Monday, June 30, 2014

Just Two Options: Quit or Keep Trying by Linda S. Glaz

Open the email, take a phone call. Another publisher has stopped its fiction line, dropped historicals, decided to go edgy, not go edgy. Each day brings new pieces of information in this ever-changing industry.
We share the info with each other, with clients, with prospective clients and often panic sets in. One less place to go with a new author. Or a published author looking for a new home (especially now that they are out at one of those closing its fiction).
The fact of the matter is, every aspect of life is always changing. And the literary world is no different except that it seems to be evolving faster than most.
A writer can look at it one of two ways. The changes are either a challenge or a defeat. A chance to grow with the times or throw up your hands waving a white flag. Besides, what may look like bad news today, could be opportunity tomorrow.
I may sound like a broken record (for those of you who remember the sound), but if a writer wants to succeed, he or she will accept that there are only two options for writers as the bad news increases day to day: he can either quit or she will keep trying. There’s no other road to success.
The prize goes to the man or woman who continues to fight to the end.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

No Longer Viable by Terry Burns

Today I'm working my way through my database looking for submissions that are due for a follow up or for those that may no longer be viable. I do this several times a year.

No longer viable, what does that mean?

These days there is a growing number of editors that say "no response unless we are interested."  I understand that for an editor who is getting so many submissions that they feel they simply cannot respond to everybody. I feel there should be a different treatment for fellow professionals who have gone through hundreds of submissions to find the submission they are making for a client, but it is what it is.

The problem is the agent has a duty to follow up on submissions. Some listings in my database carry the "no response unless interested" indication but also says to please not follow up. Others do not indicate that a follow up can't be done so I have a duty to do it. When I go through the database as I am today and a submission is getting pretty old and there has been no response to the submission or to the follow ups then I notify my client that I no longer consider the submission viable.

Even then in such a situation it is not a definite answer. It has technically not been rejected, and I have been known to hear back on a submission even after a year or more has passed. Last month I got a response on one that had been sent three years ago. It is just so much cleaner when I get a "not for me," or "this is not a good fit," or even "I wouldn't feed this to my dog." I can move on, my client can move on, and the editor ceases to get follow up emails.

Of course when I get a rejection that actually tells the author something they can use, that is gold. It also gives me feedback that can help me better find projects that would fit that particular editor. I wish it happened more, but again, it is what it is.

In the meantime I continue to decide which ones I need to follow up on and which ones are probably no longer viable. Nobody wants to watch the mailbox or the inbox for an answer that is not coming. Okay, back to wading through the database.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer (Beach) Reads by Diana Flegal

Summer - and the livin' is easy!

        Less hurried, more time to read and write. :-)

We would like to offer some great suggestions for your reading pleasure no matter what genre is your favorite.

Let's start with the favorite Beach read: Romance

Product DetailsSummers Love by Stu Summers (Romantic Comedy)
Laughter, tears and good times in the warm glow of summer s love is the perfect recipe for laughs and tears. --Viral Books
Sadie Bletchler's Trip Out West (Mennonite Romance (short story)The Snyder County Quilting Bee - Volume 2. Sadie and friend Katrina take a bus tour vacation trip out west. Sadie, a widow, meets a man and spends enjoyable time with him. 
Product Details
Bride by Necessity by Linda Glaz (Inspirational Romance)  When the master of Kent Park takes in the orphaned daughter of a tenant, Jonathan doesn't expect his young charge to be a stunning woman. Or for a predatory relative to lay claim to her. Marriage may be the only way to protect Payton from an unthinkable fate. 

Biblical Fiction:  

Ruth: Mother of Kings by Diana Wallis Taylor (Biblical Fiction with romantic thread) Experience Ruth's elation as a young bride and her grief at finding herself a widow far before her time. Witness the unspeakable relief of Naomi upon hearing her daughter-in-law promise never to leave her. And celebrate with Boaz when, after years as a widower, he discovers love again, with a woman he first found gleaning in his field. The story of this remarkable woman to whom Jesus Christ traced His lineage comes to life in the pages of this dramatic retelling. Mitting by Dee Yoder (Amish Fiction) Leah is seventeen and Amish. Like many her age, she has lots of questions, but the temporary flight of freedom known as rumspringen is not the answer for her. Leah is seeking to understand her relationship with God, to deepen and broaden her faith by joining a Bible study hosted by an ex-Amish couple. Leah walks away from the Old Order Amish life that is all she has known. The miting—shunning—that will now be Leah’s unendurable oppression every day is beyond her most devoted attempts to believe or understand. All the bishop and her family ask is that she abandon her practice of reading the Bible. Is that a price she is willing to pay?

Product DetailsHistorical Romance:

For Love or Country by Jennifer Hudson Taylor (Colonial Romance) At the height of the Revolutionary War, Tyra MacGregor is successful at thwarting the British Army with her colonial spy efforts. But her sleuthing ways come to a screeching halt when Captain Donahue "Hugh" Morgan puts her under house arrest.


Product Details

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris (Romantic Suspense) Fatal Exchange draws readers into a complex matrix of intertwining lives and unraveling secrets, where every answer creates more questions. Fans will hardly want to come up for air.

Product DetailsSeparation of Church and State by Joseph Max Lewis (Courtroom Suspense) Murder in the halls of the Supreme Court! Tim Lewis is an up and coming young journalist, a protégé of powerful news executive Anthony Merkel and guest host of the award winning program, Law for Lunch. When Lewis unwittingly records one of Merkel’s private conversations, he discovers his boss is a secret member of the murderous Society for Human Enlightenment and party to a plot to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Kahn.

Writing Help:

Product DetailsWriting in Obedience: A Writing Skill Reference Guide by Terry Burns & Linda W. Yezek. A primer for Christian Fiction Writers. How do we know what the Lord wants us to do? Are we being called to write or do we want to write for Him as an offering? What is required of the author using their writing for the Lord and how do they go about it? What do we really want to achieve with our writing, and how do we define success?

Product DetailsProofreading Secrets of Bestselling Authors by Kathy Ide (Writing Help). Learn how best-selling authors proofread their manuscripts to avoid typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. Kathy Ide identifies the industry-standard references for books, magazines, and newspapers (which are different from the guidelines for other types of writing, such as college term papers). Using these official references, she highlights the most common mistakes writers make in the areas of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling (for which she uses the acronym PUGS). She also includes guidelines from The Christian Writer's Manual of Style for authors and editors who work in the inspirational market.

Children's and Young Adult:

Product Details
Below the Surface by Tim Shoemaker (Mystery- age 11-14) Something is wrong with Cooper. He’s plagued by a fear he doesn’t understand and can’t control. Cooper just wants to escape, and a summer vacation aboard the restored cabin cruiser, The Getaway, with best friends Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk seems like the perfect way to do it. Two weeks of fun—with no mysteries or life-and-death danger. That’s the plan.

Contemplation and Bible Study:

Product DetailsMessiah to the Messed Up: Because I'm a mess, you're a mess, and we all need a Messiah by Sue Ciullo (Christian Living)
Spend some time with Jesus and something profound is bound to happen to your heart. Messiah to the Messed Up interlaces rich Scripture narratives with twenty-first century stories. These threads, woven together, create an unforgettable tapestry of the life of Jesus, an image so real that you will feel His presence.

Product DetailsHobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth by Jill Richardson (Christian Devotional). What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach us about ourselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is weaving His fantasy world into reality? Discover the deep spiritual truths found in J.R.R. Tolkien's classic characters and learn how to apply then in your own epic story.

Tell us what books you are reading or looking forward to reading.

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book People by Andy Scheer

Even if I weren't in the business, I'd still like book people.

But having spent years in the business, I enjoy some insider connections. Tomorrow I look forward to hanging around as the client for whom I just edited a manuscript has a photo taken for the back cover. Afterward he said I could get my picture taken in the classic car that makes a cameo appearance.

That will be fun, but I mostly look forward to talking with him. We communicated during the project, but only about the manuscript--and just via email, as he lives in another state. I'd like to hear his plans for a trip he's planning with his family.

That evening my wife and I hope to get together for dinner with two more friends. I met him at a writers conference, then a book signing. Since then we've gotten together several times a year for a meal, for a special event, to attend the other's church, or just to talk.

I appreciate talking with people with common interests. Especially when those interests include books.

That applies even when I don't know the other person. Yesterday as I was browsing my favorite used book store, I noticed a woman holding several trade paperbacks – and a list.

She glanced at her list and said that without one, she tends to buy books she already has. I said I knew what she meant. We chatted a moment, then continued scanning the shelves.

We may have been checking different genres, but I knew we had much in common. Most book people do.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Who Are You Writing For? By Linda S. Glaz

Amazon has quickly changed everything we understand about the literary industry. The obvious e-book is one example, the faster paced society is another.
Writers are struggling to keep up with what and how their stories are to be told. Gone are the days when an individual sits at the typewriter and tells his or her own story without critique partners keeping them honest, editors with less time to give it in the end, and publishers without publishing dollars for a new author.
Add in a society that wants instant gratification, and you have a whole new world to be writing for. One of the classes I teach is on smacking the reader over the head with a two by four on page one. Why? Because that’s often all an agent or editor will look at to decide whether or not they want to consider a project, and also because readers want to be instantly drawn in. If they aren’t, bye-bye book sale.
So what is the next situation that has emerged to change the way a writer writes?
You know you have a few pages to get the reader’s attention. Will that change the way you write the book? We all want each page to keep the reader turning, or sliding, or tapping. But will this force writers to give it their all for a few pages, then slow the pace?
First we said to smack the reader right side the head for 5-10 pages. “It had better be your best writing.” Then we told them they had one page to get it right. Now, for the reader, how many pages is it going to take to get them to “go to the store and buy this book”?
The answer is far more simple than you would think and more difficult all at the same time.
Write a great book from page one to page…400 or whatever. You need to get the reader’s attention right away, but you can’t afford to let the story slide. If your reader decides a glass of lemonade would taste good enough to put down the book, then you’ve allowed them a “commercial break” and there should never be commercial breaks in a great book. Don’t give them one second when they feel comfortable enough about what is happening to your heroine that they can leave her alone for even a second.
So who are you writing for? An amazing page for agents and editors? A few awesome pages for contests and samples?
Or are you writing full out for the reader who wants an outstanding book from page one to the end?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Do You Define Success? by Terry Burns

As a writer I’ve published a number of books, but there probably aren’t many of you who have read them. That’s because I’m writing in obedience, and the market God has chosen for me is not large. I’m okay with that.
I became convinced God wanted me to reach out to the male nonbeliever, the person who is reluctant to discuss faith issues, and to try to plant the little seed that will open the door for someone else to go further. There are planters, then there are the farmers who cultivate and nourish the seed as it grows, and finally there are harvesters who get the wonderful pleasure of helping Jesus reap the crop.
In spite of the fact that I attended a high school with a mascot and name of “The Harvesters,” I seldom get to be in such a role. Those who write Christian fiction are in the business of planting seeds, hopefully to as many as possible. Planters who, like Jesus telling parables, use storytelling skills to make subtle or perhaps not so subtle points that lead someone to begin to question and hopefully to seek answers. Then the farmers and the harvesters take over.
If we are writing under a calling, God has an audience in mind for the work we are producing. Hopefully, He wants us to reach a huge number of people. We would all like the maximum number of people to read our writing.
With my book Mysterious Ways, God obviously knew where He wanted it to go and I got confirmation that He had seen to it that it went there. I have no idea how that was accomplished. It wasn’t a large group, but it was where He intended it to go.
If we want to write for the Lord we all have to ask ourselves that question: What if the market God has in mind isn’t a large number, what if it is a smaller group?
What if it is only one?
What if that one is us?
Are we still willing to write in obedience if God has a very small audience in mind? I made the commitment long ago to do that. It’s something each of us needs to decide for ourselves.
We have to go through an exercise where we can really come to terms with what we deem to be success for our writing. Do we need the big sales to feel we have achieved success? Do we have to reach a certain group of people to feel that? For a secular writer, if they don’t sell thousands of copies, they aren’t considered a success. How many does a Christian writer have to reach to feel successful?
If I only sold one book and it led to a person finding salvation, it would be enough although I certainly want to reach out to more.
How do you define success?

Exerpt from “Writing in Obedience” written with Linda W. Yezak available here

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Reads for Middle Readers and Young Adults by Diana L. Flegal

Summer is a great time to get kids to read when they normally wouldn't. If you are looking for titles to purchase for your middle readers and on up, here are a few of my favorites:

Product Details
Book One in the India Street Kids series, Capturing Jasmina, by Kimberly Rae - JourneyForth BJU Press

Capturing Jasmina, is the story of Jasmina, a young girl in India, and her brother, Samir. The children are sold by their father to a man promising them an education and good jobs. But, as Jasmina and Samir soon discover, the man is providing an education, not in a school, but as a slave in his sweatshop garment factory. While Samir quickly submits to his new life of misery, Jasmina never stops planning an escape.
She comes to realize that escape doesn’t always mean freedom.

Product Details
Mary Slessor: Missionary Mother by Terri B. Kelly - JourneyForth BJU Press

The daughter of a drunken mill worker, Mary Slessor wonders how God can possibly use her. But God is preparing her for more than she knows. With His power and a personality to match her fiery red hair, Mary stands up to African chiefs, adopts abandoned children, and slowly begins to change the hearts of the African people. Prayer and determination pave Mary’s path to trusting God and becoming one of the most cherished missionary “mothers” in the history of Scotland and the world.

Product DetailsDead Man's Hand (The Caden Chronicles)  is book one in a 3 book mystery series written by Eddie Jones Zonderkidz Publishers.

In an authentic old west ghost town where the dead don't stay dead, Nick Caden uncovers the body of Jesse James ... and other deadly secrets.

Book 3: Dead Low Tide

Product Details

Cake: Love, chickens, and a taste of peculiar by Joyce Magnin - Zonderkidz
More than frosting filled those cakes… Wilma Sue seems destined to go from one foster home to the next---until she is sent to live with sisters and missionaries, Ruth and Naomi. Do they really care about Wilma Sue, or are they just looking for a Cinderella-style farmhand to help raise chickens and bake cakes? As Wilma Sue adjusts to her new surroundings and helps deliver “special” cakes, Wilma Sue realizes there’s something strange going on. She starts looking for secret ingredients, and along the way she makes a new friend, Penny. When Penny and her mother hit a rough patch, Naomi decides to make her own version of cake---with disastrous results. Then tragedy strikes the chickens, and all fingers point to Wilma Sue---just when she was starting to believe she could at last find a permanent home with Ruth and Naomi. Will the sisters turn her out, or will she discover what it feels like to be truly loved?

Product DetailsBash and the Pirate Pig by Burton Cole B&H Kids. Written for boys 8 to 14, Bash and the Pirate Pig is the story of a cranky city kid named Raymond “Beamer” Boxby who must spend summer vacation at his younger cousin Bash Hinglehobb’s farm.

Beamer prefers air conditioning and video games. He can’t see what good can come of this so-called country fun that includes riding cows, river rafting with a pig, or playing with skunks.

But hang tight, Beamer, because Bash’s zany adventures with his "Fishin' and Farmin' book" (The Bible) just might lead to the coolest Discovery of all.

Product DetailsSouthern Belle's Special Gift (Keystone Stables series) by Marsha Hubler Zonderkidz. Skye and Morgan have their hands full trying to share God’s love and the preciousness of life with Tanya Bell, an African-American girl and a runaway who becomes a foster child in the Chambers’ household.
Although Tanya’s adoptive parents are successful in business, Tanya is an obnoxious teen and veteran shoplifter. But when Southern Belle, one of the Keystone Stables’ mares, dies giving birth to a foal, Tanya is transformed as she takes responsibility for the foal. Through her love for the foal and Skye’s friendship, Tanya faces the problems in her life instead of running from them and turns to God to help her work through her past.

Check out BJU Press's Summer Reading Program offering prizes for three age groups.

There are nine Summer Reading tote bags full of free JourneyForth books up for grabs—3 for each age group.
And the grand prize—a brand new Kindle Fire™!

Make reading a part of your summer! Explore new places, meet new people, and experience amazing adventures—all while sitting in a lawn chair or on your couch at home!

Please share the titles your children are reading this summer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Somebody Wrote That by Andy Scheer

Book publishing is collaborative. But it's nothing compared to making feature films.

I got a great lesson in the history of both in 1939: The Making of Six Great Films from Hollywood's Greatest Year by Charles F. Adams (2014, Craven Street Books).

I'm far from a film buff, but I gleaned some interesting tidbits about the creation of:
Gone With the Wind
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Wizard of Oz

Can't imagine anyone else playing Scarlett O'Hara or Dorothy? The producers did.

Wonder how the screenwriters condensed Gone with the Wind to 222 minutes? The process wasn't pretty.

Mostly interested in books, I appreciate how Charles F. Adams digs into how each original book or short story came to be written. I never suspected Oz originated in L. Frank Baum's weekend storytelling sessions with his own children and others from the neighborhood. Testing your tales with a focus group is nothing new.

Sometimes the best ideas spring spontaneously. Adams reports:

This morning, one of them asked a question several of them had wondered about: What was the name of this strange land? Baum didn't have a quick answer, but then he happened to glace over at his filing cabinet. The top drawer was labeled “A-N.” The bottom cabinet said “O-Z.” “Why,” he said, “this story took place in a land called 'Oz'!”

If it's not true, it should be.

Whether you're a methodical plotter or an impulse-driven pantser, these vignettes into the writing of Peggy Marsh, Ernest Haycox, Sidney Buchman, Arthur Conan Doyle, Samuel Clemens, and L. Frank Baum should prove entertaining and instructive.

Just don't try to submit a stack of 1,200 marked-up manuscript pages missing the first chapter and featuring a heroine named Pansy O'Hara.