Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving by Terry Burns

Today is Thanksgiving.

Everyone knows it is about more than eating turkey, watching football and the Thanksgiving Day parade. It is even about more than family although that is a big part of it.

Thanksgiving is about counting our blessings and as the name implies giving thanks for them. As our pastor pointed out, most of us have more blessings than we can possibly count. Sometimes when difficult things are happening to us it is hard to see all these blessings because we focus on the difficulties, but the blessings far outnumber those difficulties.

We just went through such a difficult period and are working our way out of it. However, there was a time in my life where I pretty much hit rock bottom. Comparing other low spots to that one gives me perspective. Our life will be a series of mountaintops and valleys and I can see we are just going through a valley.

So one of the big things we are thankful for this year is starting to come out of the valley. We look at all the health problems family and friends have and realize we have been extremely blessed there. We don't have wealth, but the Lord is seeing that our needs are met and that's all we really want.

We are thankful for family and friends, not only our blood family but our family at church as well. They are all so important to us and a big part of how we get through difficult times. We will be gathering around the table later today with some of those who are always there for us.

We will be gathering in spirit with family who can not be with us. Our family has a tradition of gathering with one side of the family for Thanksgiving and the other side for Christmas so the kids will be off doing that. We'll be thinking of them, one of our biggest blessings. We'll also be thinking of those who are no longer around that table, those who have gone on. We are blessed that we know where all of those family members are and that we will be seeing them again.

I'm just scratching the surface, the major things that occur to me. I know that there are literally thousands of smaller blessings when I stop and think further and I know it is that way for all of us. Of course I know that the biggest blessing of them all is the gift of our salvation, God giving His only son to us to redeem us from our sins. What a huge blessing and the reason I know I will be seeing those loved ones again.

The wonderful smells are starting to waft in from the kitchen. The beautiful floats are winding their way down the street with the huge balloons floating high above them and there will probably be football in our future soon. But before we enjoy that bountiful meal we will take time to give thanks . . . for the things I have talked about . . . and so much more.

I hope if you take time for even a quick recount of your blessings that you will quickly find they are indeed . . . more than you can count.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Being Positive Through the Holidays - It’s Not Economics, It’s Mindset by Diana Flegal

The publishing industry has been hit hard by the economy, and due to it, many publishers have downsized, or sold out to the Big Five – which used to be the Big Six. Smaller publishers have closed, and editors are changing desks so much, I as an agent feel as if I have bought a ticket to the circus as I spend my time watching the editors swing from publisher to publisher, then onto freelance jobs, or out of sight altogether. Popcorn!? Cotton Candy!?

I am thankful for the small publishers that have started up in response to the traditional publisher’s failure to take a chance on the debut author. Thank you for providing a home for worthy books. 

Others have been hit by the economy as well.

Just tonight on the local news here in small town USA, it was reported that Retail theft is on the rise. According to economists, retail theft, combined with employee theft, costs U.S. businesses an estimated $42 billion a year. They cite the jobless situation as the cause and incentive for the increased theft.

I am thankful for my job.

Marilyn Geewax wrote recently in a blog titled The Economics of Thanksgiving 2014, several things we can give thanks for like, Gasoline prices are a bargain. The average gallon is hovering around $2.85, compared with $3.28 last year, AAA says.

I raise a glass of Root Beer in thanks to that one.

Fox Business News reports with the second polar vortex bearing down, fourth and first quarter GDP may not come in as rosy as expected.

Business Insider says: Thanksgiving inflation is flat this year. The average cost of a Thanksgiving Day dinner for 10 people this year is $49.41, an increase of $0.37 from last year's $49.04, but still a tiny bit lower than 2012's $49.48, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Read more:

I am thankful my son and I will be enjoying a Thanksgiving meal this week with my brother and his family.

Invoke conducted an Invoke Live Study with 300 participants to understand how Americans holiday celebrations have been impacted by the economy. “75% of participants stated that the poor economy is going to impact their holiday spending at least somewhat, with 35% saying it is going to have a major impact”. They also reported most folks will still be buying gifts for the children, even if they have to sacrifice travel plans and shop for deals.

Since I am really just a big kid myself, I'm thinking my gift prospects are still decent, right Santa?

Fox Business News also noted: Economic predictions are about as reliable as weather forecasts—a footnote that should be mandatory in all Wall Street reports.

So as the snow flurries fly and blanket a large portion of the country today and the Polar Vortex twists and turns, consider the things we can be Thankful for.

Our jobs, our health, our family, and the publishers we know and work with. And extra time to write the book we have been meaning to.

Gobble Gobble!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanks, Jerry ... and Norm ... and Les by Andy Scheer

Virginia and Norm Rohrer in 2004
Fifty years ago, Norm Rohrer had a dream to train Christians to write for publication. He developed a correspondence course and began training people through the Christian Writers Guild. Many of us still remember Norm’s “I Fire Writers ... With Enthusiasm” ads that ran in various magazines.

In the days before the internet, Norm and his wife, Virginia, worked as a team to coach aspiring writers through the mail, one at a time.

In 2001, Norm passed the torch to Jerry B. Jenkins. Wanting to be a good steward of the resources from the success of Left Behind, Jerry took on the task to multiply the Guild’s ministry and restock the pool of Christian Writers. He enlisted publishing veteran Les Stobbe to re-write the 50-lesson, two-year course – then plan advanced courses in fiction and nonfiction – and yet more specialty courses.
Jerry B. Jenkins

Jerry expanded the team of mentors and placed full-page ads in leading magazines. He planned a series of “Writing for the Soul” conferences with top speakers and teachers at luxury venues. He initiated a contest for first-time novelists that provided a hefty advance and publication by a top company.

At its peak, the Guild was training more than a thousand students in the craft of Christian writing. But times changed. The publishing world began reinventing itself. New online learning opportunities appeared. Even in partnership with a publishing services company, the Guild’s numbers continued to shrink. This fall, the time came to shut the doors.

Jerry never earned a nickel from the Guild. Far from it. He recently wrote to CWG mentors, “I had hoped that by now the Guild might have at least started breaking even so that it could sustain itself, but I don’t regret the considerable investment I have put into it and never cut corners or sacrificed quality.”

If you’re reading this, you’ve been touched by the Guild. If not directly through its courses, conferences, contests, critiques, blogs, or webinars, then by writers, agents, and editors who have.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, if you'd like to say thanks, you can reach him at

I’m a bit melancholy,” Jerry says, “but I have a heart full of wonderful memories too.” As Norm Rohrer said in the Guild’s original course, “Whats your story?”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Time is Limited by Linda S. Glaz

So, turkey time is already here, and you all know what that means. Christmas is just around the corner.
What does that do to your writing time? Inspire it? Lessen it? Encourage you to finish before the end of the year?
Let’s face it, the clock is ticking; our time is limited.
Me? I begin to panic. I have contest entries to finish judging. Two new clients to work with in order to get their proposals out, and another whose work I just can’t put down for more than five minutes at a time. I have edits on my own book to finish, and a new Christmas anthology that just released and needs marketing.
What do I do first?
Well, I could and should take my own advice.
Relax, enjoy the overeating that will inevitably happen (contrary to all the good intentions) on Thanksgiving, enjoy Black Friday, whether at home or on the run, and watch Christmas movies by the dozens.
Take time to enjoy the holidays. If you aren’t on a deadline, then accept that you need some down time. Family time.
TIME TO EAT THE WHOLE PUMPKIN PIE! At least a couple pieces. Don’t put your family and friends aside to meet your own self-inflicted goal. Cut yourself some slack and enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ten Great Gift Suggestions for Writers by Diana Flegal

It is that time of the year when we purchase gifts for those we love. If a writer is on your list or you write and want to leave a list around for Santa to find, check out the items below. Something is bound to fit your price range and get you started. A happy writer is a prolific writer and a prolific writer hones their craft, and increases their chances of getting published. 

10) Good Pens Basic yes, but needed and will be appreciated. Check out this extensive list written by The Pen Addict. Wow, made me want to go on a pen buying spree. My favorite pen is the Zebra Z Grip.  I like how smooth it writes. Pens make great stocking stuffers.

9) Writing Pads To be spread about the house, readily available for times of inspiration. A nice touch is personalizing these pads with the writer’s name. A more expensive version of this would be a digital tablet, Ipad, Kindle Fire or Microsoft’s new Surface Pro tablet which I am drooling over.   

8) A life supply of Post it Notes- no explanation necessary. J

7) A virtual Assistant. If cash is in your stocking, you might want to spring for one of these. Michael Hyatt has been recommending them for years. I have one client who has a great one. I want one. Waah! A Minnie me. Here are Michael’s recent suggestions on what to watch out for when hiring one.

6) Dropbox. I could not function without this and at every writers conference we end up singing its praises round a dinner table. Most beginning writers can get away with the free version, but if you are well published or just a prolific writer and have a lot of manuscripts in various states of completion (W’sIP) you might want to do as I have and pay for the larger capacity. Dropbox sinks your files to all of your devices. I like to get away from my desk and move in the evenings to the couch with my laptop. What ever I do that evening, shows up on my desk top the next day. No more emailing files to each device. Love it!

5) Writers Market Guide/ Christian Writers Market Guide. I recommend my authors get a guide, not especially for the publisher content (that changes often but it’s helpful) but the writers contest information, the short story options, and the list of magazines looking for submissions. A real platform boosting aid.  

4) A Whiteboard If you are visual and like to track your story line or just list your projects to stay on track a whiteboard can be a very helpful tool. You might want to use one to remind you of outside commitments as well. Writers tend to enter their space and forget other important matters. Just sayin.

3) The Desk Chair Ball the ultimate core strengthening, posture maintaining seat for all. And when one has writers block, or is frustrated for any reason; rejected again, busted by your editor for dangling modifiers- again…, just bounce a while and the creative juices will flow.   

2) Dragon Speak or similar dictating program. If inspiration hits you while driving? Speak into this device and it will type it later into your manuscript files.   

1) Drum roll please. The number one gift on every writer’s wish list is an all expense paid trip to a writer’s conference. Writer’s conferences come in all sizes and price ranges. There are one day conferences, weekend, and week long ones. There are local conferences and conferences held in exotic locations. Google writer’s conference in your area, state and country of choice. Check out this Fun in the Sun cruise that popped up when I googled it. I wonder if they need any more agents for that one?? Maybe next year.    

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Don't Fall Off the Grid by Andy Scheer

Last week I slipped off the grid. For two days, I lost access to my business email.

I didn't see it coming. Nor did I have a recovery plan. If it ever happens to you, I hope you're prepared.

Unfortunately, my email account was linked to the company that hosted my website. I should have realized that connection, but I was concentrating on my need to switch to a hosting company with better website options.

Making the switch was hard. My techie daughter-in-law needed a half-hour to navigate the obstacles.

Then the old hosting (and email) company dragged its feet. But after five business days, they threw the switch.

I discovered the change Tuesday morning as I checked my business email. No new messages—not even spam. After a half-hour on hold, my former hosting company told me they'd made the change—and that I'd have to take up the email issue with the new company.

After another half-hour on hold, the new firm said they'd activate my account in twenty-four to forty-eight hours. But no worry, they'd notify me via email. Unfortunately I forgot that the address to which they'd send notice was the one caught in limbo.

Fortunately, I had an alternate email address. I used it to alert my most important associates and clients that my main address was down. For everyone else, I hoped my posting on Facebook would help.

Two days dragged by. Time to work on other projects—and hope I wasn't missing anything vital.

Yesterday morning I decided to test if the new connection was available. It was. I improvised a way to check my emails and began assembling my new website.

A couple of lingering issues remain that may need my daughter-in-law's help. I can only hope that what I intend as the final round of technical changes don't bring even more unintended consequences.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let it Snow, Let it Snow…by Linda S. Glaz

Yes, it’s that time of year. The weather’s nothing too serious for our area…yet, just enough to remind us that the holiday—Thanksgiving through Three Kings, is just around the corner. You see, we’re sort of a UN family. I’m predominantly Irish, my first husband was Puerto Rican and Irish, and my husband is pure Polish. 100% pierogi and sauerkraut!
Thanksgiving is always a big event, whether we celebrate here or with the inlaws, which we love to do BTW. We’re all very close friends.
Then, on Dec. 6th, an important holiday for the Polish, we used to celebrate St. Nicks, shoes and all. The kids loved it. And if by any chance any of them are home with us now on the 6th, they get the filled shoes. We were fortunate to spend St. Nicks in Germany with our son and his family a few years ago. What a surprise in the morning to see porches filled with candy and goodies for the children. Neighbors leave little trinkets and candy on the porch during the night.
Christmas? Well, that’s everyone’s favorite, isn’t it? Beautiful church services on the 24th, food…too much food, and family. Then Christmas morning, whether you’re nine or ninety, is so much fun. Paper everywhere, smiles, a few “Huh? What is it?” and then food again.
On Three Kings which is celebrated seriously in Puerto Rico, kids enjoy gifts once more. In our home, three of the gifts they would have gotten on Christmas were put aside to be received by the Three Kings along with the story of how the kings gifted Jesus with their love and tokens.
So, you see, we CELEBRATE! More importantly, we raised our children, in spite of the holidays, to be givers instead of receivers. And we haven’t been disappointed. They give to others before they take for themselves. And that brings the biggest smile to my face.
Why am I writing about the holidays already?
The first snow this morning gave me that holiday sparkle (not like Edward, but like an elf). And I wonder what special things you all do to make them extra special?
For one thing, I love to share amazing books. I have two favorites that I read every year until the bindings have broken nearly in two.
The Christmas Gift, by Glendon Swartout (originally the Melodeon) a coming of age story from the Depression era , and A Christmas Gift by Lucy Agnes Hancock, a Harlequin story from the 30s about family and coming home. Each bring thoughts of home, of family past and present, and of the reason for celebration.
As fluffy flakes fall outside your window, I pray each of you will find that perfect story that reminds you what the holidays are all about and that you will read it each year until the spine disintegrates with use.
So bring it on. I can’t wait.
Let it snow, let it snow, let snow!