! A red-white-and-blue theme the 4th of July, hearts and cupids for Valentines’ Day, feminine flowers for Mothers’ Day, turkeys and autumn leaves for Thanksgiving, angels and Santas for Christmas and… you get the idea….

Choose a favorite charity and vow to donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to it. Naturally, a multi-author event requires you to get everybody on board, but experience has taught me that’s easy… if you choose an organization that touches the lives of many, like Autism or Childhood Diabetes, heart disease or cancer. The charitable angle takes the focus from you and your books, and puts it on something so much more important… and the media loves stories about ‘causes’. If you get a little free press while they’re covering this worthy fund-raising event? Well, you’re gonna feel terrific for two reasons, that’s what!

Now… Father Time and Mother Nature might just decide to mess things up, despite all your careful planning. So if a snowstorm or a FOOTBALL game ( we could not list a particular team here since Loree's and the Pittsburgh home team differ :-) stops people from attending your book signing? Use the time to your advantage! Hurricane Bertha caused a major meltdown for me years ago at a tiny book store in a hard-to-reach strip mall. I could count on one hand the number of people who ventured out that day, and have fingers left over… and sold exactly two books. So I perched on the end of the cashier’s counter and chatted with the store owner and his wife. We met for steamed crabs a few weeks later, and have repeated the ‘date’ annually, ever since. And guess which store is one of the first to order my latest book….

But I digress…

Don't sit behind the table like a banker whose sole joy in life is saying NO to a loan. Get out in front of your table and smile! Say howdy as folks walk by. Tell mommies the baby in the stroller is a cutie. Tell daddies you really 'dig' their comfy lookin' plaid shirt. Ask them about their favorite author and book, and find legitimate connections between you and your work, and that favorite writer and his/her work.

Do not buy into the 'You can please some readers some of the time, but you can't please every reader' rule! Are you a romance writer? Then suggest to men who stop by that they can earn big-time brownie points if they buy your novel for their wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, or mothers-in-law. Hard-boiled detective stories more your style? Tell the women who pause that your book will make a great gift for their husbands, fathers, brothers.

A word of warning: Unless you're already a rich and famous author, don't expect to sell a lot of books. Moving a dozen copies during a two-hour signing is a pretty good day, so if you accomplish that, give yourself some credit. And even if you are a rich and famous author? Well, let me tell you a little story….

Several years ago, I attended the signing of a very well-known writer, and thinking the line of fans might wrap around the building a couple of times, I got there an hour early. Would you believe that counting me only 21 people asked for his autograph? And those 4-foot towers of books stacked all around his table? Still there when the store closed!

Now then, after your signing is over, ask the manager/organizer if you can autograph any unsold copies of your books. Slap an 'autographed' or 'local author' sticker on each. Bookstores will keep signed novels on the shelves to sell, or to use in gift baskets or store promotions. Commit this to memory: Scribbled-in copies cannot be returned to the publisher. Ever. Did that inspire a grin? It should have!

Finally, clean up your mess and any litter left behind by people who visited your table, and return the area to its former neat and tidy state. Then thank the manager/organizer on site, and stop on the drive home to treat yourself to some forbidden snack. You earned it.

When you get home, take a minute to pop a couple of good old-fashioned 'thank you' notes in the mail… to the store manager and anyone else who helped your hours at the signing table pass a little more quickly and efficiently. Trust me: These little courtesies will go a long, long way in helping them remember you the next time you call to set up a book signing!

I’ll leave you with one last thought:

It’s human nature to investigate laughter and good times. If you're having fun with would-be book buyers, who knows what wonderful things might result. Annual steamed crab dinners, maybe?

So enjoy your next book signing!

And a HUGE thanks Loree for guesting here today and all of the great advise!

From our Hearts to yours,

Hartline Literary Agency, Joyce, Tamela, Terry and Diana

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interview with Joyce's Client Carrie Turansky

I’m pleased to interview my client Carrie Turansky today. Carrie is a busy pastor's wife, mother and grandmother.

Carrie, tell us about your family and your ministry.

My husband Scott and I live in central New Jersey and have been married for over thirty years. We have five grown children. The oldest two are married with one living in Hawaii and the other in Pennsylvania. We have two grandsons and one more grandchild on the way. One son is in the Marines and stationed in North Carolina. The two youngest are working full-time and live in New Jersey. We love our family, and we make an effort to stay in touch with them by email, phone calls, facebook, twitter, and visits as often as we can.

Scott is an author too. Tell us more about his books and ministry.

Scott is a pastor, counselor, speaker and the author of several parenting books including PARENTING IS HEART WORK and his new VBS program coming out in January called HERO TRAINING CAMP, based on the life of David. He is cofounder of the National Center For Biblical Parenting and presents parenting seminars all around the country several times a year.

Back home Scott is the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Mercer County. We helped plant that church eleven years ago with a great group of Jesus-loving friends. It had been a wonderful adventure to partner together to reach our community and spread God’s Word and love there. Before we moved to New Jersey, we spent eight years in Hawaii serving at Pacific-Islands Bible Church on Oahu. We also spent a year in Kenya, teaching at Moffatt Bible College with Africa with Africa Inland Mission. That was an amazing year, and it gave us all a heart for what God is doing around the world.

Your son Josh and his family live and minister in Hawaii. What ministry are they involved in?

Josh and his wife Melinda oversee the Kauai Bible College, an extension campus of Calvary Chapel Bible College, Murrietta, CA where they attended. They are doing a great job training young people to serve the Lord, making disciples semester by semester. Visiting them and seeing all they are doing is very inspiring!

How long have you been writing, and where do you get your inspiration?

When we returned from Kenya in 1997, I missed Africa so much that I decided to write a story set there as a way to relive some of my experiences. Over the next while I poured out that book, I developed a love for writing, but I had a lot to learn before my writing would be ready for publication. In 2000 I heard about ACFW and became a member. That opened up many doors for me to learn and grow as a writer, and also to meet Joyce.

What obstacles have you had to overcome in your writing journey?

When I began writing, I was homeschooling my five children. That was a full-time job, and it was a challenge to balance writing, teaching the kids, managing my home, and assisting Scott in ministry. Over time I learned how to write even with all kinds of things going on around me. I am glad I invested in my kid’s lives for that season of their lives, and I am thankful for all I learned during that time. I am sure I am a better writer today because of it.

What are you working on presently?

I am writing a contracted book for Steeple Hill Love Inspired titled SEEKING HIS LOVE. It will be coming out in October 2010. It is the story of a former teacher who is haunted by false accusations a student made against her. This causes her to move away, find a new position, and try to hide what happened from everyone she meets in this new town. She soon learns it is impossible to build a stable new life on the shaky foundation of lies from the past. God’s grace and forgiveness and a very special man help her work through these issues and find the new life and love she is seeking.

I’m also working on a historical novella for Barbour titled “A Trusting Heart” for a four-in-one collection called CHRISTMAS MAIL ORDER BRIDES. Set in 1880, Swedish immigrant Annika Bergstrom travels from Chicago to Wyoming as a mail order bride, but when her prospective groom, Chase Simms, disappears, she finds herself falling in love with his brother Daniel. Will she take hold of her chance for love, or wait for the man she has promised to marry?

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Thanks for inviting me to share with your blog readers. I want to invite everyone to stop by my website. I have tips for writers, interviews, photos of family and writing friends, sample chapters from each of my books, recipes, book reviews, links to order books, and much more.


Thanks Carrie - I love to talking to our authors and learning how they are serving the Lord in ways other than writing. Sometimes I wonder how they even find time to write a book because they are so busy. It's a blessing to work with these men and woman who are serving God in so many ways and blessing us with fiction and non-fiction books.

In His service,


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heart of America Conference

It's called the Heart of America Conference and it is held in Kansas City at a beautiful and spacious Presbyterian Church. Continuing in our series of profiling conferences that we go to to help people planning conferences to attend, this is a good one held in mid-November. Co-Directors Mark and Jeanette Littleton were assisted by a dedicated board of directors that left no stone unturned to make the conference a success.

The weather was cool but quite pleasant. The church setting provided class room settings on two floors for the wide variety of workshops and the excellent faculty brought in to teach them. There were spiritually fulfilling sessions in the evening and Thursday, Friday and Saturday night Cindy Kinney, myself and Mark Littleton gave keynote talks to wrap up the day. I spoke on "Being a Christian Writer in a Changing World."

I will admit I changed the content of my talk as I got up there because a conversation with a participant led me to believe God was telling me some different content was needed. It came as no surprise that God was right as a number of people came up after the session and the following day to say that it was exactly what they needed to hear and addressed a writing and faith concern they were dealing with. Getting that sort of response is exactly what keeps me on the conference trail trying to parcel out what little encouragement and assistance that I can.

There was a steady program of one-on-one appointements and quite a number of people took advantage of the paid evaluation of projects. I did my evaluations and emailed them to the participants in advance of the conference to allow them to chew on them and have different and better questions during our 20 minute interview time and some are doing some revision and I will also do a post-conference exchange with them so hopefully they will really feel they got their money's worth.

Wrapping it up I would have to say this is not as much of a relaxing conference as some I have gone to as they schedule tightly and provide a lot of content. I would characterize it as a rather intense writing and faith related time and all that I talked to toward the end were very pleased and said they were going home with a new sense of purpose and new writing goals that they were determined to pursue. It's a conference they have been putting on for many years, and one I would not hesitate to recommend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lisa Hess / Author/ Educator and Professional Counselor

From the Heart Readers, I’d like you to meet author Lisa Hess. Lisa is a wife, mother, author and educator and has been a school counselor for nearly 25 years. She has also been writing professionally for the last 16.

Lisa what are you hoping your writing to accomplish?

My non-fiction books arose from lessons and small groups I’ve done with my students, and I hope they’ll make skills like assertiveness (Acting Assertively) and organization (the non-fiction book I’m working on now) accessible.

I wrote the stories for Diverse Divorce to help kids feel less alone, and that’s part of what I want to accomplish with my fiction as well. My first tween novel was originally a story the editor and I mutually agreed was not a good fit for Diverse Divorce. The character wouldn’t let go of me, and so her story became my first novel.

I like to write about real people dealing with real situations. They’re not always pretty (the situations), and they’re usually messy and perhaps even discouraging, but not impossible to overcome. Real people are flawed and don’t fit neatly into stereotypes, and that makes them fun to write about.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Maybe it’s the counselor in me, but I like writing about the underdog, especially if the underdog is feisty. The feisty part is definitely the Jersey girl in me! I get my inspiration from real people who don’t let circumstances crush them and keep them down. I’m not very good at doing research for my fiction, though I do go online for visual inspiration – flowers or a gown for a wedding scene, people visuals for characters I can’t quite picture clearly.

For my non-fiction books, I take much of my inspiration from the needs I see in my students and I try a lot of my ideas out on them. Acting Assertively arose directly from classroom lessons, and Get it Together! (the book on organizing I am working on now) started out as small group lessons for kids who were struggling to get their act together.

Is there an area in your writing that you are working on developing more?

Is it bad to say that I hate writing synopses, or writing from synopses? I tend to be a discovery writer, particularly when I am writing fiction. I don’t have a lot of faith in my ability to plot. I tend to follow where my characters lead.

Also, I’m trying to blog more regularly. That keeps me writing tight because there’s not a lot of room for rambling in a blog unless you’re already famous.

What is your all time favorite writing ‘How To’ book? One that you would like to recommend to other authors.

Hands down, Stephen King’s On Writing. That was the book that gave me the courage to follow where my characters lead. I neither read nor write horror, but I love reading King’s writing outside that genre, which includes his column in Entertainment Weekly.

What obstacles have stood in your way in this writing journey?

I think every writer has to overcome the obstacle of time – there doesn’t ever seem to be enough of it. I’m fortunate to have a very supportive family and an awesome critique group, who keep nudging me forward when I place obstacles in my own path. Raising my daughter is the most important thing on my current ‘to do’ list. The books will be there tomorrow, but she won’t be twelve forever. Sometimes, however, I forget that when I get cranky about not finding time to write.

Finding time and keeping the faith when it gets hard, which it often does. I just keep chipping away in small bits of time. My critique group and my sister, who also reads my work with a writer/editor’s eye often give me encouragement when I need it most. And, as I said, my family is very supportive. My mother and my daughter in particular will humor me when I talk about my characters as though they are real people.

When did you begin writing seriously and with publication in mind?

Right before my husband and I got married (1993), I changed jobs and went from working full-time to an 80% schedule (4 days/week). My sister suggested that I use the extra day to write, and that’s when I started freelancing. I didn’t start working on novels until about five years ago when two of the stories I wrote for Diverse Divorce ended up not making it into the book. Since then, I’ve written two tween novels, one Christian chick lit novel and am at work on another book for the educational market and two more novels.

Tell us about your book, Casting the First Stone and what it is about. How did you come to write this title?

Casting the First Stone is about separating church from religion. Marita, the single mom whose custody of her daughter is threatened by her ex’s sudden interest was the first character I planned. From there it was “what ifs.” What if Marita felt rejected by the church when she got pregnant with Charli? What if Charli’s mostly absent father was an upstanding, churchgoing businessman? What if his new wife appeared to be a better mother than Marita? Does a woman deserve to lose custody of her child just because she doesn’t go to church? And what if things are not always what they seem?

I write contemporary Christian chick lit that is perhaps a bit edgy because that’s what I like to read and I have thus far had a hard time finding many books that fit that description. I like writing about real people who are flawed – the ones who struggle to make the right choice, yet often make the wrong one anyway, the ones who struggle to live their faith. I like finding the redeeming qualities in people who, at first blush, may not seem to possess redeeming qualities.

Any new projects are you working on?

Non-fiction: Get it Together – a book on organization with a very non-traditional approach Fiction: A novel about a professional organizer who finds that keeping her own life in order is much more difficult than creating order out of other people’s chaos; AND a sequel to Casting the First Stone with the theme of being careful what you wish for

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Facebook - Lisa Lawmaster Hess – my blogs show up there, too
I’m also on Jacket Flap and Linked In

What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

BEST: Anne Lamott’s infamous chapter on, um, lousy first drafts, along with the specific feedback I get from my critique group and Diana’s reminder that God’s timing is always perfect, and that she likes writers with a quirky perspective.

WORST: The assumption (my own) that I have to plot out the entire novel before I write it.

Anything else you'd like to take this opportunity to say?

Thank you for having me!


What I like: chocolate, fall, summer vacation and authors who pay it forward.
What I Don't Like: people who are mean on purpose
Where is Home / or / Where I'd like to Call Home: home for the past 30 years has been Pennsylvania, but home for the first 18 was New Jersey. I’ll always be a Jersey girl, and proud of it.
What is my passion, hobbies, occupation, etc.: Writing is my passion, followed closely by sleep because as I get older, I more fully appreciate its importance. I used to do a lot of theatre, but I seem to have transferred that creative energy to my writing.
If I could run a charity, it would be for: families with children who can’t afford health/mental health care

Thanks Lisa for visiting with us today and all the best to you in your publishing goals!

Have a great day, from my heart to yours,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Interview with Terry's Client Randall Mooney

Today I'm interviewing client Randall Mooney. Randall, your new book Robbing God is out from Crossover Press. Tell me a little about it:

Terry, Robbing God is the culmination of a lifelong pet peeve turned passion, to help people overcome the guilt-driven coercion and manipulative methods some ministries and organizations use to raise money. The book parabolically follows a typical family from the time they get their paycheck on Friday afternoon to the time the offering plate passes in front of them on Sunday morning. It also explores the effect a down economy has on the average family and their ability to continue to be charitable givers. The book deals with the issue of giving in two divisions: "the parable of the family" is a visit of their weekend in 5 chapters, and "the conflict" uses 5 chapters to take an honest look at the historical and cultural trends and reasons that contributed to mindsets that have managed to take the joy out of giving.

What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?

I deliberately kept the book short, 106 pages. It's a quick read that leads to an "aha" moment in which the reader can take a deep breath, shake off any guilt and condemnation about giving, and rediscover the true joy and heart of being charitable. Our own families are a great place to start. I also hope the reader acquires a new freedom about giving. My own favorite line in the book is, "God gave his son, Jesus gave his life, the least we can do is give cheerfully." I have told people for years during fund raising events for different things, "If you can't give cheerfully, don't bother to give at all!"

You also have Prophets and Poets out from Crossover, tell us what it's

Prophets and Poets is a collection of short stories, articles, testimonies, blogs and poems that I have written throughout the years of my life. As I worked on transitioning from my music and song writing years to developing my writing career I wrote in every genre from fiction and non-fiction, to poetry and social commentary. Basically, if it was in my heart and on my mind I wrote about it. Prophets and Poets contain the ones that made the cut. Christian futuristic fiction, allegory, poetry, sarcasm, opinion, etc., all intended to encourage and inspire. I have had tremendous feedback from folks about its encouraging ability.

You are not only the author on these two titles but the publisher. Tell us about Crossover, what is your vision?

During the '70's and 80's I utilized contemporary music as an evangelistic tool to share the gospel with the world. Through my company Crossover Publications, LLC., it is my goal to "reach the world in print." God told Jeremiah in chapter 36 of the Bible to write down every word he had ever told him. Because Jeremiah obeyed God we are still able to read what God said to Jeremiah and the world in which he lived to this day. I believe God is still speaking and revealing himself to people in many ways. My vision is to help people publish what God has said and done in their lives so the rest of the world can be touched and encouraged by the works and words of God. I want to publish living words and stories that edify, encourage and inspire people to experience God in a real and relevant way.

Tell us about some of the other authors you are publishing at Crossover:

I will be releasing a new book entitled The Fragrance of Paradise on September 25th by Stephen Hoy. Stephen is a musician, teacher, gardener, and landscape designer. He was raised in Pennsylvania and served as a trombonist in the United States Air Force premier jazz band called The Airmen of Note.

His story is a powerful testimony of how God raised him up after twice falling into a coma and how he has rediscovered a new lease on life in the form of a liver transplant. He shares how he reached a point of such utter weakness that he heard the Spirit of God whisper, "Rest in the fragrance of my presence." He lay in bed with only enough strength to breathe so he obeyed and began to inhale the fragrance of paradise as he waited on God to heal and raise him up.

Also releasing this year is a new book by sixties rock star Jerry Masters.
Jerry played for great artists like Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis. He formed and managed the band Ronny and the Daytonas, touring and supporting the hit song, Little GTO. He was also a founding member of The Hombres and they had a hit song called Let It All Hang Out. After he accepted Christ he toured extensively with Christian artist Will Farland (Will played for Bonnie Raitt) and finished his career as a recording engineer for Malaco Records producing blues and gospel music. His 350 page book entitled Let it all Hang Out chronicles the 50 year music career of a man that reached for the sky and found Jesus in the journey.

What new projects are you working on?

I am currently putting the finishing touches on two books. The Illegitimate Journey is my own memoir of tragedy and discovery. I plan to release it in 2010. I am also finishing up a book called Letters to the Homeless Church.

It deals with the displacement many Christians feel in our American church culture and how they cope and walk in the world apart from the traditional norms of attending Sunday morning church services.

I have just begun work on a book entitled What Every Father Should Know about a Grieving Mother. Eleven years ago my wife and I lost a 22 year old son to suicide. We both kept separate journals of that tragic event. We never read each other's journals until recently. I came across one of her journals a few months ago while spring cleaning and read a few pages. I asked her if I could take our journals and combine them into a story that will help couples survive such family tragedies. The first day we got the news about our son I looked at my wife and said, "Seventy percent of couples that go through this kind of thing end in divorce, are we going to be the seventy or the thirty?" We made a covenant with each other to be among the thirty percent that survive. Our marriage is stronger than ever despite our loss. I hope to have this project finished and released on August 20, 2010, the twelfth anniversary of his passing.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? Your publishing house and the programs and speaking that you do?

I have a strong web presence. Business websites include,,, Personal sites include, and My books are available at,, and,
among others.

What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

Mississippi lays claim to some of the world's great writers such as Willie Morris, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and our adopted son, John Grisham. I once listened to John Grisham give an interview in Jackson, Mississippi. Someone asked him how he managed to write so many novels so quickly while practicing law, coaching his son's ball team and keeping up with his writing career. He said, "I write one page per the end of the year I have a novel." That answer freed me up tremendously. I used to write like I had to finish the whole project before I stopped to do anything else. Trust me-that will only leave you with a lot of unfinished projects. I learned that day that writing was like many other projects in can eventually accomplish great things by finishing a little of it every day.

I can't recall the worst advice. The most unpleasant criticism still makes me try harder rather than give up.

Anything else you'd like to take this opportunity to say?

As a newly published author and as a new publisher, I find writers to be the friendliest and most accepting folks I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. I think it is because we have learned the real difference between being rejected and being misunderstood. Therefore, we have a lot of heart for others willing to share our journey.

Thank you, Randall, and thank you blog readers for dropping by.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving is two weeks from today. Someone suggested o n FaceBook that we write something every day that we’re thankful for. My list is begins with thankfulness that I became a Christian at a very young age (5) and He’s been my Lord and Savior all of my life. The next is on my list is my husband, sons, daughters-in-law and my grandson. Jonathan. I’m thankful for my church, I am thankful that our house and cars are paid for. The cars aren’t brand new, but they are nice. I’m thankful for my colleagues at Hartline Literary Agency and all the Hartline author clients.

Also, I’m thankful for the editors and publishers who make what we do possible. I thank God for my friends at church, my friends in Pittsburgh and all over the country. I can’t forget my sweet English Springer Spaniel doggie, Abbie. I’m thankful for my country and for the brave men and women who defend our freedoms.

I’m thankful to the ones who have given their lives that I might live in this wonderful land. I praise God that I’ve been able to work in the Christian Bookselling Industry, doing a job that I love. Working from home for 19 years and not having to drive the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the snow and rain, with all those big trucks. God is good!

Why don’t each of you think of all the things you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving season. It helps to write them down and to see all the blessings in your lives.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays are busy for all of us. I’ve been shopping in a couple stores the last few days. The sales are amazing. I bought $65 worth of merchandise for $28. I had a $10 off coupon and a 30% off coupon. It makes me wonder if the stores are going to make any profit at all. They seem to be busy and consumers are leaving the stores with big bags in each hand. Buying lots of “stuff.” Someone told me that the stores are not stocking as much inventory this year because the season was slow. Maybe we all have too much “stuff” anyway.

About books, the price wars between Wal-Mart and Amazon are interesting. It means savings for the consumer, but cuts down on the profit for the publisher and the author. And then there are the e-books. It remains to be seen what impact this market will have on print publishing. Amazon took 12 top Literary Agents to Seattle last week. Apparently agents and publishers are worried about losing control on pricing of books, with the $9.99 price on e-books for titles that sell for $25 - $30 in hardback. The article from says: “According to one participant the aim of the meetings was for Amazon to “explain itself” to the agent community, whose members fear that e-books could undermine the book-publishing business much the way that digital file-sharing and iTunes upended the music industry.” The article goes on to say that some publishers are delaying the e-book versions of major hard back releases. No one really knows the future of publishing, but we can hope that there will always be print publishing. Too many of us still prefer to read books that we can hold in our hands.

In our prayer meeting last night several scriptures were read. Ps. 84 – the whole chapter is beautiful – the last verse, 12 says”….Blessed is the man who trusts in the You!” Then Ps 112:1 says “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments.” Verse 7 says “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” God is our hope and he will not forsake us.

Yesterday was Veteran’s day. We were reminded of all the sacrifices that have been made for every person in America. For that we are thankful beyond words.
May you be blessed today. Remember to be thankful and most of all to trust Him in everything, even in getting your books published.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

90/10 or 50/50?

I recently received an email from one of my authors that just returned from The Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference. While there she said she heard of two ratios given as to the amount of time an author needs to devote to platform building and asked me my opinion as to which I felt was most realistic. 90/10 or 50/50.

This question came to me just as I was considering what I would blog about.

I'm leaning toward 50/50.

It is extremely important for an author to actively pursue marketing and promotion of their titles before and after publication. The days of a publisher underwriting the whole of the marketing and selling of the titles they represent are long gone. Author websites, Face book, My Space, Shoutlife, Twitter and blogging take a huge amount of time, but the law of averages definitely improves as you promote yourself through these avenues. One person shares your blog with another who shares it with one who FB’s and he/she tells his/her friends what a great read your book was which prompts a book club in Kalamazoo to chose your title which they order from a local bookstore who buys a ‘few extra’ copies to have on hand and displays it cover forward which a church secretary spots while picking up a sound track CD of worship songs and recommends it to a small group leader… See the possibilities here? They are endless.

And how about YouTube,,,

Book trailers are another promotional tool that can be placed and shared on the above mentioned sites. Web TV, radio blogs, and email blasts are additional ways to get the word out when your title is about to be or recently released.

As Christians we are not used to the shameless promotion of ourselves, yet as an author you must put your best foot forward and go for it or you will be eating another authors dust. Brag about every contest won, great book review and blog interview. Be sure to promote others as well and it will come back to you.

One thing we know as agents. Everyone it seems is writing a book. Besides great writing, what is going to make your book be chosen over another? PLATFORM.

Because this is my day to blog, I am going to shamelessly promote a few of my authors blogs, websites and YouTube’s as well as an event I am looking forward to attending that I heard about on FB, which I mentioned to my book club and resulted in us reserving a 14 passenger church van to make the trip.






Facebook video:


Enjoy and may you be inspired in your platform building. May this New Year that is peeking round the corner be the year you find a book contract in your email boxJ

From my heart to yours,