Saturday, January 30, 2010
I’m pleased present to you Thom Hunter, one of my clients.
Thom, tell us about yourself and your family.
Originally from Texas (we never recover from that), I now live in Norman, Oklahoma and love it north of the Red River. I lived my dream as a newspaper editor for a number of years and then exchanged it for a sometimes nightmarish career in corporate public relations with AT&T. I came to my senses and rejected that stability and entered the risky but rewarding realm of full-time writing, though, fortunately for my four sons and my daughter, not until they were able to take care of themselves. The four boys are a private remodeling contractor, college professor, Army Ranger and a police officer. My daughter is finishing up at the University of Oklahoma with her sights set on a career in some unnamed African country. My first two books, Like Father Like Son (and Daughter, too) and Those Not-So-Still Small Voices were about family life. Let’s just say there was a lot of it to write about. Lisa and I have been married for almost 34 years and God has indeed seen us through things only He fully understands.
Describe the two books you’re writing currently.
Both of my current books focus on the problem of sexual brokenness among Christians. One of them -- Signs of a Struggle – deals primarily with the growing problem of same-sex attraction – homosexuality. The second book -- Want Grace with That? The Christian’s Return to Sexual Wholeness – presents, from a Biblical perspective, how God heals and helps Christians who struggle with all forms of sexual brokenness, including homosexuality, pornography, sexual idolatry, adultery and emotional dependency. Both books are written from the perspective of a Christian who has struggled personally. That would be me.
You are writing about a tough subject. What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
These are tough subjects. People who struggle with a sexual problem – particularly Christians – tend to internalize it or cover it up and compound the struggle with even greater suffering, layered with guilt, shame and self-loathing. I hope my readers will find hope and comfort in knowing they are not alone and that they will learn to seek accountability and forgiveness, through grace, and direct their energy towards healing by approaching their issues honestly. By being transparent and writing from a perspective other strugglers can understand, I hope to give readers the courage to move from bondage into freedom. I also hope to encourage Christians who don’t struggle themselves to get in front of these sexual issues and stop allowing culture to take the lead instead of the Church. We should be helping, not condemning, those who struggle. We should be offering a new life, not condoning a broken lifestyle.
How important do you feel the internet is to your marketing plan?
The Internet is very important, partially because of the subject matter. While I write about a subject that affects the lives of many Christians, most of them still seek information as discretely as possible. The Internet allows for that. At the same time, the openness of the Internet allows for subjects like homosexuality and sexual brokenness to be discussed from a Christian perspective in the very same media format as that used by culture, which often promotes a conflicting viewpoint. Promoting these books through on-line groups, various respected web sites, and popular blogs and through organizations like Exodus and other Christian groups via the Internet reaches people who might be less comfortable seeking help openly in a local church. While these books are written to help and support people who struggle with any issue, those who struggle with deeply personal and hidden issues may be more comfortable ordering a book over a website like Amazon.com than off the shelf of the local bookstore. That said, I think they will sell well in the bookstores because more and more people are making personal decisions to confront and understand these issues.
Is there an area in your writing that you are working on developing more?
Because I always write from a personal perspective with great transparency, I am always working hard to try to write in such a way that the reader can place himself in the story rather than seeing me. I want the reader to say “that’s me,” or “now I see why he acts like he does,” or “I can understand her pain better now,” referring to friends and loved ones who struggle. The books reflect my experiences, but I want readers to see themselves or the people they care about. I’m working on being honest without being self-indulgent, so readers will trust me.
Do you have a favorite writing ‘How To’ book that you would like to recommend to other authors?
I taught PR Writing at the University of Oklahoma for five years, and, honestly, I think the textbooks I taught from were some of the best “How To” books because they were all centered on finding the quickest and clearest route to communication and making every word count. They instilled in me the ability to cut fluff and get to the point. I haven’t actually read a “How-To” that was directed at writing a book. However, I have had some great conversations with other published authors who were willing to share their success stories. I really think reading work done by authors you admire – particularly if they have a style similar to yours – is very encouraging.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your writing journey?
Perhaps the layman’s label can be a bit of an obstacle in Christian publishing. My career as a journalist and then as a corporate PR executive might open doors if I were writing books about media or business. However, my heart is to write to everyday Christians from the perspective of a layman who struggles with the same issues they do. Not having that theology degree or the pastoral perspective might seem like an obstacle in the early stages – trying to get the proposal taken seriously – but in the end, the only obstacle a writer really has to fear is the inability to write well. That one would be pretty hard to overcome. I think God has opened some doors for me and I am grateful. I love this journey.
What led you to the career choice of becoming a writer?
That’s a tough one. I can’t remember a time when I did not want to write. I always thought I would be a writer whether or not anyone ever read what I wrote. Now that I have a personal platform, I want everybody to read what I write. Don’t we all? Honest and true positive feedback from teachers helped me decide to become a write, from Mrs. “Looney” Lorts in junior high, Dr. Whitten in high school and a college journalism professor who would always require me to write both sides of an editorial position to make sure I learned to take every view into account. He said it would give me passion for my own perspective. As a Christian author, I believe true passion for writing has to come from God. He has given me a great desire to communicate about the issues which dominated my life in hopes of helping others. If we listen to Him, I think sometimes maybe we really don’t have a choice but to write.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Be passionate and fearless. Yes, seek plenty of input and feedback, but follow your instincts, trust your skills and stay true to your style. Instead of trying to write like someone else, strive to be able to say “no one writes like me.”
Where can we find you on the web?
The Baptist Messenger:
Thanks Thom for sharing with us and thanks to all of you who read our blog. We’re honored that you take the time to visit with the Hartline agents and their authors.
May God bless and keep you,
Friday, January 29, 2010
Dear From the Heart reader, it is my privilege today to introduce to you, author Rita Gerlach. Rita lives in Fredrick Maryland and has been enjoying promoting her latest fiction title release, Surrender the Wind, published by Abingdon Press.
Rita, you write in a genre that is not the usual Christian Fiction. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your supporting cast.
I live in central Maryland with my husband and two sons. Those three guys are my supporting cast. Lots of talent under my roof. My husband and youngest son are both accomplished guitarists. My oldest son is the brain in the family.
But if you are asking about the cast in my latest novel, I have a long list. So for the sake of brevity I’ll tell you about the two main characters. Seth is an American patriot of the Revolution who inherits his grandfather’s estate in England. Juleah is an English girl from a genteel family who falls in love with Seth and helps him overcome the scars of his past.
How and why did you decide to focus your writing on this historical time period.
I’ve always had a romantic soul for days long ago. It is not the fashions, the modes, the historical dates and famous names that have intrigued me. What draws me to eras like the Georgian or Federal periods is how differently people lived, how the majority had strong faith, that men believed their word was their bond, and that love and family were of greater significance than today.
Has it been a fun experience over all, promoting your book? Yes it has. I enjoy promotion. I think my favorite experience is connecting with readers through networking sites like Facebook and Shoutlife. It’s so fun to meet them.
Where did you get your inspiration from for this particular story? This thought popped into my mind one day. What if an American patriot of the Revolution inherited his grandfather’s estate in England after the War? I was intrigued by the idea and began exploring this as the premise for the novel. Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 rang loud and clear.
So your characters just pop into your head? Tell us, do you write in people you know or are related to?
They always do pop into my head.
There has been only one time when I drew from someone related to me. In Surrender the Wind, Juleah’s father, Sir Henry Fallows, is showing signs of early Alzheimer’s. My father suffered with this disease and I drew upon my experiences dealing with this as well as his. It was painful at times, but he was, like Sir Henry, the sweetest man you could have ever met.
I have always wondered just where authors get the names of their characters. Their names come to me out of the blue most times, and fit their personalities. I made up the name ‘Juleah’ in ‘Surrender the Wind’. I wanted my heroine to have a name set apart from all others that would be memorable.
Have you traveled overseas to do any of this research or spend a lot of time at your library? I’m fortunate to live in Maryland where my novels are partially set, and I explore those places that I visualize my characters being, such as the Potomac River area. I haven’t had the opportunity to literally visit England, but the Internet is the next best thing. With the Internet, I haven’t had to go to the library. But when I wrote my first three novels, I spent a lot of time there pouring over historical archives.
What has been the hardest part of writing your novel and how did you overcome it? The hardest part is when I experience writer’s block. But I have come to realize that writer’s block, or ‘writer’s pause’ as I like to call it, is caused by distractions and stress. It is a part of life, and so the best thing to do is to keep working, but not force the writing.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your book? That when everything is said and done, in the end it all turns out all right. Love is the cohesive bond that helps us face adversity. The message of Surrender the Wind is wrapped up in fidelity and forgiveness, and the surrendering to our Creator those winds that shove and batter us.
What new projects are you working on, are they in the same genre and time period? Thank you for asking. I am currently writing three historical novels in a series that begins in 1775. Tenatively the series title is ‘Lowlands of the Potomac’. Each book focuses on a female lead character and they are all interconnected to each other. Adultery, betrayal, and blackmail will challenge them and test their faith. But keep in mind light dispels darkness. You can expect love will triumph over all these.
I would imagine like most authors, once people know you are writing you get a lot of advice. What is the best and worst writing advice you ever got? The best advice I ever got was write from the heart. Without that kind of feeling and passion, writing can be dry as an empty well. The worse advice I ever got was never make your hero your main character. I was told if I did I’d never get published. It was not true.
What new gadget have you added as a tool to help you in your everyday writing life? A Canon Power Shot digital camera. I’m taking photos of historical places that are in the 3-book series I am writing. These will help me with building the book trailers, and promoting the books on my website. I’d like to put together a pictorial journey of each book to inspire readers and help them visualize the setting.
Is there an area in your writing that you are working on improving? I am working on toning down too much descriptive narrative by writing it tighter. I’m also working on creating more lively dialogue between the characters.
What obstacles have you run up against in your writing journey? I’m sure other writers will agree that it is rejection, the doors that never seemed to want to open. I came to a point though, that I relinquished my writing career over to God. When I did that, I was at peace about where I was going with it, whether I’d be published or not. That’s when doors started opening.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing and your previously published titles?
Would you like to offer the other authors out there a last word of encouragement? Read best selling books on writing. Learn everything you can about the craft, from character development to plotting, to how to write tight. Study how to edit your work. Study the industry and get an understanding of how publishing works. Read best selling books within your genre. Above all do not let discouragement get the best of you, and do not write for fame or fortune. If that is your goal, you are starting out for all the wrong reasons. Write because you love it and because God blessed you with a talent.
Rita, thank you so much for joining us here today and I hope our readers will check out your sites, get to know you and read Surrender The Wind. I really enjoyed it myself. I would imagine you have a healthy reader group waiting in the wings for your next release.
It was my pleasure, Diana. I’ve had a lot of readers ask me about subsequent books, and they want to read my previous novels that were print on demand published but are now out of print. Hopefully someday they will be reissued. Thanks so much for this interview!
From our heart to yours,
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Max, you have a number of books in print and are gaining a substantial reputation on the subject of books for reluctant reader boys What is your latest project? Tell us about it.
My next book is titled Lost Island Smugglers. It’s the first in a new series called The Sam Butler Adventure Series. Two more books will be released later this year. Their titles are Captain Jack’s Treasure, and River Rampage. I’m spending most of my time, right now, increasing word count on these from the low 20,000 words to the mid 30,000 words.
How did you research for this book?
Most of my research is a combination of Internet and library research, or places I've visited. But I also like to contact primary sources for background information. Once people understand that my book project is about something they care about, they are happy to help. This has included simple email responses, all the way up to books and videos that have been sent to me on my various writing projects.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It’s a combination of the newspaper, radio or TV news, magazines, or stories I’ve heard from various sources. When a new story emerges, it comes fully formed in my mind with a beginning, middle, and end. I don’t know about the details of the stories or the characters at that time. As I write, it’s like watching a movie I’ve never seen before.
What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?
When I began writing, nearly ten years ago, my stories didn’t come as a traditional series. They arrived with different characters, settings, and plots. Now that I’ve been asked to develop a series, I’m adapting some of those earlier stories by using the same cast of characters. This had been a challenge. In addition, having to increase word count has also provided interesting challenges.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?
I hope my books will provide some escape and adventure, especially for tween boys, while teaching various character and spiritual issues – without the reader tripping over those principles.
What new projects are you working on?
I have to develop four more titles for the Sam Butler Adventure Series in 2011. It’s possible that another publisher will pick up some of my other stories, under an umbrella “series.” By that I mean that the books have different characters, but will be grouped under one series name. On one of those manuscripts, I’ve already done a first revision that increased the word count to over 30,000. Since I’ve completed thirty-five manuscripts over the past few years, several could need similar alterations. I also have an interest in picture books, and have been developing a few of these manuscripts. And then, my first publisher went bankrupt late last year. That returned ownership of my first 7 books back to me. I’m working with Terry to see if we can get these re-published because a good market still exists for them.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and speaking that you do?
Books For Boys Blog
Author Web Site
50 Pages of Reviews
What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
Best – Never give up.
Worst – Write every day.
Anything else you'd like to take this opportunity to say?
Publishing is not for the faint of heart. I like Terry’s advice concerning the things we have to do to make sure we aren’t eliminated early in the submissions process. I’ve spent the last three years building my platform, which I think will be essential for any hope of success in the future. And I’m doing everything I know to build name recognition by writing articles and short stories for magazines like Boys’ Life, and shorter material for places like Guideposts Books. Having a book published is only the beginning of the work we authors will be required to do.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Announcing Hartline Author Awards from Barbour Publishing
17th Annual Heartsong Awards!
Each year, members of the Heartsong Presents book club vote for their favorite authors, books, and covers. Ten authors are selected for each category. This year we are proud that Hartliners were among those chosen. In fact, our authors are represented in every category!
Favorite New Author:
Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
Favorite Historical Romance:
The Master's Match by Tamela Hancock Murray
Favorite Contemporary Romance:
Noah's Ark by Debby Mayne
Favorite Historical Cover:
The Master's Match by Tamela Hancock Murray
Favorite Contemporary Cover:
Noah's Ark by Debby Mayne
OVER THE TRANSOM E-MAIL SUBMISSIONS
A few days ago Terry addressed submissions we receive in which authors ask us to go to their web sites to review their writing. We would like authors to visit our web site and send proposals according to our submission guidelines. I am well aware that it is hard work to prepare a proposal. Authors tell me it is harder than writing the book. What we ask for is exactly what the publishers want from us. The better your proposal is prepared, with the information the publishers want to see, the better chance you have of getting it looked at seriously.
Here is a sample of what we get every day:
Today I got an e-mail that says, ‘logline synopsis’ in the subject line. The author gives me no information about himself, publishing history or sales numbers – we need this information in order to make a decision about whether or not we want to consider the book. Unfortunately, I get several e-mails a day with only a summary of the book and author’s name. I am tempted to write back and say there are a zillion ideas out there, but I need more information about you. I simply don’t have time to reply to them all. Once in awhile I ask them to take a look at our web site and our proposal guidelines and often I simply delete the e-mail. I got a “Dear Sir or Madam” query today. We hardly ever seriously consider those.
A query needs to include your bio, publishing history and a summary of the book. We get many queries each day and some with only a summary of the book. Ideas are a dime a dozen, I need to see a real proposal.
On the other side of the coin, we get proposals that we love and for one reason or another can’t accept. We try to be conscientious about responding to the e-mails that we receive. We know that writing is not easy and that authors often write from their hearts. Again, do your homework and send agents well prepared proposals, or if you want to send a query make sure it contains your bio and publishing history in it as well as a summary of the book.
I hope you have a great week. We’ve had lots of rain in Pittsburgh and grey skies. The sun is trying to peek out today. It’s been in the 40’s & 50’s but going back to colder weather this week with a little sun. My husband, Jim, had a birthday yesterday and my son Jim’s birthday is Friday, so we’re celebrating their birthdays tonight. We had a busy weekend eating cake with friends!
Friday, January 22, 2010
In our continuing book review of The Travelers Gift, 7 Decisions That Determine Personal Success written by Andy Andrews, we find our traveler, David arriving mid ship of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus's infamous vessel. Apparently Chris had experienced a lot of rejection, as writers often do, before meeting King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Nineteen years he searched for those that would subsidize his trip to the proposed New World. Nineteen years he had the door slammed in his face, was ridiculed and became the brunt of many jokes. He would have made great fodder for late night TV. I can hear it now..."Did ya hear ole Chris is at it again? Says the world is round and thinks he can cut the trade routes in half if someone will just give them their boat and let him set sail for the New World. Well I think someone ought to pull the plug on his bathtub, sink his little 'dinghy' and give him a reality check. Who does he think he is anyway! Round world. Has he been seen in any smoking dens of late? "
Thankfully, Christopher did not give up on his dream. He had a decided mind. He stayed focused on his goal, believed in his theory and finally convinced the King and Queen of Spain ( not his home country) to put their money down on his dream.
Writers, that is what you do when you write that novel or How To. You seek an agent and they place your writing before an editor. You put action and effort to your dream. It might take many doors of rejection slamming in your face before you realize the success of a book in print, but it will never happen if you do not have a decided mind. Demonstrate passion, passion eventually will result in conviction that results in success. Along the way, you will motivate others. Eventually you will find your King and Queen, the ones that will finance your dream, place their belief in you along with their financial backing because you believe in yourself.
Christopher Columbus was a weaver's son. I did not know that before reading this chapter. Makes me wonder what his family thought of his exploring bent. "Get your head out of the clouds, Chris. Get back to your loom, dear." If we worry about what others think of our dreams we might be persuaded to let go of them. We must not fear criticism or worry about what others think. Learn from editors' suggestions, hang on to the words of praise. Continue on. Be fearless.
Christopher and his crew, in their journey to the New World, eventually hit a point of no return. They no longer had sufficient supplies to allow them to retrace their steps. They had to go forward. Have you hit that place yet in your writing journey? Have you invested in yourself enough to say, I can not go back, believed in yourself enough to invest your time and finances to support your vision? It is scary to launch off into the deep. I am sure Columbus had a few reservations. But he was decided in his mind. Focused as he needed to be to set sail and search for a New World. He succeeded.
May you decide to go after the particular dream or vision stirring within you. Remain decided and you will succeed. And who knows, you might end up in the history books like Christopher did, much to his family and many others surprise.
Happy Sailing, From my heart to yours,
Chuck Sambuchino is the editor of Guide to Literary Agents (Writer’s Digest Books). He also helmed the books Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd Ed., and the 2010 Screenwriter’s & Playwright’s Market. Read his blog all about agents and submissions at www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog.
10 SMART QUESTIONS ABOUT THE QUERY PROCESS
When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until you make a connection.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep. It’s with that in mind that I have collected 10 of the more interesting questions submitted to me by readers regarding protocol during the query process.
1. Can you query multiple agents at the same agency?
Generally, no. A rejection from one usually means a rejection from the entire agency. If you query one agent and she thinks the work isn’t right for her but still has promise, she will pass it on to fellow agents in the office who can review it themselves. Agents work together like that.
2. Can you re-query an agent after she rejects you?
You can, though I’d say you have about a 50/50 shot of getting your work read. Some agents seem to be more than open to reviewing a work if it’s been overhauled or undergone serious edits. Other agents, meanwhile, believe that a no is a no—period. So, in other words, you really don’t know, so you might as well just query away and hope for the best.
3. Do you need a conservative agent for a conservative book? A liberal agent for a liberal book?
I asked a few agents this question and some said they were willing to take on any political slant if the book was well written and the author had platform. A few agents, on the other hand, said they needed to be on the same page politically with the author for a political/religious book, and would only take on books they agreed with. Bottom line: Some will be open-minded; some won’t. Look for reps who have taken on books similar to yours, and feel free to query other agents, too. The worst any agent can say is no.
4. Should you mention your age in a query? Will agents take on an older client?
I’m not sure any good can come from mentioning your age in a query. Usually the people who ask this question are younger than 20 or older than 70. Concerning an age bias, I would say some agents may be hesitant to sign older writers because reps are looking for career clients, not simply individuals with one memoir/book to sell. If you’re older, write multiple books to convince an agent that you have several projects in you … and don’t mention your age in the query to be safe.
5. Can I query an agent for a short story collection?
I’d say 95 percent of agents do not accept short story collection queries. The reason? Collections just don’t sell well. If you have a collection of short stories, you can do one of three things: 1) Repurpose some/all of the stories into a novel, which is much easier to sell. 2) Write a new book—a novel—and sell that first to establish a reader base. That way, you can have a base that will purchase your next project—the collection—ensuring the publisher makes money on your short stories. 3) Query the few agents who do take collections and hope for the best. If you choose this third route, I suggest you get some of the stories published to help the project gain some momentum.
6. When should you query? When is your project ready?
There is no definitive answer, but here’s what I suggest. You want to get other eyes on the material—what are called “beta readers”—people who can give you feedback that is both honest and helpful. These beta readers (usually critique group buddies) will give you feedback and you can take what you want then ditch the rest. What you’re aiming for is no more major concerns. So let’s say you give the book to three friends and they come back with some major concerns, such as “It starts too slow” or “This character is not believable.” Through revisions, you can address these problems. After rewrites, give it to three more beta readers. If they come back with no major concerns, the book is ready, or at least very close.
7. Should I mention that my work is copyrighted or has had professional editing?
No. All work is copyrighted the moment you write it down in any medium, so saying something that’s obvious only comes off as amateurish. On the same note, all work should be edited, so saying that the work is edited (even by a professional editor) also comes off as amateurish.
8. How should I start my query? Should I begin with a paragraph from the book?
I would not include a paragraph from the book nor would I write the letter in the “voice” of one your characters—those are gimmicks. You can just jump right into the pitch—there’s nothing wrong with that. But you can also try to establish a connection with an agent (i.e., try to explain why you’ve picked this agent out of the whole bunch). Ways to make a connection include 1) a referral, 2) citing an interview with them you read online, 3) mentioning a prior book they repped, 4) revealing that you met in person at a writers’ conference.
9. Should I mention that the query is a simultaneous submission?
You can, but you don’t have to. If you say it’s exclusive, they understand no other eyes are on the material, but if you say nothing, they will assume multiple agents must be considering it. Keep in mind to always check each agent’s submission guidelines; a few rare agents will specifically request to be informed if it’s a simultaneous submission.
10. Should I query all my “target” agents at once?
No, and let me tell you why. You don’t want to send out 50 queries all at once, because if the query doesn’t hook readers or your first chapter needs tweaking, then you’ve sent out sub-par work to all reps. You’ll get rejected across the board and blow lots of chances with agents. My recommendation is to send out 5-7 queries and see what you hear back. If everyone is saying no and you don’t get requests for pages, you have to start examining where you’re going wrong. Make some adjustments before querying again.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I’ve gotten several lately that said “I have a book I’d like you to represent, go to my website and you will find all the information you need there.” I try to always be as polite as my momma raised me so I wrote back:
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound snippy but I don’t go visiting sites checking out projects. I review proposals to see what sort of a document I would have to work with pitching editors. (Besides, responding to links in emails without really knowing what it is simply is not a good idea).
I would such be happy to entertain a proposal on it per the submission guidelines at our website at www.hartlineliterary.com which shows exactly what our agency needs to receive in order to properly evaluate the work in terms of the markets in which we are currently working.
A professional proposal is a single word or .rtf document that is a quality presentation, yet preserves the proper formatting in the requested first three chapters to show how the actual work is formatted. To see if it's something we could easily base a submission on to sell an editor on the project. The three chapters give me a feel for the writing and the rest of the proposal the marketability of the project and the platform and promotion ability of the author. I accept this file as an attachment to an email and do not accept hard copy submissions.
We look forward to seeing more on this project, and having the opportunity to evaluate it up against the markets that we are currently seeking work in order to fill the needs we know exist, as well as new market needs which surface daily.
Undeterred, in each case they wrote back and said “Go to the site or don’t go to the site it’s the most efficient way to present it.”
The first one that said that I wrote back and just said “don’t.”
I was in a better mood the second time and said : Sorry, but as I said it wouldn’t give me what I need to pitch it for you so there is no point. Good luck with it, although I would highly recommend you check submission guidelines for any agent or editor you want to pitch to and send them what they want the way they want to receive it. Strictly up to you however.
I know, I know, if I’d just said “it’s not a good fit” the first time I might not have heard back at all, but then again, a lot of people want to discuss that too and point out the error of my ways. But you see, I really am driven by wanting to help somebody make a successful submission so I very often say something that to them seems to invite discussion instead of them realizing they got a useful tip.
But can you believe it, he came back a third time still wanting to argue about it. He seems to feel that I have an obligation to read his material and not only that that I MUST do it his way rather than how we publicize all over as the method we use to properly process submissions. There are reasons we do things the way we do, as with most agencies and publishing houses. Perhaps he will find someone who will do it his way instead of the way he wants them to do it. I hope so, but it's not going to be me.
The bottom line is that I get more than a hundred submissions a month, a lot of good books, and all were careful to follow the submission guidelines to give me what I needed to see to make a decision, and to be sure I had a great base document to build an agency proposal on. Why with all of those folks that did it right would I go to some website where I’d have to lift pieces right and left and try to piece some sort of proposal together to be able to submit it? And why would they think sending me that little abrasive reply would make me say “Oh my, what am I thinking? I better run over there and dig through that site.”
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I would like to introduce to our From the Heart readers, Sharon Norris Elliott, published author, public speaker.
So our readers can get to know you better – tell us a little about yourself Sharon. I love and am loved by God. I was born and raised in Southern California and have been in the writing and speaking ministry since 1991.
Do you have a personal mission statement? My ministry, Life That Matter's, exists to encourage members of the body of Christ to discover their life purpose and live up to their full potential. The five divisions of my ministry achieve this goal through the use of WebTV, books, conferences, seminars, and a devotional blog.
Raising Boys To Be Like Jesus and Living A Milk and Honey Life are two of your published titles. Can you tell us what they offer the reader? Raising Boys to Be Like Jesus encourages parents to use Jesus Christ’s life as an example of the type of life they want for their sons. I hope to persuade parents that it’s both practical and possible to raise Godly sons in today’s society. Living a Milk and Honey Life: Letting Go of what’s Holding you Back encourages women to move from the bondages in their lives to the deliverances God has in store.
Did these titles get birthed from personal experience? Both were birthed from personal experience. I tried my best to raise my own boys to be like Jesus. I also understood that, like in His plan for the Israelites, God’s perfect place for me is my land of milk and honey. I needed to leave my places of bondage and walk into my deliverance.
What are some of the creative ways you have promoted your books? For Living a Milk and Honey Life, I host Christian women’s spa retreats entitled Milk & Honey Life Retreats. For Raising Boys to be Like Jesus, I teach Boys Like Jesus seminars.
What type of feedback have you received from your readers? Women absolutely love the retreats and parents feel the insight in Raising Boys is perceptive, astute, and easy-to-incorporate into their daily lives.
What other titles do you have coming out in the next two years? Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame is scheduled for release from New Hope Press in early 2011. I am working on A Heart for the Word Devotional Collection which will be a collection taken from my daily devotional blog. My four book series – Who God Can Bless – is currently being reviewed by several publishers.
What was toughest about your publishing journey and do you have any advice for other authors out there? Waiting; there’s a lot of waiting in this business. Also early in the business, rejection was a bit discouraging, but you learn that both waiting and rejection just mean you really are in business. My advice for authors is perfect your craft and listen to experts. Do what they say, the way they say it, until that advice no longer works for you and you need to refine to suit your own style.
You also are the founder and director of AuthorizeMe Seminars. Explain what these are and how our reader might find out more information on where they can find one in their area. AuthorizeMe Seminars help you get your book out of your head, down onto paper, and into a professional proposal format ready to submit to an acquisitions editor. You will also leave this fun yet intensive 12-hour seminar with tips on marketing, editing, and titling your book, and much more. Visit www.AuthorizeMe.net to find upcoming seminars or to sponsor a seminar in your area.
Before we say goodbye and allow you to get back to your writing, tell the reader where they might find out more about you. I'd like to encourage readers to tune into my web T.V. show "A Heart for the Word" at www.WebTV4Women.tv. There, women can study the Bible with me at their leisure.
My blog address is: www.sanewriter.wordpress.com
Thank you Sharon for spending this time with us today. May the Lord continue to open doors of ministry for you and may your titles encourage the reader in their daily walk.
From my heart to yours,
Monday, January 18, 2010
In a recent post Joyce asked if you were thinking about attending a writing conference. We have been doing a series of posts on conferences that we attend which might help you decide where you might want to go. You can find the ones we have done so far in the archives of our blog and can look forward to seeing others.
My next conference will be the “Writing For the Soul” conference Feb 18-21 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Denver Colorado. The Conference host is Jerry Jenkins and it is put on by the Christian Writer’s Guild. Information on the conference may be found at http://www.christianwritersguild.com/conferences/
This is a premier conference set in a five star hotel. The keynote presenters are bestselling author Max Lucado, Veggietales creator Phil Vischer, and thought provoking commentator and author Phillip Yancey.
For four days, you'll be challenged and encouraged through a variety of speakers, classes, and clinics designed to develop your writing craft as never before. We're expanding to offer seven morning continuing classes. Afternoons you can attend one of seven elective sessions, including four hands-on clinics: Magazine Query Letter, Fiction First Page, Fiction Dialogue, and our exclusive Thick-skinned Manuscript Clinic with Jerry B. Jenkins and Andy Scheer.
You'll be able to schedule 15-minute appointments with literary agents and editors from major Christian magazines and publishing houses. The entire conference will feature times of praise, worship, and prayer.
Needless to say it can be cold in the Rocky Mountains in February so pack accordingly. I hope to see you there.
Friday, January 15, 2010
A few evenings ago my husband and I had reservations at one of our favorite restaurants where we are known to favor a certain table, a table promised to us that night. When we were seated elsewhere, we were surprised and appalled to discover that another couple had stolen our reserved place. Diners should know that at any restaurant where you’re seated, you need to let the host or hostess be aware that you’d like to move. Switching tables without asking is fine at fast food places, but rude elsewhere.
We could have unleashed our displeasure through any number of
Leaving no tip.
Demanding free desserts.
Making the other couple move.
Being unpleasant to the staff and to the owner when she greeted us.
Instead, we chose to make the best of our meal at a table that wasn’t as nicely located and made a point to be pleasant to everyone.
We plan to live in our present location for some time to come, and if we had made a fuss, the staff would have found some way to accommodate us that evening, but at what cost to our reputation? I imagine every time we tried to make reservations in the future, they would have remembered us as being jerks. They could have exercised their option not to allow us to make any more reservations there at all, ever. That could hardly be considered a victory for anyone.
Not getting one’s preferred table for one meal is a trivial matter. It’s the small irritations that trip us, and those are the ones we must also watch in our careers. When I first entered the CBA market, I pictured an ocean of editors. If one didn’t want to buy my book, another would. True, there are many CBA editors with varying tastes.
Over time you’ll find your favorites. But writers who go out of their way to be inconsiderate to other publishing professionals can’t run away. The offended ones might indeed leave one publishing house, but chances are they’ll turn up at another soon, perhaps in even more powerful positions. You don’t want to be remembered as a writer who tried to be difficult. Very, very few writers are so gifted that publishers will put up with rude behavior. Even if you reach that exalted state, don’t take advantage of it. Good will is far more valuable than the small and temporary reward of releasing temper.
The Bible speaks of trespasses and forgiveness often, with the Lord’s Prayer serving as a prime example. Simply by living, we’ll offend someone because all of us are different and will disagree. It’s critical that when tested, we do our best not to escalate the argument.
Treat everyone you meet as a person deserving of consideration and kindness. Even if your efforts not to offend go unappreciated by your neighbor, the Lord takes note, and you will enjoy the rewards of self-respect.
Until next time,
Thursday, January 14, 2010
It has long been my hearts desire to return to Haiti, to retire to it's mountains and live out my later years there. Haiti is wrought with problems, yes. But the simplistic lifestyle of the majority of the people, their resourcefulness in the face of adversity and continual tough circumstances has won a place in my heart that is treasured.When I lived there as a single gal I eventually owned just two dresses. One that I wore and one that was drying on a bush. Flip-flops were our stylish footwear that season. All of my excess clothing I gave to those that did not have, I lived a simpler life. Our days were filled with clinics, tooth extractions and minor mouth surgeries for me and for Barbara a constant assessment of those with burns, cancerous tumors, malaria and suturing. We laughed too yesterday through our tears, remembering the time I extracted a tooth while a Rooster stood on my head, how once Babara had attempted to plunge a hypodermic needle into the buttocks of a strong muscular man and the plunger flew across the room when he tensed in anticipation of the antibiotics. In the evenings we played dominoes with our neighbors, worshiped at church with our brothers and sisters and swam in the warm beautiful ocean, falling into bed exhausted only to rise and do it over again. We walked up goat paths to clinics held under brush arbors, where we were paid for our services with a single egg wrapped exquisitely in a banana leaf, tied with a cord of coconut shell thread. So many beautiful memories of a proud and resilient people, many of which love and serve our Lord and Saviour. I sat up last night till the wee hours of this morning praying. It was hard for me to go to my warm bed knowing so many had no where to lay theirs.
We ask you to join us in prayer for the Haitian people:
Pray for the emergency personal that are there now and that are arriving today and in the next few days. Their aid will be needed for a long time..
Pray for wisdom for those that have the responsibility to disperse the supplies and funds. Water, Toilets, Tents.
Pray for the discouraged and weary. That they may continue to Hope.
Pray for the fatherless and motherless children, and the parents that have lost their child.
Pray for the US military that will be called up to help in the humanitarian aid. My nephew Nathan (a 22 yr old Seebee) is on stand by for a possible stint that might last 6 months
Pray that those Haitians in the US would hear some word of their loved ones.
Pray for Miracles.
I have posted an album on my FB profile page titled Haiti, you are welcome to take a look.
Thank you for joining us here at Hartline in prayer for Haiti.
From my heart to yours,
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
It’s time to start thinking about and planning which writer’s conferences to attend in 2010. The first one that I’m taking part in is the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference, March 4 – 7th. It is at the Lake Yale Conference Center, near Leesburg, Florida. Conference director is Billie Wilson. This is a popular conference with expected attendees of around 250. Keynote speakers are: Eva Marie Everson, Jesse Florea, Jerry Jenkins and Cec Murphy.
The Conference offers the following:
• Appointments with Agents and Editors
• Manuscript Submission to Agents & Editors
• 9 Continuing Classes:
(6 hours of instruction in a genre including a special Teen Track)
• FREE CD of the entire conference to full-time participants
• Mentoring Tracks limited to 10 participants in each track
1. Fiction Project – Ken Kuhlken
2. Fiction Project – Eva Marie Everson
3. Non-Fiction Project – Janis Whipple
• 72 Elective Workshops
• Plus 30 + Freelance Authors
The conference web site is www.FLWRITERS.org
Blog – http://www.floridachristianwriters.blogspot.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/flwritersconf
FaceBook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Florida-Christian-Writers-Converence/147564825201
Even though it is Florida it can be chilly in March. One year I wore my leather coat the whole conference because I was so cold. It would be wise to take sweaters or a light coat, or both. Business casual is the norm. This is a good conference and I highly recommend it.
I will be teaching two workshops, “Do I Need an Agent?” and “Preparing a Winning Proposal”
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
What is your latest project? Tell us about it.
The Race that Lies Before Us is a Christian suspense novel that blends the excitement of stock car racing with the thrills and action of the suspense genre. The protagonist is a top-secret agent with enhanced strength who must use her extraordinary abilities during several high-profile assignments, but struggles with trusting God to protect her secrets, especially when a NASCAR champion becomes determined to find her. As the danger builds, she becomes a terrorist target and realizes the only way she can save her life as she knows it is through death.
How did you research for this book?
Mostly through checking out oodles of NASCAR books from the library. I now volunteer at the NASCAR Nationwide and truck series with Midwest Raceway Ministries at Gateway International Speedway in St. Louis as well. While we minister there, I also have an opportunity to see the race up-close and personal.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
God has always been in control of my writing (and reminds me of that when I try to wrest control from Him) and I try to follow Him as He leads me along my writing journey. Because of this, most of my ideas strike me from out of the blue.
What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?
Developing thick skin and learning how to accept critiques was a huge hurdle. I had to realize that the people critiquing my work wanted to help, swallow my pride, learn from them, then apply the lessons learned to the rest of my manuscript.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?
While I mainly just hope people will enjoy a good read and all the twists and turns I pitch them in The Race that Lies Before Us, I hope they also gain an understanding of how we need to trust God even when what He tells us to do doesn't make any sense according to human logic.
What new projects are you working on?
I have two WIP's.
1) Marital Fiction is a romantic suspense novel which also has a NASCAR twist to it. The heroine meets the hero after he is in an accident at a NASCAR race, and soons feels like she might have found Mr. Right, but when a manipulative old woman leaves her an inheritance that will rescue her from the financial ruin caused by identity theft, the terms of the will and her ex-husband's schemes force her to face the consequences of her greed.
2) Disappearing Mom is a story about a woman who learns to embrace the non-entity status that stay-at-home mother's often suffer until she a discovers that she can sink into this status to the point of truly disappearing. She learns to control her new ability and has fun with it, unaware of how her disappearances harm her...until it's almost too late.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
The programs and speaking that you do? I have a website called Suspense with a Twist, where I keep a variety of resources for writers, and two blogs. Write at Home is a blog about the writing craft and The Race that Lies Before Us is dedicated to my novel of the same name.
What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
The best writing advice I ever received came from my husband while I was writing the first draft of The Race that Lies Before Us: just finish the book. I've received plenty of bad advice, but I file it all in the trash both physically and mentally, and don't even bother to remember it.