Saturday, February 27, 2010

Will the publisher sell my books? by Terry Burns

The question: Typically, when it comes to promoting the book, once published, what promoting is done on the publisher’s side? I understand my side, ie: signings, radio, speaking… but what should the publisher be doing?

That is the ultimate measure of a publisher. Think of it as a scale with a small print on demand publisher or even vanity press on one end and houses like Random House and Simon Schuster on the other. There is a difference in the amount of editing houses do and how good the final product is, but setting that aside and assuming all books are the same the difference would be distribution and sales. On the very low end the author gets a book in print, period, and the sales and promotion are strictly up to them. On the high end, particularly with an A list author, there is advertising and sales and representatives selling into bookstores and into chain stores and buying end-caps and placement, etc etc. With a mid-list or more so with a new author even the big guys offer less support and depend more on the author to generate sales.

The question is where does your publisher fall on this scale. The one you described would be on the low end, but some low end publishers work very hard at helping their authors get books sold. One caveat, however, hearing that your publisher distributes through Ingrams or Baker and Taylor or some other known distributor does not mean your book is going to be in stores. It simply means it is available for order. Someone has to make the sales calls or contacts to get the stores to order books. It is unlikely that a very small press would have a sales force out doing this so most of the burden is on the author but they may have a sales strategy to help. Some discussion with them on this would certainly be in order.

There are a lot of strategies out there on accomplishing this and some good books on the subject. I would make it my business to see what tools are available to me and set about using them. I hear some authors say they can hardly wait until they are well known enough that they don’t have to do this. I smile as I tell them that even Stephen King and Tom Clancy and the other big name authors do publicity and promotion, they just get a bigger stage to do it on. They do Good Morning America or the Tonight show or something like that instead of trying to get a plug on the local radio station.

That is called platform, and the better the connections we have to create that invaluable word of mouth publicity the better the sales and the more attractive we are to publishers. So you see, there isn’t a simple answer to your question other than to work with your publisher to see what they’ll do to help and to find out everything you can do to make it happen as well.

Once you choose to publish with a small press or even more so if you self publish and you do it as a strategy to interest a larger publisher in your work, it becomes all about sales. You need to generate enough sales to interest a larger publisher. Since your book is already in print and the first rights are consumed, that generally means selling reprint rights and not a lot of publishers are interested in reprints. For those who will look at them having those good sales is critical.

Regardless of the size publisher we work with the author has far more at stake on the book being successful. The publisher has a model where they expect to be okay on the book and they don't expect every book to sell through anyway. The author on the other hand has all their chips in the game and need to do anything and everything they can to make the book a success.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Diana Interviews Founder and CEO Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency

Dear reader; Today I have the privilege of interviewing Hartline Literary Agency's founder and CEO, Joyce Hart.

Joyce, you have been in the 'book' business for a long time. Were you a devoted fan of reading, even before you got into the business?

Yes, I’ve always been an avid fiction reader. One Childhood memory is of sitting on a blanket in the shade of a tree with my book and my dog beside me. The librarians at my local library knew me well. I rarely leave the house without a book. I might get stuck somewhere and have a few minutes to read, even in my car, or in a line or in the doctor’s office. What a pity to waste that time when I could be reading.

Are you a self taught business woman or did you have someone mentoring you along the way?

I had some mentors along the way. Of course I learned the business at Whitaker House Publishing, where I worked for 11 years. When I went to work there I knew I had found my niche. My love of books just fit perfect in that job.

Your first venture into the publishing industry was not as an agent. Please share with our reader just how you got into this business.

I started out as a secretary to Bob Whitaker, Jr, the Vice President of Whitaker House and as the secretary to the editors. Eventually I moved into sales and I loved selling books to bookstores and distributors. It was so exciting to tell people about books and advise them what to buy. I was the Vice President of Marketing for the last three years of my employment. Then I decided to quit my job but I wanted to stay in publishing, so I started Hartline Marketing and became an independent sales rep for small companies. I helped a couple of small companies grow their businesses and that was fun too. I had a friend who was also an independent rep and he helped me learn how to set up the office, things about the computer, etc. He was invaluable to me those first years. He and his wife are still good friends, and the Whitaker family is too.

One of the book buyers paid you a compliment. Please share it here with us. I think it is something that we all need to put into practice to be a success.

He used to introduce me to his boss and friends like this: “this is Joyce Hart, she is consistent and persistent” Of course that’s because I called him every week for months to get him to buy our books. His company eventually became my largest account.

How exactly did you transition into Agenting?

When Ingram bought Spring Arbor Distributing, that changed a program I had with Spring Arbor. I was a vender with Spring Arbor and I took books from small publishers and self-published books and helped them market with this large distributor to the bookstores. Ingram closed my program, so I had to regroup. All along I had been getting manuscripts from people who wanted me to read them and give them my opinion. So I decided to become an Agent. I sold the first book I represented to the first publisher I called. They told me they didn’t like to deal with agents (this was in 1992). I asked them why and they said because agents are pushy. I said “I’m a nice agent” and they give me to an editor, who bought the book.

Your agency has grown to you now having a team of four agents at Hartline, Tamela, Terry and Diana. Has that growth been a result of the steady success of Hartline Marketing?

I think so, because I dealt with key accounts and distributors I was known in the industry. It simply takes getting in the office every day and going to work. I give the Lord all the glory, because when I first started, I would lay my head on my desk and cry and say “Lord, I can’t do this” and then I would start to work. Again, it’s persistence and consistence. Make those phone calls, write those letters and e-mails and God will help you reap the benefits.

I would imagine you have seen this industry go through many phases. What are a few of the changes you have seen along the way.

Probably the largest changes have been consolidation of distributors and bookstores. There used to be 4 major distributors and now there are only two. Many mom and pop bookstores are gone, they’ve been bought by chains. We used to have 3 Christian bookstores in our area, now we have one.

Some Christian publishers have been bought by secular companies, that’s a big change.

In your estimation has book publishing changed for the better?

This is a hard question to answer. I’m thankful that publishers are still in business, but it’s the way we do business that is changing constantly. The editors are asking for name authors more and more. Several companies want authors whose last books have sold 20,000 to 40,000 copies. 5,000 used to be considered good.

Technology has changed the business for the better in many ways. It’s so much easier to send a proposal via e-mail instead of having to make hard copies and mail them to the publisher. E-mail has changed the way we communicate with editors. Rarely do we talk to anyone on the phone, it’s all e-mail. We even get contracts via e-mail. It’s wonderful.

The Internet has changed the way we market, web sites, e-mail addresses, social networking are a must for an author. We don’t accept an author who can’t use a computer. We’re living in a fast-paced world and we insist on e-mail proposals according to our specific guidelines.

Can you share with us a few of the personal joys, the highlights you have been blessed with through the years that stand out to you.

I love it when I get a contract for an author that we’ve tried to sell his/her book for a long time. This just happened recently with an author whose writing I love, she is so talented. I also love it when we can work with an editor and help develop a writer’s career. We’ve had several of those successes. The best formula is when we can work with editors who catch the same vision the author and I have. We’ve helped a lot of first-time authors get established and that is so rewarding. I am thankful when those authors stay with us once they succeed. I love our authors and I love working with them and helping them to mold their careers. It is so nice to have a job that you absolutely love. I love working with the Hartline Agents. They are a special group and I’m thankful to be a part of their lives. God is so good to us as an agency.

What is your favorite Genre to read and why?

I like mysteries, I’m a, 'Murder She Wrote', fan. I like cozies although as a rule CBA doesn’t. I also like women’s relationship books and contemporary romances and historical books. What can I say, I just plain like fiction and I love to read.

Joyce as a recap, where do you see this industry headed?

I don’t think print publishing will ever go away, although it will probably get a little smaller. I feel e-books are making an impact on the industry. We’re seeing larger numbers from e-book sales on the royalty reports. I think this will grow. Young people today read from a screen, be it telephone, computer or e-reader. I think we’ll always see books in print, too many of us love to hold a book in our hands and share a favorite book with our friends.

Thank you so much for sharing these little known gems about your life with us. I know Tamela, Terry and I are proud to be associated with this agency, it has a wonderful reputation. I pray it will continue to be a force for authors and the resultant published titles. May God continue to bless you Joyce personally and professionally.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interview with Terry's Client Barbara Warren

What is your latest project? Tell us about it.

My latest project, which Terry is pitching for me is a mystery set in the beautiful Ozark Mountains where I live. Cassie Richards, whose parents were town trash, drug dealers, you name it, has come a long way from her upbringing. She has a thriving business, an elegant home, a good bank account, and none of it matters anymore. Her sister, LeAnn is missing. Cassie leaves town and goes to Tolbert Springs determined to find her sister, even though Police Chief Ike Carpenter has made it clear he doesn’t want her help. Cassie soon finds she has an unknown enemy in Tolbert Springs, and as several attempts are made on her life, she finds she is turning to Kip Horton, reporter at the local paper for help. Cassie, who accidentally killed a man, doesn’t think she’s good enough for Kip and the people he goes to church with, but God has plans for Cassie Richards, and when He gives, it’s full measure, tamped down, and running over.

How did you research for this book?

We often hear true stories of serial killers, psychopaths, people who do terrible things, yet live normal lives, often working in the community or church. Their neighbors are astounded that that nice person they know and trust could be guilty of such horrible crimes. The monster living among us, the darker side of human nature and what it does to its victims. I read a lot of those stories and I tried to imagine what I would do if someone I loved disappeared, and found it was too horrible to contemplate. I understood how Cassie felt, her pain became my pain. And I knew what it was like to stray from God and have to find my way back. The setting is at a lake where my family and I go every summer for a week. I’ve walked around that lake, sat on the dock, seen the herons and otter. I could picture it in my mind, and picture Cassie walking where I had walked.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

From many places, stories I hear, comments someone makes. I collect newspaper articles about crimes that grab my attention. And I get inspiration from my own life, my fears, my desires, and from the lives of my family and friends. I carry a small notebook with me everywhere to jot down those little snippets I might be able to use later.

What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?

The hardest part was thinking of how I would feel if a member of my family disappeared. We have a family in our area whose daughter disappeared ten years ago. Nothing has ever been found that would point to where she is. I know that mother’s pain, and sometimes I had to put that aside, concentrate on Cassie, and remember this was just a book, not something that really had happened.

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

That we can never run so far from God that we can’t come back. And that no matter how dark our valley, God is there, and He’s our light.

What new projects are you working on?

I have just finished a manuscript set on Dauphin Island, Alabama where I went with my sister and her family two years ago. It’s a mystery, of course, a young woman is forced to go back to Dauphin Island because her grandmother needs her. But Kelsie fled the island the year she graduated from high school because someone tried to kill her. She doesn’t know who her enemy is, but she does know he’s still after her because every year on the anniversary of the time he tried to kill her she gets flowers. The first year she also got a book of the language of flowers, and the offerings she receives mean things like rejected, deceit, heartbroken. Now she has to spend a week on the island, and she’s afraid she’ll never leave alive.
Now I’m working on a humorous mystery about five women in their sixties who decide to start a murder solving club. There hasn’t been a murder in their town in years, but it isn’t long before they stumble over a body and end up being the prime suspects. I’m having fun with it.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and speaking that you do?

I have a website, I also send out a monthly online newsletter featuring writing news, book reviews, wacky news stories, and writing tips.

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

The best writing advice was to be myself. The worst was to pick out my favorite author and try to write like her.

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

I appreciate the opportunity to interact with other writers. Only another writer can understand the pain of rejection, or the joy of acceptance. And I’m grateful for a hard working agent like Terry Burns who does so much for his clients. He’s truly a blessing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This and that about E-mail Queries and a little about e-mail proposals - by Joyce Hart

We get probably 15 to 20 or more e-mail queries per day per agent. So that could be 80 or more per day for 400 a week, just for this one agency. I don’t know that I’ve ever read much about how to write a query. I hope the subject is covered at some conferences in workshops or maybe in the Reader’s Digest newsletter. Maybe not, maybe we all just talk about writing a proposal and don’t mention queries.

This is what I need to see in a query – an author bio; the author’s publishing history and a summary. Normally I get only the summary. Unfortunately, good ideas are a dime a dozen. I need to know who the author is, why he/she is qualified to write the book being queried. I automatically reject queries with only the story idea. If you’ve self-published the book I need to know how many copies you’ve sold. If you’ve sold thousands, I’ll be impressed. I’m finding that publishers are more open to looking at a self-published book that have sold a thousand or so copies than e-books. There is some resistance about looking at e-books.

All of our agents like e-mail proposals. However, we want them to be prepared according to the guidelines on our web site. The proposal should include the summary, author bio, publishing history, marketing information and three sample chapters. This needs to be sent as an attachment in MS Word preferably, for me, not as a pdf. file or in the body of the e-mail. Nor do I want to click on a link and go to a web site. When you prepare the proposal according to our guidelines, you’ll be more apt to get it read.

Another point about proposals – this is in our guidelines but I’ll reiterate it here. Please use Times New Roman for your font. We’re not impressed with fancy fonts, because they are hard to read. On each page, be sure to add a header with book title/author name and number the pages. Use the insert feature on Word or whatever word processing program you use. Also use the insert to number pages, do not number them manually. Causes all kinds of problems. Chapters should be double-spaced. These things might seem elementary but they are what I deal with every day. I’m looking for well written, well researched books whether fiction or non-fiction. I’m especially looking for romance, historical and contemporary, and women’s fiction. Women protagonists are best. Comedy is good, light mystery that’s fun; not cozies for CBA though. My personal favorites are mysteries, but apparently not all CBA readers feel that way. I also like books about women’s friendships. If the writing is good I will read any genre in fiction or in non-fiction too.

Thanks for looking at our blog. We hope we’re done with snow in PA. It is piled everywhere, huge piles as tall as buildings. Snow in my front yard is up to my porch floor and that’s pretty high. We’re still canceling meetings because there is no place to park. We’re praying the snow will melt gradually so we don’t have water in basements. I can’t imagine the amount of snow some of you have further east. One author said she had 52 inches of snow. We just had about 36 inches. We’re blessed though; we had electricity, heat and food. I didn’t mind staying home more than usual, I was warm and cozy and I could use my computer and read.

God bless you as you write for his glory. I encourage you to attend writer’s conferences and workshops whenever possible. By the way, I regret I will not be attending the Florida Christian Conference. Diana Flegal will be representing our agency in Florida.

In His service,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Final Decision for Personal Success in Diana's Book Review of The Traveler's Gift

Dear From the Heart reader;
Today we reach the end of our journey with our traveler David Ponder, and the delivery of the last principal for success in our book review of Andy Andrews title, The Traveler's Gift, Seven Decisions for Personal Success.

As David said goodbye to Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, he laid down for a rest. This whole experience had proved to be an emotional one and he was weary. He awakens on a bed of concrete, on the floor of a HUGE warehouse filled with many shelves stacked with an odd assortment of items; photographs of children, electric cords, vacuum cleaners, and odd machinery. The stacked shelves seem to go on forever, at least as far as he can see forward, backward and upward. He sees no source of light yet the building is lit, bathed in a soft glow. As he is gazing about him attempting to ascertain just where he is, he notices a man walking towards him. A very large man. As he comes closer David realizes the man towers above him and glows with the same light that fills the warehouse. A robe drapes over his shoulders and he has WINGS! Yes wings! It is the archangel Gabriel and this is who will give David the final principle for success.

'Why am I here, what are all of these items here in this place and what am I supposed to learn from all of this?' David asks. Gabriel explains that what he sees are items that were never invented, children that were never born, dreams and goals never accomplished.

As they walk and talk, Gabriel tells David that most people give up before accomplishing what they were intended to accomplish. David asks just what it is that sets one person apart from another. Gabriel explains that the tragedy of life is not that man loses, but that he almost wins. The reason most quit is because they lack understanding and faith. It is perseverance that builds muscle and brings a man or woman to greatness. Times of calamity and distress have always been producers of the greatest individuals. The strongest steel is produced by the hottest fire.With only a few exceptions, the human race lacks the faith that produces greatness. "Once civilization was alive and vibrant, productive and glorious. A culture so highly evolved as to make you look like dull children." Gabriel informed David.

"Is there anything we can do to bring it back?" asked David. Gabriel hands David a scroll. "This decision is the final portion of the whole. Take it." Gabriel did not know why David was chosen to receive the decisions. He would be the final 'Traveler', the one entrusted with the decisions and responsible to share them with others. David was to study one decision at a time, each for 21 days. He was to read it aloud twice daily during that time. First thing in the morning and the last thing before sleep. He was not to miss a day. Each decision would then become a part of him, buried in his heart, captured in his soul.

He reminded David that he was not alone in his journey. He had a guide and no reason to lose faith. The creator had entrusted David with the wisdom of the Seven Decisions along with the free will gift to apply them to his life and share them with others.Some will apply them and rise to greatness and others will quit in the process and pass into obscurity. It will be their choice. Gabriel left David with a warning to choose wisely or the future for all men would be at stake. As Gabriel rose and took flight before his eyes, David sat and read the scroll that contained the 7th decision.

I Will Persist Without Exception. I am a person of great faith.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11. (The Living Bible) From this day forward, I will claim a faith in the certainty of my future. I will continue despite exhaustion. Most people quit, I am NOT most people. I am not average, I see exhaustion as a precursor to victory.

David stowed the scroll in the leather tobacco pouch of Chamberlains, alongside of the other messages he received from those he'd visited with. He was a different man for having met them, a better man.
He breathes a thank you, and then bows his head and repeats the words and smiles. He has become a man of faith. He will persist without exception.

Dear reader, as another verse encourages us not to become weary in well doing, I pray that you might not faint in the thing that you have yet to accomplish. May we like our traveler David learn to persist so that we might one day hear, "Well done thy good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make thee a ruler over many. Enter now into the joy of the Lord. Mt 25:21. (King James)

My next visit with you we will share in the conclusion of Davids travel and his return to his family. Until then,
from my heart to yours,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Interview with Joyce's client Jim Fletcher

I’m pleased to introduce author, editor, and publisher Jim Fletcher today. Jim and his wife Dianna and I have been friends for many years. We worked at New Leaf Press together for many years. Jim and Dianna live in Berryville, AR.

Jim, Tell us about yourself and your family: I’ve loved writing since fabricating my term papers in high school; I then earned a journalism degree from a private college in Missouri and spent years in small-town newspapers before getting into the book publishing field as an editor. I had no ambition to be a writer until, on a whim, I pitched an idea and they bought it! My family is very supportive of my decision to write for a living and we enjoy our little part of the world. We have four children, all but one on their own. That leaves us with more time for our two dogs and two cats!

Tell us about your background in publishing: Through a friend, I learned that New Leaf Publishing Group was looking for an editor in late 1993. I visited with the publisher and lo and behold, spent the next 14 years there, learning from a great publisher, Tim Dudley. I worked in all aspects of editorial, and then helped some with marketing. In 2007, I decided to strike out on my own and see if I could make writing work full-time.

You have made many trips to Israel and I know you have a keen interest in what is going on in the Middle East. Give us some of your thoughts about what is going on there: Slowly but surely, Israel is being squeezed and will soon find herself without allies. Islamist terrorism is a poison so toxic that the region will be unstable for the foreseeable future.

You live in a beautiful area of the country – does that give you inspiration for writing? Absolutely; just last week I watched the most beautiful snow outside my window. We have a beautiful view here in the hills of northwest Arkansas. It’s very quiet and conducive for writing.

Is there an area in your writing that you are working on developing more? Two things: more investigative works, and fiction. My contacts in the Middle East have me thinking of a novel! I’d also like to have a syndicated column.

What is your all time favorite writing ‘How To’ book? One that you would like to recommend to other authors. Hands-down, Adventures in the Screen Trade by the great writer, William Goldman. He’s realistic, descriptive, and insightful.

Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your writing journey? No, actually I’ve been blessed; I can’t explain that, but there it is.

What is the most important thing on your current ‘To Do ‘ list? Finish a book proposal and finish my manuscript, The Jerusalem Prophecies, which excites me. I also blog weekly for WorldNetDaily (Writers Bloc publishing column and a weekly book review); American Family Association; RaptureReady (The worlds largest Bible prophecy site); and The Jeruselem Post.

What led you to the career choice of becoming a writer? It’s the only thing I ever had a facility for. My skill set is not broad, such as that of Harrison Ford — great actor and carpenter! I do though enjoy the writing process: conception of idea, writing, editing.

Tell us about your current projects. I know you have several in the works. The previously mentioned Jerusalem Prophecies, because I’ve uncovered some juicy stuff related to ancient prophecies and current weapons systems. I am also extremely excited about a project co-authored with my friend, Jeff Patty; the project is called Boneshakers…our concept of ghosts that is quite different from anything else I’ve seen. I like variety in writing, so I have several concepts brewing.

Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to leave with our readers? Yes; hard work and sweat will pay off, and I think the main thing is to resolve to make progress in your writing every week: write that chapter. Finish a proposal. Research publishers. Focus on a couple of projects, finish those, realize success, then expand your reach.

Thank you, Jim. We’re pleased to welcome to you to the Hartline author family. I look forward to working with you to find homes for your books.

We, at Hartline, want to congratulate two of our authors for appearing on the CBA Bestellers' list for March. Suzanne Fishers', The Choice is #8 on the CBA Bestseller list (Joyce's client) and Tamela's client, Kathleen Fuller is #10 with Amish Gathering written with Beth Wiseman.


Non Fiction Books - by Terry Burns

I haven’t been taking as many nonfiction books to represent as in the past. Why? There are several reasons.

First and foremost is all of the free stuff on the internet. Fast, convenient, easy to search out, it has made writing and selling non-fiction books a much more difficult proposition. So, what does it take for a non-fiction book to be a success?
Wendy Lawton at Books and Such did a nice blog on this at their blog (click here to visit) and caused me to start thinking about this topic. To read more I recommend you go there, but her main four topics were:

1. The book must meet a “felt need".
2. It must contain information not available for free on the internet.
3. Must be the right topic by the right person.
4. Writing has to be exquisite. All of the elements that make good fiction must also be in good nonfiction.

Can’t argue with a one of those, particularly not the third one. A key ingredient for being successful with a nonfiction book is the authors’ credentials for writing it. I got a book a few years back claiming to have the solution to a majority of the world’s problems. Wow, such a book should be in great demand, right? The problem is the author was 22 years old. Do you think the world would believe he had enough life experience to even know what the world’s problems are, much less have them figured out? Maybe it was true, maybe he really had figured it out, but without credentials the reading public would simply not believe it.

By the same token I really don’t want a book on brain surgery written by an auto mechanic, or vice versa for that matter. Could they know what they were talking about? Sure, under some circumstances, but would the reading public believe it? No.
Platform, platform, platform, critical in non-fiction. For a publisher to get behind a book they would like to see an author with a recognized name, or with a speaking circuit where they would be out creating visibility and causing the book to sell. A non-fiction proposal that does not have a very strong section on platform is at a great disadvantage.

I’m a Christian, a daily Bible reader and study the Bible on a regular basis, but even at that I don’t consider myself a theologian and I don’t consider myself a good judge of strongly theological work so I leave it to others.

Memoirs and personal experience books, how about them? Everybody wants to tell their story, but do you want to read everyone’s personal story? The general reading public for the most part is only interested in memoirs and personal experiences if they know the person. So how well is the author known? I have encouraged several authors to take these personal experience books and make them a work of fiction if they have some interesting material in them. Then it becomes about the story and not about the person that the reader does not know.

We have to remember that we don’t get published by writing a book that we really want to write, but instead by writing a book that others really want to read. That means a non-fiction book has the same challenge that its fiction counterpart has. It has to force the reader to turn that first page and has to hook them into wanting to read it inside the first dozen pages. It has to maintain their interest and move them through the book. Even textbooks and reference books are not popular if they are a dry recitation of facts and have nothing in them to maintain the interest of the reader.

All of these things and more come into play choosing to represent a non-fiction book. Small wonder that I find myself doing less and less of it. But one that meets these tests should be an easy sell.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Diana Interviews Blog Talk Radio Co Host Cindy Sproles

Today From the Heart readers we are interviewing author Cindy Sproles. Cindy is one of the founders of Christian Devotions and Devo Kids, both online devotional sites that reach over 116 countries around the world and also co-host of a Blog Talk Radio show that airs every Tuesday evening at 6 pm EST.

Diana: Cindy, You are a co-host of the hour long Christian Devotions Speak UP! and also He Said, She Said Radio. How did you begin doing this type of interview?

Cindy: A friend put us on to Blog Talk Radio. We thought it was a great way to brand and to get to the masses since so many publishers are requiring authors do their own marketing, Blog Talk Radio basic is free. So we ventured into the water without a life jacket. There are two segments of Blog Talk Radio. The Basic Usage one is free. The other has all the bells and whistles. But honestly, the free basic is all you have to have to interview up to five guests at one time. Blog Talk archives for you and you can even store pre-recorded promos

Diana: And folks can call in and speak with your guests can't they?

Cindy: Yes. This is one of the features of Blog Talk. We can speak to 4 other folks at one time. Now, the catcher is on free basic Blog Talk, we cannot filter the calls. So we see your number come up on the switchboard, we answer. In the paid version of Blog Talk you have the additional feature to screen calls. But yes, we can speak to 4 folks at one time. They simply call the number listed on the email or the Blog Talk Page.

Diana: If an author wanted to be a guest on your show can they contact you or do they have to wait for an invite?

Cindy: We welcome their requests for Christian Devotions Speak UP! We're always looking for good interviews with a story to tell about how God Speaks UP in their lives. We can do a live interview and we have the capability to pre-record interviews. Though we do prefer live interviews

Diana: How many shows do you all do each week?

Cindy: You can schedule daily shows but we've chosen every Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. EST. You should choose a time that is good for you to launch a show and then show up for work EVERY time. The key to Blog Talk is consistency. If you don't show up regularly, people will not listen.

Diana: So can anyone sign up for Blog Talk Radio? Is there an interview process that eliminates kooks or unsavory characters?

Cindy: For lack of better words, Blog Talk Radio is public domain. So anyone can sign up. You do fill out a form on line and provide specific information. The down side to anything like this is the fact that there is always "unsavory" things around. Just like on YouTube. They do advertise with paid advertisements from listeners and from clients. So you could see things you might not approve of. However, we take the approach that everyone needs to hear God's word. After all, Jesus got His hands dirty. He didn't sit idle in the comfort of His home. He was out there in the middle of the muck. So we've opted to be in the middle in hopes that a little light will brighten the darkness that surrounds.

Diana: Admirable. So how can someone get in touch with you if they wanted to be on the air with you guys on either Christian Devotions Speak UP! and also He Said, She Said Radio?

Cindy: They can contact me at or our host, Scott McCausey

Diana: Cindy, before we say good bye, Can you share a story of how this show has had an inspirational impact in a listener’s life or in your own?

Cindy: Which one...there are so many. I suppose the one show that, to me has made a great impact was a show we did on sex trafficking. I know, touchy subject....Christians tend to think these things don't happen. But this show touched tons of people. They were told about teenage girls brought to this country to be trafficked for sex and the stories of how these kids escaped their bonds. It was a hard show and Marianne and I both were in tears by the end of the hour. But this show opened the eyes of the blind. This is a harsh reality in our world, and it's easy for us to close our eyes to the horrid things that happen to children. We received tons of email on this and how could people help. So it was successful. Heart wrenching, but successful.

Another was a fill-in show Marianne and I did along with writer Pam Klopfestin. About the adoption of special needs children. I have a special needs son but Pam had lost her child to a disability. After his death, she and her husband began to foster care these children and eventually adopt. Again, very moving.

Diana: Now you said that these shows are archived and a listener can just go to the site and look through the archived material to access these interviews?

Cindy: Yes, they are archived at - click the RADIO tab. Diana, readers need to know that we love to interview authors. Most have great stories, deep passions about why they write and intent words about how God has worked in their lives to bring about the stories they write.

Diana: Thank you so much for joining us here today Cindy. I am sure you will be hearing from many of our From the Heart readers. God Bless you all in your devotion ministry and all the other branch ministries that have sprouted from Christian Devotions.

Cindy: Great. We're booking shows into June 2011 at this point. We hope to hear from them. Thank you for sharing the ministry of Christian Devotions and Christian Devotions Speak UP! I encourage readers to visit and - check out the arms of the ministry and how we work to promote God's word and His writers.

Well From The Heart Readers, if you are looking for that perfect promotional tool to help you with your platform, get in touch with Cindy or Scott.

From my heart to yours,


Monday, February 15, 2010

The 6th Decision for Success - Diana's Book Review Continues

Happy Presidents Day dear From the Heart readers!

It just happened to work out that in our continuing book review of Andy Andrews title, The Travelers Gift, Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success, the next place our traveler David finds himself is in the presence of non other than the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. As so often happens to our traveler, he materializes at this destination a bit confused as to where it is he has wound up. But there is no mistaking this historical figure before him.

After the proper introductions, David asks the President just where the tent they are in is located. The Pres. informs David that he is in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. The date is November the 19th, 1863 and he is there to dedicate a cemetery. The President and his wife Mary have recently buried their son Willie and, ' now my son Tad, has taken to bed...deathly ill.' David and the President are two men currently experiencing the worst life has to offer. (remember, our traveler began this journey while contemplating ending his life, feeling his family would be better off without him) When David asks the Pres. why he is here in Gettysburg when he is surely needed at home, the President replies, Duty, and the fact that he can just as easily pray for his son here as there. 'I believe that the good Lord would have me work and pray rather than pray and wait.'

Dear reader, if you are like me, you have found yourself in pressing circumstances at one time or another. The advise that Abraham Lincoln has for David is, well we might respond as David did when the man before him said he believed they were both poised before the enormous opportunity for change and personal growth. David wasn't sure he wanted anymore 'personal growth'.

The President asks David how powerful he wants to be. He states that personal growth leads to power and power to influence and leadership. He encourages our traveler not to run from power. To be a world changer one must develop the power to do what is right when all others are doing the wrong thing. You must learn to question yourself, ask yourself how others see you. What do they not like? Not to please others but to hone ones rough edges. You must become a person others want to be around to develop the power of influence. Every man or woman of honor will be faced with unjust criticism, but unjust criticism has no impact upon the truth.

When David questioned the President what his first priority after winning the war would be, supposing that would be the outcome of the battle, the man replied with today's Principle for success. 'I will great the day with a forgiving spirit.' He went on to say, 'It is the single most important action I take on a regular basis. Forgiveness allows me to be effective.' Forgiveness costs nothing but is worth millions. If we do not forgive, we forfeit our energy and make bad decisions that cost us, our families and others.

Sounds so simple doesn't it? Just who are we expected to forgive? Everyone. Dear reader, we have heard it said before, most of the folks that have offended us are walking around completely unaware that their actions have hurt us. Do not expect them to come and seek your forgiveness. Give it anyway. Forgiveness is not earned, it is a gift we give. When we give forgiveness, we are released. We are set free from anger and hurt. It actually becomes a gift we give ourselves.

Author Andy Andrews warns us that without a forgiving spirit we will be ineffectual in all our efforts. The key to our future success is forgiveness. Most importantly we must forgive ourselves. Forgiveness unleashes the demons of the past about which we can do nothing. Forgiveness offers a new beginning. Pres. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery in any form is wrong. Are you enslaved by unforgiveness? Choose to begin this day with forgiveness. Do not let your history determine your destiny. Forgive others, and most importantly, forgive yourself. Greet this day with a forgiving spirit.

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Happy Presidents Day from my heart to yours,


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Big snow of 2010 - by Joyce Hart

Do you remember when you were a kid and loved the snow? We lived in Des Moines, Iowa and we had many snowy days there. We made snow angels and went sledding down huge hills. Jim & I courted on ice skates. What fun to go to the shelter house by the fire and drink hot chocolate. Our mothers and the church ladies made big pots of chili and more hot chocolate when we had church sledding parties. We didn’t mind wearing long underwear and thick socks. Then we came in the house with red rosy cheeks and peeled off those wet clothes so we could get by the fire to get warm. I actually did walk a mile to school (one way) when I was five.

Jim & I have also lived in other cold places, Sturgis, SD, Sheridan, WY, Colorado Springs, CO, Grand Island, NE, & Fremont, OH. Western Pennsylvania is milder than we ever would have thought when we moved here. So, we’ve been spoiled. The news said we have this kind of winter about every 15 years. Not so bad. We think about moving to FL but Jim hates the summers there, so we’ll stay here where we have one son and his family.

February has been in interesting month here in Pittsburgh, PA. We’ve had about 2 and ½ feet of snow since last Saturday. We’re setting records. Needless to say, I haven’t been out of the house much. We can only gain entrance to our house through our basement. Our front porch and steps are full of snow. We did clean them once, but Jim shoved snow off of part of our roof because the snow is so heavy. Guess where it landed? On the front porch. Our dog, Abbie, has a little trough behind our sun room and that’s the only place she can go. The snow is too deep for her venture far. Our patio is a big snowy area; the patio table and grill are covered and piled high. For some reason Jim didn’t put the covers on them this year. I think he wants a new table and chairs and a new grill. Hmm. We’re looking at another storm on Monday. Maybe the weatherpersons will change their minds. They sure missed it on this one. They said – 4 to 8 inches on Saturday.

Everything was closed down; most churches had no services on Sunday. Our church had no power and then there is the problem of moving the snow so people can park. Schools were out all week, many businesses were closed. My beauty shop was closed, can you imagine!! Interstate highways were shut down; we didn’t get mail delivery for two days. There was no place for the mailman to park his truck. People are shoveled out and life is returning to normal a little bit.

We’re fortunate, we did not lose our power, except for a few minutes a few times, and we have plenty of food in the house. We’ve been warm and I’ve made potato soup, chili and vegetable beef soup. It’s that kind of weather. I have resisted the urge to bake. Why is it cold weather makes you want to bake? 230,000 families in our area have lost power, some briefly, others still have no power. One of our neighbors is in Florida (wise woman) and we noticed her family lugging suitcases and bags into her house a couple days. Probably no power at their house. Another family is moving in across the street, that’s really fun in this deep snow.
I thank the Lord that we have been safe and warm. I probably got more work done than I would have, because I didn’t go anywhere. I read manuscripts and sent out proposals. It has been so tempting to curl up with a book and read.

I know many of you who read this blog have been snowed in as well; some further east got more snow than we did. It is a winter to remember.

God bless you everyone. I hope those of you in cold climates are safe and warm in your homes and that you authors are writing, writing, writing.

In His service,
Joyce Hart

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bob Howkins Sr - In Memoriam

Bob Hawkins, Sr, passed away yesterday at the age of 88. Bob started Harvest House Publishers, was a founding member of ECPA, and was the impetus behind the Christian Book Awards. He had a tremendous impact on the publishing industry and you can read all about him at Please join all of us at Hartline Literary in praying for Shirley, Bob Jr, and the Harvest House Family.

In lieu of flowers, you are welcome to make a tax-deductible commemorative donation to The Harvest House Foundation, a private foundation that gives to a wide variety of ministries and charities supported by Bob Hawkins, Sr. over the years.
The Harvest House Foundation
PO Box 26311
Eugene, OR 97402

Interview with Terry's Client Vicki Phillips

What is your latest project? Tell us about it
Moved, Left No Address is the story of a man who finds himself alone in the world after his father's death. While going through his dad's possessions, he finds some old postcards postmarked Santa Fe, New Mexico, from an uncle who disappeared the year before he was born. He decides to find out if the uncle is still alive and goes to Santa Fe. What he finds there is a life-changing experience through the people he meets and the choices he makes.

How did you research for this book?

I've been to Santa Fe twice and love the ambience of the old city. I ate the food, explored the shops, visited the museums, and observed the people. In other words I soaked up all I could while there. I also read several issues of a local magazine about Santa Fe, did some online exploring, and studied a map to be sure I had correct streets, etc.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

From personal experiences and stories I hear other people telling. I don't use their stories necessarily, I use an idea or thought that sticks with me from listening to them.

What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?

Rewriting the book or parts of the book over and over until I felt like it worked. Sometimes I had to lay it aside for awhile and work on other projects. My critique group has been invaluable to me. We're very honest with each other about whether something works or doesn't work.

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

That we all need someone else. No man is an island unto himself. We can't hibernate or stick our head in the sand.

What new projects are you working on?

I'm working on some personal experience articles and some poetry. I also have a devotional book that's been in the works for some time.

What is the best writing advice you ever got?

An editor once told me that the mark of a professional was someone who could take criticism. I've never forgotten that and try to keep an open mind when people comment about my work as long as their comments are constructive.

The worst?

I don't know if I've ever gotten bad advice, just some poor criticism that threatened to sideline me as a writer.

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

Persistence pays off. This can be a tough business, but if you feel writing is more than a hobby, that it's a real calling for you, stick it out. Don't give up. When I first started writing, I sent a children's article to a magazine which they promptly rejected. So I sent it somewhere else, but it came back again. I kept sending it out to different magazines and it kept coming back. For ten years. Meanwhile I was selling other articles on a regular basis, but I wouldn't stop submitting this one because I'd had it professionally critiqued by an editor who told me she saw no reason why it shouldn't be published. Ten years and 31 submissions later, I sold that article to the first magazine who had turned me down ten years earlier. Persistence pays. Don't get discouraged.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's too similar - by Terry Burns

I have to respond that way from time to time and it’s a shame, but it happens. I don’t like to pit clients up against each other so if I have something under contract and something very similar comes in, whether it’s a similar story line or similar in other aspects to they would be competing with one another then I just don’t take it. That’s a no win deal for me for no matter where I might pitch or sell something the other one would be saying “why did you do that one instead of mine?” Hard question to answer, so I just avoid the conflict.

There’s another way they can be similar. When I start reading and I step and check what I’m doing because I think I’ve read that one already, that’s a bad sign. What editors and agents are looking for is unique projects with unique voices. Now I know there are a limited number of base plots, but there are a myriad of ways to treat those plots, settings and writing. If I think I’ve already seen it chances are it is too similar.

That’s a shame when an author sits down and writes something they think is quite unique only to find out there are a ton of them coming in that are quite similar to one another, and we see that a lot. Maybe a movie or TV show hit a number of months ago, or an event in the news got a lot of people thinking along the same lines. Whatever the stimulus, all of a sudden a lot of proposals hit that are very similar to one another. It happens a lot, and when it does none of them may end up being chosen as editors and agents think “with this many coming in there are bound to already be some in the pipeline by now."

When that happens the author may end up having to put it in a drawer to pull out some time later when it has a chance of better standing alone. It’s all about the fit in the marketplace. Most, however, don’t think with a career view but keep trying to push it in and then possibly self-publishing it instead of trying for the big score again when the time is right.

Too similar can be a particularly frustrating response to receive to a submission.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Interview with Diana's Client, David Stearman, Author and Songwriter

Dear From the Heart reader, it is my privilege today to introduce to you, author David Stearman. David’s first novel, Hummingbird, was co- written with Hope C. Flinchbaugh. I am currently pitching it. David, how did you come to co write this book with Hope?

Hi Diana. The idea of bringing a co-writer into this work came by way of my career as a songwriter. (Songwriters tend to co-author their works more often than not) I’d already completed a slightly shortened version of Hummingbird before contacting Hope, but the story seemed to lack some important element. Having met Hope years ago in a Pennsylvania church where I frequently minister, I read her award-winning book Daughter of China, and felt she’d be a perfect fit for co-authoring this story. So I cranked up my courage, called her, and asked. Her contributions to Hummingbird’s concept and story line have been nothing short of transformative.

You mentioned songwriting. What’s your experience in that field?

I began writing contemporary Christian music years ago, when the genre was still in its infancy. I’ve been called a Contemporary Christian Music pioneer, although I think the real CCM pioneers are the guys like Nancy Honeytree and Larry Norman, who originally fought the system and made the way for the rest of us. But I’ll still accept the title, since it kind of makes me feel like a big shot. :-) Anyway, my songs have been published on many artists’ albums since that time, and I still write music--both CCM and Country, although writing novels is definitely my first love.

In your writing journey, how and when did you decide to focus your writing on the literary genre you have?

The genre I write reflects my personal perspectives as a missionary and music industry professional. I’m just trying to live by the faithful adage, “write what you know.”

Where did you get your inspiration from for the title that is currently being shopped around?

My travels up and down the Western Mexican coast have taught me that we all have much to learn from other cultures. I dearly love the USA, but we Americans don’t know it all. I’ve learned a little about living and a lot about love from my friends south of the Line.

Do your characters represent people you know or are related to?

Absolutely. “Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent”

Have you traveled to do any of this research or spend a lot of time at your library?

Most of my research is the fruit of a life spent on the road in the US and other lands. Everything else I owe to Google.

What has been the hardest part of writing your novel and how did you overcome it?

I can sum it up in one word: dialogue. I’m learning to write my characters’ conversations in the way I naturally talk, rather than in the way I think a character in a novel should speak.

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

That Jesus saves to the uttermost. That your life can be transformed into something beautiful, no matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done.

What new projects are you working on, are they in the same genre and time period?

I’m currently finishing another contemporary work, this time about the music business, entitled Hot. It’s a tale about the dark side of fame.

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

The worst advice I received was to avoid writing in my own voice and vernacular. The best advice was to avoid verbosity.

What new gadget have you added as a tool to help you in your everyday writing life?

The iPhone. There’s an app for that.

I'm jealous- I definitely want to get one of those iPhones myself.

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

Devising creative plots; it’s all about the idea. I want to write innovatively, to compose fresh, poignant story lines.

What obstacles have you run up against in your writing journey?

Learning the craft itself, I think. My first novel took four years to complete, since it was kind of my “authors’ college.” Grasping the concept of POV was a tough one back then, as was the” showing-not-telling” thing. I’m still learning daily, but that’s a good thing, right? ‘Cause I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing and your previously published titles? Website, FB, Twitter, Shoutlife?

You can learn more about me at, a site devoted primarily to my missions work. Or you can friend me on Facebook. I love to make new friends.

Would you like to offer the other authors out there a last word of encouragement?

Yes, I would. Two things.

1: Yes, there is a future for you in literature, regardless of what others might say. Just keep learning, and pushing, those books. God’s on your side. Your time will come, as Book of Ecclesiastes says, “Time and chance come together for every man.”

2: Ask others for advice, and don’t stiffen your neck to what they say. But be careful--you’ve gotta know who to, and who not to, listen to. Everyone has an opinion, but the people to pay attention to are the ones who actually know what they’re talking about, i.e. heavily published authors and experienced agents.

David, thank you so much for joining us here today and I hope our readers will check out your sites and your books when they are published.

Thank you From the Heart Readers for joining us here today.

From my heart to yours,