Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 ACFW Awards

American Christian Fiction Writers Announce 2010 Carol Awards

Editor, Agent and Genesis Awards also presented

(Palm Bay, Florida) The downtown Indianapolis Hyatt Regency ballroom was the setting for this year’s prestigious awards ceremony for the best in Christian fiction, presented by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

With a record turnout of more than 600 attendees, marking it as the largest Christian writing conference, ACFW ended its conference Sunday evening with the awards presentations.

Well-known advocate for Christian fiction, Carol Johnson (long-time editor with Bethany House Publishers), was awarded ACFW’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to acquiring, editing, and championing Christian fiction. Present to participate in honoring Carol Johnson was one of her most recognized acquisitions—prolific author of the Love Comes Softly series, Janette Oke.

Following that presentation, Mrs. Johnson helped honor the best Christian novels published in 2009 with the award named for her—the Carol Awards.

Winners of the Carol Awards for the best Christian fiction in the following categories were:

Contemporary Novella

Susan May Warren – The Great Christmas Bowl (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)

Historical Novella

Janet Tronstad - Christmas Bells for Dry Creek (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)

Short Contemporary

Mae Nunn - A Texas Ranger's Family (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)

Short Contemporary Suspense

Jill Elizabeth Nelson - Evidence of Murder (Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell - Editor)

Short Historical

Dan Walsh - The Unfinished Gift (Revell, Andrea Doering)

Young Adult

Jenny B. Jones - I'm So Sure (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez - Editors)

Long Contemporary

Christina Berry - The Familiar Stranger (Moody Publishers, Paul Santhouse - Editor)

Long Contemporary Romance

Jenny B. Jones - Just Between You and Me (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez - Editors)


A.K. Arenz - The Case of the Mystified M.D. (Sheaf House, Joan M. Shoup - Editor)


Terri Blackstock – Intervention (Zondervan, Sue Brower/Dave Lambert - Editors)

Long Historical

Allison Pittman - Stealing Home (Multnomah, Alice Crider - Editor)

Long Historical Romance

Mary Connealy - Cowboy Christmas (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)

Speculative (includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Allegory)

Kirk Outerbridge - Eternity Falls (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)

Women’s Fiction

Cheryl McKay & Rene Gutteridge - Never the Bride (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)

Debut Author

Dan Walsh - The Unfinished Gift (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)

Zondervan editor Sue Brower was awarded ACFW’s Editor of the Year honor. Sandra Bishop from MacGregor Literary was named ACFW’s Agent of the Year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ACFW Conference thoughts

Congratulations to Sandra Bishop on the well deserved recognition as ACFW Agent of the Year! While I was honored to be named a finalist I said from the very beginning that both ladies, Sandra and Tamela Hancock Murray, were a much better choice and the selection was very appropriate. I do thank my clients, family and friends for all of the support that they gave me during the process, however.

The reason I do this job stems all the way back to a writing conference in Glorieta NM where I was trying to get a handle on what the Lord might want me to do in regards to my writing. I went through a process designed to identify my spiritual gifts and one of them turned out to be the gift of encouragement. When Joyce gave me a chance to be an agent I began to do it as an avenue to utilize that gift. My focus is on helping and encouraging writers and for that reason I have a lot of new authors and have helped place a number of debut books. I probably work with too many new authors to be considered a successful agent by normal definitions but that's where my heart is. I'm extraordinarily pleased every time I help a new author break into print no matter what level of publishing we have to go to in order to make that happen.

I was pleased at the event to get to go up and accept the Genesis award for my client Stephanie Morris for her young adult title. Stephanie has been a finalist before, but this time was the key. In the comments she sent me to deliver she said "How fun, I get to force my agent, Terry Burns, to thank himself for believing in me." That was an interesting line to have to deliver but the audience loved it. I'm very proud of Stephanie as I am of all my clients.

Lynda Schab was a Genesis finalist as well but in spite of how hard our entire Hartline client group was pulling for her (and there were around 40 of us) she didn't make the cut this time. But making it to be a finalist is a major recognition in itself and I am proud of her as well.

I also continue to be proud of Jill Williamson who was a finalist in her category for the Carol Award. She is no longer a client but I was her agent when she published "By Darkness Hid," which also won her a Christy Award. I congratulate her on her continued success as well.

I enjoyed meeting with a lot of long time as well as new friends at the conference and aided by my assistant Normandie Fischer had an opportunity to hear a lot of very good pitches. We'll be following up on those. The food was tremendous, the logistics very well handled, and those putting on the conference are to be commended for doing a terrific job.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Congratulations to Terry's client Tim Austin

Congratulations to Tim Austin on signing a contract with Comfort Publishing for his book "The Exasperated Woman's Guidebook".

“All I want is for my husband to notice me.”

“I wish he understood my heart.”

“Why can’t he care about our relationship as much as I do?”

Our culture is in the era of the Lonely Woman, with more than half of adult women living in a household without a man and many women who are in committed relationships raising questions and experiencing disappointments like the ones mentioned above. The truth is that men in our culture are behaving badly and getting by with it, while women report feeling empty and vulnerable like never before. Frustrated that her man can’t or won’t engage, it’s not uncommon for a woman to come to the disheartening conclusion that the more she pursues her man to engage and strengthen their relationship, the more he retreats. What’s a girl to do?

This book reveals to the frustrated woman that there’s a secret world between the ears of her man governed by hierarchies, needs, principles and codes that, while she might find foreign, influence most of how her man thinks, acts and responds. The bad news is that these secret rules can be a woman’s worst enemy. The good news is that they can also be her best friend—if she understands what they are and how to use them. In fact, by working with her man’s innate grid instead of against it, a woman will discover that getting her man to notice her, cherish her and engage with her is not the dead-end endeavor she once thought it to be.

Tim writes and speaks extensively on relationships and the power of respect to transform those relationships. In the process, he inspires readers and audiences to visualize a world in which everyone treats each other with respect and honor, then empowers them to turn that vision into reality in their own lives.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A glimpse at the stacks on my desk from Diana

As my colleagues and partners in crime here at Hartline Literary Agency head out to ACFW I thought I might give you a peek at what lies on my desk today. The sort of piles I am shuffling around.

Currently under consideration are: (this means on my must make a decision reading list)
A YA Fantasy with Fairies under a magical spell
A contemporary women's fiction hitting on real life issues
A non fiction women's study, very unique
A non fiction on the tragic consequences of unhealthy relationships
A fiction court room drama based on a true story
A Bipolar memoir and guide to life with Bi polar

In the miscellaneous unsolicited stack I am interested in but have placed in the I like these so maybe later stack:
A memoir of Bi Polar Disorder- several of these (I have a son with Bi Polar and somehow God send me these to review- I have learned a lot form them even though I must pass on the majority of them.)
A true life memoir of a young daughters murder
A parenting title
A romance written by an unpublished author- word count iffy
A cookbook for Dads
A study for Pastors

Genre's I recently rejected:

A New Age sex Guide (really! It is amazing the subject matter we receive- this type of submission shows us the author has not done the research needed.)
A memoir of childhood abuse (we receive so many of this type of story- heartbreaking but not an easy sell in the CBA market)
A Screenplay ( I do not represent screenplay's)
A short story about WW ll (No short stories)
A children's picture book (No picture books or children's)
A YA title that was too old fashioned in it's dialogue

There are many submissions in my email box that I have not gotten to. I will do my best but my contracted authors must take priority and I have submissions to make for them today- full manuscripts of theirs to read and some networking that I must research to help them sell the titles that have recently released.

I have industry blogs to catch up on and a book review I must write that I have promised an author friend.

It was nice chatting with you all today but I must get back to my stacks.

Have a terrific day and remember to pray for our Church Leaders, Our Country, it's leaders and for those in our military.

From my heart to yours,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learning to Query at a Little League Game by Terry Burns

I went to a little league tournament over the weekend to watch my grandson play. As I watched the drama unfold on an elemental level I realized I was learning some things about the query process as well.

The first game they fought it out with my grandson pitching, but then had a bad inning with some fielding errors plus a pitch that hung up on him and a big old boy parked it up somewhere up around Cleveland. They just couldn't make that deficit up but only lost by a couple of runs. Then because of a horrendous scheduling problem they had to go directly to another field where they played probably the strongest team in the tourney. Tired, and having already used their strongest pitchers they served as batting practice for this talented and well coached team. It was ugly, and they were demoralized by the end of the first inning and couldn't get it back together.

The following day they still weren't showing much, then one of their lead-off batters put one over the fence. Suddenly they were alive again, fought like tigers and took the game. In the 4th game they had to again face a team who had already beaten them but this time fought them to a standstill and only lost by one run. No shame in that.

Like that team losing their enthusiasm after a hard loss a writer may hit that same wall with a mailbox full of rejections. A rejection is one person's opinion. All it means is a project does not fit the markets the editor or agent is trying to find something for right at that point in time. Of course, too many rejections may mean the project may need to be revisited particularly if some good input has been received along the way. It can also mean we are trying to take a minor league work into the major leagues.

It's like when the team ran into that really good ball club. They didn't have a chance, but I would have liked to see them try that one with their top pitchers and fresh players. They probably would still be over-matched, but would have had a shot at it. We can see that in writing too where a writer who has had success in small presses hit the big houses going up against stronger writers and where the editors want so much stronger stories. Have to come with our best pitching and our strongest game to play in that league. Average won't get it.

That's the way it works for a writer too. Continuing to stay in the game, one solid hit can give us what we need to keep going, even when it gets tougher. We kept telling Preston, "Don't swing at just anything, wait for a good pitch." That's it, isn't it? Don't swing at every market, but pick our pitch, make sure it's a good possibility, then swing with our best shot.

No telling what a guy can learn at a little league game.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Author Jena Morrow shares her heart

Jena is the author of the newly released title, Hollow, published by Moody Publishers and is working as a counselor at Timberline Knolls, a residential treatment center in Illinois for women with eating disorders. Jena is passionate about three things: her love of Christ and His people, her love of writing, and her desire to share a message of hope with those who struggle with eating disorders. This poem was written for the girls she presently works with in treatment.

"Waiting for the Artist"

for the TK girls

She stands beside me,
Waiting for her ride.
Soft downy hair on her
Arms and cheeks
Catch sunlight.
She clutches at her belly,
Hunches over, face a grimace.
"Ohh," she moans, and her eyes
Become strangely familiar --
Mirrors of a sort, they show me
A girl of yesterday.
A girl of sorrows.
A girl who knew too much
And felt too little.
Her eyes remind me of that girl,
Whose body I once occupied,
Whose wasted frame I lived within --
If you could call it living.
"I'm so FULL," this girl
Laments to me now, and I
Smile with empathy. "I know," I say --
Which is to say, I remember.
"It will go away," I assure her,
And she appears to want to believe.
Full, she says, and I have to wonder --
Full of . . . ?
Of fear, of dread, or shame?
Of a tentative, undying hope?
Of a will to go on,
To push, to trust, to try?
This too, I remember, this mosaic
Of emotion -- broken pieces of a life
Once believed to have been whole --
Of a heart, a soul, a self.
Broken pieces, waiting --
As my girl waits for her ride --
Waiting for the Artist to pick them up
And lie them down again
In all new places, with all new purpose --
Waiting to be arranged into something
Even more beautiful
Than they might have been
If they had never been broken at all.

Jena's success in life is attributed to Christ, but it is her transparency that endears her to so many of us. Please visit Jena on FB, twitter and her blog post, I'm Just Sayin'.

From my heart to yours,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writers write . . . period! by Terry Burns

What does it take to be a writer? Apply the lower portion of our anatomy to a chair and start producing words. That's it. A writer is someone that is committed to writing, and actively doing it.

What does it take to be a published writer? Get our words out into the marketplace where they are readily available to the reading public. The "readily available" is the key, the more places it is available the better.

What does it take to be a significantly published author? Our words in the hands of the reading public in quantities that would be considered credible by publishing industry professionals. How is this measured? In sales, or in shorter work in publications that have circulation that would be considered credible by publishing industry professionals.

There's nothing subjective about this, it's quantifiable. It's quantifiable not by how the book was published or by who, not by how we think it is being received, but how we realistically answer these questions. Hard, solid numbers.

I'm lucky to be working with a terrific group of writers. I sent out an update today of what everybody is doing, and no surprise here, they're all working on new project, cranking out new words, or actively revising work that is out making the rounds taking advantage of feedback we're getting back. They're reading and when they find something that is a comparable for their work, they share that info with me. We're a team, not just one on one, but as a group.

What does it take to move from just being a writer and becoming a significantly published writer? Talent, for sure, but a lot of talented people don't make the cut. Patience and persistence is what makes it happen, learning and growing in our craft, understanding that at any point in time there may be only one 'right' place for our work and doing what is necessary to make that connection.

So bottom line, what do writers do? They write.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why Humor ? by Guest Blogger Jeanette Levellie

I woke up one day and said, “I want to write humor.” When I sat down at the keyboard, the one-liners and witticisms flew from my fingers like lightning flashes. Now I make tons of money with my laugh-a-second writing.

And if you believe that, I have a boat I’d like to sell you.

I never planned to become a humor writer. The bi-weekly column I author for our local newspaper began as an inspirational feature. But I soon discovered that writing about the pickles I get myself into endeared me to people. Although they may shake their head and wonder how I manage some of my ditzy doings, it makes them feel better knowing they aren’t alone. Sally says to Ben, “It may bug you that I can never remember where I parked the car, but Jeanette Levellie once mistook a crawdad for a huge insect, and woke her husband up at 5:30 a.m. to rescue her cats from it! At least I’m not that nutty!” The exposure of my wackiness has become a public service of encouragement: if God can rescue me from myself, there’s hope for you.

Another benefit of humor writing is its barrier-breaking power. If I can make someone laugh before I dish them a serving of meat from God’s Word, they swallow it more willingly. I write about the time I shook the Italian dressing bottle, unaware my new husband had only placed the lid on, not tightened it. We spent the next two hours cleaning the walls and ceiling of our honeymoon cabin! My reader either pities us for our lack of communication skills, or laughs at our plight. Either way, they’ve opened their heart a crack and I can scoot inside and share God’s unconditional love with them.

Finally, humor adds to your readers’ health. The Bible says, “A merry heart does good like medicine.” Numerous studies have shown the benefits of laughter on the human body and soul. When we give the gift of laughter, we are helping others live longer and happier lives. I recently wrote a funny story about a lady in our church who told her dog to poop on her ornery uncle’s lawn (I had her permission). My goal was to encourage readers in finding ways to make the best of stinky situations. But God had a nobler goal. The column came out shortly after this lady’s husband had passed away. As she guffawed at the recollection of Fido carrying out her revenge on Uncle Bill, her laughter helped heal her broken heart. I rejoiced to be a small part of that healing.

I’m not one of the world’s best writers. I may not even be a great writer. But when I combine the gifts of humor and writing into a nutty, meaty sandwich, I can delight and nourish at the same time. With God’s help and a little craziness, you can do the same.

Want to learn more about humor writing?
Thank you Jen for sharing here with us today. Joy is something you exude and it was fun to share in YOUR Joy today.

From Jen's heart to yours,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Interview with Joyce’s client, Diana Wallis Taylor

I’m pleased to introduce Diana Wallis Taylor to you today.

Diana has been a Hartline author for many years. We hung in there together for a long time before we got her first book published. Her book “Journey to the Well” was chosen by Lonnie Hull DuPont to be published by Revell when they decided to publish Biblical fiction. Her second Biblical fiction book, “Martha” will be released in the summer of 2011, and just this week we received a contract for “Mary, Woman of Magdalena” which will be released in the Summer of 2012. Diana truly has a gift for writing Biblical fiction. She is married to Frank Taylor, a retired Navy Commander.

Diana also writes contemporary fiction. She recently won the Gold (first place) in Christian Romance for Smoke Before the Wind and Gold in Christian Fiction for House of the Forest in the Reader's Favorite Book Review and Award Contest.

Diana, tell us some interesting things about yourself:

I love to fish for salmon in Alaska. I sing on the worship team at my church, which is a new church plant in Ocean Beach, a very eclectic area of San Diego.

What are you hoping your writing to accomplish?

To give women another view of women in the Bible that they can identify with. I want women to know that no matter how their life has gone, there is love and redemption in Christ.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From the Holy Spirit and like most authors, I write from life experiences. My characters are a composite of people I've interacted with.

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

Still working on showing, not telling!

Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your writing journey?

My life has been a case of overcoming many obstacles, dealing with an alcoholic spouse, divorce, losing two jobs and struggling to support myself and 3 children

What is the most important thing on your current ‘To Do' list?

Get the manuscript for my current project with Revell on track. Also finish the Easter Cantata I've worked on with a musical friend for 2 years.

What led you to the career choice of becoming a writer?

I've been writing since I was 12. It was an outlet for a lonely child growing up and helped me express my feelings, startiing with poetry. I found I loved making up stories. It has had to be a sideline to earning a living, but I'm now retired and enjoying writing full time.

Tell us about the book you are currently working on

I'm working on a novel about Mary Magdalene, another controversial figure in the Bible. She's been portrayed through the ages as a prostitute in books and films, but the Bible never showed her as that. I see her as a mature woman at the time she is healed by Jesus. She evidently had independent means to support his ministry (and not from prostitution) that she is free to use, She's a challenge, but I am enjoying crafting her story.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Learn our craft. I spent many hours at conferences, workshops and critique groups to hone my skills. There were two steps forward and one step back, proposals turned down, etc. Read other books in your genre and see how well-known authors handle situations. Read books on writing. We would not pick up a violin for the first time and expect to play a concerto. Also, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your work. It is His book, poem, story, and as we submit ourselves to Him, He will bless, instruct and guide.

Diana’s web site is

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Don't Overlook the Small Towns by Terry Burns

Let me put my writing hat on today. That's the really ugly one that my wife hates with the sweat stains and discoloration. That would be it in this picture with Saundra and I at our beautiful granddaughter Mandy's graduation.

But I digress. My best events have been small towns ( not counting conventions or workshops where I am presenting, that’s the best ). I do a signing in a big town and it’s just another signing. If it is worked right a small town is a major event. They don’t get celebrities, and we get to be that when we go in. I did a signing in Friona, TX where I spoke to a library fundraiser, sang and gave my testimony at church, and met with a women’s group. The radio did a remote, the newspaper made my visit front page, events were up on marquees all over town. Stephen King type treatment and really good for the old ego. I sold 140 books ( several of my titles) in a town of only 3000 people.

Groom TX I did a half day writing workshop for grades 5-12 at the school system. Again spoke to a women’s group at the church, local civic club, got great advance PR and everybody in town knew I was there. 92 books in a town of 1300 people.

I can go on and on, and I look for such towns to visit. They are so much fun, and I always do really well. A lot of people there have never met a real author and want a signed book. They don’t much care what genre. The follow-ups from these small towns are good too. I’m always getting emails asking if I have a new book out. But home town? Not so much. 20,000 people and I’m no celebrity there. Nobody including family knows I have something of a national reputation, I’m just the kid that used to live down the street. It's the 'prophet in his own home town' sort of thing.

There are two keys to making this happen. First, a lot of advance notice so the publicity happens, and second, a local host, somebody on the ground that can start talking it up and building a buzz. If those happen the fun begins . . .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ask the Author by Diana

Dear Reader;

I am often amazed at the varied inspiration authors come by.

Will you share in our blog today by telling us some of your wackiest, zaniest or most inspirational plot inspirations, titles or characters you have come up with when hit smack dab in the face with inspiration? Has a Billboard, news report or family member provided a jump off place for your writing?

50 words or less please.

We look forward to your response.

BTW: These are my red and green velvet Christmas skunks that were made by my Amish cousins. Any one see a story there?

From my heart to yours,