Thursday, October 31, 2013

Starting to write fiction by Terry Burns

“I do want to start writing,” the author said in the workshop, “but I want to write fiction. I’m a storyteller. I’m having trouble getting started writing my stories.”
Just because somebody can cook a great hamburger doesn’t mean they are ready to open a restaurant. And just because someone can tell a great story doesn’t mean they can write those stories in a way that can be published. There are skills required to take a story into the proper written form, skills that can be mastered but ones that must be mastered to be successful.
I’m one of those writers myself. I don't consider myself a writer, but a storyteller trying to write my stories in such a way as to be entertaining. Virtually every time I tell somebody I'm a writer the people I'm talking to say, “I've always wanted to write a book,” or “I have all these great experiences that people keep telling me I should write down, “ or something of the sort. My response is always the same, “so, why haven't you?”
It is true that some may not be able to do it, but what’s the worst that can happen by trying? We end up with some cute stories we can pass down to our family. And it may well be that there will be Pulitzer Prize caliber stories that are never written because the one person who could have written them never tried.
What does it take to be a writer? You just write. That's it. A writer writes. Now to become a published writer, that takes a lot more, and to sustain yourself at it to the point where you can claim to be an author is still further up the tree. 
Do you have to wait until you get old and beat up like I am before you can start? Absolutely not. There are great markets even now that publish young writers. I published some poetry and some articles while I was still in high school. How do you get published in these markets? The same way all writers get published, you submit to them with a carefully worded letter, and you endure the rejection letters from all the places that don't want your work until you find the one that does like every other writer that ever lived. 
At any given time our work may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry. But as soon as that opportunity closes, now it only fits at one place but that place is somewhere else. It’s like the skit that used to happen at the end of the old “Laugh In” show. People opening and closing windows while trading lines. That’s a perfect picture of the publishing industry. Or for those who do not remember that old show I’m sure you have seen the whack-a-mole game. It’s the same principle.
You see, it's not always about how good the writing is - even a great piece can be too early or too late. or they just did one like it, or not a good fit for the publisher, etc. It's like assembling a puzzle, and all of the pieces have to be in place for publication to occur.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let Us Pray by Diana L. Flegal

As an agent, I constantly encourage my clients to maintain an online presence and develop genuine community through social media.

I am online as well, with Facebook being my primary social networking avenue.

Through years of attending writers conferences and gathering friends, I have come to have genuine affection for many people and follow their lives and those of their families.

Recently many of my 'friends' have requested prayer for some very serious things. I thought I would share a few of their requests here with their permission so we might lift them up together.

Sarah Burns Hampshire shared:  Min (sonny-boy, age 20 physically but developmental about age 8-10) has terminal brain cancer. a mass has infiltrated both hemispheres of the brain and spidered as well. The tumor is causing multiple problems already. He also has a benign tumor causing havoc on his equilibrium, and he's always nauseous ...or worse. This tumor, although small, is in an inoperable place. This is all I will share right now, but know we are in need of prayer for numerous concerns involved with this. The first 2 days we were in total shock and held such sadness, but on the third day, we truly felt God's peace lift us.

Sarah asked: Will you also pray that Min's foster mother is located? She raised him for 3 years, and we kept in touch until about 6 years ago. Then somehow we lost each other with moves, etc. My husband called the adoption agency to tell them about Min, and the director "happened" to be going to South Korea in 2 weeks. She said she'd take anything Min wanted to send, and the agency overseas is searching for his foster mother now. The director said she'd hand-deliver Min's gifts to her. So Min went shopping for special gifts, we wrote her letters, and they went in the mail today.

note: They are in the process of building Min a man cave complete with stalactites and mites. A precious family bravely facing a tough heartbreaking time.

Please pray for Sandy Ardoin and family. Her brother passed away of a heart attack. 50 years old - a husband and father of four kids from 11-14.

One gal asked: Please pray my relationship with my daughter (and her relationship with God) will be restored.

Cindy Valenti Scinto had a heart transplant a few years back and recently had a biopsy. Please pray as she is dealing with depression and many physical issues.

Another woman asked for prayer for her back.

And another's son ran into a window and has a concussion. He is on restricted activity and out of school. Prayers are appreciated. Thanks to all who have been praying for him!

Cynthia Lott Vogel is an author friend I met in Philadelphia. My son had just been diagnosed with Bipolar Illness. Cynthia had written a book about her journey through Mental Illness. She ministered to me at a crisis time.  Her blog, Treasures in Darkness offers support to many suffering with Mental Illness and depression.

Cynthia's prayer is: that you will be able to look beyond this broken, sinful woman, and see her incredible God...and that you would consider making Him your God as well.

My son Curt, is currently in the hospital. He made it three years without a hospitalization and had been doing so well. Please pray that he recovers from this drug induced mania and accompanying delusions and wisdom for the Dr's, to administer the correct meds.

How can we pray for you or your loved ones? Feel free to ask.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Discipline Seems Pleasant by Andy Scheer

My friend has every right to rest on her laurels. She's served as an editor at top magazines. She's written countless articles and had at least a dozen books published. And she speaks with great results at conferences around the country.

After decades specializing in nonfiction, she's decided to expand into fiction. I can see why. She's a gifted communicator with a colorful past. An inveterate encourager, she's always urged others to follow their dreams.

Now she's taking her own advice in pursuing the skills of a novelist. I know of at least two stories she's developing.

But she's not simply writing, she's also placing herself in the vulnerable position of letting experts critique her work.

This past week when Jerry B. Jenkins conducted a “Thick-Skinned Fiction Clinic” webinar, my friend was among the first to send her novel's first page for anonymous critiquing.

Jerry covered her page with red ink. He liked the story, but showed numerous ways she could plunge readers more quickly into the tale.

Just what my friend needed. “I thumped my forehead over the many mistakes I made,” she said. “But I do appreciate his help.”

With her attitude, I know she'll apply what she learned – and keep on learning. I look forward to her final version.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Merely an Observation by Linda S. Glaz

Perception vs. Reality
What's it like to be an agent?
Perception: you get to sit around in your pajamas all day (Okay, so I AM in my pj's at the moment, but it's still the crack of dawn) and then reading wonderful submissions from authors who will help you rake in billions of dollars by the end of the year.

Reality: You have to establish a home office, unless you work out of an agency office, pay the overhead, etc. and read through dozens of works that you don't even handle, aren't ready for submission, were intended for someone else at the agency (or even another agency). Have received submissions for individuals not at our agency. Really?

Perception: you make g'zillions of dollars from your clients.

Reality: you hopefully break even at the end of the year after attending numerous conferences, pay to return snail mail copies you didn't request, pay for clothes you wouldn't wear except to attend said conferences (after all, how much do jammies actually cost each year?) hahahaha

Perception: Just sit back and watch the clients' work roll out and get dozens of contracts.

Reality: work your tushy off to help get a project ready only to be told "No thanks." "Not at this time." "Historic, romance, suspense, etc. are all full up till 2020." and on and on.

Perception: that's all there is to it.

Reality: Conferences to meet and greet with authors and editors. Contests--dozens of contests to judge. Acquaintances who just happen to have written a book they want you to look at. Drop everything to do a quick read for a submission an editor wants to see YESTERDAY!

Perception: easy-peasy!

Reality: No, not easy-peasy, but rewarding. VERY REWARDING to see an author who trusts you with his or her baby make it. A 3-book deal! Woot! And that's the reality that makes all the rest of the hard work worth it. Honestly, making a financial living this way is wonderful, but it isn't what drives me as an agent. What drives me is the internal reward. Knowing you helped make it happen. The jammies on a rainy, nasty day when you don't feel like putting on make up is just the powdered sugar on the banana nut muffin. It's a yummy job and somebody's gotta do it!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Improve Your Blog's SEO Results by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#SEO #Blogging

Are you using SEO plugins or updated meta tags on your blog(s) for better search rankings? Does Google recognize you as the author of your blog(s)? Some of you might be surprised.

Google Authorship
First, let's discuss Google Authorship. What does it mean and why is it important?

Google wants to know that your blog is legitimate and written by you. This means that you must take a few extra steps to prove that your blog is owned by you and not hacked by someone else. By doing this, your photo will be linked with your posts in search results and it will stand out among worded results that have no image. It's like a free ad. According to a study on Catalyst, it increased click through rates by 150%. Below is a preview of what my search results look like when I did a search on the title of my new 3-book series "The MacGregor Legacy". The first image is of my personal Google+ account and the second image is of my Google+ author page and is why the images are different. Notice how having an image stands out from the rest of the search results almost like an ad.

Also, by being legit according to Google's standards, it allows Google to recognize when people try to copy your posts and paste your words as their own--taking credit for your work. Who doesn't want to help fight the war on copyright infringement and piracy?

Search for yourself on Google. When you see your blog or website listed, is there a photo beside your post? If not, you need to link your blog to your Google+ profile. If you do not have a Google+ profile, you need to create one. Please note, that if you have a Gmail, YoutTube or Blogger account, you can use that same account to set up your Google+ profile.  Go here for more information.

SEO & Meta Tags
It used to be that we inserted a long list of keywords in the meta tag area of our websites and blogs. Things have changed and that is history. Keywords are now more important in labels and hashtags. If you have a Wordpress blog, you need to insert SEO plugins. Here is a great article on which ones to research: 10 Essential Wordpress Plugins to Improve SEO & Usability.

If you have a Blogger blog, there are no SEO Plugins, but you can enable the meta data on your blog. You need to login to your Blogger account, go to your dashboard and click "Settings". Scroll down and click "Search Preferences". Click the box for "Enable" under the Meta Tag heading. A text box will open allowing you to type in a summary of your blog. You only have 155 characters--similar to a tweet. Think of it as a slogan for a commercial. According to iAcquire, 43.2% of people click on a search result link due to the meta tag description.

Was this helpful? What steps have you taken to improve your SEO? Post your questions in the comments below.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oh those best-selling authors by Terry Burns

I've heard it before.

At the last conference some authors were complaining about the big advances for big name authors, the facts that a majority of a publishers advertising and promotion are centered on them. Everybody pretty much agreed that "If they weren't spending so much on these guys they'd have money for more new authors."

That sounds logical.

But it isn't.

Actually if publishers didn't have authors making them significant money then they don't have the resources to launch new authors. I told these writers instead of begrudging the money that is being spent on these authors that they should be thankful that they are producing the income that is allowing the publisher to give some new people a try.

How many debut authors are likely to benefit?

Publishers have X number of slots available for new authors. And the value of X is determined by how well their A list authors are performing. The bottom line isn't that these authors are stealing the money that would otherwise fund new authors, they are the ones earning the money that will do that.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Endings Hopefully Mean New Beginnings by Diana Flegal

In an effort to be a better person and honor God with what he has given me, I read a lot of self-help titles. If you look at my book shelves you will find twice the nonfiction as fiction titles. But then I own a lot of books.

At a friends recommendation I am reading, Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud. Fortunately at the Beach at this time. :-)

In it, Henry mentions the economic turndown of 2008 when the auto industry got hit hard and made drastic cuts to their work force and quit producing cars that were not paying for their production. That same year  hit many businesses hard, and publishing was no exception.  One Christian publisher that once published 500 titles a year cut back to 250. Further still, publishers were hesitant to take on new authors because they represented a higher financial risk. Less slots and less opportunity. As a new agent with new clients, this was not good news.

Dr. Cloud also mentioned that many of these cuts had been long overdue. The economy provided the looksee the corporations needed to take.

In writing, sometimes there has to be necessary endings as well.

Authors I've read, kill off a favorite character in a series to their readers chargin because it was 'time'. Whole paragraphs and ancillary plot lines need to go. They take away from the main story and do nothing to 'move the story forward'.

Or a client decides they have to move on - their direction has changed, or the agent decides they have done everything they can for an author and would be holding them back if they kept them on their client list.

Necessary endings are hard for most, but hopefully lead to a company's better success or a better story.

What necessary endings have you faced lately in your writing journey?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Time to Recuperate by Andy Scheer

This past week I've not done much writing.

A viral infection has sapped my energy. I've stayed close to home and done what tasks I can. I've taken a lot of naps, watched playoff baseball, and finished reading a long novel.

I've chosen to set aside two assignments. The deadlines are still a few weeks off. I've already assembled the framework for what I expect write. I know that if I force myself to attempt those projects, I won't be able to give them my best work.

One of those projects involves a week's worth of devotions. I suspect there's a lesson from this season of waiting and weakness that I can apply – if not in this project, then sometime ahead.

I don't yet appreciate being forced to wait, but I'm trusting that perspective will come.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Singular Thinking by Linda S. Glaz

When sitting in an office 24/7, which a lot of us do for the most part, we have to consider that we are being very singular in many aspects.
A lot of writers are outgoing, but then must sit behind a computer for a good share of their day.
Let’s look at a couple things:
First, writing requires life experiences to be able to create ‘real’ characters.
Second, it’s imperative for writers to interact with other people in order to understand what’s going on in the world. And different social media formats don’t replace actual interaction with humans.
As writers, we want that time with our computers. Where else can a person hunt and peck, creating imaginary lives, personalities, and scenarios that will come alive on someone’s ebook or in a printed book?
There needs to be a balance that allows us to keep living as well as bring that incredible life to our characters which requires the long hours on the computer.
How do you balance your time as a writer? What do you do to be sure you are interacting with ‘normal’ people?
How many hours a week/day do you give to your craft?
Do you allow time to learn new aspects of your craft through critique groups, classes, etc.?
OR, are you the 24/7 writer who never lifts his head from the sand to see what’s going on in the world around you?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Back to Back Conferences by Terry Burns

So, here I am sitting here in the hotel in Albuquerque waiting for the Class Christian Writer's Conference to kick off in the morning. I blogged about this conference last week. It should be a good one. When I leave here I rush home, repack, get my materials ready and head out to the next one.

The next one would be the East Texas Christian Writer's Conference put on by East Texas Baptist University and held on their beautiful campus in Marshall, Texas. This regional conference is a great bargain to stretch your conference dollar. The actual dates are October 25th and 26th.

Information, schedule, registration information, etc all are found at the website at

With a fine faculty and great facilities, this packed two day conference offers a great bargain. I've gone there a number of times and have thoroughly enjoyed it every year.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hard Work and Determination by Diana Flegal

Hard work and determination is supposed to equal success. Yet someone seems to have changed the playing field and thrown the rules up in the air. They swirl around, refusing to fall into any sensible order.

“I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”
Thomas Jefferson

yet often...

“It is a pity that doing one's best does not always answer.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

When the landmarks get shifted as they have in the world of publishing, it can be difficult to get or keep your bearings.

I am a member of the 360* club. That distinguished honor is given to the person trusted with the wheel of a ship, who mistakenly follows the compass instead of  the heading they were instructed to maintain. It seems like you are making the correct course adjustment but instead you adjust your heading by turning the ship's wheel continuously to the right, turning the ship in a complete circle. At the wheel - looking forward from the helm in the midst of the open sea, the helmsman or woman has no idea what they are doing. But if you are standing in the stern looking out you can see the ships wake and guess the circumstances.

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards."
Vernon Sanders Law (born 1930);  Major League Baseball Pitcher found at

What keeps your course steady in the midst of swirling seas? Have you a meditation or promise you hold onto? Do you pursue your goals in meticulous steps, checking off each accomplished task?

Mark Batterson, in his title Soul Print said: Many of us find our confidence in things we can control. But Holy confidence is not circumstantial- it is providential. Holy confidence puts God in between us and our circumstances.

What anchors you in times of uncertainty?

Lawrence Chewning wrote and shares here the inspiration behind the song, The Anchor Holds.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lose Extra Word Fast by Andy Scheer

What do these phrases have in common:
Wayne blinked his eyes.
Cristie nodded her head.
Meagan paced back and forth.

How about these:
safe haven
free gift
tuna fish

In first drafts, we naturally use more words than necessary. But in editing, we can delete ones that merely take up space.

My favorite examples are those that Jerry B. Jenkins credits with accomplishing a hat trick — saying the same thing three times: Paul nodded his head in agreement.

Thriller writer Graham Brown gave me this example: She unlocked the door with the key in her hand. Unless she's a burglar, who needs the additional information?

Having long been coached to cut pleonasms, I was embarrassed to learn I'd recently let one slip through. But the second editor caught my gaffe before we allowed the writer so say she'd flossed her teeth. What else?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gutenberg Surprised? by Linda S. Glaz

Here is a timely post from a time ago on my personal blog. I addressed some issues that folks seemed overly concerned about. I thought after all the guessing that goes on at conferences, I'd repeat this message as I think it speaks to some of our worries today in the publishing industry:
No, I don’t think he’s turning over in his grave. I think he’s laughing at us. A pioneer in his day, he must be thinking, “Did you really assume this was the end of it?”
And I have to say, most of us did. We thought the printed word was the beginning and ending of the mass communication that changed society.
Gutenberg’s press, considered by most to be the most influential change of the second millennium, brought not only books, but communication of events to the masses. No longer was word of mouth or letter the only means by which a group of people could hear about changes in society. No longer could kings and despots prevent knowledge from trickling to the masses.
I attended a writers’ conference 12-15 years ago at which one of the secular publishing giants’ Sr. Editor spoke. When asked about “electronic” books for our computers, she laughed. Holding her hands in the shape of a book, she said, “Smell the paper. Smell the ink. Take this with you wherever you want to go. The printed book will NEVER die. Never even have its profits reduced by more than mere fad. Computerized books? A passing fancy.” Or something to that effect. None of us saw the Kindle, the Nook, and others just around the proverbial bend.
BTW, she no longer is senior editor there. Like many of us “oldies” she just didn’t see it coming. The last year and a half have been overwhelming: to readers, to writers, to agents, to editors. Changes are happening so fast, I can put together a proposal for a client one day, and learn the next that the house I was sending to has morphed again. And the proposal is now obsolete at best.
Not since Gutenberg printed the first word has there been this much change. I realize computers ushered in this amazing technology, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the printed word has NEVER changed this much in nearly 600 years. 600 YEARS!!!!
And we are living in the time.
Gutenberg was a deal changer. He understood the concept that nothing remains the same.
Are YOU ready to jump on board and be part of the change, or will you be left behind with your hands in the shape of a paperback, digging your nails in, refusing to give up the smell of musty paper?
I, for one, old as I am, have embraced the changes.
I just wish I knew what lurked around the corner. I don’t like to be surprised!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet you in Albuquerque by Terry Burns

Yup, it's that time. I followed this conference when it left Glorieta NM after many years, wnet with it when it moved to the Ghost Ranch in Abique NM for several years and will now be there as it is at the First Baptist Church in Albuquerque NM on October 17-19th.

I have quite a history with this conference and I don't just mean the length of time that I have gone. Way back when I was a fledging writer it was this conference that I went to in order to see how I could follow my leading to use my writing for the Lord. If you are interested you can see my writing testimony at my personal website at - just click on the testimony button. We anjoyed this conference so much that my wife, Saundra, and my mom both went with me for years before mom passed away. Saundra usually goes to this day but has a conflict and can't make it this year.

The conference is put on by Classservices and is under the direction of my client Linda Gilden and Gerry Wakefield. Any questions you might have you will find answered at including how to get registered and the cost.

This is a great conference that I always enjoy attending. If you are a fledging writer looking for that first publication credit attendees work with industry pros during the course of the conference and get a chance to be in an anthology produced during the conference. This is one conference that you can walk away from as a published writer.

There will be chances to pitch agents and editors, for individual coaching, and the chance for a lot of networking with other writers and with industry professionals. So what are you waiting for? Go to that site now and come meet me in Albuquerque!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Carried Along by Jim Hart

Writing words begins with inspiration. When something jostles our spirit, and our hearts are deeply stirred, we start thinking of words. And the inspiration that has gripped us is squeezed out onto the page. And I doubt if we can vocalize those words better than we can write them down. Speech can be clumsy. Writing is graceful. Our hand says what our tongue longs to express, but cannot say out loud. That’s the power of inspiration.

Inspiration comes from many sources. Sometimes the most powerful inspiration comes from exposure to someone who has exercised some sort of influence on our life. Most times this person who has inspired us may never know of their effect on our life.

Chuck Smith passed away last weekend. I hope you recognize his name. His burden for young people to know Jesus, especially those outside of the social norm of the late 60’s and early 70’s – the hippies – caused a revival among a generation that was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” The L.A. Times, in his obituary, described him like this: “A key figure in the ascent of mega-churches, Chuck Smith brought an old-school Christian message to a generation of youths in the counterculture.”

It could be argued that Chuck Smith inspired the Jesus Movement all those years ago. Many of those young people that came to know Jesus through the ministry of Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel were musicians, and their new faith inspired them to write songs. And those songs inspired a new contemporary expression of faith that inspired worshipers in a way relatable to them. Calvary Chapel’s Maranatha! Music inspired the age of contemporary worship music. And so, in many ways, I have been inspired by Chuck Smith.

Inspiration can result in powerful words that bring about a powerful movement. Scripture was written by people inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Peter wrote about this inspiration as being “moved and carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The Apostle Paul affirmed that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The written word is one of the most powerful forces on Earth, especially when inspired. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, you can’t write without a source of inspiration. Let’s get ‘carried along’ and write some words.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Accepting Opportunities by Andy Scheer

“Do you want a roll-top desk?” my wife said. “There's one at the neighbor's curbside.”
Sure enough, there it sat. Massive. Oak. Free. And separated into sections my son-in-law and I could carry.
I wasn't looking to replace my writing desk, but the opportunity was too good to pass. With Matt and Erica's help, we carried “The Desk” to our house, then down the stairs to my basement office.
The fit was tight. To clear room, I had to move almost every piece of furniture two or three inches. Then I had to detach all the computer cables and equipment from the old desk.
Assembling the “The Desk” took more work than we imagined: positioning the base sections so the top would align. Hanging shelves and doors. Then inserting sections with multiple drawers and pigeon holes.
Finally, routing all the computer and accessory cables and finding places for all the it
ems stashed in the old desk.
A few days later, I'm still getting used to “The Desk.” Everything isn't yet in place. I know I'll make some adjustments.
That comes with any opportunity.
Still, sitting here makes me feel more like a writer.
Considering the project deadline less than a month away, I'll need that “can-do attitude.
If I'd said no – to the desk or to that assignment – I'd have saved myself a lot of work. But at least for the desk, I'd have closed the door on something better than I'd ever imagined. I hope the same proves true for the writing project.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Changing agents by Terry Burns

It happens, nothing is forever.

Well, nothing but our relationship with Jesus, but that's another topic.

Most of my clients have been with me a long time, some almost from when I began being an agent. They aren't just clients, they are good friends. My client group interfaces with one another and with me to the point that they are like family.

So, what's the deal about changing agents? Sometimes I realize I have tried every place I have for a client without success and no longer have anything to offer them. I realize I need to release them so they can get with a different agent that has a different set of contacts. I never want to be holding a client back instead of helping them move forward. I don't have to take this step often but occassionally it happens. It is sad for all concerned when it does, but hopefully it works out to be what is best for the client.

Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and a client decides they want another agent that can open doors for them that they feel I am not opening. Hopefully they are correct and find what they are looking for. Once again it is sad for all concerned but hopefully works out to be what is best for the client. This hasn't happened often either, but when it does . . . well, I don't want clients that are not happy being with me. I want what is best for the author.

I did a blog before about how getting with an agent is a lot like dating. There has to be a fit, a relationship. The author and agent have to be happy with each other and the relationship has to work. Changing agents then is like a couple breaking up with each other. If the relationship doesn't work, if the author is not being represented as well as they want or the agent wants, then things have to change. I get that.

I am blessed with the client group that I have. My clients are all required to be in an online group in order to give me the ability to pass information to them all at once. It also gives them the ability to communicatate with each other in a closed group not open to outsiders if they choose that side of it and most do choose to do that. Theve've gotten very close to one another, pray for each other and support each other. And I maintain close contact with them  via that group.

But sometimes it is time to move on. And as the old song says . . . "Breaking up is hard to do."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Obstacles in Your Writing Path by Diana Flegal

Nobody trips over mountains.  It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble.  Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.  ~Author Unknown

What are some pebbles that have tripped you up as a writer?

For many beginning fiction authors, it is word count.

Certain publishers like to publish books of certain word counts. If they write an inspirational romance book of 80,000 words in the hopes of selling it to Love Inspired Harlequin, it needs to lose a hefty portion before it can fit their guidelines. Love Inspired Historical stories allow you a larger manuscript. It is important to review a publishers guidelines before completing  your story.

For non-fiction authors- a pebble might be acquiring more speaking engagements to enhance their platform.  Or choosing between an author page on FB or a regular social page. Platform is a HUGE obstacle for many  authors since even publishers of fiction are asking for larger author platforms.

Rejection causes many authors to prematurely throw in the towel and vow never again to waste their time with writing. Yet rejection is part of the writing journey and often can be used to move authors toward their goals more effectively. Remaining teachable is vitally important. 

Maybe the "pebble" currently blocking your path is the question of how to use #hastags effectively? Hartline Marketing expert Jennifer Hudson Taylor offered some great advice here.     

Some authors struggle with time management and meeting their deadlines. 

What are some of the obstacles that have stood in your way and how have you climbed those mountains?Have any specific resources been a help to you?

Please share.What you have successfully hurdled might be very helpful to other writers.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Do You Really Want Readers? by Andy Scheer

Imagine if you had to condense your message to a dozen words — or only four or five.

That's not a hypothetical exercise. It's daily reality for writers engaging in marketing and promotions.

That fact struck home as I checked the email account my wife and I reserve for offers from various companies.

In their subject line, each company had to distill its core message to a single, easily understood phrase. Based on that handful of words, potential customers would decide whether to see more -- or hit delete.

A few samples from one day's screen:

If you matched the target demographic, which of these would you click?

Now consider your own marketing – whether emails to the people on your list or the titles and opening sentences of your blog posts. The brutal reality of attraction or dismissal applies to our work as authors.

People bombarded with messages won't keep reading until they finally come to the meat of yours. If your purpose isn't immediately clear – or it doesn't connect – you've lost that potential sale.

Few of us enjoy marketing – for good reason. Done well, it ranks among the most demanding writing we'll ever do. But it's also the most important.

To connect with busy, distracted readers, don't stick with the first words that come to mind. Craft your opening words with care: keeping an eye to your target audience, your central message, and how it connects with them. Otherwise, you likely won't connect.