Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prophet Without Honor - by Terry Burns

     Jesus talks about "A prophet is not without  honor save in his own country, and in his own house." If there's anything I'm not it's a prophet, but I get it. It's possible that the ones who had the hardest time believing He was really the Son of God were those who had watched Him grow up every day, maybe even saw Him running around in diapers if they did that back then.

It's that way for us. Those who have the hardest time realizing that our writing may be more than just a little hobby that we are fooling around with are family and friends who have watched us grow up our entire lives or at least a large portion of it. 

My pastor was not a big fan of Christian fiction. He had even mentioned from the pulpit several times that he didn't read books except for the Bible and books written to amplify his understanding of the Bible. Even after I gave my testimony about my writing, how I was called,  and how Christian Fiction can reach out to people, sometimes in ways that Biblical material, pamphlets and tracts, and other materials sometimes cannot do.  They do it in same way that Jesus often used stories, parables, to help people relate to his teachings.

Then his wife got him to read one of my books and he changed his mind. But he's a big enough man that he said that from the pulpit too and became a big supporter of my work.  I had an uncle come up to me at a family get-together and said in front of the entire group that he was in a bookstore in Atlanta getting something to read on the flight home and saw one of my books on the shelf. He was amazed. The whole family was fascinated to find out how my books were out there.

Most family and friends had no idea my books were available through bookstores if not shelved there, and in libraries all over the country. How could that be? I was just the guy that sat in services with them and talked too much in Sunday School Class.  I was just the kid my family had watched grow up and get into mischief.

I think most writers go through this. If we begin making some headway becoming known, the last people who will realize it are those closest to us, and even then they'll always underestimate the extent of our success. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to be a best selling writer,  but I guarantee I have much more of a national reputation than any of these people ever thought, particularly criss-crossing the country doing programs, conventions and workshops.

I believe this is something they have to discover for themselves. Like Jesus, we can tell them but they don't quite come to grips with it until they figure it out for themselves. But they eventually will. I just wish the whole world could finally figure out the truth about our Savior.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Word Skills with Diana


On a recent visit to a blog there was a discussion re Homophones.

As an agent I have seen them come across my desk in professionally edited proposals and manuscripts.

What is a Homophone? A word that sounds like another word but has a different meaning.

For example: "aye", "eye" and "I". Or Tach / tack. Knave/ Nave. Nous/ Noose. Heroin/ Heroine .

The writer of this blog had come across a homophone in a published Memoir recently.

These guys are tricky, making it past spell check, experienced veteran proof readers and freelance editors and often through the final stages into a printed- published title.

Something to look out for in your own edits and writing. But do not lay awake at night wondering if that is why your manuscript was rejected. As you see here, it can slip by the best paid professional. It will not cause your manuscript to be passed over if one appears in your story.

Typos happen. I saw the Bumper Sticker.

You have now been given a word that will expand your Scrabble skills and help you out in a game of Trivial Pursuit or Cranium. (Cranium is one of my favorites; I love the feel and smell of colored dough in my hand. Have at it Freudians).

For a detailed list of homophones go to Homophones

It is a fun place to spend some time. After all, a misread Homophone in a lover’s breakup letter could open a door to a terrific Suspense Fiction plot, murder happens with less provocation. Or how about a divorce settlement… A Doctors diagnosis report… The list goes on and on. I am not a writer, just an appreciator of one, but I see HUGE possibilities here.

Weed all best get back to work. I must not dessert my post.

Happy Fall ya’ all,


Monday, October 25, 2010

Agents and eBooks

Things they are a-changing, and nothing is changing as fast it seems as the face of publishing these days.

I was over on the Smashwords site while ago. I have the rights back now to my Mysterious Ways series and I am looking to put them out for the Kindle. This site had a paragraph addressed to literary agents that intrigued me. It said:

"The next chapter of the indie ebook revolution may very well be written by literary agents.  Literary agents are trusted business advisors to the world's most commercially successful authors.  As a business advisor and
author advocate, the agent's role is to help the author maximize the commercial potential of their work.  Indie ebook publishing via Smashwords represents an exciting complement and/or alternative to traditional
publishing.  Agents can help authors bring their reverted-rights works back to life as ebooks, or can publish an author's unpublished works that for one reason or another cannot be sold to a commercial publisher."

Now, I don't know that this is the route that I want to go, but the concept of what they are talking about interests me. It isn't the first that I've heard of it. Historically, any agent that charged for other services was in violation of the basic tenents of being an agent, particularly if they happen to be an AAR member. But I keep hearing that this may be changing in regards to select options that agents may be doing for their clients and this is one option I hear brought up a lot.

I know a number of agents that are holding back ebook rights and trying to negotiate them separately to someone set up to get them to market on the new e-readers. This market is exploding, and can no longer be considered just something we throw in the deal for a publisher. Is the next logical step to actually be involved in the upload of the books themselves?

What do you think? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Join us for a guest blog by Diana's client Lisa Hess


My sister vows that I'm contributing to the demise of the printed word. My husband fears that instant access to seemingly endless titles will drive my amazon bill to new heights. They may both be right to a certain extent, but still, I love my Kindle.

A birthday gift from the very man who scrutinizes our credit card bills, my Kindle is absolutely my new favorite toy. Truth be told, I was a little unsure of whether or not it would be worth the price tag. It took merely days for it to earn its keep.

I love the instant gratification - er - access. I heard about a book on NPR today, looked it up on my Kindle tonight, and I already have a sample of the book awaiting me, at my beck and call.

I love being able to read the newspaper in a confined space, without getting my hands and clothes dirty.

I love being able to carry around a pile of books in a compact, lightweight, lime-green encased rectangle. Perhaps best of all, I can feed my insatiable book appetite and flip from title to title without having to worry about where I will shelve all the books when I am finished with them.

True, my Kindle doesn't have the feel of a book, though with the cover, it comes close. It doesn't have the heft, either, which is both gratifying and a little sad. As an author, I'd readily agree to make my book available this way, but I'd also feel a little cheated if it wasn't also available in traditional book form.

Much as I love my new toy, however, I still can't imagine abandoning traditional books completely, although I must admit to being more selective about which ones I'll purchase in that form, for reasons of both space and price. I have no intention of ceasing my weekly trips to the library either, believing firmly as both a reader and a writer that there is a place for all kinds of books - hardcover, paperback, electronic, audio - and that my Kindle love is simply proof of that belief.

So, if you'll excuse me, I have a newspaper, several book samples, novels and non-fiction electronic texts clamoring for my attention. Having all of those options, literally a touch away may be the best part of all.

Thanks for making us all smile today Lisa. I would imagine a whole lot of authors, writers and others have added a kindle to their Christmas wish list. Stop by and visit Lisa's blog, The Porch Swing Chronicles. You will be glad you took the time.

Happy Fall,

Friday, October 15, 2010

How Do It Know? by Terry Burns

So how does a writer know before sending a manuscript off if it will appeal to an editor? 

That is the question.

Two men were about to have lunch on a jobsite. One, not the sharpest knife in the drawer looked over at the other and said, "What be that?" 
The man responded, "It's a Thermos." 
"What do it do?"
"It keeps things hot or keeps them cold."
"How do it know?" 

I was asked the question about how to know before we submit if something is right for an agent or editor, and the answer is as simple as the answer to this guy's question. Doing it is tough, and the people that do it well are the ones that publish. Writers want to write, period. We don't want to research or market or promote or do all the other things that go into developing a career. We want to write.

But the key to doing a good job with queries to an editor or a agent is knowing before we ever put it in the mail that they are a real possibility for the product that we're pitching. Too many people buy the big market guide and go through it sending off a letter to everybody that even lists their genre in their listing.  That's a guarantee a huge number of rejection letters will soon be on the way.

The ones that know their business look for indicators that the person they are querying really has published or handled some comparable work. They find other books and writers that are targeted at the same people they figure to be the reader base for their book. The numbers and products they develop that convince them this is true is the same thing they need to give to an agent or editor to demonstrate they know who their reader base is and have really written a book that will reach them. This goes a long way toward selling an agent or editor on a proposal.

What are these indicators? That's the hard part, because it's different for every book and may differ for each editor and agent we pitch. We search the market and search the bookstore for products that cause us to believe we'd be right for a certain agency or publishing house and we try that pitch on them. If we've figured right we've got a good shot at it. If not, well, there's always the next one.

"How do it know?" That's the key question all right.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guest Blog by Joyce’s client, Kimberlee Mendoza

Kimberlee Mendoza, a member of the board of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild. She writes:

September 24th and 25th, Maranatha Church, in Rancho Bernardo, hosted the annual “Writing for Life” San Diego Christian Writer’s Conference. As always, this event was an encouraging environment filled with agents, publishers, new writers, published authors and everything in between.

This year’s keynote speaker, Miles McPherson (former San Diego Charger and Pastor of the Rock Church) shared his writing journey of his inspirational book, Do Something! His best counsel to all writers: “Share your work with lots of people who will give you an honest edit.”

Other speakers in attendance were, San Diego news anchor, Carol Lebeau, ActOne’s Barbara Nicolosi-Huntington, and in my opinion, the highlight of the conference, New York Bestseller, Lynn Vincent. Her talk was sometimes emotional, other times funny, but continuously captivating.

When not attending a general session, writers were given a chance to meet one-on-one with agents and publishers to receive advice, encouragement, and occasionally that coveted business card. They also had the opportunity to attend workshops on speaking, self-publishing, poetry, dialogue, character creation, and more.

The overall theme that seemed to define this year’s conference was probably “collaboration”—that to be a great writer, you need to join a critique group, surround yourself with other writers, and don’t be afraid to share your work. I’ve been attending this conference for almost a decade, and I have to say, this was one of the best.

Kimberlee Mendoza

Thank you Kimberlee for sharing about this San Diego conference with us. I’ve been to it twice and I highly recommend it. Check with their web site for information for next year.

In His service,


Friday, October 8, 2010

Susquehanna Writers Conference Begins Tonight in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Susquehanna Writers Conference begins Fri. evening, Oct. 8th and Saturday Oct. 9th and is held at the beautiful Best Western Country Cupboard Inn in Lewisburg, PA. This is the first time it is being held in October. The change in scheduling was made in the hopes the conferees would have the gorgeous fall foliage as additional inspiration for their muse. Pennsylvania is beautiful this time of year and Diana has crossed the state to present two workshops and meet with authors there this weekend.

This writers conference is not exclusively a Christian conference, yet a large portion of the attending authors represent people of faith.

Diana will present two workshops.
Why an Author Needs a Literary Agent and How to Construct an Attention-Grabbing One Sheet. Proposal building will also be addressed and hopefully the attendees will go away better equipped to shop their titles to the agents and markets they are aiming for.

Additional workshops will be given by Fran Fernandez, Lora Zill, Nancy Christie, Cindy Herman, and Joelle Dujardin.

This is a charming setting with some great workshops. I encourage those that are desiring to hone their craft and in the mood for some great food and camaraderie to consider adding this conference to your conference wish list.

Happy Fall y'all,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life is working down your list by Terry Burns

The key to life is working down your list. 

We've all got a list. Life starts getting the best of us when our list gets out of control, but all we can do is take the items on it one at a time and try to take care of that single item. 

Sometimes we can't seem to get that done. That often means we have a task on our list that is too large to get done so it defeats us, confounds us. That's when we need to break it down into parts, small pieces that we can accomplish, and work it down that way.

A list is immortal. We never finish it, and when we die someone else has to take over what is left on our list and finish the items on it, along with the task of planting us. But what if there's something on our list we simply can't do? We all know the Serenity Prayer, "Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

This is a classic, and it became a classic because of the eternal truth contained in it. We have to know when to turn things over to God. I'm bad about that. I was raised as many men were to saddle my own broncs and take care of my own problems, to accept responsibility for taking care of those in my charge.

The Lord has taken me to the woodshed several times for that, let me crash and burn for trying to do things myself instead of turning them over to him. I do have to learn what I can and should do and what I need to turn over to the Lord, and I need to seek his counsel and guidance in the rest of it.

I have a lot of trouble breaking myself of riding that old horse named pride. I've ridden him far too often.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Diana Welcomes Guest Bloggers Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles

Come a Little Bit Closer, Lord - He Said , by Eddie Jones
"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Exodus 3:5 (NIV)

Last week my wife leaned into me and whispered: "Come a little closer." With the heated anticipation that comes from twenty-nine years of marriage... I held my plate under the bowl of creamed corn. "Don't want it to spill it on the stove," she explained.

Ah, the yearning to be near the one you love, even if it is only long enough to fill your plate with home cooking. Later that evening, with iPod earplugs in my ears, I silently called to God while Christine Mcvie's silky voice lead me in prayer.

Come a little bit closer...Lord, I'm leaning on your love, unable to stand on my own. I am lost and alone. Lift me up. Come a little bit closer.

I remember the time...When you provided for me, when you came to me during my time of need. I remember the time and ask, "Are you willing to come, again, Lord?"

You held me in your arms, and you wanted to be mine...You pulled me close, enveloped yourself around me. You held my hand when I stepped from the boat. Now waves threaten to wash over me. Will you reach out your arm to me and be my God?

Everything good, everything gold, and now all that's left is a sweet memory. Father, may I remember your goodness. May my heart be grateful for the days of past provision. Help me to surrender my dreams, hopes and income to you. I recall the good and golden memories of your moments of power. Leave me with another sweet memory, Lord.

If you love me, let me know, why don't you show me which way to go. Wait, you say. Stop running, you whisper. "Be still and know that I am God," you shout from your Word. So I stop; I sit. I rest in you. Father, help me to move slowly, sleep soundly and find my joy in walking with you.

Please don't leave me all alone, cause I can't make it on my own. Lord, what does it mean to delight in you? Are you enough? Is your love strong enough to cast out the fear that seeps into my soul? "Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Lord, may I delight in you, alone.

I know when I see them swaying I can hear myself say, come a little bit closer. Father, forgive me for doubting in the Valley of Death. You have given me a spirit of faith, not fear. In my weakness I pull the covers of darkness over my head and yet I can still hear my heart saying, "Come a little bit closer, Lord. I need you to be mine. Come a little closer."

Song and setting do not make a thing sacred. God does. He who has ears, let him hear the voice of God calling: Come a little bit closer, child. Come a little bit closer.

Muddy Shoes - She Said, by Cindy Sproles
"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Exodus 3:5 (NIV)

"STOP!" I screamed. My boys came bounding through the front door, shoes thick with mud where they'd been playing on the bluff.

"Boys! Stop! Shoes! New carpet!" But it was too late. Four sets of twisted footprints stained the day-old carpet. Silence came over the boys as they slowly backed out of the living room door and onto the porch. I grabbed a sponge and carpet cleaner, then began to scrub. "Rats! Brand new carpet, ruined."

The storm door creaked open, "Okay Mom, our shoes are on the porch, can we come in now?"

I sighed. The damage was done. Muddy footprints everywhere. "Sure, head on up to the shower." They tiptoed past. An hour later, I was still scrubbing the red clay stain.

I rolled to my backside and leaned against the door. My new carpet was ruined. I wondered how God feels when I mess up His holy ground with muddy shoes.

I can't count the times I've bulldozed God's holy ground, too busy working to stop and pull off my dirty shoes. I've let things distract me, trampled His sacred place for me. And when it hits me - need Him--I burst through the door, muddy sandals and all, tracking up God's holy ground, staining it...ruining it. I'm demanding, selfish, and inconsiderate. After all, He'd been waiting for me, but I was too busy.

We're like that, aren't we? The most important thing is not what God holds as sacred but what we deem as immediate. In the times I've needed to take off my sandals and tiptoe into the presence of the Lord, I railroad through, never taking note He's prepared a time and place especially for me. Yet, when He stops me, pushes me back out the door, I have the audacity to ask why. Doesn't God want to be close to me? Doesn't He want me close to Him?

I'm learning a new way to approach my Father. I come to Him daily in the quiet of the morning, taking off my dirty shoes to meet Him on His terms. Maybe He'll see I've placed my mess outside long enough to come to Him...long enough to draw closer.

I've messed up things a lot, but His blood-stained ground covers my mud-covered footprints. So I plead to be closer, to be forgiven. And even when He makes me wait, He always welcomes me back. He'll welcome you too.

Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles are friends and cofounders of They host the popular He Said, She Said radio each Friday evening at 7 p.m. on He Said, She Said Radio! (Call in number, 646-929-0706 ).

Need a guest speaker for your church or group? Eddie and Cindy make a great duo. They offer onsite Performance Speaking Engagements covering devotional writing, fiction writing, humor and overcoming obstacles in pursuit of your dreams. Through entertaining presentations they offer practical tips, powerful stories and educational materials that help individuals discover and develop their God-given gifts.

Contact them at: