Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thanks, Cec by Andy Scheer

His book shares lessons from a lifetime of writing.

In his long career, Cecil Murphey has written or co-written more than 135 books, including breakout bestsellers Gifted Hands and 90 Minutes in Heaven. His books have sold in the millions.

For years he’s taught at writers conferences and instructed writers through his blog.

While he said at his recent Writer to Writer event that he’s winding down his in-person conference participation, Cec has made sure his teaching remains available.

I returned from Murfreesboro with a copy of Cec’s book Writer to Writer. As I scanned its pages, I realized this is one book I need to pore over.
“This isn’t a grammar book,” he says. “This isn’t a rulebook for writers. This is an attempt to share the lessons I’ve learned as a professional writer. Nothing else.”

The eleven sections reflect the 400-page book’s practical value:
● Beyond the Amateur Look
● Start to Finish
● Show Me, Show Me
● Working with Verbs
● Grammar Rules
● Improve Your Fiction
● Blocked Writers
● Being Edited and Editing Groups
● Those Awful Rejections
● Literary Agents and Contracts
● Making a Living as a Writer

Each entry spans no more than two pages. Almost the makings of a one-year writers devotional.

“I’m still learning,” Cec says. Thanks to this book, we can, too—from one of the best.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Griping Again by Linda S. Glaz

Yes, that’s me. Complaining again. I go crazy when I read a novel that has its historical facts wrong. Because if there’s one fact wrong, you will generally find more as you go along.
My mom used to say if there’s a penny off in the checkbook, you still have to worry, because if it’s a penny, it could as easily be a hundred dollars, and there’s no way to know for sure unless it completely balances.
It’s how I feel about historic facts. A penny’s worth of errors could easily be hundreds of dollars’ worth.
Why is it important to have all of the facts correct? Because your book may be the only “history” that someone reads. Say you have a person who hated history class but for some reason is an avid reader. YOU might be the one to make that history come alive, and you don’t want to impart bad or lacking information.
So, yes. I’m griping again. I read historic novels that have women baking chocolate chip cookies before there was such a thing. UGH! Or a guy saying, “Dude” in the 1800s. Perhaps a woman wearing a bra in the 1700s. Really?!? Come on! In today’s easy access to information, it’s not difficult to know find out what was and wasn’t correct for nearly any time period. Take the extra effort to make your novel truly teach history as it tells a story.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My website by Terry Burns

My personal website has a new look.

My daughter, Teri Burns, owner of LoneMesaPublishing.com updated and streamlined it now that I don't have clients to showcase there or agent information and links to show. The same link www.terryburns.net now goes to the new page or it also has a www.terryburns.us link where the site is actually located among the websites that she manages. She did a nice job on it and we are still tweaking it. It is one of the author services that she offers to writer clients that want to contract with her for assistance.

I am retiring, but still may do a little consulting for writers under the umbrella of Lone Mesa and maybe help her with a little overflow work. It's like trying to quit smoking, I can't really quit "cold turkey."

I'm going to put an auto-respond on my Hartline email address to keep me from having to send the same message to all the submissions that continue to come in, to point them to the agency submission guidelines and to point out the contact information for the other Hartline agents.

Technically I am still on board through the end of October but I have ceased to do many of the functions and I am taking the time to wrap things up. Yes, I told agent friends that I know I am under no obligation to help clients find a new home, but they are more than clients, they are friends. So I am doing what I can to help them make the transition.

The new header on the website is going to go up on my personal facebook page as well at https://www.facebook.com/TerryWayneBurns.  My author facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TerryWayneBurnsAuthor?fref=ts Teri also handles but it got a facelift recently and is not being impacted right now.

Yes, I do plan to see if I can still write and plan to work through Lone Mesa for that endeavor as well. I favor what my Western writer friends call "Christian westerns" that a log of my female readers do like but which will hopefully reach out to male readers, particularly nonbelievers.

So I'm in the midst of a lot of change and covet your prayers, but I am still here at the same old email addresses. Just another chapter in the unfolding saga of my life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

9 Dialog Tags for Unlikable Characters by Diana Flegal

Recently in a local monthly women’s publication I read an article written by a business life coach that mentioned certain words you shouldn’t use in negotiating a promotion.

I realize the dialog she suggests avoiding is also dialog to avoid in novel writing. Unless you are going for an unlikable secondary character. If you are, here is the way to have your reader cringing in no time.

Have your character:

  •  apologizing or saying “I’m sorry” often.
  •  “I feel …” this and that
  • “You always…” or “You never…”
  • “Well we all know…” or “The fact of the matter…”
  • “To be honest with you…”
  • “Yes but…”
  • “Don’t misunderstand me…”
  • “Oh, by the way…”
  •  “This is not personal…” (yeah, right!)

What faults do you give your unlikable characters? Remember, you must show the miserable ones in your book, not just tell us they are unhappy, or a know-it-all. Dialog is a good way to paint us a picture.




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lingering Images by Andy Scheer

The impression you make can last a long time.

Whenever I agree to teach at a writers conference, I send the director a current photo. But nearly every time, they use another shot—often one that’s several years old.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the business awhile, and because once-current photos have a way of lingering on the Web. No matter that I’m a decade older and working in a different job, that image of a once-me keeps appearing.

It’s like the way our reputation follows us. At a conference this past weekend, I caught up with several longtime colleagues. No matter their changing job titles, their personal qualities remain a constant.

That’s good and bad. Some have earned a great reputation. This weekend as I met a new colleague, I added one more person to that list. Unfortunately, a few encounters with others reinforced the opposite impression.

As people in a relatively small field, we get to know one another. Not just through what we publish, but also through everything we post, the way we do business, and the way we treat others, we build a reputation that lingers—like our old portrait photos.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Home Again…home again! By Linda S. Glaz

Half the laundry’s done, some sleep is caught up, and I’m ready to dig into the waiting work. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Had a chance to meet with some clients over dinner. Great fun. And to be in attendance when client, Kate Breslin, took home the Carol!

Still searching for a home, just finishing a novel, juggling multiple books, or pulling in the awards, my clients make me proud. Such a talented group of folks from such diverse backgrounds. And they are why I do this job: to see so much amazing talent all in one place.

Why am I telling you this? Conferences. Conferences bring an eclectic group of folks together, all in one place, all full of stories, all wanting to find the right home for their stories. And all…getting each other. We know what makes each of us tick. We don’t cringe if we see someone’s lips moving, as if in dialogue, as they stand alone in the elevator. We don’t run the other way if they ask how to murder someone. And we don’t think it odd if they hunch over their laptops when in the middle of dinner. Speaking of dinner, these same odd folks dress up! In costume! By genre! I'm not kidding.

They are writers!
And the joy of spending 4 days squirreled away with so many nuts is called JOY.
Hope everyone arrived home safely, and I’m already planning for next year.
Blessings, all.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hitting the Pause Button by Jim Hart

Many of us find it difficult to take a break from our work, even sometimes for lunch, let alone taking the afternoon, or (gasp) a day off. We are so driven to complete the task at hand that we often neglect to take a well-needed break. I find I'm often more of a 'Martha' than a 'Mary' (Luke 10:38-42).

We can easily forget that God Himself created rest and then modeled it for us by resting after He creating the universe.
A tired mind is often not a creative or imaginative mind. As writers and creative types, all that we do is fueled by our imagination. Many studies show we remain the most productive when we take time to recharge.

When we rest, and more to the point, when we rest in the Lord, there is something deeper at work. There is a soul rest that cannot be found anywhere else, but in the Lord. When we pause we gain clarity, focus, strength and renewed passion for our work and our lives. There’s a great spiritual and mental benefit in being intentional about allowing our attention to shift away from our work for a period of time. We find stress diminishing. For Christ followers, the point of rest is ultimately to grow closer to the Lord.

Exodus 33 and 34 are among my favorite portions of Scripture. In these passages The Lord reveals Himself to Moses in a special and powerful way. In Exodus 33:14 we read “The Lord replied, My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” To me that suggests that there is no greater rest, than in the Presence of the Lord.

Here are just a few things that help us in the activity of resting:

·         Take a walk in the park. Or the woods. I’ve been reading how nature can have a calming effect on us. As Christians we marvel at what God has created. This is a form of worship that brings us closer to the Creator while refreshing our spirit.
·         Meditate on Scripture. God’s Word has the ability to calm us, to give us hope, to inspire us, to discover more of God’s character. A number of years ago I took a long stroll the book of Psalms. I would read, meditate, and re-read the same passages for a day or two. Sometimes a whole chapter, other times just a handful of verses. My intention was to just take my time and linger.
·         Make a cup of tea. Even the simple act of brewing a cup of tea can cause us to slow down.
·         Enjoy some music. Personally I’ve found Phil Keaggy more restful than Demon Hunter. Worship music (of all genres) is a big part of my life. A steady diet of God focused music helps to keeps my attitude positive throughout the day. But often I also find that jazz from 1959 helps me to disconnect from the world and put a smile on my face.
·         Journal.  Just don’t let a journaling session lead to returning to complete that unfinished chapter in your current WIP.
·         Go to a museum. Or the zoo, or a botanical garden. Sometimes a radical change of scenery is just what we need to help us slow down.
·         Stetch. The simple act of stretching has many benefits. You can stretch sitting in your chair, or standing up. Google it!
·         Take a deep breath. This is also a great stress reliever and rushes fresh cool air to your brain to help wake you up and focus.

I Kings 19 relates the fascinating story of Elijah standing on a mountain before the Lord. There was hurricane-force wind, fire and an earthquake, yet according to Scripture God was not in any of those. He came to Elijah as a still small voice. Elijah responded to God’s voice by pouring out his heart to the Lord. And the Lord was faithful to respond and point him in the way that he should go.

How many of us need to hear that still small voice today?

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

So let’s make time to unplug, step back and relax! If rest is not in your routine, make it part of your day and week. There are triggers that can be part of our daily or weekly routine that can remind our body that it’s time for a rest.

How do you find time to rest, and what does that rest look like? A 15 minute coffee break? A day off? A full vacation?

Here are a few Bible verses for more study and reflection:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”  (Isaiah 30:15)
For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. (Jeremiah 31:25)
Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul finds rest in God, my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62:1)