Friday, December 30, 2011

Utlizing the Subscribe Button on Facebook by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Along with Facebook's new Timeline, people now have the option of allowing others to Subscribe to their Facebook profile without accepting them as friends and allowing them to have access to their entire profile. This is perfect for authors who may not have set up their Author Page on Facebook, or for those who don't want to keep up with both a profile and an Author Page.

You can set some posts for only friends to view or to public for those who subscribe to your posts. You have more control over your content and how it's shared. Also, if you block a person, that individual will not be allowed to subscribe to your profile, so it's a win-win situation.

Here's the thing, way too many people have set their bios and all their personal info to private. How can someone know if they want to subscribe to your profile, if you don't tease them with something about you? Make sure you at least post a public bio and give them something to go by in determining if they want to subscribe to your page. You don't have to give up all your life's secrets, but you can share something.

I'm constantly getting friend requests from people who don't allow anyone to see anything about them. I'd like to know if they are Christian, if we have any similar likes or dislikes, if they are writers or readers or someone who just happens to be looking for friends and networking. Tell me who YOU are. Don't be so obscure. You can't build a platform on obscurity.

This simple act will increase your chances of subscribers, especially if you plan to use your profile as a
way to build your platform and connect with other people who you don't personally know.

What about you? Have you enabled the Subscribe button yet?

Personally, I haven't enabled the Subscribe button on my page since I've already established an Author Page on Facebook.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


My client, Jane Kirkpatirck, has a story in "Log Cabin Christmas" which is #7 on the CBA bestseller list for January 2012. Another client, Suzanne Woods Fischer is in the #16 spot with her "A Lancaster County Christmas." Diana Flegal is the agent of record on Loree Lough's "Love Finds You in North Pole Alaska" which is in the #11 position. Our sincere congratulations to these authors on their success.

New Years Resolutions by Terry Burns

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?

That’s the traditional way to greet the New Year. Personally, I think the only time I have kept such a resolution is when I resolved not to make any more dang fool resolutions. In our family it was eating black-eyed peas and sauerkraut to welcome the New Year and bring us luck. Well, actually the sauerkraut wasn’t in there, it came from my wife’s side of the family.

We do these things not because we think they will bring us luck but out of tradition. I don’t believe in Luck, I believe in being in God’s favor. Trusting in luck leaves God out of the equation.

All right, if I don’t believe in luck and don’t make resolutions, then starting a New Year is no big deal, right? I wouldn’t say that. Putting the old year behind us and facing the new one with hope and anticipation is a good thing. To me the mechanism for looking forward is not a resolution, but a to-do list.

This is nothing new, there is always a to-do list. Life is good when we are making progress working down the things on our list. Stress comes when the list starts mounting and we don’t seem to be making progress. When that happens it is often because the things on our list are too big, and they are overwhelming us. They need to be broken down into smaller tasks that are achievable.

Writing a book is too big. It needs to be broken into a time period in which we will write a couple of thousand words. Loosing weight is too big, it needs to be losing a couple of pounds in a certain time. Those chores around the house need to be achievable, or broken down.

And some things don’t belong on the list. I smile on a lot of the manuscripts I receive. The plot develops until the protagonist is forced to their knees, forced to admit that they simply cannot resolve the problem facing them. It is written in such as way as if the author has just figured that out for the first time. Probably not, but that might be the case. There are some things we will not make headway on until we admit they are beyond us and we can only turn them over to God.

But lists are immortal. We can never work them off. If we think we have, we look and find there are new items we just haven’t placed there yet. A list is never gone until we die, and even then, someone else has to take what is left on OUR list and add it to THEIR list.

As we face a New Year I hope you have the right things on your list, meaningful and achievable things, and I hope you make wonderful progress in getting them done. That’s what makes a good year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Authentic Voice by Diana Flegal

As we head into a New Year we often look at how we can step up our game and become better at what we do for the Glory of God. For writers and agents alike this means learning new skills and honing our craft.

Networking is a word that makes many of us cringe. This past year I found myself paddling fast to keep up. Technology seems to always be one step ahead.

In proposal's of old, an author would state; "I will develop a website at the time of contract which I will use to promote my book'. Several years ago, authors had to step up their game and prepare a website as they pitched their titles. Agents and editors then asked authors to blog and network. FB has become the standard connection in author communities and twitter book signings a the new virtual tool. Blog tours and guest blogging are something an author must be willing to be a part of.

As I considered highlighting the one thing I felt would be most helpful to my clients and the readers of our blog heading into the New Year, I received a book in the mail from New York Times bestselling author Cecil Murphey titled; Unleash the Writer Within.

Real, Transparent, Gutsy and Straightforward, Cec's title asks a pivotal question each writer needs to ask themselves, whether beginning their writing journey or mid career. Why Do You Write? Is your answer gut level honest or profound sounding but untrue.

"If you believe you have a gift to write, consider it the foundation on which you build. You still need to learn the skills to express what you want to say".

Cec admits to writing, "to find out who I am".
In his writers workshops, Cec has found the real reason writers write is rarely ever, "to make money".

"Everything you write reveals something about who you are- even your attempts at self-concealment. Your most honest writing becomes your best writing."

Wishful, magical thinking will not make you a good writer."We need to continue improving our writing skills but in the process we can't forget who we are. If we do, our voices become lifeless. The words may sound beautiful, but they will not express our true selves."

If you desire to discover who you are, develop your voice, learn to write with heart, become authentic to your readers, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Cec's book.

You have unique stories to tell the world, teachings and words that will inspire and encourage others. So what are you waiting for? It is time to unleash the writer within!

Happy New Year to one and all!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Faith Comes by Hearing by Andy Scheer

Don't look now, but January is almost here. And with it—for many of us—comes our yearly opportunity to read those monumental opening words of Genesis as we begin our annual Bible read-through.

I've been doing this for more than a dozen years, so allow me to pass along a few tips:

Establish a routine. Over the years I've done my daily Bible reading on a Chicago Transit Authority El train, during lunch, at my desk during break times … the key is finding a time and place that usually fits your schedule.

Be flexible. Sometimes life happens. If you miss a few days, keep going. Catch up if you can, but don't get discouraged and quit. This year after finishing John's gospel, I decided not to move on to Acts. Instead, I went back to the beginning of Matthew for another run through the gospels.

Follow a memorable plan. After a few years trying to follow plans that specified various daily readings from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, I found one that made more sense for me. Starting in Genesis, I read straight through. Reading just three chapters daily and five on Sunday gets you there. You don't need a complicated schedule, just a bookmark.

Listen as you read. A few years ago at a convention I received a “GoBible.” This dedicated MP3 player, which contains an audio version of the entire Bible, has revolutionized my daily reading. Even when the narrator gets to the “boring parts”—you know what those are—he never misses a beat. Same with those hard-to-pronounce names. As I listen, I also follow along in a text version—sometimes the same translation, sometimes not.

Listen online. This feature may have been available for years, but I noticed it only recently. Besides the texts of various versions of Scripture, the website also offers audio of six of those English translations. Whether you listen online or with a gadget, the audio doubles the input you receive and helps keep you on task.

Tell a friend. Especially if you're new to this, find a friend who will read through the Scriptures with you. If you don't need the accountability, perhaps your friend will.

Monday, December 26, 2011

SNOWBOUND by Linda S. Glaz

Well, the weather never disappoints. There is always one area in the country that gets more than the white Christmas it was hoping for. Some folks don’t arrive at their destinations, others spend Christmas in a motel or find sleeping accommodations in an airport chair. We miss birthdays, weddings, holidays, graduations. The list goes on and on. Because nature is unpredictable. That is what makes it so exciting.

Our stories, when done well, will include “unpredictable” for many reasons. Bits and pieces to add realism, huge amounts to move suspense along, astronomical unpredictability to create an entire theme. Anyone remember Armageddon? White Christmas? Twister? Do you consider weather for your novel beyond the tired, old “it was a dark and stormy night?”

For baby boomers, The Shining must resonate. Without the snow, Jack Nicholson would have given us almost no reason to believe his cabin fever, but with a world of nothing but white, one could easily see his clacking at the typewriter tap tap tapping his mind to mush.

Bing Crosby’s White Christmas would have come up drastically short if the snow had not finally come along with huge flakes and a solution to the general’s bad business decision.

Tastes, smells, sights and sound all play into a good story. But do you remember to include weather to heighten believability? Would the scene below have worked on a bright, shiny day? Or does the subtle hint of bad weather move the bad guy's creepiness along?

Kyle checked his black dollar-store watch again and shivered. He slapped his arms to ward off blasts of cold seeping through the threadbare jacket. A city bus rumbled past and his thoughts fixated on the blown up photo of Rochelle on the side. Bile filled his throat while his ragged fingernails dug into his palms.

Every other day this week, she’d left by now. What was keeping her? Her car, still parked in the back of the lot, indicated she must be working late.

Maybe she’d read his letter already. Maybe she was wondering if he would call her and try to meet her. He shuddered, fantasizing about what he’d like to do to her.

Kyle looked up. Clouds rolled in, their sketchy outlines visible through the deepening darkness. He smiled at his good fortune.

Ongoing ice and snow had kept traffic light on Greater Mack, normally busy this time of year with early Christmas shoppers trampling each other for Black Friday bargains. Evergreens and red ribbons covered the light posts. He sneered at the wasted effort, crushing a discarded candy cane under his foot. Who cared about Christmas anyway? Christmas existed for gullible children and greedy storeowners.

No time for that now. He had to stay focused.

A shiver riveted the thin jacket to his spine.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Colonial Christmas Dessert Recipes by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Christmas is a time for tradition. Since I write historical Christian fiction, I'm always looking for Christmas traditions that I can include in my stories or share with my family, but have real historical value. I wanted to share a couple of colonial Christmas dessert recipes I came across. Merry Christmas!


Hasty Pudding

Exact amounts were not given in my booklet so you you might have to experiment. Bring a container of water and some salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Slowly pour in some yellow cornmeal, stirring all the while til the mix becomes thick enough so a spoon will stand up in it. Laddle the pudding into 3-4 small bowls. Drop some butter onto each portion, then sprinkle on ground nutmeg and some molasses. Serve hot.

Buttered Bakes Apples

Peel and core the apples, leaving them whole. Carefully butter a heavily-tinned plate and arrange the apples on it. Fill the holes left by the cores with powdered sugar, and sprinkle the apples with melted butter, then bake twenty minutes. Put a small amount of current jelly in each of the cores. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from Joyce.

Christmas is a special time in our family.  It’s always busy with the various church services and getting the house ready for our family who will be here on Christmas day.   We are looking forward to the Christmas Eve service at our church and the worship service on Christmas Day.  After all worshipping our Savior is what this season is all about.

It’s a time of remembering past Christmases.  Missing our loved ones, especially our mothers, who have gone on to Heaven before us.  Remembering the good pies both our mothers baked and the chicken & noodles, homemade bread, fried pies, fudge and other goodies. My daughter-in-law does the baking now and I cook the dinner usually.  This year my two sons are cooking dinner. 

As our family gathers together at our home we will have dinner and then we’ll open presents.  First though, Jim will read the Christmas story from Luke 2.  We are blessed to have our whole family with us. 

2011 has been a good year for Hartline Literary Agency in spite of my surgery and recovery from a broken hip and broken arm.  Thanks to Diana & Terry, along with help from Bonnie on the web site, everything went along pretty normally. Diana moved to Ashville, NC and Kathy Myers is my new assistant here in the Pittsburgh Office. I’m thankful to my clients who stuck with me through all of this hospitalization and therapy.   God is so good. We added two new agents in 2011 and we will be adding a Children’s agent in 2012.  We will make a formal announcement on January 2, 2012.

 Last night at our Wednesday night service one of our pastors asked us to reflect on this past year.   What came to my mind was “God is Faithful.”  I have been so blessed this year by the body of Christ.   I have had so much help from Christian friends through this tough time. I can’t begin to thank everyone and the Lord enough for all the love and support I have had.  People brought food; friends came to our home and stayed with me while Jim made hospital calls and did other ministry duties. And of course I’m thankful for my wonderful husband. who has been there right by my side, helping me and taking care of me.  It has been awesome.

I pray that all of you who read our blog will have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  I am sure that many have had trials and troubles in 2011. May God keep, bless and prosper you in the coming year.

Christmas Past by Terry Burns

Christmas used to mean a pilgrimage to Grandma's house.

Those days are still very special to me and were the subject of this little poem that I penned several years ago when thinking of those special times:

Christmas at my Grandma’s house was there ever such a time?
And I a button scarcely large enough that I could climb
Upon the wing of Grandpa’s rocker, feet upon the rail
And watch him smoke his pipe & smile as I told him many a tale.

Christmas at my Grandma’s house and the tree would reach the ceiling.
The smell of cooking filled the air & the world was bright with feeling.
From the height we looked the presents stacked more than halfway up the tree.
And came back down near half the wall, and many of them for me!

Christmas at my Grandma’s house, and music filled the air.
Uncle Ray’s piano shook the room as he played without a care.
Uncle Bills fiddle took it high, Daddy’s guitar filled it in;
We kids supplied the chorus, though maybe a little thin.

Christmas at my Grandma’s house, but we always had to wait
For Uncle Edgar to get back home from the shopping trip he’d take.
We kids would gather round his door and try to peek inside
As he wrapped those final presents while the smallest of us cried.

Christmas at my Grandma’s house, and how excitement grew!
For though the gifts cost not too great neither were they too few.
As parents, aunts, uncles & cousins all bought something small
For each kid, and our eyes bugged out as our stack grew oh so tall!

Christmas at my Grandma’s house, and little did I know
That I was filling my heart so full of love that through the years would go.
I still recall and see it clear, the faces plain as day
And though I live a hundred years, I’ll always feel this way.

For Christmas at my Grandma’s house is a fairy tale in time!
When love and laughter filled the air and everyone felt just fine.
It cannot be repeated, nor would I if I might;
For our own have been as special, but still there was that night....

When Christmas at my Grandma’s house made all the world seem right.
But now I would remember, and have YOU see that sight.
And as you celebrate this year comes this vision from the past
And I hope this time is just as good and hope these joys do last.

Yet above all of the wonderful times with family and friends we must be ever mindful that the reason for the season is the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior.
Merry Christmas to you one and all . . . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Merry Christmas Note from Diana

Last week our First Page Would You Read on was brought to you by Hartline's own, Linda Glaz from her published title: Polar Bear Plunge. (White Rose Publishing) I personally enjoyed reading the sweet Holiday Romance and felt it complimented the many Christmas Movies I watched on TV this holiday season.

I am a Romantic at Heart, and love happy endings, yet life doesn't always provide them. Romance novels have soared to new sales heights the past three to four years and Christian Publishing is no different. Many times it is the Romance novel carrying the Publishing houses, helping them make payroll.

I have a hypothesis as to why this phenomenon (according to Webster: a significant fact or event) is taking place. And it might surprise a few of you more studious verse quoting characters that have never read a romance novel and just might not think too highly of their value.

God is Love and He initiated His love to us in providing for us a Saviour. He sent his Own Son down to us by way of a Virgin, to be born in a manger, but brought up in a family. Jesus Christ dwelt among men, ate with them, drank with them. He celebrated at weddings and wept at funerals with those he called His friends. And then He gave the ultimate gift of Himself for us, laid down His life, so that through His death, we might have Life everlasting. Such Love. There is no equal to it.

We were designed in the image of God. He placed in us a huge capacity for love. Agape love is one we seek for, pray for and yield ourselves to the spirit to gain. Agape love demonstrates our friendship with Jesus (John 15:14), and expresses our Christian love toward God (1 John 5:1-3).

Brotherly love, “phileo”, grows amongst us as we fellowship together 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:10)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” —1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)

In a marriage relationship, the dominant fire of eros gradually gives ground to the mature phileo of affection. Phileo becomes the cement that bonds and holds families together over the long haul.

When the world's economy goes topsy turvy, and the stress of daily life pressures us, we turn to a light-hearted read as an escape. With a Christian romance novel, we can read of people much like us, grappling with daily life situations and resolving their problems in a loving exemplary way. I have read of those who walked away from God for a season, turning back to him after reading a light 'inspirational' romance. There have been others that have sought out a friend or a church and came to Christ because of the 'provoking' of God conscientiousness awakening from their reading.

During this season, may we extend our love to others as Christ did to us. We were unlovely but He saw worth in us, made the ultimate sacrifice, and desires to 'fellowship' with us. Share a Christian Romance novel with someone you love that is searching. It just might reveal to them that God loves them and light their path to salvation.

Merry Christmas. May you find all you seek in the person of Jesus Christ. God's son, through whom He initiated His Great Love toward us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Commas and Christmas Carols by Andy Scheer

I've seen the title of that Christmas carol for more than fifty years. But this season I realized that all these years, I've been reading it wrong.

Until now I've misunderstood the title—because I've put the comma in the wrong place.

The revelation came as I was running a stack of LPs (remember those) through a “USB turntable” so I could play those tunes on my MP3 player. The process involves splitting the tracks from each side of an LP into individual sound files. So to find the running time for each, I was paying close attention to the liner notes.

That's when I saw it—and the significance of the comma I've misplaced all these years.

In my mind, the name of this traditional English carol was “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.” (Which implied the song wished peace to a jovial throng.)

Wrong. The correct punctuation is this: “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”

And how does “God rest us merry”? The rest of the lyrics give us ample reasons for optimism. Here is just the start of those ways:

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas-day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Here we are, Christmas 2011. And in another week, we'll be headed for 2012. Have you accomplished any of the things on your "to do" list for 2011? Did you get that book pubbed? Did you make your first million? What did you accomplish that you can look back on and say it defined you?

Perhaps, you donated a great sum of money to the needy. You bought a bag of food for a hungry soul. Did you reach out to a person in need of God?

There are lists of good deeds and wonders that are within our reach. But how often do we overlook the most important acts of all? Did we kiss a loved one? Did we lift them up when they needed it? Did we sacrifice something we wanted to make a family member's life better?

There's no right or wrong answer, just a call to love those within reach of a hug.

Let today count...


Friday, December 16, 2011

Author Branding to Sell Books by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

What is author branding?
It's the reputation you build in the publishing community and to your readers of what kind of stories to expect when they see your name on the cover of a book. 

Is author branding necessary?
If you want to build readership, yes. If you want to sell more books, yes. Readers who like westerns aren't typically interested in a science fiction book. For this reason, so many authors have had to create pen names for various subgenres. People work hard for their money and they can chose to spend it on a number of things. You don't want them to be disappointed if they take a chance and spend it on your book. If that happens, most likely they won't spend more money on anything else with your name on it, nor will they encourage others to do so.

Author branding is another way of target marketing. If you are promoting your book based on the book's contents, you're going to appeal to those who would like that particular book. Marketing and advertising is expensive. You don't want to waste your time and money trying to appeal to an audience who won't like what you write. You aren't likely to sell many books that way, and it doesn't make sense. So why wouldn't you create an author brand for yourself? 

If you're like me, you might be hesitant to build a label around yourself because you don't want to be limited to writing one kind of book. I've already mentioned pen names as one way to get around this. Another way is to write the same subgenre for a decade or two and then rebuild your image. Lots of authors do this, and if you do it well, you won't lose readers, in fact you may gain more. 

For instance, a contemporary romance author may chose to brand him/herself as a romantic suspense author. That way you aren't losing readers who like romance and contemporaries, you're just giving them a new element to read along with what they already read. Keep the subgenres similar, but give readers more. This will ultimately lead to more readers, which will lead to more sells.

Do unpublished authors need an author brand?
Yes. Before you can sell books on a store shelf, you first have to sell to a publisher. You need to stand out among the masses of other writers. There isn't enough shelf space for all the wanna-be writers in the world, so you've got to find a way to stay out of the slush piles. There are a lot of good writers who sit in the slush piles year after year. Their works are good enough to be on the shelf of a bookstore. The difference is, their marketing proposals may not be unique enough to stand out and get noticed. 

At one time I believe it was true that good writing would get noticed. But with the competition the way it is today, the demand so buoyant, and the hectic schedule of the publishing industry, I no longer believe that's true. You still have to get someone to read your work in order for it to be noticed. That can only happen if you stand out in promoting yourself and your work. You must make a good impression in your proposal and presentation of your work before an editor or agent actually sits down to read your work. If your impression in your proposal doesn't stand out, they'll never turn to the first page of your manuscript.

Remember, an unpublished writer is selling to an agent or editor. These folks are looking for specific markets where they know they can sell something. While good writing has to go along with it, if an author has written something that's great, but the story isn't right for an open spot, then it still won't sell. Don't waste their time or yours. 

Sometimes a quick rejection is a good thing. It will give you a chance to get that manuscript where it belongs much faster than wasting time on an editor's desk where it isn't going anywhere. By building an author brand, you will be letting them know upfront what they are getting from you. This will help you appeal to the right agents and editors. Target market to the right publishers and you will sell faster.

Plus, publishers have less in their marketing budgets for new authors and mid-list authors. They reserve most of their budgets for the BIG name authors where they know their investment will pay off. Therefore, a new author will have to do so much more of their own marketing. 

By showing you are ahead of the game in your promotion and author branding, an editor will feel more comfortable taking a chance on you. This means if it comes down to your good writing as opposed to another author's good writing for one publication spot, you might have the edge since you have self-marketing potential. Editors are looking for authors they can build into careers for a long investment, not one-time book wonders.