Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Snatches of Time by Andy Scheer

Snatches of Time by Andy Scheer

I'm not counting on it, but I hope I'll have the luxury of an uninterrupted half-hour to write this. I'd hoped to find time at the keyboard this morning, but that was before my biggest editing client asked me to drop everything and fix a problem that had arisen. That took until just after noon.

With the late start, I needed until 4 p.m. to finish and submit the big editorial project I'd planned to complete this morning. Another project I've yet to start is due in just under a week, and I know that will take about eight hours.

Fortunately I have most of the research in place. All I need is eight hours. Where I'll get those hours I don't know; most of the next four days are packed.

I could fantasize and say I'll put my netbook on the tray table during my upcoming flights from Denver to Chicago and back. But have you ever tried to write on an airplane? If you've succeeded, you're shorter, smaller, and more dedicated than I am. Seated in the back of a packed flight, I'm lucky if I can enjoy a paperback.

More realistically, I'll have to use those three or four hours in my hotel room Monday night after dinner. (After that, I can catch up with my email.) Then Tuesday morning I can grab another three hours between breakfast and when I have to catch a ride to the airport. That's six or seven hours—almost done. Tuesday evening after driving home and unpacking, I can fire up my computer and invest the final hour or two.

Nobody ever said meeting deadlines—your own or those imposed on you—is easy. But in this business if you want to succeed, it helps to be able to make use of those little snatches of time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Give Your Book a Second Life by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Book titles have always been highly important, but they are even more so now--in this day and age of search engines. If you have an old book and have regained the rights to it, consider repackaging it with a new cover and title to give it new life.

Most book reviewers will not review a book with a copyright date older than 12 months. Therefore, make sure you get a new copyright date so reviewers will be willing to consider it. Often, it seems that books age faster than a car as soon as you drive it off the dealer lot. 

Here are a few ways to make your book launch last longer:

1) Never marry your book title. Publishers and publicists have lots of experience in knowing what kind of titles sell and which ones don't. Lean on their expertise in this area. My debut novel went from Promised Betrayal to Promised Blessings to Highland Blessings. The marketing department felt like people who like Scottish historicals would search more often with Highland in their search phrases. Thus, my sequel went from Secret Blessings to Highland Sanctuary.

  • First Impressions became Pride & Prejudice
  • Mistress Mary became The Secret Garden
  • Pansy became Gone With the Wind

Give Your Book a Subtitle. This allows the book to have more search words and gives it better functionality when people search for similar topics or titles, thereby increasing the algorithm of the search engine optimization.

Plan a Second Book Launch for a Second Life. If you don't have another book releasing right away, you could establish a second book launch around 6-8 months before it ages to that 12 month stage. Traditionally, authors have been trained to plan for the initial book launch and once that happens, it's all over. Ebooks that never go out of print and new online technology is not only changing the way books are published and marketed, but how people buy them. 

Continue to Offer Your Backlist to New Tribe Members. Your books may be a year old or more, but someone that has newly discovered you and loves your work won't care. I've had several people discover my sequel before my debut novel.  People love discovering an author who has a whole package of books they can read. It's like Christmas to book lovers in your genre. Even if you have a long list of books, as long as they are available, list them on your site with a link to purchase them.

What are your thoughts? Have you found other ways to make your books last longer or to give them a second life?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guest Blog from Joyce Hart’s client, Ace Collins

One Person’s Idea Only Has Value Through Teamwork

As I contemplate the multitude of directions my words have taken me over my career, I have a bit of envy for those who stick to a single genre and solitary focus for their novels. There is a thread of continuality and stability in their work that I can’t claim. In the past year I have written a book, Reich of Passage, that combines action, adventure, political intrigue with a touch of medical science fiction, a novel, Darkness Before Dawn, that examines the rage of a woman whose husband is killed by a drunk driver, The Cutting Edge, a tale of model who is unknowingly being stalked by a man who slashed her face and ruined her life, a whodunit, The Yellow Packard, that has a car driving a plot of murder and kidnapping set in the Great Depression and, The Christmas Star, a book involving a sixteen-year-old boy dealing with the death of his Medal of Honor winning father in 1945. In a very real sense, each of these novels is vastly different from the others. These books are looking at life from completely different point of views, have vastly different settings and employ themes ranging from saving the world to seeking justice to simply finding a reason to live. And, as I study my next likely projects, this eclectic mix of subjects, settings, periods and themes continues. I’m even throwing in a devotional book into the mix. So, why am I all over the place when so many others stay on the same page? The answer is obvious.

I learned a long ago that I am wired much differently than most people. I seem to have an interest in everything. I want to know the story behind each person I meet. I can’t watch a classic movie without checking on the history of the actors, why the script was written and the locations used in filming. I do the same thing with sports, books and even the Bible. I have to know the backstories. That is really how Reich of Passage was born. I dug into the history of an actress after watching one of her films. After reading three biographies and seeing all her movies, I began to wonder, could someone like this deal with life in a modern world. How would she fit in if she had a “Rip Van Winkle” experience that transported her from 1937 to today? That idea grew in my mind to becoming a challenge for a book. To create the plot I had to find a way to take someone who had died at the age of twenty-six and bring them back to life in today’s world. That led me to exploring everything to do with her era including language and fashion. Then, as just having her come to life was not enough to create an interesting story, I had to dig into the past to find a plot that would give her life meaning in the future. What resulted is likely one of the best things I’ve ever written and maybe the most fun I’ve ever had at a keyboard. But is a finished book that is never published really a book? In my mind it isn’t and that is where the solitary nature of a writer is left behind and as give my work to someone else.

Considering all the different genres I like to use and all the different ideas that are constantly floating in my head leads me to the reveal the most important element in advancing my career.  I have an agent who encourages me to go in whatever direction I am going at that moment. She doesn’t limit me or force me to confirm to a specific mold. She lets me be me. And when I am finished with my work, I have to have faith in her ability to sell what I have created. Thus, I must trust her enough to let her be her.

Writing might well be a solitary experience in its beginning stages but it is a team sport. Successful writers have to have an agent who believes in their ability to tell a story. That agent has to accept us for all our quirks. Then that agent has to find a publisher or publishers who recognize the potential of our work and that agent has to convince those publishers our books have value. Then come the editors who show us the holes in our manuscripts, put us back to work fixing our books and link us to some incredible folks who do everything from design covers to securing sellers who’ll caring our product. When you consider all the people it takes to produce the book it is overwhelming. Yet it is that team that brings one idea to life.  It is that team, beginning with the agent and ending with the readers, that allows my unique way of looking at the world actually go from curiosity to concept to book.  This past week at ICRS, I was able to meet some members of one of those teams and it was an exciting and humbling experience. I am still amazed that have faith in an eclectic person like me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana L. Flegal

Hi Ya'll!
Thank you for taking time from your summer schedule to drop in and read today's First Page.

Middle Grade – Historical Fiction
            I could’ve finished raising Gracie and Jack myself – if I’d been given the chance. Mama always said I was the responsible one of the family, looking out after her and the babies when Pop up and died on us. It was Pop who said men had no business raising babies; said it was woman’s work. But Pop didn’t know Mama would die so soon and leave us orphaned. I might have been only twelve but I was the oldest son and reckoned it was my duty to take up where Mama left off.
            My plans changed though when old widow woman McGuire, with her thick rimmed glasses and teeth that bounced when she talked, stuck her nose all up in our business. She alerted authorities we were three kids alone. Sheriff said he had no choice but to notify our next of kin after she squealed on us like she did. I tried hard – and for a mighty long time – not to hate her for that.
Our next of kin was Grandma of course, or Gam as we’d always called her. Once she knew, I figured she’d be blowing in on the next stiff wind, leastwise a short time after we laid Mama down. Sure enough I was right.
She hadn’t been around us younguns in a heap of moons. Matter of fact, she hadn’t seen Gracie, who was nine, in six years and never had laid eyes on Jack. So none of us were quite sure what to expect out of Gam. Most I remembered about her was things I’d heard Mama and Pop saying late at night after we were in bed. Best I could recall, most of it wasn’t too good. Gracie I’m sure, remembered less than I did about her. 

Please let us know if you would read on. We appreciate your comments :-) Stay Cool and enjoy summer. It seems as fast as the 4th of July goes by it just ZOOMS!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Punctuation Shock by Andy Scheer

I looked forward to reading this novel. But after the first five pages, I'm not sure I can. There's something too distracting.

That bothers me. I belong to an organization for collectors of this author's books. I met the co-author at the group's convention last fall, and I'll likely see him again in October. And I've already enjoyed three of his books.

So it's not the genre that bothers me. I've read the previous eight in the series multiple times. And book nine, the first by this co-author, struck me just fine.

Nor did I find anything troubling about the promised storyline. Well, the prologue bears strong resemblance to a novel I just edited, but how many ways can you depict an aircraft attack on a naval vessel in World War II?

In keeping with the primary author's reputation, I saw no hint of offensive language or gratuitous sex or violence. So what troubled me?

It's an editor thing. If you ever had doubts that editors are weird, cast them aside. We're weird. What tripped me up—three times—was the lack of serial commas.

Yes, those commas the Chicago Manual of Style says to insert for clarity before the “and” in a series: Tom, Dick, and Harry. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. Those commas.

I first edited for a newspaper, then a magazine—places where the Associated Press Stylebook reigned and serial commas were anathema. But I switched loyalties. Now I spend my time editing books or working to sell them to publishers. Especially when editing, I have to think and breathe Chicago style. That's what I consider normal.

It's like traveling to another country. This summer when I traveled to Guelph, Ontario, to teach at the Write! Canada conference, I expected the writing samples would have the letter U inserted in such words as color and honor, and I expected the E and the R to be transposed in theater and center. It's just they way they do things—in Canada.

When I pick up my weekly Sports Illustrated, I know what to expect: AP style in all its glory. My expectations were equally solid when I began this title from Putnam. I dismissed the first missing comma as a typo. I knew the book had been written and produced on a tight deadline. Typos happen, especially when they're the kind spell-check never catches.

I shook it off and climbed back into the storyworld. I lasted two pages. Then a missing comma again bounced me out of the story. Disorientation struck. Had the publisher adopted its own house style for punctuation? Is this a foreshadowing of CMOS 17? Is the serial comma about to go the way of the dodo and compact mass paperbacks? I certainly wasn't thinking about the storyline.

Tonight, with my expectations patched back together, I'll re-enter the book, buckle in, and try to stay there. I hope the story and the style are strong enough to keep my mind off the commas.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Scare Me, I Love it! by Linda S. Glaz

A re-cycled, edited, and refreshed post on SUSPENSE!
Are you as crazy about suspense as I am?
I, for one, would never want to pack heat, walk the street,
and find myself face to face with a mugger just salivating
over the last two bucks in my wallet.
(and believe me, that's on a good day right after getting paid)
I would, however, love the opportunity of facing the same
criminal element if I were the character:
Super Chick!
She's not afraid to face the bad guys.
She seeks them out, corners them, dares them
to cross her path. And when she's done,
she dashes home, puts on a spot of makeup,
(she's ravishing by the way)
and is ready to be Super Cool, soccer mom
of three--a talented cook and bottle washer.
She's triumphed over evil in the world one more time.
She's reminiscent of Rosie the Riveter;
she can do anything!
No one's the wiser.
Is she afraid?
Well, there was that one time
when the baby had projectile vomiting.
Really scary stuff!!!
At its best...
 suspense in the safety of your home is an awesome book:
crashing down doors of hardened criminals,
walking in dark alleys, alone, with hundred-dollar bills
hanging out of your pockets, maybe ripping a child from
the grasp of a would-be kidnapper disguised as a clown.
(did I mention God blessed me with a quirky imagination?)
All on the pages of a book.
You can't wait to plunk down your money,
rush home, and see where the suspense will take you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A writing lesson from the movies by Terry Burns

So many writers think they are through when they write the story. 

Actually that's when crafting the story should begin. Like a director of a movie that takes all the raw scenes that he's shot and goes into the cutting room to weave them into a movie, the writer takes the raw chapters and starts working on the pacing and the flow, engaging the reader here and picking up the pace there. This is where the writer moves scenes to push a reader at the end of a chapter into the next one, watching to see that the story doesn't slow down at a point to where the reader loses interest. 

I get several hundred submissions a month of people wanting me to represent their work, and this is probably the greatest failing in them. The author may have a pretty good story concept, but it just doesn’t flow, it doesn’t guide the reader through it. In fact, a great number of them fail to get the reader off the very first page.

A major portion of rejections occur right at that point, I call it the “Barnes and Noble test.” If we want to learn how manuscripts are rejected, we just need to sit in a bookstore for a while and watch the patrons. They pick up a book, read the back cover and the first page, maybe sample a little more, but those two are all that we can count on. They keep doing this until one of them pushes them off that first page and down into the book. When that happens they will usually carry it to the checkout stand. 

Editors know this and judge them the same way. We can have the greatest story in the world, but if we don’t get them off that first page, it doesn’t matter. This is part of putting on that director hat and directing the book after we get the basic story written. Did you ever hear somebody tell a joke that was hilarious, then later hear someone else tell the joke using the exact same words and it bombs? The difference is delivery, the pacing and flow, knowing the timing necessary to get the laugh. George Burns told the same old tired jokes for 50 years but they were always funny, because his timing and delivery were impeccable. 

No, we couldn't possible handle as many submissions as we get. That means a good manuscript is not good enough. It has to be exceptional, it has to stand out from the crowd. A big secret to taking that manuscript past good and on to exceptional is realizing after we take off the writer’s hat and put on the editor’s hat to clean up a story once it is written, that is just grammar and copy-editing and formatting. Too few writers change the hat the third time to put on that director’s hat, go into the cutting room and think of nothing but how to make their story flow so it pulls the readers in and then subtly guides them through it. 

More writers need to be doing that – no, actually, I think all writers need to take that step.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana L. Flegal

Thank you for stopping by our blog today. Since we have no First Page for you today - we are happy to list the Christy Award winners announced this week at ICRS in Orlando. Congrats to all

      by Ronie Kendig
      Barbour Publishing 
      The Amish Midwife
      by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
      Harvest House Publishers
      Promises to Keep
      by Ann Tatlock
      Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group
      by Ginny Yttrup
      B&H Publishing Group
      Wonderland Creek
      by Lynn Austin
      Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group
      The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
      by Julie Klassenby
      Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group
      The Queen
      by Steven James
      Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing
      Veiled Rose
      by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
      Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group
      by Lisa T. Bergren
      David C Cook
You can find out more about the books and authors from the official Christy Award press release. To find the list of other nominations and the replay of the ceremony’s live blog, visit the official Christy Awards site.

We also want to thank last weeks courageous author, Becky L. Miller.
You can find out more about Becky at her personal blog A Christian Worldview of Fiction - http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/and her editing blog, Rewrite, Reword, Rework - http://rewriterewordrework.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One More Time by Andy Scheer

This has been a week for me to re-read books. I hope I'm not alone in this.

Sometimes people talk about comfort foods: simple, hearty dishes they associate with times of security. With a young granddaughter in the house, I remember when my own children would snuggle with a favorite blanket. Now my granddaughter is doing her best to wear out CD versions of the same “baby song” videos my children once watched on VHS. She comes by the habit honestly.

This past week I worked all-out on a big editorial project. Even with listening to upbeat “West Coast” traditional jazz by the Yerba Buena Stompers, by suppertime my brain was ready to switch off. The detailed biography I'd been enjoying (about William J. Donovan, who founded the precursor to the CIA), suddenly because too heavy, packed with too much information. .

Time for a comfort book: a story I knew I'd enjoy—simply because I'd already enjoyed it multiple times.

Edgar Award-winner Aaron Elkins met my need via an old-fashioned mass paperback novel called Little Tiny Teeth. A few years had passed since I'd last read it, so I'd forgotten which of the half-dozen well-motivated suspects introduced in the opening chapters would commit the murder. No matter, I knew I was in for an entertaining boat ride up the Amazon, spiced by an entertaining cast and directed by a writer skilled in presenting the flavor of exotic locations.

I liked it so much that when I had to do fifty minutes of grilling this afternoon, I reached for another of his paperbacks, Curses!, a mystery set at an archaeological dig in Mexico. This time I opened the book knowing full well who had committed the crime. But for me, the point is enjoying the journey—plus anticipating getting to all the places I've especially enjoyed each time I've read it before.

Earlier today I started re-reading Paul Theroux's Riding the Iron Rooster, his 1988 account of traveling by train to every corner of mainland China. I'd not read it for a decade, but this weekend I found a hardcover first edition at a thrift store. I knew that like other travel accounts (William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, Stephen Coonts's The Cannibal Queen, and John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley come to mind), it's prime for revisiting every so often.

With a 900-mile each way drive coming this October, and an even longer one scheduled for November, I've begun stocking up on audio books. This weekend I ripped three (by Elizabeth Peters, Grant Blackwood, and Jack du Brul) to my MP3 player, and I've just purchased three more on Ebay. No surprise, they're books I've already read. But the routes I'll be driving on both trips will be familiar, so why shouldn't the books?

Monday, July 16, 2012


Anyone else remember the words? Some lady dancin' around in the tropics, fruit on her head, maracas clanking? I have a feeling a lot of folks are singing that song this summer. I know I am and I’d rather be singing, BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE.
Never a warm weather person, not even as a kid, I’m feeling plenty blue this summer as the tomato plants wither, the walks in the morning become more like hours in the sauna, and breathing takes on a new face—difficult!
But heat waves can also trigger some wonderful summer reading. Have you curled up in front of the A/C this summer with a good book, print or electronic, in your hands along with an iced mocha coffee? If so, what would your summer recommendation be?
I read the first Clark suspense I’ve read in a while. But the sameness overwhelmed me and I think my days of reading her books are over. But I finished Tim Downs Bug Man series, and I have to say he is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite authors. Am right now finishing Raquel Byrnes Ruby Dawn, and I love it. She wrote characters that drew me right in. Am finishing Mothers and Daughters by Teena Stewart, and loved the delightful historical romance Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson. Oddly enough, she’s a crit partner, and I’ve read it a couple times before, but after all the tweaks and such, I enjoyed reading it again. The same with Cheryl Martin’s Pineapple series for kids. Never thought I’d be looking forward to the middler’s book coming out, but her characters are adorable.
Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum series. Though her books sometimes contribute to the heat wave, I still enjoy the stories. While it’s long since been time for the series to end and the melodrama to finally play out, her humor just never ends. I can’t get enough of Grandma Mazur and her blue-green-purple-pink, or whatever color hair she’s sporting at the moment. Or the big-barrel gun she hides in her purse. I also reread some of Dee Henderson’s books. Love her suspense with a dash of romance. Well written.
Avoided Shades of Grey, even I know what NOT to read in a heat wave. Besides, do we really need another book that rides the shirttails of hormones?
And, of course, in the midst of the well knowns, plenty of novels by new authors who I’ve brought on board. Some wonderful reads there.
What are you reading to cool down the heat wave this summer? Any brilliant reads you’d like to share?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Video Book Trailers Rely on Effective Distribution by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Video book trailers are still a huge debate as to whether or not they sell books. I would encourage authors not to view them as a single promotional tool, but as a key asset to an overall marketing plan for a book launch. Your video book trailer alone, will not sell tens of thousands of copies, but neither will your blog tour, or your banner ads, or your social media posts and tweets unless you already have a name like Nicholas Sparks or Karen Kingsbury.

Book sales are derived from a series of promotional efforts and strategies through multiple tools and channels, as well as the old fashioned word-of-mouth.

As more books are sold via digital platforms, I believe the role of the video book trailer will evolve, especially for younger generations.

For example, when I show my video book trailers to readers who are in the baby boomer generation or older, some (not all) struggle to keep up with the changing slides, read the words, or the music may be too much for their taste. I'll get comments like, "It went too fast." or "I'm still not sure what it's about."

However, when I do presentations at my daughter's school to a group of 14 and 15 year olds, I can tell them what the book is about, give them my TV-blurb, and no reaction. Yet, when I stop talking and show them the video book trailer, I get the WOW reaction. "That's cool!" or "Can we see it again?" or "I wanna read it!"

Think of your video book trailer as a teaser or a movie trailer to lure people into a story. A movie trailer entices people to want to "see something", while a video book trailer should make them want to "read something". Either way, whether it is a book or a movie, you are drawing them into a story. There is a saying in the publishing world, that Story is King - it's no different with video book trailers. Hook them with the story. After that comes the details.

Video book trailers are short (usually no more than a minute or so) videos that are essentially a ‘commercial’ for your book. A good video book trailer includes a number of multimedia elements including music, subtitles, imagery, and in more elaborate cases voice overs and custom-filmed action video. The goal of the video book trailer is, of course, to get the viewer to purchase the book.

In social media, you will hear marketers say it is all about content. Well, your video book trailer is all about the story--which is your content.

The Details 

Here are a few unspoken rules about creating good, engaging video book trailers.
  • Keep it short. Less than 2 min. 
  • Don't use annoying unprofessional voices. If you can't find someone with a compelling voice, stick to music. 
  • Theme music to match your story. Try to time the frame transitions and movement to prominent beats and specific sounds. 
  • Photos and images with good resolution. They should not be blurry, pix-elated, or stretched out of proportion. 
  • Keep the frames moving at a steady pace. If you need a frame to hold for more than 2-4 sec so it can be read or narrated, you have too much text or narration. Cut the text to sound bytes or cut the narration in half.
  • Make sure the text you use is large enough to read, a color that doesn't blend in with the image background, or use an insert slide if you must have the text. 
  • Have others view it before you upload it to YouTube or anywhere online. Be open to constructive criticism. Once you're video is out there - it's out there.
  • Make sure it looks professional. You don't want a mediocre video giving readers the impression that your book is mediocre quality. You want them to be enticed to read your story after viewing the video, not be turned off by it. 
Distributing Your Video Book Trailer
Outside of Google, YouTube is the second most searched site on the web. This means your title, key words and description must be gripping and catchy. In order to keep your videos from being buried among the masses on the site, you need to upload it everywhere else possible. Besides YouTube, try uploading it to GoogleVideo, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Christian Book Videos, GodTube. Your video book trailer will  of course be on YOUR site and your publishers, right?

Take advantage of your personal accounts and upload it to your website/blog, online media kit, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitpic for Twitter, Behance for LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, Google+, and other social media sites where you may have a profile.

Did you make your own video book trailer? Are there any other sites you have found to share your video book trailers? Please share.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Doing Workshops and Programs by Terry Burns

I do a lot of programs and workshops, generally one or two a month. I have some that continue to be asked for even though I have done them for several years, and I add new ones from time to time as they are requested or as they occur to me.

I have one I call "Too Shy to Pitch and Promote" which is one I have done the longest. I started doing it on the spur of the moment at one conference when I realized how many writers were there that were simply too shy to take advantage of the opportunities to pitch an agent or editor. Then I discovered that a lot of writers have trouble with that even if they aren't the shy type. They have trouble because they don't know how to present themselves as a writer. I touch on both in the program now. Maybe I ought to re-title it "Developing a Writer's Personna." Whatcha think?

One that has been very well received when I have been asked to present it I call "Writing to Reach the Unbeliever." I maintain that writing with that goal in mind is 180 degrees different from writing for the family of the faithful. Writing for the Christian market the readers expect to see very strong faith content and see it very early or they will probably decide the book is not what they want to read. With a nonbeliever strong faith content right up front will probably make them put it down. In this program I talk about why I think that happens and what to do about it to reach that market. I also believe that a "crossover book" is not one that is written to reach both, that usually ends up not doing a good job of reaching either, but one that does an awesome job of aiming one market or the other and manages to cross over and be read by the other market as well.

"Editor and Agent Pet Peeves" - Hartline agent Linda Glaz and I have worked on collecting these little gems from a variety of agents and editors, as well as from a lot of writers speaking of their pet peeves ABOUT agents or editors and we both do a program on them that is both enlightening and interesting.

"Just Say Yes" is my strongest faith based program. I've done it as a keynote, testimony, dinner speech or devotional, as well as a regular workshop. I was stunned to come to believe that when the Holy Spirit impresses on us the need to do something, there are just two possible answers, yes or no. Maybe, or later, or a variety of other excuses are not alternate answers, they are just another way of saying no. I really don't want to be saying no to God, so coming to this realization has greatly affected my own service to the Lord. This is also probably THE greatest hurdle for people to overcome in making a decision to be saved.

"Survive Your Way to Publication" is a program I did as a month-long online program for the American Christian Fiction Writers. I was asked to do it because of a statement I used to have in my email signature that said "getting published is not a selection process, it is a survival process." This program explores how to survive the many obstacles to publication. It also looks at a proposal not on WHAT should be in them, but why the items are in there and what we want them to do.

"It's Not My Job to Sell Your Manuscript." What? I thought that was an agents job. In this one I talk about the fact that it is OUR job to sell it, not just my job and what writers can do to work with an agent to improve their chances of success.

An agents panel or editor panel are always popular at conferences, but some conferences are too small for that and I do an "Agents Q and A" in such instances as a substitute. Of course I like to do all of my workshops in a Q & A format as much as I can to better reach the needs of the participants.

From time to time I add programs or replace them. Any of them sound interesting to you or do you have a suggestion for one you would like to see done? Have any agent or editor pet peeves you want to toss out?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana Flegal

Hi Y'all;
We hope your summer is off to a great start. Thank you for stopping by our blog today.

Today's First Page submission is an adult fantasy. Let us know in the comments below if you would read on or not.

Part 1
Epoch of Lord Abador – 19 Cida to 11 Fenad, 4702
The Other Worlder will instigate the end of the Epoch of Lord Abador either as Efrathah's staunchest defender or its most eminent foe.
 - from Rutad Jardan's Summations

Chapter I—The Fall

            On the basketball court, Jim Thompson expected trash talk. Here in his parents' beach-side condo, not so much.
            Kent Tanner, the jet-setting owner of the place next door, crossed his arms over his puffed-out chest. "It's better you got cut, Jim. Now you can settle down and get a real job. Only exceptional athletes make it big in the NBA."
            The guy's jab landed, just north of Jim’s own fears. He waggled his head back and forth the way that Denver Broncos wide receiver used to do when he popped to his feet after taking a ferocious hit. No way would Jim let Tanner know his cheap shot stung. The burble of conversation from the other guests swirled around them, peaking with an explosion of laughter from a bunch of college kids nearby. Friends of his sister, no doubt. When their voices died down, Jim eased back a step and parroted what he’d been telling his fans since his surgery. "I appreciate your concern, Kent, but this is only a temporary setback. I'm not done with basketball yet."
            "Trust me on this, kiddo, you don't want to be one of those players bouncing from team to team, earning next to nothing. There's no future in it."
            "I’ll keep that in mind." Jim flashed his photo-op smile, the best way to slam the door on the discussion. He couldn't listen to any more dreary predictions about his career. No matter what Tanner or anybody else said, he wasn't washed up. He could still play. All he needed was a chance to prove it.

Last weeks author submission was from author Cheryl Malandrinos.
You can learn more about Cheryl at one of her many online spots listed here.
Cheryl C. Malandrinos


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Table Reunion by Andy Scheer

At Mount Hermon a few years ago with
James Scott Bell and Angela Hunt.
You never know when you're going to run into an old friend, especially if you're involved in the world of writing.

This past Saturday morning my wife and I headed out on our daily walk, venturing into the neighborhood just west of us. My wife had checked online for garage sales and guided us toward a street where we'd find a sale.

“That's the street where Jeff Gerke lives,” I said, “the guy who runs Marcher Lord Press.” As we approached mid-block, I suspected the sale might even be at Jeff's house.

It was. Technically not a garage sale, Jeff's wife was conducting a fund-raiser for a friend with cancer. Besides lots of childrens clothes and computer items, there were tables loaded with books. I let my wife see if there were any nice outfits for our granddaughter, and I gravitated toward the good stuff.

Jeff walked from his house into the garage, spotted me at the table full of Christian fiction, and came over to shake hands.

The moment stood in contrast to the irony of our usual meetings. Though we live less than a five-minute drive away, we typically see each other only at writers conferences, at such places as Estes Park, Colorado; Leesburg, Florida; or Overland Park, Kansas. Even when you live in the same community—and the community is home to several publishing houses and dozens of writers—the best place to run into another writer, editor, or agent is still at a conference.

Jeff and I chatted awhile, getting caught up on what had happened since we'd last seen each other, in March at the Florida Christian Writers Conference. That's when I glanced down at the table of Christian fiction and had my reunion.

There on the table were lots of friends: Gayle Roper and Brandilyn Collins and Al Gansky and Rene Gutteridge and many others I've known for years—some just through their books and others through meetings at conferences. I was glad to run into them again at Jeff's. I wonder where else they were that weekend.

Monday, July 9, 2012

HARD TO SAY NO by Linda S. Glaz

It’s doggone hard to say no to a query for a good book.
But let me ask you this—when you walk into a book store and drop ten to twenty dollars on a book, are you willing to accept only good? OR do you expect the book to be very exceptional? I guess that’s what it all boils down to. But I’m not sure who hurts more when there is so much potential and we have to say no.
Let’s look at a few reasons why.
First and foremost would be sending me things I don’t handle. It’s pretty straightforward on our site that we don’t handle profanity and explicit sexuality. If your little sister or grandma would blush, we don’t take it. I’ve received more than a dozen queries for erotica this last two weeks alone. And if the query makes me blush…
Second, let your masculine characters be masculine. Men don’t talk a lot. They get to the point and move on. They don’t internally whine as much as women do (sorry, ladies), but they are different creatures than we are. They aren’t constantly trying to figure out their feelings. When they look at girl, they don’t stop and think about the weather forecast. They’re GUYS!
Third, don’t age yourself as an author if you’re over 50 by having your young characters named Wilma and Horace. Not gonna happen in 2012. Or have them say things like groovy, golly, and “gee she’s swell!” as well as a myriad of other things that younger people today wouldn’t say. This goes for internal dialogue as well.
Fourth, please don’t preach in your novels. If you are writing inspirational, be subtle, go easy. NO one, not even another Christian wants to be preached at. Characters can have faith-filled existence, but you don’t need to ram it down the reader’s throat. Even a scene for coming to know Christ doesn’t need to be preachy.
Okay, four reasons why I might say no. There are others: poor grammar, punctuation, no sense of formatting whatsoever, bad attitude in query letter, informing me that God told you to write the book and so I have to take it. And on and on and on.
Next week I hope to give you a few hints about what an agent loves to see. At least, from my perspective.
Have a good one.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guide to Writing & Distributing Media Releases by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The biggest rule to remember when writing a media release is, don't write fluff, stick with the facts.  

Distributing Media Releases
In the past these news items were referred to as press releases since they were traditionally sent to TV and radio stations, and newspapers. Writers at public relations firms and businesses were at the mercy of the press as to whether or not it was picked up and promoted in the news outlets. If it was picked up, it was harder to target where it might run once it hit the AP News wire and other similar services. These days, through websites, blogs and social media networks, we have direct access to our target markets and press releases are more often referred to as media releases or news releases

Now we are better off targeting specific bloggers, local news media, online groups, and social media that have demonstrated an interest in the topic of the news release. Twitter and Facebook could be better than the AP News wire for some authors. How can a book compete with a natural disaster that is killing thousands on the AP News Wire? It can't. However, the announcement of your book release to 400 individuals in a book club on Goodreads has a better chance of getting noticed because they want to know the latest book releases.

It isn't rocket science, but it does require a different thought process and approach. 

In addition to your own platform and networks, here are few online places that will distribute media releases. Be sure to check some of them out to make sure they haven't started charging a fee since I last checked them.

Writing a Media Release
My advice is to remember the basic Who, What, When, Where, and Why -- the 5 W's. 

Who is the media release about? In most cases, it would be the author. Keep the bio short, 2 sentences and a website/blog for more info. Included a head/shoulder image.

What is the media release about? The title of the book, publisher, short blurb of no more than a sentence or two. Include a link to a video book trailer. Include an image of the book cover.

When is the release date and/or launch event? This is where you would include info on a book signing or a blog tour with a link.

Where is the book available? List the bookstores or online sites. This should not be an extensive list. Keep it to 5-6 listings and include direct links if you want.

Why should they care about your book over millions of others? Keep this short and don't fluff. You could compare it to other great books, mention an award the book has won, movie option, or outstanding reviews, preferably from an established source that is well-recognized. 

Some Rules to Follow
Below are some simple rules to follow when writing and distributing a media release. 

Keep your Media Release Professional and Simple. Ignore the temptation to use goofy fonts, rainbow colored text, and flashy graphics. Keep your words simple and don't try to fluff and make outrageous claims. 

Be Brief. Keep your sentences short. Cut out excess words that are fluff and hype, adjectives and adverbs where possible. Don't describe, tell and explain. Only give facts.

Target the Receiver. Research the right bloggers and local media editors who are interested in the topic of your book. If someone only promotes historicals, and you send them a media release on a contemporary, you are wasting your time and theirs. They won't appreciate it, and the delete button is easy to hit.

Use Present Tense. If your media release sounds like it happened a year ago, the news won't have an urgent feel to it. Make it sound newsworthy by it being an upcoming announcement and timely.
Don't Make Outrageous Claims or Lie. Don't tell them they will love your book. They may hate it. Ignore the temptation to exaggerate or twist facts to make up better stats. If you are not a bestselling author on one of the recognized lists, don't say that you are just because your book might have hit number one on the free Amazon ebook list.
Let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Should I Quit Writing? by Terry Burns

She caught me off guard with that question. She sat down for an appointment and instead of pitching her projects she launched into how her kids were interrupting her writing time, how church and work and just life in general left her no time to write. She listed obstruction after obstruction and said when she did find time to write that it wouldn’t come, that she was getting nowhere with it. Then she hit me with that question.

I didn’t hesitate a heartbeat but just said “yes.”

She was probably expecting a pep talk or at least for me to commiserate with her. I didn’t. I said, “I think anyone who can quit writing should do so. All of the writers I know CAN’T quit. They have words inside them that have to come out. The serious writer simply has to do it.”

Writing is not easy. There is never time to do it, and there is a huge amount of frustration and difficulty involved. Why would anyone put themselves through it if they didn’t have to? Oh, I know there are those who say “When the kids leave I’ll have time to write.” Or when I retire, or if I come into money, or any other factor in their life that will create this big block of time where they can easily write.

Never happens. Life expands to fill the amount of time available. There is always something to take up the time. The serious writer has to carve out writing time and jealously protect it. Maybe there are people who can dabble at it, a fun little diversion that they do here and there, and they don’t stress over it or worry about it not producing the results they want to have. That’s someone who writes as a hobby, and that’s okay. It makes a nice little hobby if they don’t care about getting a lot of books out and can settle for hobby results, a few books to family and friends, maybe a few outsiders.

But if they have to start trying to write better, to reach more people, to get serious about it. Then it won’t let them be, and it can be a hard taskmaster. Sure, if you can quit, do so, and spend your time on something easier that provides quicker gratification.

She left stone-faced, shaken. I saw her the next day and she said, “I took your advice and felt an immediate peace come over me that I could let it go. But it kept coming back nagging at me. Finally I realized that I really can’t quit.”

I smiled at her. “Then quit making excuses and feeling sorry for yourself. You don’t have any more things fighting to steal your time than anyone else. All writers face it, even the ones that seem to be writing full time and that is all they do. Don’t believe it. They are warding off constant things that want to steal their time. They just have to be disciplined and protect that time no matter what.”

She nodded and said she understood. “Everyone else has been feeling sorry for me and telling me things will get better. You’re the first one that has ever slapped me in the face and told me I should quit or get on with it.”

Really? Maybe there are others who need a wake up call on protecting their writing time. Why did I know what to say so easy? Because being an agent has stolen almost all of my writing time. Oh, the job had some help from family, church and life in general, but I made a conscious decision that helping other writers was more important than my own writing and now I get to do precious little of it. I was talking to myself as much as I was talking to her.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana L. Flegal

Welcome to Hartline's weekly column,  Would You Read On?
We appreciate you stopping by and welcome your comments below.

 This submission is a middle grade historical novel set in a fictional New England town in the 1870s

Chapter One
What would Aunt Martha say if she knew? It occurred to Amelia that her aunt and caregiver would more than disapprove of her frolicking along the edge of Ridgemont Lake with Ralph when she was supposed to be studying her lessons.
But the day had called to her. It was one of those glorious early autumn days where the elements couldn’t decide if they wanted to let go of summer. The warm breezes danced through her hair and tickled her cheeks. The sun peeked out playfully from between the trees whose leaves were in the midst of their annual change to red, orange, and yellow. 
With bare feet Amelia jumped to the next rock, the moss squishy and slippery underneath her toes. Her slender arms stretched out to help maintain her balance, she exhaled deeply. Oh, if only every day could be like this.
The screech of a hawk drew her gaze up to the sky and threw her off balance. Two strong arms encircled her waist and pulled her unsteadily onto the grass.
“You best be careful Miss Amelia.” Ralph scolded her with a waving finger. “You go home drippin’ wet and Miss Ridgemont is sure to know you ain’t been studyin’.”
Amelia’s hand flew up to her forehead and she pretended to swoon. “How dreadful it would be to have a bit of fun.”
Ralph’s lips curled as he gave a hearty laugh. He turned to pull his fishing pole out of the water. He had tossed it aside when he went to save Amelia from a possible nosedive into the lake.

Last weeks contributing author was Sally Apokedak.
You can learn more about Sally and her passion for YA novels and writing at her blog.

Happy 4th of July to you and yours

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Save That Book by Andy Scheer

If you had to evacuate your home, what handful of books would you save?

This past week as a wildfire threatened the west side of Colorado Springs, the question of what to save became very real for some 30,000 residents. As neighborhoods fell under “pre-evacuation” status, people were advised to take key items if they had to flee. The suggested list included financial records, legal documents, prescriptions, spare clothing, pet food, and personal hygiene items.

According to the Denver Post, Ted Stefani, an Army surgeon who recently served in Afghanistan, had time to save their dog, the title to their car, computer hard drives, birth certificates, mementos from Iraq and Afghanistan, a baby blanket, and some clothes.

After he reunited with his wife and young son, they realized he'd forgotten a few key items. Fortunately they could replace their son's favorite teddy bear. And the two books the boy needs to hear each bedtime are still in print: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (1947) and Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (1940).

I'm grateful I wasn't displaced. Unlike the Stefani family and many others in Colorado Springs, I didn't lose my home. But their experience made me consider what items I'd try to save. Professionally, my netbook, flash drive, and portable hard drive would top my packing list. I'd also like to save a few photo albums from my pre-digital days. I'd hate to have to reassemble the collection of 45 rpm records I use when I call square dances. But I've already converted my favorite LPs to digital format on my portable hard drive. And I've never gotten into the habit of writing notes in Bible margins.

But books? My granddaughter's nursery doubles as a repository for a fairly extensive collection of signed first editions by a few twentieth century authors. If I could save only one, I'd rescue an autographed first edition of a $1.25 mass paperback released by Pyramid in 1973: The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler. (The current market value is somewhat higher.) I prize the book not simply because of its condition and moderate rarity, but also because it was a generous gift from a friend and fellow writer.

After that, perhaps I'd save a copy of the quirky children's book Rennet Dessert Is Nice by Pat the Bunny author Dorothy Kunhardt. Or maybe some original Tom Swift books that were my father's when he was a boy. With so many titles, the choice is tough.

What about you? If--after loading your family and pets, essential documents and computer, some clothing and supplies--you still had room for two or three books, what would you take?