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Friday, June 29, 2012

Promoting Your Book Isn't Hype by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

It's common sense business.

Lately, I've seen several blog posts and comments from authors suggesting that platform building and marketing is all a bunch of hype. The controversy centers around whether it is the responsibility of the author or the publisher, and the marketing ploys that take advantage of people without really helping, as well as concepts that cause authors to overburden themselves with unrealistic expectations.

I believe there is value on both sides of the argument, but we can't lose sight of the facts and our ultimate career goals as writers.

Let's take the first issue, who's responsibility is it?
I believe it belongs to both the author and the publisher. It's a fact that publishers do less than they use to do and many admit it. The fact that this is happening doesn't mean it's right or fair. Yet, it's our new reality, and we must learn to deal with it if we choose to be published authors.

Let's look at who has more at stake if the book doesn't succeed. Is it the author or publisher?

The publisher will lose money, and even that is something they can recoup in a better selling book. Therefore, they may decide not to publish future books by that author. Authors are easily replaced and new voices are rising up each day.

On the other hand, the author will lose money, credibility, and possible career set-backs. Readers don't look for publisher names on books. They look for author names. It isn't the publisher's career at stake, but the author's career. We are left to work with the resources that are given to us, and if the publisher isn't going to provide the necessary marketing and promotion, and the author wants the book to do well, it falls to the author. Complaining and resisting won't change the facts. It is, what it is.

Marketing ploys are in abundance and some of these are hype, but not all of them. Authors have to learn to weed out the bad and weave in the good where it can fit into their busy lives and schedules. Platform IS important. You can put a million dollar budget on your book, but if all that money is being spent on cold-calls, cold-ads, cold-announcements -- meaning none of the people have ever heard of you, it's a waste of money. Having a platform changes the game. People in your platform/network have heard of you, feel like they know you, feel that your work and your word has credibility, and they are more willing to pluck down their hard earned money for your book.

Concepts that overburden authors with unrealistic expectations ARE real. Authors feel overwhelmed, scattered everywhere, and they lose focus. You can't be expected to do everything, and no one is expecting you to. Some of us are our own worst enemy. We hear a few things and we automatically assume we must do this, that, and the other without sitting down praying about it, and fitting into our schedule logically and strategically. I've mentioned it before, create a Marketing Plan. It will help you focus on the needs that you need to be doing today, as you work toward your goals for a higher platform tomorrow.

When I find myself starting to complain and I'm feeling overwhelmed, that's when I need to sit down, pray and re-evaluate where I've lost my focus.
  • What new things have I taken on and allowed into my schedule that wasn't planned?
  • Am I comparing myself to others--way too much? 
  • Am I spending quality time with God and seeking Him about my burdens, essentially turning it all over to Him?
  • Did my editor/agent really say this or that had to be done or did I assume it just because they mentioned it would be a great idea. Do I need to get clarification?
  • Am I being impatient, expecting results now that in reality are going to take a year or several years to accomplish?
Have you caught yourself in the midst of some of these cycles? Do you have other coping skills you can offer and share with your colleagues?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana L. Flegal

Thank you for joining us today for this edition of Would You Read On? Please kindly comment below if you would like to continue reading.

Genre: Middle Grade YA Fantasy


Jonah Zackar stood at the woodpile, listening to the howling wind and remembering the warning Old Blind Alice had given him, last time he'd been out her way.
Her scratchy voice had added a creepiness factor to her words. "When birch branches clack in the wind, and rattle like dead men's bones, that means the little hairy men are searching." She'd trembled and pulled her afghan tight against the Alaskan chill. "Looking for victims," she'd whispered. "Wind makes 'em hungered."
Jonah squinted through the gap between his beaver fur hat and the wool scarf, which was wrapped across the bottom half of his face. All around, thin birch trees bowed, forced down by the unrelenting gale.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jonah caught a flash of color skittering across the snowy ground. He whipped around and stared.
Nothing.
Still the fine hairs on the nape of his neck stood up.
He shook the feeling off, telling himself to stop being silly. The movement he'd seen must have been twigs being blown about. He didn't believe in all that mumbo jumbo talk about little hairy men. He didn't believe they were out there, watching, with mouths watering, waiting for the perfect time to spring. What he did believe in was his uncle's temper. If he didn't get the wood in soon, he'd be a victim alright--Unc's victim. Moving clumsily, all bundled up in his thick fur parka and mittens, he shoved a piece of firewood into his bag.

Last weeks contributor was author Shelly Tucker. Shelly has recently set up a blog at www.shellytucker.com,  titled "Faith in the Desert". Please stop by and encourage her in this new endeavor.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


An editor, a writer, and an agent  by Andy Scheer


An editor, a writer, and an agent were walking down the street ...

Sounds like the opening of a joke, but it might be the start of something much more significant.

A couple decades ago, we'd worked as editors on the same magazine. Now one of us, on staff with a Chicago-area publisher, had invited the others to take part in a daylong seminar for their freelance editors. We'd not seen each other in months, so on the eve of the meeting we helped walk the editor's dog and we caught up on each others' lives.

As the writer described the latest challenge she faced, she used a phrase that nearly gave me goosebumps.

I stopped her, repeated the phrase, and told her she'd just identified her brand—an angle she could use to create a series of Christian living titles. Everything she'd been living for the past fifteen years was available at her fingertips as material she could fit under the umbrella of that casual, unplanned phrase.

The editor seconded the motion and joined what became a three-way brainstorming process.

That was last Tuesday evening. It's way too early for any of us to count chickens. My writer friend may not follow through (though I plan to keep reminding her). Even if she does, she may not opt to have me represent her. While our editor friend has a seat on the company's publications board, she can't control if they'll accept the project. And even if it's published, there's still the matter of sales ...

But for now, I'm glad I volunteered to take that walk.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Are You a Cold and Timid Soul? By Linda S. Glaz

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

My brother was an incredibly talented man and never knew it. He was an amazing writer. Wrote VERY much like Rod Serling. And, he was a prolific writer. An idea one minute, and a complete story the next.

One day, in a particularly courageous moment, he decided to send what was my favorite out to a publisher. In short time he received a rejection. When I asked him about it, he simply said, “They don’t like my writing.” End of story, end of writing career. Not one more word on paper.

He accepted only defeat and on the word of just one person. My heart broke for him, because he was a brilliant writer and had only to keep the courage, await the victory, stand firm in the knowledge that his was a worthy cause.

How many others give up with the first rejection and remain cold and timid souls instead of jumping into the arena and fighting to victory? Sadly, there are those who will never even know the triumph of at least trying. Of giving their all in the face of criticism.

Most of us can tell those who do, however. You stand tall, your face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood of determination as you hold your first contract in your hand.


Friday, June 22, 2012

People Are Missing the Value of LinkedIn by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

People spend so much time concentrating on building their following on Facebook and Twitter that they forget the unique value that LinkedIn offers them. While Facebook is so busy making it more difficult for authors and businesses to connect with people who have liked their page, LinkedIn is making it effortless.

Before Timeline, and fans turned into likes on Facebook, you could send a book release announcement to all your fans. Now you have to take out a paid ad and target them. They have to "happen" to see your announcement on their newsfeed, "if" they ever see it. Lots of people publish their email addresses on their About page, but you would have to physically go and check each one and manually log each individual's published email address it you wanted to set up a database. Then you would have to give them the option to opt out of receiving emails from you. It's very time consuming, especially if you have close to 5,000 friends.

Twitter is only as valuable as your influence, your ability to get others to retweet your messages or the apps you're using with it. If you send too many people the same message on a list through direct messaging, you could also risk getting banned for spamming. Granted, Twitter and Facebook both have huge value, but LinkedIn often gets undervalued among all the hype centered around the other two social media sites.

LinkedIn is different and much more valuable when it comes to networking and making valuable business connections. For all the connections you have on LinkedIn, you can actually download and export their contact names and email addresses and add them to your database. What better way to build your contacts? And for those of us who are trying hard to build our platforms and make the marketing section of our book proposals look great, we all know the importance and power of a strong database. Once you download your LinkedIn connections, be sure to give them the option to opt out of receiving emails from you and be careful not to spam them.

Login to LinkedIn and click on "Contacts" at the top and select "Connections". Scroll to the bottom of the page and on the right-hand side is a link "Export Connections". (See the image above.) Once you click this link, you'll be given the option to export your connections into Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Yahoo Mail, or Mac OS X Address Book. It doesn't offer the option to export into Gmail or Excel, but I believe you'll be able to export it again from one of these formats into other formats that you might need. It still beats trying to manually download each contact you've made the way you would have to do on Facebook and Twitter.

Did you know about this feature on LinkedIn? Have you taken advantage of it and used it?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The first page by Terry Burns


The purpose of the first page is simple – to get the reader to turn the page and move on down in the book. It has to be about the story, of course, but it is even more about hooking the reader into the book and selling the book.

In my own writing the first page is not the first thing I write but the last thing. I consider my first couple of chapters as temporary, they may or may not go into the book or if they do will probably need to be rewritten after I am really familiar with the story and the characters. Then when I am through and happy with it I go back and say “Okay, now how do I get them off this page?”

Readers don’t really care about the weather or the setting until they have decided they are going to read, then we can set the scene for them. What do I like to see on a first page? An action initiated that is not completed, curiosity aroused and not satisfied, a question posed and not answered, anything that begins on the page but is not completed until the next page.

While an agent or editor may not reject a book on the basis of just a first page, most of them want the page to be compelling. They know a majority of readers standing at a book rack pull a book down and read the back cover copy and the first page. The object is to get them to turn that page and read a little further into the book, because that’s when they will carry it up to the checkout stand. And that’s why first pages are so important.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana L. Flegal

Welcome to our Would You Read On? column. Kindly leave your comments below as to whether you would or would not read on.


Genre: Suspense


 “Ahhhh!” Mahayla Harrison’s piercing scream echoed across the snow-covered mountainside.
The earth-shattering force of the explosion sent Mahayla hurtling backward through the air. Pieces of jagged rock and burning timber seared and sliced through her skin. Red-hot embers, shattered glass and twisted metal rained down around her battered and bruised body.
Prying her eyes open, Mahayla saw stars and discovered nail-biting pain coursing through her body. Lungs burning, she tried to gasp for air, but her broken ribs wouldn’t allow more than a shallow breath. The distinct taste of iron grew in her mouth.
Through the cloud and confusion of pain, her mind worked its way back to clarity and to the reality of the situation. Not good. Whoever had penned the phrase “ignorance is bliss” had obviously seen this coming…reality bites.
Moaning, “No…Lori…”
Pushing with her elbow, Mahayla tried to sit up, but her body wasn’t cooperating. A throbbing sensation in her shoulder and below her ribs grew with intensity. With each breath, ribs popped and grated across each other. Collapsing, she lifted trembling fingers and slid them across her body. Blood saturated her parka. Jagged pieces of wood protruded from her skin.
Fear wrapped its way around her heart. She was losing too much blood. Stinging tears tumbled from her eyes, burning like acid against her chilled skin.
Memories flashed and questions flooded her mind. Her best friend Lori had been in the cabin before it blew…tied to a bed, bloody and covered in …roses What type of monster could have cut her and then covered her with roses?

Would you read on?


We want to thank last weeks contributing author, Dora Hires. You can find out more about Dora at these links.
Facebook 
Twitter Blog~Heart Racing, God-Gracing Romance

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pass It On  by Andy Scheer

 



The ripples are moving across the waters. In the few days since this year's Write! Canada conference in Guelph, Ontario, the people who attended have already begun to share what they've learned.

At first the ripples moved through conversations at the conference, blogs, and tweets. In the next few weeks, the influence will spread via reports at writers groups across the country. Then the deeper results will begin—through more effective articles that appear in newspapers, magazines, and websites. Eventually books, more powerful for what writers learned at the conference, will follow—but only after the online influence has circled the planet multiple times, touching lives in ways their writers will learn only in eternity.

I'm grateful to be part of the chain of influence. Though I've been teaching at writers conferences since the late 1980s, I'm also still learning from them.

This past week I rode from the airport to the conference centre (spelled the Canadian way) with two other agents. The car was filled with shop talk all the way from Toronto to Guelph. At dinner after the conference, I sat across the table from one of those agents. Among other news, I learned the answer to a question my colleagues at Hartline have been asking about what's happening at a certain publishing house. Now I know, and they do too.

I'd love to spend my entire time at a writers conference just listing; there's always so much to learn. But for faculty members that's never an option, so I try to be a good steward of what I've learned.

On my trip back from Toronto to Colorado, I reflected on how many people I'd spoken to at the conference, and the sources of that information. I taught two workshops and had six paid critique sessions, two dozen other appointments, and countless conversations. I can't remember how many times I cited information I'd learned from mentors, colleagues, and writers.

I trust my many new Canadian friends will also be faithful with what they've learned.

Monday, June 18, 2012

ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN DO by Linda S. Glaz

When I was in boot camp, my flight was scheduled for a Mini-White inspection the next day. As Dorm Chief, it was my job to see to it that everything was done and done correctly. I took this so seriously and had everyone working…working…working so we could pass the inspection. Another girl, one who wasn’t happy that I’d been selected as Dorm Chief, was also my roommate. At the last minute, I was assigned to dorm guard duty for our newer sister flight. That meant I wouldn’t be in our dorm to sneak around after lights out and get everything done for the inspection. It all rested with the troops, without me there.
My roommate assured me I shouldn’t worry, she’d see to it my laundry got done, shoes polished, and our room squared away. I returned to find that instead of individual items being taken care of, they lumped all laundry together (it all looks alike), all shoes (you gotta know they all look like) and all the chores. Huge piles of laundry filled the common area as people waded through trying to find their own clothes, shoes, etc.
And when I went to my room, all of my laundry still hung sadly in my laundry bag, my shoes in the closet, my chores undone. No one else knew to check my things other than my roommate. And I never dreamed anyone could be so petty.
In the morning, after I’d wrestled for sleep all night knowing it would never come, I stood at attention, my last day as Dorm Chief. Thankfully, the little rat who’d sabotaged me didn’t get the position either. When the Technical Instructor talked to me later, after the huge blow up in front of all my troops, she said she understood and they should never have assigned me away from the dorm that night. But too late. She’d made her decision for a new Fearless Leader and it stood.
Her last words to me after the inspection were something to this effect. “Now, go show ‘em all what you’ve got. And do it for yourself this time.”
I thought she was merely trying to make me feel better, but now, in retrospect, I understand that there come times when we need to think of our responsibility to ourselves. We get so caught up in doing for others; we short change ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first one to volunteer, but I also know that now, I have to make time for myself. I have to give some of the things I want a priority.
Do you save time for yourself?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Let's Talk Google Analytics for Social Media ROI by Jennifer Hudson Taylor


If you aren’t already using Google Analytics to track your website/blog performance, you’re missing out on a great feedback system and it’s free. It isn’t necessary to have a Blogger blog. It can be used on static websites hosted on your own server, Wordpress, or some other platform. You will need a Google account and then follow the directions in how to place the codes on your site so that it can begin tracking the activity on your site.

I use Google Analytics to get an idea of how many visitors I receive each month, to track new first-time visitors vs returning visitors. It let’s me know the percentage of people from the US, Canada and other countries, who is using what browser platform to view my site, and what percentage of my readers are on mobile platforms such as Verizon Android or iphones. Why is this important? It helps me tailor my content, and to use gadget plug-ins that will work with these features. I don’t want to use something that the majority of my readers’ software won’t be compatible with and will prevent them from viewing my site.

Google has implemented the Social Plug-In Analytics. It will show you how many people visit your site from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. This eliminates the guess work in how much of a difference your social media efforts make in your overall platform. It can be great info for the Marketing Plan piece of your proposal. It isn’t enough to have 8,000 Twitter followers and 2,500 likes on your Facebook page. Those numbers are only a start—they give you “access” to people you wouldn’t otherwise have. Now take it a step further, and learn the percentage of those people who are actively engaged in following your posts and interacting with you.

Do they take action and click onto your website/blog and read the whole post? Do they now follow your blog? Did they like your content enough to further promote it to their friends and family? You can know this by keeping up with how many +1 it on Google, shared it on Facebook, or retweeted it on Twitter. If this is happening, you have Social Media spreading your news by “word of mouth marketing” and that is what you want—other people promoting your work. You won’t know this without some mechanism to track your efforts--and why not use a free, accurate system like Google Analytics?

This will give you a “return on your investment” of time, types of posts, and content that people are interested in sharing and seeing or hearing. Often, what we “think” they are interested in is completely different than the “truth”. I can get people to share an image of Bambi on Facebook much faster than I can one of my devotional posts or an announcement about my books or events. Yet, on Twitter, people will retweet one of my devotions or my book announcements easier than on Facebook. It’s given me a chance to get to know my readers better on each individual social media site.

Here is an image of traffic flow that Google Analytics will show you from your Social Media sites. It will show you what percentage of “click thrus” come from which social media site, which page they entered, and which pages they clicked on next and when and where they dropped off from your site. This will also give you an idea of which content (blog posts) people are interested in so that you will be able to target your future posts to garner more interactions.


If you want specific directions in how to implement the code on Blogger, click here.

What are your thoughts? Have you used Google Analytics? Did you know about the ability to also track your Social Media actions? Would it be helpful in making decisions of where best to spend your time?


Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Sample Chapter Online by Terry Burns


My client group is discussing the in’s and out’s of putting the first chapter (or more) of their work in progress online. Work that is put online for a critique group such as our own ‘crit room’ or any restricted access forum is not considered published, but any work that is put online and is accessible by the general public IS considered published. Some of these sites have a major number of followers, maybe even more than a printed version would sell to.

Why would an author want to do this with an unpublished work anyway? The usual justification is hoping an agent or editor would run across it, like it, and contact them asking for more. This has happened, but it is very rare. For the most part agents and editors have enough to wade through without going online searching for more. A majority of agents and editors won’t even go online searching when someone gives them links to material instead of providing it in a proposal as requested, but that’s a different topic. I believe the potential of ruling a work out by publishing it online outweighs any potential on accidentally interesting an agent or editor in the work.

As to the weight any particular publisher would give to material that has been published online, that varies from paying no attention to it to having it rule the project out for them. It would probably depend on how much of the work had been put up. For some publishers if any at all has been put up they don’t much like it.

My own opinion is that I don’t like to put any work online until it is contracted for publishing and even then after consulting the publisher. Some would not want it to be done at all unless they do it themselves and others have rules about how it can be done. I believe they feel there is no point in courting a potential problem when they have plenty of submissions by people who have not made their work public. Most if not all of them who wouldn’t mind restrict it to a maximum of one chapter.

It can make a difference if a work is entered in contests. In contests the judges are sent the contest material without the author’s name attached. If the work has been published online WITH the author’s name attached it can contaminate the judges pool for the work. Many contests will not accept a work if that has happened.

How about blogs or social media? Publishers used to pay little attention to them, but that isn’t the case any more. Audiences for these now go up into the thousands and most publishers consider them a significant marketing tool. The number one sales tool for a book is name identification or “buzz” and having a strong online presence is a major way of doing that, hopefully beginning long before there is a book to promote.

Let’s talk about nonfiction. It used to be that non-fiction books were much easier to sell to a publisher than fiction. Not so much these days, and I believe the reason for that is just what you are talking about, the amount of material that is online for free. If someone pitches me a project and I know all of their research was done online I know all of the material in their book is available for free. It may still have value to a potential buyer since that research has been done and all of the material assembled in a logical order . . . or it may not. There is no telling which way a publisher would come down on that question.

Is an author who has a regular blog now considered ‘published?’ Actually, yes, and the degree of the publishing credit would depend on the number of regular followers. We can look at it like this, a blog with a couple of hundred followers would be like having a writing credit of writing something like a church newsletter. One of my clients has a twitter account with over 40,000 followers. That is the equivalent of being a regular columnist in a small magazine.

The bottom line is that online publishing has changed or evolved in the past few years and many aspects of it are looked upon in quite a different manner. But then that’s the only constant in the publishing industry . . . change.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana L. Flegal

Thank you for joining us for today's edition of Would You Read On?.
Please kindly leave a comment at the end of this post.

Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance

“You can stop screaming now, Kibbles. We’re home.”
Teal Benning downshifted and coasted into the gravel driveway, the wail of country music drowning the cicada’s chatter from the open window of the sports car. But the tunes did nothing to tame her cat’s occasional ear-piercing screech.
Home? Not technically, but close enough. She’d grown up in this tiny house tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains around Promise Lake.
For the last five years, home was in Atlanta, where she was Teal Benning, best-selling romance author and pro-basketball superstar Ian Hartsuk’s fiancĂ©.
In Promise Lake, she was just Teal Benning.
Whoever that was anymore.
Teal sighed and closed the windows. Jerking the keys from the ignition, the silence settled over her, and in the darkness, a glint sparkled from her finger,    the remnant of her two-year-long relationship. Teal stared at the single diamond and clamped her lips together.
Correction. Ian Hartsuk’s ex-fiancĂ©.
She tugged the ring off and smashed it deep into her laptop bag.
Why didn’t she fling it at Ian’s head? She would have relished his expression as he watched several thousand dollars sink to the bottom of the hot tub. Wouldn’t that have been priceless? Nah. What was a few thousand to him? She’d figure out what to do with it later.

Teal stepped out on stiff legs, giving the short black dress a yank south and tugging her sweater tighter. She heaved her laptop bag over a shoulder and reached in for Kibbles’s carrier.
 

Last weeks author was Lynn Donovan.You can connect with Lynn on Twitter @MLynnDonovan, and on LinkedIn, M Lynn Donovan. Or stop by her blog, Sitting on the Front Porch, visiting with Lynn.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Avoid Annoying Alliteration  by Andy Scheer



 I enjoy beautiful literary writing when I see it. But like those of California Condors, the sightings are both wondrous and rare.

Instead, the samples I see labeled as literary often remind me of girls trying to use makeup for the first time. If a little is good, a lot must be better. Rather than highlight the natural beauty, it calls attention to itself—and the lack of skillful technique.

For me, excessive alliteration serves as a dead giveaway of an author trying too hard. Like a child in a Christmas pageant waving and shouting, “Hi, Mom!” the action calls attention to itself—and away from the content.

This past week as I prepped for a writers conference, I looked at the opening chapter of a historical romance (not a genre I'd ordinarily consider). From the first sentence, the alliterations almost knocked me over.
Clara’s arms were wildly whaling about in the open air as she sought to grasp the looming figure that stood at the top of the cliff-head.

But the author was just warming up. Two sentences later, she sprang this five-pointer:
It did not flinch, even though her screams echoed off the cliffs strata until they were suddenly silenced by a sharp shrilling strike in the low tidewater at the base of the cliff.

How can a reader keep her mind on the story when every other sentence shouts and waves? If a little bit of makeup is good, stop there.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"But Whhhyyy?" by Linda S. Glaz

I read an amazing devotional this morning that I knew was "just for me". It talked about why God doesn't answer, giving us reasons for His decisions. Can you imagine the turmoil if He accounted to us for all of His decisions?

"But whhhyyyy? I really wanted that. Why naahhhht!??" Talk about opening a can or worms. Well, it's the same in our writing careers. I can only think how Terry would have felt the first time I contacted him if I'd written back and said, "But why not? You're missing out on the novel of a lifetime!" (We honestly DO get these) Or if I'd cornered him at the ACFW conference and dominated all his time at the table. "But why didn't you want my story? What was wrong with it? Everyone who reads it loves it: Mom, cousin, children, friends, boss, on and on and on. So why don't you love it?"

I can only imagine God laughing his socks off (does He wear socks?) I've heard of Holy mackerels, Holy cows, Holy loads of pain, but never Holy socks. I could ask, but He might not give me a reason one way or the other. Anyway, He has to be amused at how we try to second guess all of His decisions. Would we want a reason so we could argue, try to change His mind instead of believing He's doing something for our own good? All of our best interests at the core of His heart in order to make us stronger Christians.

And isn't that what agents do? Instead of blowing smoke at us, they try to help. Try to encourage. Try to get us to see how we can be stronger writers--not saying yes or giving us lame reasons when what we really need to do is put our noses to the stone and write-write-write.

So, next time you receive a rejection, instead of why-ning, listen to the constructive criticism and try to improve, day by day, week by week, word by word until you have a work you can once again try to get pubbed. Never quit and in case I've not said it before:

PERSEVERE and stop the why-ning!