Friday, May 27, 2011

Hartline adds an in-house publicist

We are pleased to announce that Jennifer Hudson Taylor has joined us here at Hartline in the role of in-house publicist and PR/marketing advisor to our clients.

Here at Hartline, we have been discussing what changes we might make to better position ourselves in this constantly changing industry. Now seems to be the time to move forward and make some of them. Jennifer Hudson Taylor is joining the agency as In-house Publicist and PR/Marketing advisor. Jennifer has been a publicist for a big non-profit agency for many years and is already making a major impact advising our clients on the steps and actions from contract to book-on-the-shelf that publishers want and expect from authors today. If there are steps the clients don’t feel they can do themselves, she has set up a company outside of the agency where they can contract for some of these things to be done for them at very reasonable rates.

Hartline has also set up a special online group Hartline clients only can access (the ones that wish to). In this group clients share in discussion their PR and marketing efforts (with input from Jennifer) as to what is working and not working, as well as share ideas on what they might want to try. In today’s publishing environment where advances are smaller or in many cases nonexistent, it is important to us and to our authors to maximize the royalties from their projects.

Joyce is interviewing to replace Tamela at the agency and while we are at it adding more than one agent may be in the cards. At present we have the main office in Pittsburgh PA with a field office in Amarillo TX and in Kannapolis NC. We are considering field offices in different parts of the country to make it easier to interface with regional writer’s groups. Stay tuned for more information on this process.

The ebook market is exploding and we are taking steps to assist our clients in taking advantage of the opportunities being offered.

We are increasing our contact with the movie industry, particularly Christian Film companies and are exploring more opportunities for our clients in this area.

These are just the beginning steps. Stay tuned as we evaluate and do some restructuring. Exciting things are on the way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Susan B. Christians . . . an interview with Terry's Client Tim Shoemaker

Last week you led a devotional for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference where you placed a couple coins in a volunteer’s hands and asked him to guess want kind of coins he held.  He guessed quarters--but they were really those pesky Susan B. Anthony dollars.  What was that all about?

People were always mistaking the Susan B’s for quarters.  It was annoying.  The government finally stopped making them.   I asked the audience to imagine for a moment that Christians were dollar coins, and those who weren’t followers of Christ were quarters.

You weren’t suggesting Christians were more valuable or better than others, but that they were certainly better off.

Exactly.  We have the Holy Spirit inside, bringing us love, joy, peace, contentment, and more if we let him.  We have Jesus, who has promised to be with us always, we have access to the Father . . . the God of the universe.  We have the promise of eternal life in Heaven some day . . . and so much more.  Yes, there is an indisputable value to being a Christian.

So how does that tie in to the Susan B. Anthony?

Dollar coins need to look different from quarters.  They need to be instantly recognized.  Our government learned that lesson the hard way from the Susan B.
Trouble is--we’ve got a bunch of “Susan B. Anthony Christians” in our world today.  They’re saved.  “They’re a dollar”.  They’re better off.  But they’re living so much like the world people rarely see the difference . . . or the value.  And tragically, Susan B. Christians miss so many benefits that are ours as believers.  They don’t even experience the difference themselves.

Then you pulled out one of the older silver dollars . . . a big ‘ol 1923 “Peace” type, and compared it to a Susan B. Anthony.  Quite a difference.

Night and day.  The Susan B. was a poor imitation of the original dollar.  Which brings us back to the whole Susan B. Christian example.  Ephesians 5:1 reminds us to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children . . . “  We’re to be growing more like God . . . not like the world. 

You showed us the edge of the coins.  The older silver dollar was solid silver, all the way through.  But the Susan B., just like the quarters, had copper at the core--not silver.  The silver was just a surface thing.

Bingo.  At the very heart of the Susan B. dollar is compromise . . . and that is the real problem with many Christians.  They compromise in areas of character, integrity, and in the way they obey God’s Word.  They compromise when it comes to maintaining a Christian attitude at home and they compromise in the way they love.

It’s a heart issue.  When we selectively ignore what the Bible teaches, we have a compromising heart.

Absolutely.  We cut our own value, effectiveness, and happiness.  Even our closeness with God.  Proverbs 4:23 makes it pretty clear.  “Above all guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

So we need to examine our hearts to see if we’re compromising in some way.  To see if we’re a “Susan B. Christian”.  If we’re truly doing it God’s way, we’re going to be different from the world.

Instantly recognizable.  If I’d of put a couple of those older dollars in our volunteer’s hands he’d have known immediately that they weren’t quarters.

And he might have taken off with them.

That too.   Which underscores just how much more valuable we are as Christians when we’re clearly different from the world.

It comes down to truly living according to God’s principles.  Being the real deal.  You mentioned you actually keep one of those old silver dollars in your pocket to prompt your memory.

Every time I reach in my pocket that dollar serves as a reminder of the Christian I want to be.

The kind we ALL want to be.  I think some of our readers may want to do the same thing.  Thanks, Tim for sharing with us!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Conferencing high in the Rockies - by Terry Burns

I just returned from a week up in Estes Park at the Colorado Christian Writers conference and it was nothing short of awesome. Hope Flinchbaugh’s opening session Wednesday night and her “Focus on the Cross” was tremendous, and on Thursday morning Bill Myers gave the most memorable and thought-provoking keynote ever. Liz Babbs, Rusty Wright, Bob Hostetler, and William Agius all touched our hearts deeply with their message. And Friday evening’s “Write his Answer to the Issues that Concern Us” kept up the same degree of faith and involvement.

Marlene Bagnull and her dedicated staff of volunteers did a tremendous job although she reported that this year the enemy put her under attack more than any other year she could remember. There is such a level of commitment at this conference, and it is more than a writing conference but attending is guaranteed to provide a spiritual life as well. Meyer’s comments in particular were exactly what I needed to hear at this point in time.

Marlene Bagnull

Tim Shoemaker provided one of his fascinating devotionals that everyone looks forward to every year to see what sort of visuals he is going to use to make his point, but I have asked him to write a brief blog on that so I will wait to let him address it.

I taught a couple of sessions and moderated the agent’s panel and I found the level of involvement excellent and the questions that were asked in each on point and insightful. My appointments were filled the entire conference and I met with a number of people on the side who were not able to get a meeting with me. The caliber of the pitches that I heard were excellent and I have a large number of proposals headed my way.

My wife Saundra, Bonnie Calhoun
Suzanne Brooks Kuhn and Leah C. Morgan

It snowed on us right at the beginning and there was a sharp North wind, but it only made the surrounding countryside more beautiful. My wife is studying photography so we took two days making the 8 hour drive up there and at Estes Park and on the trip I think she filled up two or three camera memory cards. The pictures on this blog are hers.

This conference is one Saundra and I go to each year and I recommend it highly when you are filling out your conference schedule for next year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Every Breath I Take by Guest Blogger Sandi Rog

This Tuesday begins my regiment for the transplant. Today, I'll get a new port put in my chest. "Joy." I've had a pick line in my arm, but that won't be enough, so . . . yeah. Starting on Wednesday, I'll be getting full body radiation for three days, which I hear is worse than chemo, yikes. Then the next two days will be extreme chemo. On the 23rd, I'll get a break, and on the morning of the 24th, I'll get the bone marrow transplant. Then we wait.


As the days for this draw near, I find myself hyperventilating. I've always had this problem. It's not the kind of hyperventilating that can be fixed by putting a brown bag over my mouth. It's apparently called "hyperventilation syndrome." If you google it, you can read more about it. Point is, the closer the day comes, the more dizzy I get. I already fight vertigo because of the stupid MS. Well, now my nervousness makes me dizzy too! I'm just meant to be dizzy! ARG.

Anyway... I try not to dwell on that mess, otherwise I'd go nuts. That's biblical, you know. Where is it? Philippines 4:8.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

I like that word: DWELL. You know, with all the crap that's happened to me over the years, I believe I could literally go insane if that's all I thought about. Think about it. (No pun intended, lol.) We become what we think about. I could dwell on all the abuse I've suffered and really feel miserable. Or I could focus on God and His love and what He's done for me in my life and be happy. Personally, I hate feeling miserable, so that's one of the reasons I try to focus on the positive. I'm hardly perfect at it, and I'm certainly no Job and have sinned with my lips and even yelled at God. So yes, I've had my negative moments. But God has gotten me through them. I certainly don't deserve His help, but He gives it to me anyway.

Now, speaking of "dwelling," or where I "focus" my mind, there's something positive I need to share with you about my dad. I've shared plenty of negative about him, and although he's caused me and others A LOT of grief, I also know I'm a better person because of him for many reasons. You see, he did something for me when I was a child that's CARRIED me through all the health mess I've been facing.

When I was about five, he took me to a check-up where I had to get a shot. Well, before the shot, he asked the doc/nurse to let him have a moment of private time with me to prepare me for this shot. (I'd had plenty of shots when Mom would bring me to the doc's, but this was the first time I remember Dad taking me. I never caused a ruckus, so I didn't really understand why he felt he had to talk to me about it, but now I know, and I believe God used that moment for me TODAY.) Dad sat with me and told me in detail how if I just relax during this shot, it won't hurt as badly. He said, it will hurt, but I just need to focus/dwell/concentrate on relaxing my body. He took a whole five minutes to explain this to me. :-)

Well, with all the MRI's, the radiations where I've had to wear a tight mask (I'm claustrophobic), and the pet scans and other tests, the many shots and having a pick-line in my arm, not to mention the upcoming port they're going to put in my chest . . . I've really had to concentrate on RELAXING my body. It's not easy because I'm a very uptight person. But my mind constantly flashes back to that five minutes my dad took in the doctor's office to tell me that all I needed to do was relax and it wouldn't hurt as badly. Not only does relaxing make it not hurt as badly, but it also makes these tests get done much faster. After all, if I were to panic, we'd have to stop and start again, stop and start again. I can't tell you how often I've wanted to stop and NOT start again, but I really didn't want to prolong the inevitable. Nor did I want to have drugs to knock me out because it takes days for that mess to get out of my body. Anyway, God used my dad at that time to help me NOW. Isn't that amazing? Thank You, God.

So . . . back to breathing. Or "hyperventilating." I don't know why I hyperventilate. I do it without even realizing it. What makes me realize it is I get dizzy. Ha! Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about breathing lately. I know. Weird.

You see, I watched my grandpa die. While he was on his death bed, all he could do was BREATHE. He could barely utter one word at a time, and it took all he had to suck in a breath. I've felt that way numerous times during all this mess. Only difference is, nothing can stop me from talking. But that's a another story. Anyway . . . I always wondered what made my grandpa stop breathing? Was it that he just didn't have the strength anymore? He died after he saw my mom. He'd requested to see her, and she came. After she left, he died. He loved my mom. She was very special to him. She was a hard worker, and he liked hard workers. All I know is, he stopped breathing after he saw her. We'd walked out of the room and took her to her car. When we walked back into the house, Grandpa was gone. He'd finally taken his last breath.

My thoughts about breathing of course involve God. I believe if God knows the number of hairs we have on our head (Matt. 10:30), which I could care less about, then He also knows every breath we take. And He knows my every breath. And . . . He knows how many I have left. It also means . . . He's VERY CLOSE. Imagine how it is when you go to kiss someone. Sometimes our breaths intermingle. Imagine being that close to God! Wouldn't it be wonderful to KISS HIM? I mean like a parent kisses a child. I love kissing my babies. I don't care how big they get. I'm sure He'd love to kiss us too.

Acts 17:27-28 says: God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

In a previous post I asked: why, oh why, does my heart become heavy when I feel like fighting for my will?

As I was reading through that post, the answer hit me. It's because I'm not putting God first. It's like Abraham when God asked him to offer up Isaac. Isaac was his son! The boy was precious to him and held all his hopes and dreams for the future. But would Abraham be willing to let go of all he held dear for his God? He was willing, and then God gave the boy back to him. But you know after that moment, Abraham knew God was first and foremost in his life. God came before his son, his precious child. God reigned in Abraham's heart. Well, He needs to reign in mine as well. He needs to reign above my children (they are the reason I want so badly to LIVE) and above my life. I need to love God more than life itself. My will needs to be set aside for that of my heavenly Father's.

I have to say, it's a lot less stressful putting everything in God's hands. After all, He knows what's BEST. Doing this means I'm not fighting and worrying about my will. I'm just letting go and letting God. I'm in His hands. I know. I've said that a billion times. But instead of standing in His hands with MY hands on my hips and arguing with Him and trying to convince Him of what I think is best, I'm going to lie down on His loving palms, and TRUST in Him to perform His will in my life. That's what I HAVE to do, otherwise, I won't be able to RELAX.

I must TRUST in Him, TRUST that He's aware of every breath I take.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011

When our book is finished by Terry Burns

When we are finished writing a book, while everything is hot and fresh in our mind there are some VITAL things we need to prepare that will be used in every step of getting the book represented, getting it published, and later in sales and promotion . The first is called a concept sentence, promo sentence or logline. It is a single SHORT sentence that tells the main concept of the book written in a very compelling manner.

The second is known as an elevator pitch or cover copy. It is a slightly larger version of the logline, 2-3 sentences that are used to pitch the book to an agent or editor if we find ourselves with a very brief opportunity to do so. Later it is used as cover copy and still later in advertising and promotion. These first two items are commonly used in our cover letter as well.

The third thing is a short synopsis or story summary. This is a slightly larger version of the first two, ideally a half page single spaced. It is used to produce a one page sell sheet, along with a logline as an attention getter on the page and with a very short WRITING RELATED bio. This will go in the proposal and the primary use of a sell sheet or one sheet is to provide an editor taking a project to committee to try and get it accepted with a single page to use or possibly to hand out that can be used to sell the project.

An agent, editor or publicist can write these for the book but ideally the best person to write them is the person that created the work from scratch, the one who lived with it from the ground up. A person trying to create them based on a brief read or two will surely not come up with as strong of an effort as the author.

Finally we have the synopsis itself. Most commonly desired is a 2-3 page single spaced synopsis that gives the main points of the story including the ending or plot resolution. This is not a chapter by chapter synopsis which may be required by a few editors but is more common on a nonfiction work than a fiction. Editors reading a proposal may read a synopsis first before reading the writing itself, may read it after reading sample writing to decide whether the story carries out in a manner that they would like to ready the full manuscript, or some may not use it at all but it should always be provided. Some submission guidelines require them to be longer and the submission guidelines should always be followed.

Even though these are presented in this order, they are often produced in a reverse order boiling the story down to get the synopsis, boiling the synopsis down to get the short synopsis or story summary, boiling it down to get the elevator pitch or cover copy and reducing it further to get the logline.

To give our work the best chance of success we as the originator of the work need to give these tools to the agent, editor or publicist to give them the best chance of advancing the work to its final conclusion. It is critical to provide these tools and to craft them to the best of our ability.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Microsoft Buys Skype for 8.5 billion Dollars! Are you a Skype user?

Yesterday in the online Wall Street Journal:

MICROSOFT agreed to buy internet phone company Skype Technologies for $US8.5 billion ($7.8bn) in cash -- the most aggressive move yet by Microsoft to play in the increasingly converged worlds of communication, information and entertainment.

The deal will let Microsoft "be more ambitious, do more things," chief executive Steve Ballmer said in an interview.

The software giant was motivated to acquire Skype because communication technologies have been "the backbone" of Microsoft's growth in recent years and that Skype has "built a real business" in the communications field, said Mr Ballmer.

In a joint phone interview with Skype chief executive Tony Bates, Mr Ballmer said Microsoft sees an opportunity to expand Skype's reach by blending it with technologies across Microsoft's vast portfolio of products, including the Xbox videogame console, Windows Phone software and Lync communications product for businesses.


Our book club has used Skype to speak with authors of the book we are currently discussing and just finished reading. It has been fun and informative and definitely influenced our members to read more of the same author. They felt they had gotten to know them, felt a strong connection to them, like they had become their friend. This is what made Blogs grow in popularity. Blogging put the author/writer in touch with their reader. Allowing a reader to comment on the writers article or book review helped develop relationships.

Please share with us how you as an author or writer have used Skype to promote your books and writing or how you think you might in the future.

And have a great 'Over the Hump' day!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Congratulations to Joyce's client Suzanne Woods Fisher:

Her title, "The Waiting" has been named a 2011 Christy Finalist in the Contemporary fiction category.

As previously announced, Joyce's client Lisa Harris's title, Blood Ransom, has been named a 2011 Christy Award finalist in the Women's Fiction category.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest blog from Terry's Client Normandie Fischer

Normandie Fischer, writer and editor

My favorite comments from the latest contest judges concerned my writing voice -- hugely encouraging. But they got me thinking about voice and how we learn it -- or if we learn it at all. Is the cadence of our writing bred into us like the language of our tongues?

I don't pretend to have an answer to that. I write, I've always written, the way I hear language. Yesterday I spent some hours revisiting an old story with Maryland's Eastern Shore as the backdrop. There I heard a different tone from my Beaufort stories, a different word patterning. The cadence of the South, which permeates conversation and thought as well as observation, fixes itself into the words of the Beaufort folk. Does that mean I as author see things differently when I'm in different places?

I think it does. I think the me who wrote from Mexico had images pressed into my mind that were slower, drier, perhaps friendlier. They held whiffs of deep sea and large expanses of open water and empty land, of mountains plunging toward the sea and whales cavorting off our bow.

The me who writes here in NC feels more confined to place. I'm no longer surrounded by the lilt or clip of foreign tongues or by the lazy days at anchor. Here, the world seems populated with issues that need to be solved, tempers that must be assuaged, emotions that must have reason...if only I could plumb deeply enough to discover them. Here, I'm awash in a world of care, which must translate somehow into the words I use to craft stories. (Or the ones I pluck from the moment to write on this blog.)

What are your thoughts on voice and writing? Do you think you've learned the voice with which you write, or is it merely you as you've always written on paper (or screen)? Please post a comment and let me know.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ten Ways to Write Like a Beginner by Guest Blogger Marsha Hubler


Let’s see, you’ve had this great idea for umpteen years, and now you’re going to start writing! Or maybe you’ve been writing for a while and you’d like to get your story or book published. Will you be labeled a beginner or an old pro when the agent or publisher looks at your work?

If you can say “yep” to any of the points below, all I can say is “uh oh.”
Go ahead; let’s see how you do:

1. Never read any books in the genre in which you write. You don’t want to steal another author’s ideas.
2. Write when you feel like it, even if the radio or TV is blasting.
3. For your first project, write the next 'Great American Novel' with plots, subplots, foreshadowing, & complicated characters.
4. Start your fiction manuscript with 5 pages of narration and description from 5 points of view. Have 600 pages in your book.
5. Develop a boring plot with no climax, characters with no depth, & dialogue that is flat & the same for all your characters.
6. Don’t get help from a critique group, “how-to-write” books, or writers’ conferences because God told you what to write & how to write it.
7. Send your manuscript everywhere without querying first. Buy the Writers’
Market Guide, start on page 1, and don’t stop until you get a sale!
8. Write query letters that are “you.” Smother them in chocolate or perfume smells and write: “Dear Editor, this is your lucky day. My family has read this, and they absolutely love it.”
9. Send your first draft to a different editor once every six months; then go into deep depression when it’s rejected.
10. Ignore all suggestions any editors or agents make. The manuscript just wouldn’t be “your” work anymore.

If a lot of these pertained to your writing style, perhaps you should take up basket weaving or bowling instead!

Thank you Marsha for this humorous look at the writing life. Please stop by and visit Marsha at the following links.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Agency News:

Termination Notice:

Tamela Hancock Murray has submitted a letter of termination to Hartline Literary Agency. LLC. As of May 30th, Tamela will no longer be with Hartline.

Tamela wrote: “I will always be proud of my association with Hartline Literary Agency, and I know that the future is bright for us all.”

Joyce's response; “Tamela is a good friend and has been a valued employee. We will miss her and wish her the best in her new endeavors.”

In related activity, a number of rumors have been circulating including one that Joyce is about to retire. That is not the case, although we will try our best to get her to scale back a bit to help her in the healing process. Terry and Diana have NO intention of leaving the agency. A number of restructuring things are being discussed in the wake of all that has happened all of which are aimed at making Hartline even stronger.
As Joyce mentioned yesterday, all questions can be directed to Terry Burns or Diana Flegal.

Other News: Lisa Harris, a client of Joyce's has been named a finalist in the 2011 Christy Award Women's fiction category. Congratulations to Lisa. We are of course hoping she wins!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An update on Joyce

Most by now know that the founder and principal agent of Hartline, Joyce Hart, suffered a fall last Friday evening. She injured her hip and has undergone hip replacement surgery which she came through with flying colors. She has already been up walking each day. There was also injury to her arm and shoulder and she will be undergoing therapy and immobilization for that.

It was indeed a serious injury but her prognosis is good and those of us in the agency are certainly doing anything that needs to be done and the office activity is going forward seamlessly. She will be on limited activity for a while but wants her clients to know that their needs will be taken care of. The full resources of Hartline are available if she needs our help during this period.

Joyce issued a statement which said:
"Thank you for the outpouring of support, prayers, cards and flowers, especially the prayers. I appreciate it very much. If any of you have questions, please direct them to Terry Burns or Diana Flegal. I am asking God for a quick and speedy recovery and I look forward to getting back to work."

We so much appreciate your prayers and your concern for her. Please continue to do so. We feel very good about her progress and are sure she will continue to move toward a full recovery.

The Hartline staff