Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guest blog from Terry's Client Rosetta D. Hoessli

Listen to the Voices: Writing Narrative Nonfiction
Rosetta D. Hoessli

            The term ‘narrative nonfiction’ is really just a high-falutin’ way of saying that you’ve written a true story that reads like a novel. It sounds simple enough, but the process isn’t as easy as you might think.
While you’re fortunate to have your plot laid out for you (it is a true story, after all) and you already know that your facts must be thoroughly documented and well- organized, those aren’t the most challenging aspects of writing narrative nonfiction. The most difficult—and rewarding—part is ‘channeling’ each character through your own psyche and out onto the written page—and doing it truthfully.
Now, this isn’t really as spooky as it sounds. While you, the author, need to become each character in order to tell his/her story with drama and authenticity, there’s a procedure for this. It’s time-consuming and often exhausting for you to ‘find all the voices’ involved in your story, but as a ghostwriter and co-author, I swear by this technique.       
            The easiest way to begin this process, obviously, is to find out everything you can about your subject. If he’s famous or notorious enough for the internet to contain information about him, pour through it all. Track down his contacts through books, newspapers or magazine articles, then hit up each person willing to talk. Keep meticulous notes with every bit of information you can find. Begin an actual notebook (or a file on your computer) for each individual in your story and cram it full of details.
Then, begin the interview process with your main subject. This may take months, but look at it like you’re building a character in a novel, which is usually slow going. Transcribe each interview immediately after you’ve completed it, while the individual is still fresh in your mind, and add the transcript to his file.
As you transcribe each interview, add your own observations (far beyond the obvious). How does he laugh? What does his voice sound like? Does he have an accent? Perhaps he swears, uses unusual colloquialisms, drinks, smokes, talks with his hands. Is he comfortable in his surroundings? Is his handshake strong and reassuring, or soft and wimpy? Does he meet your eyes when he talks or does his gaze slide away from you like that of a sleazy car salesman?
Write down everything that occurs to you; you never know in the course of writing your book what you’re going to need. Place your notes at the appropriate segment in your transcribed interviews so that his way of expressing himself goes with your observations. Add as many candid photos of the individual as you can to his file, as well as pictures of his family, home, workplace, pets, favorite places to hang out. This will help you turn him into a real human being when you begin actually writing.
Tape record your own thoughts about this person right after each interview and then transcribe your recording. I find this to be far more effective than just writing down my impressions whenever the mood hits me, although I carry a notepad and recorder with me everywhere—in case I have an unexpected stroke of brilliance. Finally, keep your personal transcript and the transcript of your subject’s interview together so you don’t forget your sensory reactions (negative and positive) to him and his surroundings.
Writers of narrative nonfiction must remember that everyone has interesting flaws and foibles; no one is all good or all bad. If you do your homework and keep your notes organized so that you can immerse yourself in them when you begin the actual writing process, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to bring each character to life with truth and empathy.

*A freelance writer and editor, Rosetta D. Hoessli co-authored with Carolyn Huebner Rankin the narrative nonfiction book, Falling Through Ice (Crossover Publications LLC, Pearl, MS, 2011)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Florida Christian Writers Conference News by Joyce Hart

 I will be attending and teaching a couple of workshops at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference – March 3rd  –6th.
I received a note from Billie Wilson, the conference director. She is offering $200 scholarships for their conference and she wants the word spread around.    
Billie is offering a Partial Scholarship of $200 for the Conference.   Tuition & Lodging Double occupancy will be $575.  Conference tuition only, $375 with the scholarship.  Registration must be received by February 15, 2011.  You must contact Billie directly, no online registration for this offer.  Email: for an entry form. 

The conference web site is

The 24th annual Florida Christian Writers Conference is designed to meet the needs of beginning writers to published authors. This is your opportunity to learn more about the publishing industry, build your platform and follow God's leading to publish the message he has given you. Location: Lake Yale Conference Center near Leesburg, Florida.
The Florida Christian Writers Conference offers:
  • Appointments with Agents and Editors
  • Manuscript Submission to Agents & Editors
  • 7 Continuing Classes (6 Hours of instruction in a genre) Select One
  • Mentoring Tracks limited to 10 participants in each track - take place during Continuing Class time slot
    1. Fiction Project - Eva Marie Everson, Ken Kuhlken
    2. Writing Articles - Larry Leech
    3. Non Fiction Project - Janis Whipple
    4. Writing for Children - Christine Tangvald, Carol Wedeven
  • 72 Elective Workshops
  • 12 “After Hours” Workshops
Even though it is Florida it can be chilly in March.  One year I wore my leather coat the whole conference because I was so cold.  It would be wise to take sweaters or a light coat, or both.  Business casual is the norm.  This is a good conference and I highly recommend it.
In His service,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Terry's Client Jennifer Hudson Taylor

My client, Jennifer Hudson Taylor is really hitting her stride.

Her book “Highland Blessings” is out and selling well. Highland Blessings is the story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise he made to his dying father. Bryce MacPhearson, a highland warrior, kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. While Akira s strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment when he forces her to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans. While Akira begins to forgive, and Bryce learns to trust, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswered questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate that once again rises between their families. Clearly, a traitor is in their midst. Now the one man Akira loves no longer trusts her, and her own life is in danger. Can Bryce look beyond his pain and seek the truth? Will Akira discover the threat against her before it s too late? How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland blessings? The book may be ordered in print or for the Kindle by clicking here.

The followup to this book from Abingdon is her novel HIGHLAND SANCTUARY. Hired to restore Braigh Castle, a man discovers the hidden Village of Braigh and Serena Boyd, the mysterious, comely lass who captures his heart; the villagers have an intriguing secret and the land a profitable opportunity that leads to bitter betrayal, the sequel to Highland Blessings.

But that isn’t all. She has signed a contract for NEW GARDEN'S HOPE, a novella that is part of a four-novella collection entitled "The Quakers of New Garden," to Barbour Publications for publication in February 2012.

Her Novella HEARTS INHERITANCE has been accepted as part of the four-novella collection titled "Highland Crossings" by Barbour Publications. 

Still more? Her novels FORBIDDEN CONQUEST, THE WAR WOMAN, and IMPERFECT PIECES, are set in Scotland then showing the migration to America, Sold to Abingdon Press for publication in 2013 and 2014.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is one to watch as she bursts onto the scene with strong writing and memorable characters. And she’s just getting started. Learn more about her at

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guest Blogger Rick Marshall shares from his Monday Morning Music Ministry Blog

Start your week with a song. Guest blogger Rick Marshall, sends out to his blog followers each Monday Morning a word and a song of encouragement.

Amidst talk of the 9-11 anniversary, and bad economic news, and the health-care “crisis” in the US, I actually wonder whether Americans know what “hard times” are. I have been through some difficult patches, but I cannot say that I have known Hard Times in the sense that every previous generation in history, virtually everywhere in the world, has experienced.

I have been sad, but not in sorrow. I have been in debt, but never destitute. I have had regrets, but never grief. How many of us can share such relatively comfortable testimony? In my case, to whatever extent I rightly judge my insulation, it is largely due to my standing as a Christian – receiving joy that passes understanding — but we also have to credit modern life, in America, with its technology, medicine, and general prosperity.

Hard Times come in America, but somehow all the wars and crises have the lengths of TV mini-series, and if not, the public grows impatient. The public has a sound-bite mentality. We used to face our challenges; but now we are distracted with the modern equivalents of the Romans’ “bread and circuses” — pop entertainment, push-button gratification.

In many ways this indicates that we are not advancing as a culture. I’m not sure we are “going backwards,” either, because that might actually be beneficial. Giuseppi Verdi (yes, the composer otherwise known as Joe Green) once said, Torniamo all’antico: Sara un progresso — “We turn to the past in order to move forward.”

I got thinking of Hard Times in America when I pulled an elegant old volume off my bookshelf. Folk Songs was published in 1860, before the Civil War. This book is leather-bound, all edges gilt, pages as supple as when it was printed, a joy to hold. The “folk songs” of its title refers not to early-day coffee houses, but to poems and songs of the people, in contradistinction to epic verse or heroic sagas; the way the German word Volk refers to the shared-group spirit of the masses.

Many of the titles are charming: “The Age of Wisdom,” “My Child,” “Baby’s Shoes,” “The Flower of Beauty,” “The First Snow-Fall”… However, such sweet titles mask preoccupations with children dying in snow drifts, lovers deserting, husbands lost at sea, fatal illness, mourning for decades, unfaithful friends. No need to guess the themes other titles from the index:”Tommy’s Dead,” “The Murdered Traveller,” and “Ode To a Dead Body.”

It reminded me that people 150 years ago were not gloomy pessimists: they were not. But Hard Times were a part of life, and therefore part of poetry and song. On the frontier, life could be snuffed out in a moment. In the imminent Civil War, roughly every third household was affected by death, maiming, split families, or hideous disruption; yet anti-war movements never gained traction; life went on. Abraham Lincoln almost lost his mind over an unhappy love affair; his wife likely did lose her mind when her favorite son died in the White House. Theodore Roosevelt’s young wife (in childbirth) and mother (of salmonella) died on the same day in the same house. Hard Times.

Also before the Civil War, a composer named Stephen Foster wrote a song called Hard Times. He is barely recalled today, sometimes as a caricature, but he might be America’s greatest composer. He wrote My Old Kentucky Home; I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair; Old Black Joe; Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginia; Way Down Upon the Swanee River / Old Folks At Home; Oh, Susanna; Camptown Races; Beautiful Dreamer … and Hard Times, Come Again No More. This last song has been resurrected lately to a certain repute, or at least utility. In some circles it has become an anthem for charities and lamentation of poverty. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, even the Squirrel Nut Zippers, have sung it. It has taken on the air of a secular anthem. But in fact, although Stephen Foster did not embed a Gospel message in the lyrics, he had written many hymns in his life, and — if we can turn back our minds to the world of 150 years ago — it is clear that the Hard Times he wrote of were the world’s trials, to be relieved in heaven. It is clear that the “cabin,” and its door, in the song are metaphors.

Here is a memorable video to evoke the reality of life’s Hard Times, the promise heaven holds, and the beauty of Stephen Foster’s music to you. The seven singers are from the amazing project of a few years ago, “The Transatlantic Sessions” — singers and musicians from America (US and Canada), Ireland, and Scotland singing old and new “folkish” songs in a living-room setting.

(By the way, they are, left to right, Rod Paterson, Scotland; Karen Matheson, Scotland — hear her incredible soprano harmony on the left channel; Mary Black, Ireland; Emmylou Harris, US; Rufus Wainwright, his mother Kate McGarrigle, and her sister Anna McGarrigle on the button accordian, all Canadians. The other musicians are fiddler Jay Ungar — he wrote the haunting “Ashokan’s Farewell: tune of the PBS “Civil War” series — and his wife Molly Mason on the bass; and the project’s shepherds Shetland fiddler Aly Bain, and American dobro player Jerry Douglas.)

Listen to the wonderful performance, the amazing music, and the important reminder that we should keep Hard Times in perspective… but also that God provides a joyful relief from life’s disappointments when they come. By and by, they will “come no more.”

Rick Marshall is the author of more than 60 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia magazine called him “perhaps America’s foremost authority on popular culture”) to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography, and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. Request a free weekly mailing of Monday Morning Music Ministry to your inbox! Write the word Subscribe in the subject line to

Thank you Rick for sharing your blog with us today. I hope many will find encouragement and refreshment at Monday Morning Music Ministry.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If you live near Amarillo - Terry's client Caron Guillo booksigning

For those that might live close to Amarillo I'd like to invite you to the book launch and signing of my client Caron Guillo for her book "An Uncommon Crusade."

It is set this Saturday, January 22nd from 2-4 pm at the Hastings Book Store at 45th and Western. I'm surely going to be there supporting her, and her publisher, Written World Communications from Colorado Springs is supposed to be there as well. I expect there will be a nice attendance from the Amarillo-based "Panhandle Professional Writer's" group, so there should be writers galore, but hopefully there will be even more readers.

This historical novel begins in thirteenth century Germany at the dawn of an  ill-conceived peasant crusade and ends adecade later on a sprawling estate in Egypt, approaching itssubject from an evangelical perspective of hope andredemption.

 An Uncommon Crusade tells a lively story of faithlost and forgiveness found, painting the medieval settingwith vibrant strokes. 

Novelist Jack Cavanaugh writes,
“With warmth and humor, Guillo weaves an unforgettable
story of hope and perseverance in a cruel and unforgiving world.”
“Caron Guillo weaves a rich tapestry with Children of Light, ushering you into another time and place with characters you can't help but love. Her unique writing style blends three journeys into a powerful story of understanding, forgiveness, and transformation.”
                        Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestseller 
                        Writer in Residence, West Texas A&M University 

Hope to see you there -

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Registration for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference opens Feb 1st

A Word from CCWC's Director
Marlene Bagnull, Litt.D.

Until two years ago, I had never repeated a theme in 12 years of directing CCWC and 25 years of directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, but as I considered the crises facing our nation and world, I could not think of a more important assignment than to "write His answer."

Sadly, the problems facing us have intensified. The need to "write His answer" is even greater so . . .

I'm praying you will accept His assignment and make plans now to join us on the mountain

May 11-14, 2011.

Whether you are publishing regularly or not-yet-published, and whether you write fiction or nonfiction for children or adults, CCWC is an investment in your writing ministry that can open doors and change your life.

Presently we have 55 agents, authors, and editors on faculty. The continuing sessions and clinics are in place and posted on this website along with a list of the present faculty and markets. I anticipate adding a few more faculty members. Please visit for info on our keynotes.

Wednesday's earlybird workshops, the 42 workshops offered during the conference,
paid critiques, and Teens Write!

Registration opens February 1.

If you did not receive a postcard in the mail, please email your USPS address to to receive our 16-page brochure in February.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest post by Terry's Client Max Elliott Anderson

How to avoid writer’s block
by Max Elliot Anderson
* This was first printed on the blog

I have to say that writer’s block, or blank-screen-itis has never visited my writing. And this is true after completing 36 manuscripts. But maybe I cheat the system a little.

Here’s how.

I write action-adventures & mysteries especially for boys 8 and up. Before I begin writing a story, it’s been percolating in my mind for a couple of weeks at least. Finally the whole thing comes crashing in all at once. It’s at this time that I stop what I’m doing, pick up a recorder, and briefly tell myself the story, just as if I were telling it to a group of kids, or to my own children when they were young. After doing this, I know the beginning, the middle, and the end.

This gets typed and usually runs 8 – 10, single spaced pages. The notes are put into a file and set aside. I don’t look at those notes again until the first draft is finished.  I write as I go when it comes to the manuscript. It is only after that first draft is finished that I ever look at it or the original notes. I’m always amazed to see that all of the elements of the original story have found their way into the first draft. That has never failed yet.

Then, to get myself into the mood to write, I make sure to do a few things. Around my computer I place several photographs and any props that will help me think about the story and characters. Once I was writing about the Pacific Northwest, and logging. I went out and caught chipmunk and placed him in a small cage with cedar chips. At the end of the day I let him go but I wasn’t finished with the sequences in the woods. So the next day, I went out and caught another one. The sight of the chipmunk and the scent of the cedar helped set the mood.

The next thing I do is to always burn a candle next to the computer. I ONLY do this while writing. I never do it during brainstorming, editing, research, or reading a draft. The candle helps to take me to a different place.

Finally, I play mood appropriate music for the scene I’m writing. If it’s a funny scene I play comedy. A sad scene requires a single piano or violin. The music brings specific images into my mind as I write.

One more thing.

If I’m writing about a hot place, I like to write in the summer with the air off. If it’s a winter scene, I try to do those when it’s actually winter. I have written hot scenes in the winter, but that’s when I crank the heat way up high. I may have to stop doing that with the economy getting so rotten.

All of these elements, working together, go a long way toward setting the mood, conjuring up the proper images, suggesting dialog, and preparing the way to write. And using them, I have never faced a block of any kind. Not yet anyway.
Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-eight manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie. Visit Max online at the links below.
Books For Boys Blog
Author Web Site

Friday, January 7, 2011

Books published on Kindle

Is the game changing?

I'm starting to get a lot of projects pitched to me that have already been published on Kindle. Do publishers look at that any different than they do being presented a book that is already published by any other method? I was pretty sure I knew the answer to that but I decided to survey a number of editors to see for sure. I phrased my question to not lead the answer in any manner.

I simply asked, " May I bother you with a question? I'm starting to get a number of people pitching projects to me that have already been e-published on Kindle. How does that affect you looking at a print project for the same manuscript? I'm surveying a few editors on it looking to frame a response. Hopefully this presents the question in such a way as not to lead the answer in any manner."

I got about the response that I was expecting. I wondered if a Kindle version would be considered the same as any self-published book and the answer appears to be that it is.

For your information the responses are breaking down like this:

7% say it would not matter to them either way.

20% say they would consider a self-pubbed or Kindle but the odds would be against them. 

57% said they would not buy one that had been self-pubbed or e-pubbed or would have to have the e-rights in the contract which most agree Amazon are not going to give up in most cases once they have a book on Kindle so for all practical purposes that is a no. 

Finally, 17% said they would consider it but only if significant sales numbers could be demonstrated.

Over 100 editors in both the mainstream and Christian market participated in the survey. Many thanked me for raising the question and wanted to see the results which I did send back to them. A few said it was a developing issue and a problem they were wrestling with.

Some individual responses that interested me included:

"This sparked an interesting discussion.  Basically, we'd view a Kindle edition as a self published version. For now, it's going to be harder to benchmark what makes a successful Kindle sales number.And if we were to  take a book that had been pubbed on Kindle (and its ebook kin), we'd expect electronic rights to be part of the package that we'd be buying, so previous ebook editions would have to go away prior to our publication."

"An interesting new development ... our current stance on that is we won't look at a manuscript previously published, whether it is self-published, ebook, or with a foreign publisher."

"We use Kindle and Nook editions in a huge way, both in promotions and sales. To have a competing (and unedited) edition out there would create problems, especially since Amazon will not remove a book from their site once it's been published."

"An interesting question, Terry. And thorny. We won't publish a book without acquiring electronic rights, so I'd recommend pulling the book from any sites before submitting it. Like any self-pubbed work, we'd want to know how widely it'd be distributed. So we would want to know how many downloads, it'd received."

"I think it would be a strike against it. Not necessarily a death blow. If the proposal were to show, for instance, very strong Kindle sales and if the proposal included perhaps a follow-up book not yet published on Kindle, that might help overcome the strike against it.   I think with every proposal that has something about it that might possibly bring a no vote from the committee, the author needs to offer something that counters that one strike. If he or she does so successfully, it might still work."

"Generally we are not interested in taking on anyone that has already put their books online.  One of the reasons is that in order to present that book to buyers of the major chains, our distributor has to present it at least six  months before the book's release. Those authors that are so anxious to release their books online don't realize they are, "shooting themselves in the foot," so to speak because once that book is released, it becomes a backlisted book and the buyers don't want anything to do with it."
"If sales are strong, that could help.  It could also help that the author may now have a sense of what it takes to publish a book. On the other hand, previously published can be difficult to pick up. Depends on the project. Thanks for asking!"

"In most cases I wouldn't buy the book, but in some cases I'd buy it and subtract the reasonable ebook revenue percentage of overall sales from my offer."

"Since we don't contract for print rights only, if a title is already published in any format, it usually precludes us from contracting at all. We do take some reprints (contracting both print and electronic rights), but usually from established authors who already have a readership and on titles that we feel will do well regardless of the fact that they have been previously released."

"It probably wouldn't affect the way I evaluate a manuscript much. It probably doesn't hurt, but it doesn't really help, unless it was clear the Kindle version had become a runaway success. If we decided to pursue the project, we'd request that the self-published version be pulled off Kindle so that it could be replaced with the final version."

"My answer would be no, not interested unless the author/circumstances were really unusual. It would really confuse the publishing process if there was a previous Kindle edition out there while we were trying to market our own Kindle version and other e-books.  Knowing Amazon, it probably isn't easy to withdraw a title from sale either, so requesting that the previous Kindle edition not be sold would be complicated as well."

"For us it would not necessarily be a barrier. Strong Kindle sales might indicate a market based on strong word of mouth. For us it would depend on the author and the platform the author brings. It would have to be exceptional to rise from the e-slush pile, however, if it had only so-so sales on Kindle."

"Fair question, Terry. The sticking point would be the e-rights--we pretty much aren't doing deals these days unless we can have e-book rights. There are, of course, ways around this, just as there are if an author has self-pubbed a book. But we would have to really, really want to acquire a book to go thru the contractual hoops needed.I'm not sure all of the authors who are happily e-pubbing with Amazon realize that they are perhaps cutting themselves off from the possibility of "mainstream publishing.""

"This is a good question and one that I've been thinking about for a few years, first with respect to self-pubbed books and more recently e-pubbed books. My short answer is that for review purposes, I view these as reprints more than original, unpublished manuscripts.Although they probably haven't saturated their respective markets, they have already had a presence in the marketplace which may have an impact on our ability to create a "new" book."

These opinions and discussion are helping us frame responses to incoming submissions and have a lot to do with the way we approach the handling of e-book rights in contracts. But I believe it is still an evolving issue and surely bears watching.