Apr 16 2014

Graduation Day (by Lillian Duncan)

Randy Ingermanson, author of Writing Fiction For Dummies and creator of the Snowflake Method, likens fiction writing to high school. He talks about freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior writers, and then there’s graduation day–becoming a published author! How does a writer reach graduation day?

There are, of course, different routes to get there—more so now than ever before. This is not a discussion on traditional vs. indie publishing. I believe both are viable and valuable for writers. That’s not the point of this post.

The point is getting published is a process. A process that CAN be rushed but shouldn’t be. If you rush the process, you’re going to miss out on some of the journey. And the journey is as important as graduation day.

There are things to be learned during the journey. You may not want to deal with rejection, but they make you stronger when you get those bad reviews. Got writer’s block? That’s OK, because you’ve learned to trust the process as you write story after story. The journey will make you a stronger, better writer.

For me, it was a long journey to graduation day—too long. I admit I made the journey longer than it had to be, but I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few things I’ve learned that may make your journey shorter.

  1. Learn the craft. I present a workshop where I talk about the ABCs of Being a Writer. A is for Art. B is for Business. C is for CraftAll three are important ingredients for a successful career as a writer.
  2. Be teachable.  For me, I think this is the number one rule of being a writer. If you aren’t willing to learn from others, it’s going to take a long time to graduate.
  3. Be a part of a critique group.  I credit joining a critique group for finally bringing me to graduation day. As you learn to recognize weak writing in others, it will strengthen your own. It doesn’t happen overnight, but one day your fingers will slow down and then come to a rest on the keyboard. As you reread the sentence, you’ll think—oops—that’s back story or head hopping or whatever your favorite “mistake” is.
  4. Don’t get stuck on a manuscript. Many unpublished writers write their first story and refuse to move on. Instead they write and rewrite and rewrite the same story. But one book does not a career make. Your writing will get better with each finished manuscript.

My first story had so many No-Nos that made it (almost) unredeemable—started with a dream—lots of back story—lots of flashbacks—head hopping—not to mention the always popular amnesia!

As with all things, quality takes time.

In this new electronic age, it’s very easy to publish a book, but I would caution you to reflect on your writing skills. Be honest about what grade you’re in and make a commitment to finish the journey. So that when graduation day comes, no matter what route you take, you can hold your head up and know you earned your diploma.

 

About the Author:

Lillian Duncan … Stories of faith mingled … with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Her eighth book was recently released, BETRAYED. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net.  She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com  as well as her personal blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com

 

 

Betrayed_h11347_300BETRAYED—BACK COVER:

Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules so Maria follows the rules–every rule. She’s given up everything–her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future.

Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster.

When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she’s wrong? Not knowing who to trust, she trusts no one…and that’s her first mistake

Apr 15 2014

Mortis Winner!

Purple HeartI’m so excited to announce the winner of the Mortis giveaway!

HEATHER TITUS

Heather won a print copy of Mortis by Hannah Cobb, which is receiving some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

In other news, here’s another giveaway you can enter, given by Castle Gate Press.

You’ve heard me rave about Serena Chase. Well, she reveals the cover of her next release this week. Check it out! I’m already hearing great things about the story. I loved The Ryn and The Remedy, and this book is in the same world with some of the same characters.

That’s all I have for you today. Join me tomorrow to enjoy a guest post from Lillian Duncan.

 

Apr 14 2014

Write for You! (Edit for Them)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhether we write fiction or nonfiction, we all have something to say. And we all know exactly how we want to say it–or we think we do. We have a story to tell, a point to get across, a purpose to everything we write.

We carefully craft what we want to say, wrapping it in strong words and colorful phrases. We breathe life into each and every sentence.

It’s perfect.

We’re ready to turn it over to some publisher or magazine. And who wouldn’t want this little piece of genius?

We wait and wait.

And then the rejection letter comes. Maybe it says something about vampires not being “in” anymore, or maybe they’ve heard the “Death to Amazon” cry one too many times. The fiction publisher may think the characters are too over the top, the pace is not quick enough, the setting is too overdone. The nonfiction may want more facts and interviews, or need something with a lighter tone.

What happened to the genius status we held some tightly in our minds?

Many writers don’t like to admit that writing is a business–or rather, publishing is a business. Publishers want to make money (it’s how they pay all their employees and writers).

Although no one can tell the future, most publishers have at least an idea of what’s hot and what’s not. They can pull out their handy-dandy spreadsheets, graphs, and charts to say that vampires are down and zombies are up, that YA is stagnant while the new adult genres are booming. (I’m totally making these statistics up, by the way.)

If you want to get published in that magazine or by that fiction publisher, you have to tailor your writing to their needs. There’s no point in arguing with them, they aren’t going to hear you–they’ve got charts!

It’s not selling out or giving in. It’s not changing your art. It’s a business. A business that says this is what sells. You’re either in or on your own.

But we still want to tell our stories, our way, right?

That’s why you WRITE the story for you, and EDIT for them.

Sometimes putting stipulations on our writing hinders the flow of creative juices, and I understand that. That’s why I say, go ahead, write your story. Write it your way. Get it out of your system. Hold it. Love on it. And then tuck a copy away.

Put on your revision hat, your editing gloves, and then hack away at the parts that won’t make the story a viable commodity in today’s overabundant market.

Write for you! Edit for them.

Apr 13 2014

Every Marketing Plans Needs One Big Thing

It takes an almost supernatural salesman to sell ice to Eskimos. It also takes a good salesman to convince someone to invest in something that doesn’t exist. That’s why every marketing plan needs one big thing: a great product.

In his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt talks about the WOW product. See, we live in a world where it’s easy to start your own business, develop your own product/service (or jump in as a salesperson for one), and then put it out there for the world to see.

How in the world do you begin to stand out?

Your product/service needs to exceed all expectations in new and surprising ways.

When you get into a market that is already saturated, you can’t just say, “Hey, look at my product.” No one’s going to care. Anymore, you can’t even say, “Hey, my product is like so-and-so’s, but with these extra features.”

Amazon forged a reading revolution. In a time when people were buying fewer and fewer books, Amazon broke out with a dynamic new product that fascinated people: the Kindle. You mean, I can take my books wherever I go, without the bag breaking? I can read anywhere and everywhere and buy books with the click of a button? They revolutionized the way we read today.

Now, as writers and editors, it’s harder to figure out how to be new and different. It’s more difficult to stand out above the noise. You know what the first thing we need is? A great product. Not an okay product, or a “good” product. We need something that makes our stories and/or services unique.

Fiction writers, if you can’t figure out how you’re story is unique, you’re story isn’t ready. Don’t try to write the next Harry Potter, write the first (fill in the blank). Be fresh, be bold, be unique.

AgreementOne reason I’ve been singing the praises of Mortis by Hannah Cobb is because she has an age-old story told from a unique perspective in a totally new setting. She has a girl from an assassin school who’s unsure if what she’s been taught her whole life is right or wrong. If it’s wrong, she has to go against everyone who she loves and cares for. Who can’t relate to that? But she wraps it in a fast-paced, YA fantasy with assassins, love, betrayal, and friendships from unusual places.

Another thing that will help you stand out is for the book to be awesome outside of the story: amazing covers and great editing. Nothing turns a potential reader away quicker than a poor cover and glaring errors on the first page. Strive for more.

Editors: There are a lot of good editors out there, great editors even. How do you stand out? Many have sought to expand their services, offer more to potential clients. But it’s tough to be a Jack of All Trades. I’ve actually been brainstorming for myself on this one. I like to think my friendly, teaching attitude makes me somewhat unique, but who knows.

It all starts with that WOW product. In his book, Michael Hyatt quotes David Ogilvy, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”

Apr 11 2014

Fab 5 Friday: Spring Edition

file7111234184791The grass is green! There’s yellow and white flowers everywhere–in trees, on the side of the road, even in my flower garden (I don’t know how they got there). The kids just want to hang outside, which is motivation for getting their schoolwork done. I’m just enjoying the sun shining in the windows. This week, it’s not hard to find something to be excited about!

 

WEBSITE: I have found a great recipe website for those who are wanting to eat better. Chowstalker shares great recipes for paleo, vegan, gluten-free, etc. I love this site! Check out this cool summer salad linked to their site.

BOOKS: This week, I didn’t get as much reading as I wanted to in. I was too busy taking care of the kids, and we were all recovering from the flu. However, I did finally finish Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb. AMAZING! This woman is wicked smart. I’m hoping to start Gatehaven by Molly Noble Bull–a Christian gothic. I’m so excited!

Oh, before I forget: I’m still hosting a giveaway of Mortis by Hannah Cobb. Go enter here!

BUSINESS: Progress is being made on my new website. And with the last two business/marketing books I’ve read, I now have plans to rewrite pretty much the entire things. That, along with the dynamic site my web team is cooking up, has me so excited!

I’ve also been learning about formatting e-books, a service I hope to provide for clients in the near future.

PERSONAL: I have some of the most awesome and supportive friends. There’s nothing like those weeks when you feel like the world is crumbling around you, and you’re an utter and complete failure, and then to have family and friends circle around you to encourage and uplift. God has truly blessed me with the people in my life–from my husband to my family to my online friends. What a blessing they are!

GOALS: Well, obviously, I didn’t make much progress on my goals. But that’s okay. At first, I was stressing out about doubling up and trying to tackle all of it. However, I’ve realized that in order to avoid getting sick again, I just need to pick up where I left off, keep my normal hours, and then chop away with razor-like focus.

Over the next week, I’ll work on getting us back on a schedule, while spending some time each day decluttering in a different room. Since I need to finish my WIP this month, I’ll be spending the first hour or so of my office time to polish up the last half. I can do it!

Do you have any fun weekend plans?

Apr 10 2014

Marketing is About Relationships

AgreementYes, what the experts have been saying for the past few years is true. Marketing, especially book marketing, is all about relationships. Traditional marketing that you see for companies like Nike and McDonalds will not cut it for our books, which is why book publishers are hesitant to spend much money on it. They know it doesn’t work.

Gone our the days of the faceless author.

Wait! Come back!

Do not despair. We may not be able to be faceless authors anymore, but that doesn’t mean we need to panic. Instead, we should embrace the unique opportunities offered to us through technology and our generations need to connect.

I know a lot of writers hear the words social media and immediately their brain goes to that dark place. Hours spent on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest . . . trying to be everything for everybody. Sadly, there are people out there who think this kind of exhaustion is key to success.

IT’S NOT!

Social media is neither as time consuming or as tedious–if you work smart. There will be more on that in future posts.

Today, I want to encourage you. Marketing looks scary, but it’s not. You know how to make friends, right? Then you’ve got the basics down. People want to know that you’re as invested in them as they are in you.

Think of it this way. Let’s say we have a new book that is $7.99 on Amazon. In order to purchase this book, Susie Sunshine has to spend an hour flipping burgers. On top of that, it’s going to take her about 10 hours to read this book. Reading, of course, is a dedicated activity. Unlike TV, which she can fold laundry, make dinner, and sort through coupons while watching. This is 10 hours of nothing but reading YOUR book, for YOU.

And it’s too much for me to take a few minutes a day to connect with her on Facebook? Not at all. In a time where there is so much vying for Susie’s attention, I’d happily give her a few minutes of my time.

And you know what? She’ll appreciate you and your book all that much more. So much more, in fact, that she’s going to tell her friends about you and your book. She’s going to buy a copy for her sister’s birthday, and maybe for her BFF for Christmas. That way they can share in the fun as well.

Now, imagine 10 people like Susie, who tell 2 people, which become 30 fans. Those 20 new fans tell 2 people . . . and so on. Suddenly, you’re the next big thing. All because you took the time to make a difference, to go beyond, to focus on relationships.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert–anyone can do social media today. The problem comes when you forget that your readers are who matter. Get them on board!

Apr 09 2014

The Waiting Game (by Renee Blare)

James 1:4 (NKJV) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.business_wallclock

My phone buzzes. I snatch it off the console, ignoring my husband’s raised eyebrow. A Facebook message … I sink into the seat. Not that I don’t like hearing from my friends on Facebook, but not exactly what I’m looking for today. I put the phone in my lap and stare out the window … and wait.

The waiting game. You know what I’m talking about, right? We all play it. Whether with our writing or other areas in our lives. In some instances, the game’s long and dreary. In others, rather short. Either way, I’d never associate the word with exciting.

What does God say about waiting? Oh, yeah … to let it work (James 1:4). He taught me the most powerful lesson of all about the waiting game–the hard way.

 

Two years ago, my shoulder quit working. For lack of a better term, it froze–solid. The medical term? Adhesive capsulitis. Layman’s term? Agony.

I couldn’t lift my arm above 80 degrees, to the side, or behind my back. Sleep was broken, if non-existent. I had to do everything one-handed or with help, if my right hand couldn’t reach within its very limited range.

Writing (typing) and working (more typing) led to back spasms. Filling prescriptions, more of the same, only far worse. But I took great comfort in the camaraderie with the veterans I serve, and family and friends.

What did I do? I waited.

Physical therapy produced marginal results, so I continued and waited.

The first surgery failed. I waited.

A year and a half of torture had elapsed. I didn’t know if I was the one at fault or  if I should give up? Was I going to feel pain like this the rest of my life? Did I deserve this? All the usual thoughts when you pray and nothing goes your way.

I couldn’t write or type without my fingers going numb. My back seized up if I tried to work for longer than two hours filling prescriptions. I cried almost every night, and I was mad.

Then I had surgery number two. Ouch. And more physical therapy. OUCH. A few weeks later, the first milestone was reached. Then another and another.

Several days ago, I reached the last milestone on a long and arduous journey. Yes, my shoulder’s not perfect, but I have faith it will be someday. If not on this soil, then in Heaven with my Father.

 

So if you’re playing the waiting game, have faith and keep on working in Him.

By the way, that day with my husband? My phone buzzed again, and God answered another prayer. I’m now a contracted author with Prism Book Group. God is so good. All the time!

 

In Christ,

Renee

 

Renee10About the Author:

Renee Blare’s been buried in a book for as long as she can remember. Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, she started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family back to Wyoming after a brief detour to Montana. Today, when she’s not reading or writing, she’s serving America’s veterans. Writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, but she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar. She writes about Christians struggling to find faith in the Lord along the journeys of their lives—and to keep things interesting, throws in some action and intrigue.

She now lives in central Texas with her husband, a crazy old dog and ornery cat. Oh, and a ton of fish. With two blessed careers and her son dropping in periodically between college jaunts, life’s never dull around her house. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check her website, blog, and social media.

Website: Renee Blare Author Website

Blog: Renee’s Inspirational Moments

 

Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Tumblr: The  Journey

Apr 08 2014

Mortis Giveaway!

cover image Mortis for website

I’m psyched to have permission to run this fun giveaway! You’ve heard me go on and on about Mortis, a unique YA fantasy. What a wild ride.

Don’t let the assassins school fool you! This book may be full of dangers and traps and assassins, but this character-driven story has important life lessons, like doing what is right, even when no one else is. I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike!

Have you seen this gorgeous cover?

You have til Sunday night to enter to win one of the 3 prizes!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apr 07 2014

3 Reasons Why Less is Better in Writing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s writing tip spouts from the several short stories I’ve been editing lately, but it applies across the board, no matter what you write. The fewer words you can use to say something, the better.

1. Word Count: When it comes to a short story or article, you only have so many words you can use. Don’t waste them on unnecessary descriptions, dialogue, facts, or wordy phrases.

2. Focus: In a world where we are inundated with all sorts of craziness around us, we need to get to the point in our writing. We need strong verbs and crisp, clear descriptions. Stronger writing makes for a stronger impression. Why am I even still talking about this?

3. Death to Fluff: Our generation is allergic to fluff. We skim over it. We don’t like extra characters in stories, extra facts/examples in articles, extra words, well, anywhere.

Here are a couple of websites for those wordy phrases (also called pleonasms):

writing.wisc.edu

pleonasms.com

Are there any redundant or wordy phrases that get on your nerves?

Apr 05 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

file0001499155950I’m so excited that Celesta Thiessen invited me to participate in this blog hop. I’ve enjoyed getting to know this prolific author over the last few months.

So, I’m supposed to be answering a few questions for all of you. Yay! I don’t get to talk about my own writing all that much–hence the extra fun Saturday post!

1. What am I working on?

Well, due to a contest, I can’t tell you the name of the novel, but I’ll say that it’s a fantasy based on the Armor of God. It follows a queen-to-be as she becomes a prophetess with a mission to collect the armor of God before a warlock unleashes an ancient evil. It’s the first in a trilogy.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Uh–when you figure it out, could you let me know? Just kidding. My work often spotlights spiritual warfare, but not in a smack you upside the face type of way. I like to show how God can work through both the faithful and the non-faithful, that He still works miracles. And all of this in fictional realms that people can enjoy!

3. Why do I write what I do?

Thirty-some years ago, God saved a tiny baby who had virutally no chance of living. Who was that precious little child? ME! I owe my very life to God, in more than one way. My own little miracle. I think people get so down trodden in life because they forget to look for the miracles–big and small. God is still at work in our world, He’s still transforming lives and working miracles. He uses ordinary people for extraordinary things. I think it’s important to remind people of that–whether they believe in God or not.

4. How does your writing process work?

As a homeschooling mother of 3 kids, who is also an editor and social media consultant, I don’t have much of a process. I write when I can , taking advantage of a few minutes here, an hour there. My stories often start out as either a character or a specific scene. I’m not a plotter, but I do usually take time to get to know the main characters. I can crank out a rough draft pretty quickly. Revisions and editing take me longer.

I was supposed to tag a few people to continue the hop; however, everyone I e-mailed had already done this particular hop (I haven’t been reading blogs the last month or so due to illness and such)–except for one!

Morgan L. Busse writes fantasy for the adult market. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, 2013 Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at www.morganlbusse.com. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

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