Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maps and the Writer - guest blog by Joyce's Client Amanda Cabot

I think most of us would agree that maps – whether the old-fashioned, hard-to-fold paper ones or the electronic versions provided by GPS systems – are invaluable tools for getting from Point A to Point B, but I wonder how many authors have considered maps a part of the writing process.

I’ll admit it. From childhood on, I’ve been fascinated by maps, especially by street maps of cities, but it was only when I started writing that I realized just how valuable they could be for an author.

Science fiction and fantasy writers talk a lot about world building, but those of us who write about the world as it is, or as it was in a specific point in history, need to do our share of world building, too. We need to create settings that ring true to our readers. That’s where maps come in. Knowing the relative positions of two country estates or the street names in a city, whether real or fictional, helps add the authenticity that readers crave.

Whether the city is real, as in my current WIP set in Cheyenne, or fictional like the town of Ladreville that’s the center of my Texas Dreams books, I have a map spread out in front of me while I write. That map’s as important to me as my chapter-by-chapter outline. When I create a map, I begin with street names, landmarks, topography and orientation. Street names and landmarks are self-explanatory. By topography, I mean the presence of hills, forests, rivers or other natural features that might play into the story. Orientation refers to the direction on the compass. Does the main street run north-south? Which direction does the town hall face?

Once I have that information, I pencil in the location of my characters’ homes as well as the public buildings that play a role in the story. If I’m working with a real city like Cheyenne, I sandwich my characters’ homes and business establishments between actual buildings from the time period. It’s only when I have all the locations established that I start to write.
Why would I or any other writer do this? I view it as a form of research, a case of knowing as much as I can about my characters’ lives before I begin to tell their stories. But it’s more than that. Having a good map is important for three reasons.

It increases the book’s accuracy. If you know the compass orientation of the street where your characters are staying and you’re describing the shadows a tree casts at 3 PM, you’ll know which direction those shadows are falling. You’ll also know whether your heroine would see a sunrise from her kitchen window.

A map assures consistency. Readers are astute. If your character turns right one time to go from his house to the church but heads left the next time, your reader will notice the discrepancy. It may not stop her from reading the rest of the story, but it will brand you as a sloppy writer. Who needs that?

A map allows you to add the details that bring your fictional world to life. Once you’ve created your map, you can calculate the distance between points and can determine how long it will take to travel that distance. You can mention landmarks along the way. And, of course, since you have the map, those details will be accurate and consistent.

Have I convinced you? Then let me add another element: floor plans. Although I’m far from an architect and my scribbles are primitive, I create floor plans of my protagonists’ homes, because – like maps – they allow me to be accurate and consistent in my descriptions. If the hero’s house faces the river that flows north-south, he will not be able to see the blazing ball of a setting sun from the same window where he studies the river. If the heroine’s bedroom is on the second floor of a two-story house, she will not hear footsteps above her, but the closing of the front door might be audible if her room were on the front of the house.

To me, maps are a key part of the writer’s toolbox. I love them, and that’s one reason I’m delighted that Revell has included a map of Ladreville at the beginning of Tomorrow’s Garden, my new release. If you haven’t already done it, I hope you’ll consider creating a map for your next story. It can be a truly useful tool.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Meet Terry's new great-grandson!

His name is Micah Brody Henrichs, born 3/23/2011 at 8:22 am and made his appearance at 9lbs 5 0z. 21 1/4 inches long and sports blonde hair and blue eyes. He's our first great-grandchild and we are so pleased we could be there for it.

The parents are Kenneth and Shanda Henrichs and make their home in Rowlett, just outside Dallas Texas. The 21 and a half inches was no great surprise as both parents are over 6 ft tall. There were unconfirmed rumors that several college basketball scouts have been seen lurking about the hospital.

Saundra and I getting acquainted with him

I don't suppose this is really writing-related, but frankly I don't care. We are just so tickled and hated to go off and leave him but there are two capable sets of grandparents living very close to finish the job of spoiling him that we were unable to finish.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Blog by Terry's client Jennifer Hudson Taylor


Social Networking can either be a time consuming waste in chasing quantity over quality or a valuable opportunity to make connections that turn into relationships that convert into real sales. While it is true the larger your follower base, the greater your opportunity for making those connections, but it is also true that target networking is more valuable than blind networking

For years advertisers have known that it is best to invest in markets that target people who are interested in their products and/or services. Target Networking works the same. You need to network and create friendships and relationships with people that have the same interests as you do and in the products and/or services you provide. You may have 20,000 Twitter followers or fans on Facebook, but if none of them have an interest in the content, products or services you provide, every time consuming post you make, or paid ad you invest in, is a waste of time. Networking may be financially free, but free of time it is not. 

Each network site operates on a different strategy, and therefore, you need to have a different strategy for your method of networking on each site you participate on. Here are a few suggestions for the two most popular network sites.

If you have a business or as in my case, you're an author, it is best to create a unique page or group for your product that is separate from your personal Facebook profile. Here are a few reasons why:

1) You may want to post personal updates for family and close friends, photos of your children that you don't want available to the rest of the FB world--people you've never met and personally do not know.

2) Other people who do not personally know you may not want to friend you on FB, but they might be willing to join your page or group. It allows you a way to connect with them and reach them that you otherwise wouldn't have. 

3) Your personal profile has a limit of 5,000 friends, but there is no limit to the number of people that can join a page or group. 

4) You can only send one message to up to 20 friends on your profile, but you can send an update to all the people at once who have joined your page or group. 

5) You can create events on a page and invite people who have joined your page, as well as friends on your personal profile. Also, you can filter the invites based on friend lists you've created, or other groups people have joined who have also joined your page or group.

6) You can send personal messages, updates, and communicate with people--let them know you care about what is happening in their lives and accept some of the friend/page/group suggestions they send you. Share their posts and links if you think they are interesting or relevant to those who have joined your page. You are being interactive.

How to Target People Who Join Your Page with the Same Interests
1) If you choose to accept people as a friend on your personal profile who you do not know, check out their Info page and determine if they are interested in similar things, and check out their wall posts, if it is available, to see if they post offensive things, play FB games all day, or post gifts all over people's profiles. Accept people who appear to have good morals, who won't stalk others, harass you with games, who engage with others, who appear active, and who might be interested in the content of your posts, products or services. You can always suggest that a friend on your personal profile join your page or group. If anyone becomes a nuisance, you can always unfriend them.

2) If you take out a paid ad on your page or group, make sure you filter it with people who have interests in what you provide, but with whom you do not already have a connection.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is more about following people who post about things and news you're interested in. Each post is limited to 140 characters, no photos are allowed in posts, only links. People post a combination of statements, news, verses, quotes, personal status updates, or a list of other tweeters to check out. You can't send a private message, but you can send a direct message. You cannot prevent certain people from following unless you protect all your tweets, and require everyone to request to follow you.

While Facebook does have third-party applications, their use allows a higher chance of virus attacks and are mostly related to games. However, Twitter third-party applications are more geared toward how to better use Twitter and make the most of it rather than a bunch of useless games and time wasters like on Facebook. Here are a few of those valuable applications:

1) TweepML - Is a site that allows you to create and manage lists of Twitter users who are interested in and who post on particular subjects. This is a great way for you to "target" people to follow who may follow you in return. (

2) Tweeterfeed - Is a site that allows you to set up RSS feeds from blog sites that post on topics of interest or related to your content/products/services. You can set up these feeds to post on your Twitter account page. These will auto-post for you without you having to manually post them. You can continue to work, write, or do whatever it is you do. You still need to retweet other posts, send direct messages, and show that you are on Twitter so people don't feel neglected or that you aren't truly active or interactive. (

3) Friend or Follow - This site shows who is following you and who is not following you and who you aren't following, but is following you. You can choose to unfollow people who aren't bothering to follow you back, but you must do so one user at a time. The reason you might choose to do this is because they aren't seeing anything you post anyway. Unless their posts are extremely valuable to you, it is a one-way relationship--if you can call it a relationship at all. You aren't likely networking, educating, friending, or selling to someone you follow, but won't follow you back. (

4) Who Unfollowed Me? - This site allows you to see who unfollowed you and identifies a list of people are not following you back. (

5) TrueTwit - This site requires people to type in a key word to eliminate Twitter spammers. It will not accept new followers until they go through this process. Lots of tweeters use third-party applications to auto-follow people and auto-unfollow them. (

6) Twitpic - This site allows people to post photos on Twitter, but I haven't actually used it. I'm only including it because it is the #1 Twitter application. (

7) - A site that takes long links and shortens them and automatically posts them on Twitter for you. (

This is only a list of a few Twitter third-party applications as there are many more, but these are the ones I've found to be most helpful. Create lists of people who post on certain topics and people who follow you can also follow your lists. In fact, the more lists people include you on, your tweets are also being seen by those following their lists, even if they are not following you.

Please let me know if this post is helpful, and feel free to include any additional information in the comment section that you feel might be helpful to others.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guest Post by Terry's Client Raquel Byrnes

3 Reasons Why You NEED To Go To A Writer’s Conference

Book proposals clutched in their hands, appointment slip at the ready, writers everywhere are taking one step closer to their dream of publication with a trip to a writer’s conference. From horror writers to inspirational romance authors, they gather at conferences every year with their name tags and pitch sheets.  And I have three reasons why you should too.
  • Most agents meet their clients at a writer’s conference than by any other means.  Be it snail mail or email query, the best way to get the attention of a prospective agent is by meeting them. Nothing can replace the passion and excitement you have for your book as you talk about it face-to-face. It’s also a great way to size up what you want in an agent. During your meeting you can ask what their level of involvement is, in what genre they feel they have the best contacts, and how they communicate with their clients.
  • You connect with other writers. As an author, you cannot get better unless you get feedback. Plain and simple, you have to show people your stuff. If you’re not ready to meet with an agent, then sign up for a critique. Most conferences offer them. It will give you an opportunity to find out where in the publication process you really are. Are you polishing up a ready to submit manuscript or just starting out and finding your voice. Meeting with authors both published and unpublished in invaluable in growing as a writer.
  • You have access to the experts. The best things about writer’s conferences are the workshops. Classes to learn pacing, character development, crafting a page turner are all available to you and the best part? They are usually taught by authors you know and read.  How about learning about character arc from your favorite romance writer? The art of the red-herring from a mystery writer? You can learn so much not only from the class, but from the question and answer period afterwards.
Wherever you are in your writing journey, be it novice or seeking representation, a writer’s conference is a wonderful place to network, connect, and learn.  From face-to-face meetings with your dream agent to ‘How-To’ classes with a favorite author, if  you’re serious about writing you need to go to a writer’s conference.

Raquel Byrnes
writes inspirational romance with and edge-of-your-seat pace. Her first book in the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, releases from White Rose later this year.  Visit her at or on her blog – Edge of Your Seat Romance at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For the Love of Words by Diana

I Love Words. Like many of you I read everything. Toothpaste tubes, Cereal boxes and passing buses with their quirky signs. Words have gladdened my heart during times of sadness,inspired me to reach toward new enterprises as well as filled me with inexpressible worship for my God.

This morning I got up early and settled in with a book I have been reading. It is a self help title and has been another fortuitous read I came across by accident. In a used book store. Just what I needed to read at this time in my life.

God is Good, All the Time.

Amongst it's helpful pages this morning was a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson.

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at hand, the path just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."

Do the thing at hand. That has been a word I have been meditating on the past few months. When our paths are not so clear before us, do the thing at hand.

"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on thine own understanding and He will direct your path."
Proverbs 3:5

What wonderful words to meditate on today.

May they be an inspiration to you as they have been to me.

Feel free to share a short word that came to you recently through a book, a friend or a blog.

Spring blessings,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

5 Lessons Learned by a Travel Junkie, by Guest blogger Lisa Harris

Zondervan Blog / Guest post by Lisa Harris, whose latest thriller Blood Covenant just hit stores.

I guess you could call me a travel junkie. Ever since my first overseas trip to Kenya while in college, I’ve been hooked on wanting to see the world. Now my family has been blessed with being able to travel extensively as well as live on four continents.

I love the fact that traveling and living in different countries has widened my worldview and given me a greater understanding of the lives of other cultures. I’ve met people from all walks of life who have taught me about sacrifice, friendship, endurance, and true giving.

I've learned through my travels that:

1. I need to look to God’s standards for living and not my culture’s or the world’s standards.
2. If God isn’t first in my life, then I’ve failed, because in the end that’s all that really matters.
3. True peace is found in simplicity, being in the will of God, and serving others.
4. I don’t ever want to just exist, but live life to the fullest.
5. Living life to the fullest isn’t a bigger car, a bigger house, or more possessions, because living life to the fullest isn’t defined by the world’s definition.

(What lessons would you add to this list? I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment on my blog at

Currently, our family is living in Mozambique where our primary ministry is discipleship and church-planting, but there is another aspect of life that we can’t ignore as we are faced daily with the physical needs of those around us.

With the help of fellow author and friend Lynne Gentry during this last year, we started the ECHO Project to help promote Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity in southern Africa. Through micro-loans, medical aid, orphan care, and other ways, this ministry helps us to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves ... the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice" (Proverbs 31:8).

You can find out more about what God is doing through this project at and find ways to get involved. Or stop by my website at or my blog, which comes straight from the heart of Africa, at I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to stop by and drop me a note!

About the ECHO Project
The ECHO Project works under the African Outreach Ministry to ensure no child's voice goes unheard. They benefit the forgotten through Education, Compassion, Health and Opportunity, and you can join them by investing in lives today. Learn more about how you can donate.

About Lisa Harris' Mission Hope Series, Book 2: Blood Covenant
New Paige Ryan and Nick Gilbert are trapped in an overpopulated African refugee camp where an outbreak of measles erupts and renegade soldiers block their only way out. Desperate for vaccines, they must put their own lives in the hands of God as they fight for the safety of the refugees under their protection. Learn More

Monday, March 7, 2011


Rush to Press announced Feb 28th;

As of March 1, the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild will have acquired Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide, the annual comprehensive resource guide offering up-to-date information on the Christian publishing industry. Stuart’s annual publication, now in its 26th year, has become a reliable source for the critical information needed by those seeking to publish their work in the Christian community. The resource will still be published by Tyndale House, but with the 2012 edition will change its title to The Christian Writer’s Market Guide and the byline will switch from Sally Stuart to Jerry B. Jenkins.

“Sally Stuart is an old friend and colleague who has set the bar high for this guide for more than a quarter century,” says Jenkins. “Our hope at the Christian Writers Guild is to do justice to her legacy and continue to provide this most helpful resource for writers.”

Christian Writers’ Market Guide offers tips and ideas for Christian writers and includes contact information, pay rates, submission guidelines for more than 400 book publishers, 600 periodicals and websites as well as information on hundreds of literary agents, contests, conferences and editorial services.

Jenkins also announces that Kerma Murray, former operations director of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, will be the point person for the market guide, as well as for the recently acquired Word Weavers local critique groups. She will manage these operations in her new role as special assistant to the owner.

The Christian Writers Guild was founded in 1965 by Norm Rohrer. Jenkins purchased the organization in 2003 and moved its offices to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Christian Writers Guild offers training to aspiring and working writers through e-mail courses, conferences, contests, mentors and peer groups.

For more information, visit or

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ECPA Bestseller list for March

Christian Bestsellers, March 2011

Compiled and distributed by the
Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA)

Rank (Prev) Title Author ISBN Publisher Pub Date List $ Award
1 (1) Jesus Calling
Sarah Young 9781591451884 Thomas Nelson Publishers 10/2004 $14.99
2 (8) Outlive Your Life
Max Lucado 9780849920691 Thomas Nelson Publishers 09/2010 $24.99
3 (2) Crazy Love
Francis Chan 9781434768513 David C Cook 05/2008 $14.99
4 (3) Heaven Is for Real
Todd Burpo/Lynn Vincent 9780849946158 Thomas Nelson Publishers 11/2010 $16.99
5 (39) Coming Back Stronger
Drew Brees/Chris Fabry 9781414339436 Tyndale House Publishers 07/2010 $26.99
6 (5) Radical
David Platt 9781601422217 Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishers 05/2010 $14.99
7 (NEW!) Without a Word
Jill Kelly 9780446563376 FaithWords 09/2010 $23.99
8 (22) Love and Respect
Emerson Eggerichs 9781591451877 Thomas Nelson Publishers 09/2004 $22.99
9 (30) Bringing up Girls
James C. Dobson 9781414301273 Tyndale House Publishers 04/2010 $25.99
10 (24) Made to Crave
Lysa TerKeurst 9780310293262 Zondervan 12/2010 $14.99
11 (11) The Five Love Languages
Gary Chapman 9780802473158 Moody Publishers 10/1992 $14.99
12 (4) Jesus Calling - Deluxe Edition
Sarah Young 9781404187825 Thomas Nelson Publishers 07/2010 $18.99
13 (12) Forgotten God
Francis Chan 9781434767950 David C Cook 09/2009 $14.99
14 (13) The Love Dare
Stephen & Alex Kendrick 9780805448856 B&H Publishing Group 09/2008 $14.99
15 (19) The Grace of God
Andy Stanley 9780849948145 Thomas Nelson Publishers 10/2010 $21.99
16 (NEW!) The Amish Midwife
Mindy Starns Clark/Leslie Gould 9780736937986 Harvest House Publishers 02/2011 $13.99
17 (NEW!) Crossing Oceans
Gina Holmes 9781414333052 Tyndale House Publishers 04/2010 $13.99
18 (36) Fasting
Jentezen Franklin 9781599792583 Strang Book Group 12/2007 $15.99
19 (27) Battlefield of the Mind
Joyce Meyer 9780446691093 FaithWords 10/2002 $14.99
20 (NEW!) Unplanned
Abby Johnson/Cindy Lambert 9781414339399 Tyndale House Publishers 02/2011 $22.99
21 (-) The Bait of Satan
John Bevere 9781591854135 Charisma Media 05/2004 $13.99
22 (15) Power Thoughts
Joyce Meyer 9780446580366 FaithWords 09/2010 $21.99
23 (NEW!) Breach of Trust
DiAnn Mills 9781414320472 Tyndale House Publishers 02/2009 $12.99
24 (7) Choosing to SEE
Mary Beth Chapman/Ellen Vaughn 9780800719913 Revell/Baker Publishing Group 09/2010 $21.99
25 (43) The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven
Kevin & Alex Malarkey 9781414336060 Tyndale House Publishers 06/2010 $24.99
26 (NEW!) Whispers on the Wind
Maureen Lang 9781414324364 Tyndale House Publishers 08/2010 $12.99
27 (NEW!) Almost Heaven
Chris Fabry 9781414319575 Tyndale House Publishers 09/2010 $13.99
28 (6) Bonhoeffer
Eric Metaxas 9781595551382 Thomas Nelson Publishers 04/2010 $29.99
29 (34) Boundaries
John Townsend 9780310247456 Zondervan 03/2002 $14.99
30 (NEW!) Slave
John MacArthur 9781400202072 Thomas Nelson Publishers 12/2010 $22.99
31 (10) Unlocked
Karen Kingsbury 9780310266952 Zondervan 10/2010 $14.99
32 (28) Redeeming Love
Francine Rivers 9781590525135 Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishers 05/2005 $14.99
33 (NEW!) Vanish
Tom Pawlik 9781414318936 Tyndale House Publishers 06/2008 $12.99
34 (23) The Me I Want to Be
John Ortberg 9780310275923 Zondervan 12/2009 $19.99
35 (38) The Power of a Praying Wife
Stormie Omartian 9780736919241 Harvest House Publishers 01/2007 $13.99
36 (NEW!) The Daniel Fast
Susan Gregory 9781414334134 Tyndale House Publishers 12/2009 $13.99
37 (14) The Purpose Driven Life
Rick Warren 9780310276999 Zondervan 02/2007 $14.99
38 (-) Facing Your Giants
Max Lucado 9780849921025 Thomas Nelson Publishers 10/2008 $16.99
39 (44) Heaven
Randy C. Alcorn 9780842379427 Tyndale House Publishers 09/2004 $24.99
40 (NEW!) Love and Respect for a Lifetime
Emerson Eggerichs 9781404189409 Thomas Nelson Publishers 10/2010 $15.99
41 (NEW!) The Brotherhood
Jerry B. Jenkins 9781414309224 Tyndale House Publishers 01/2011 $14.99
42 (20) The Coming Economic Armageddon
David Jeremiah 9780446565943 FaithWords 10/2010 $23.99
43 (32) The Shack
William P. Young 9780964729230 Windblown Media 07/2008 $14.99
44 (16) The Confident Woman Devotional
Joyce Meyer 9780446568883 FaithWords 11/2010 $15.99
45 (49) Storm Warning
Billy Graham 9780849948138 Thomas Nelson Publishers 05/2010 $19.99
46 (21) Her Daughter's Dream
Francine Rivers 9781414334097 Tyndale House Publishers 09/2010 $24.99
47 (-) Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
Joanna Weaver 9781578562589 Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishers 07/2000 $14.99
48 (42) Total Money Makeover
Dave Ramsey 9781595550781 Thomas Nelson Publishers 12/2009 $24.99
49 (33) Looking Up Devotional Journal
Beth Moore 9781404189508 Thomas Nelson Publishers 01/2011 $16.99
50 (-) Good Grief
Granger E. Westberg 9780800697815 Augsburg Fortress Publishers 10/2010 $5.99