I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One-Sheets...or what the Dickens is a One-Sheet

by Patricia Bradley

I ran this post back on August 7, 2012.  Since then, both of the books in the one-sheets shown here have been published. Shadows of the Past was released in February 2014 and The Brass Ring was released by Harlequin Heartwarming September 1, 2014 under the title, Matthew's Choice. Here's the link to learn more about them.

I truly believe a good one-sheet will help you to pitch your story.

August 7, 2012 

Two years ago just before the 2010 ACFW Conference, someone mentioned in one of the loops that if you were pitching to an editor or an agent, you needed a One-sheet. What the dickens was a One-sheet?
Much to my dismay, I discovered a One-sheet had LOTS of stuff on it. My photo...my bio...my pitch...the name of my book...you could hear my groan across town. So, I got to work Googling how to write One-sheets. I found Kathy Hartman's blog and it had several articles to check out. You can also check out Rachelle Gardner's website. She has a link to several author's One-sheets. Then I went to work in Publisher. You can do basically the same thing in Word, but I found a template I liked better in Publisher.
Below is a One-Sheet for a romantic Suspense.
I put the title of my book at the top, my photo and bio on the left side. My bio included my writing credentials, organizations I belong to and my contact information. Then, to the right I added a log line and brief paragraph of what the book is about, then added a photo that fits the book. On the back, I included a one-page synopsis of the book. The lines around the boxes disappear when you print the One-Sheet.

I wanted the  One-Sheet for my Romance Story to have a different feel. See below:
As you can see, I went for a whole different look. One-Sheets are fun to play around with, and while they aren't easy to make, neither are they particularly hard.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comment box with your email addy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

If Tomorrow Never Comes

By Jennie Atkins
Every morning we crawl out of bed and wonder what to do with our day—fold a load of clothes, rush off to our dreaded day job, or jot an email to a friend.  We go to sleep each night expecting the next day and the days following to be there just as they always have been.

But what if they aren’t? Or what if our life has changed drastically as in the life of my oldest son, Toby, who finds himself confined to life in a wheel chair?  What would we do then? How would we feel? Would we look back and say we’ve done all we could for our families? For God? There is a song by Garth Brooks called If Tomorrow Never Comes that looks at a life changed.  It asks the question: If I never wake up in the morning, would she ever doubt the way I feel about her in my heart?

It is a poignant look backwards before facing the circumstances of the future.  Will our family know we loved them beyond measure? Will our friends know how much we cherish their friendships? Will our neighbors know we cared?

I am so guilty of living my life by a to-do list, so you could say this post is mostly for me.  I want to get the next chapter done on my WIP, I need to weed and water my garden, and I need to prepare for my next day at work. I often ask myself, when have I called a friend on a whim? Or stopped to help a neighbor in need? Or, just spend time extra time with God?

Each day is a gift. A quote from Amelia Barr reads—Time is a very precious gift of God; so precious that it’s only given to us moment by moment.

How are you spending your next moments?

I leave you with the words to the chorus of Garth Brook’s song:

If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she's my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Patricia Bradley’s doubleheader book launch

Being friends with Pat Trainum, writing as Patricia Bradley, is one more thing I owe to MBT (It’s unlikely we’d have met otherwise). She remembers me from Deep Thinkers, Melbourne. I sat next to her at Deep Thinkers, Clearwater and was impressed with her deep peaceful spirit. She asked me location questions about the Pacific Northwest, where I’m from, for Shadows of the Past, and we’ve stayed in touch. Soon she was off and running with multiple publications. I’m learning lots from her, and celebrating her current nearly doubleheader book release, Matthew’s Choice, Harlequin, released yesterday, September 1st, and A Promise to Protect, Revell, October 1st.  Thank you, Pat, for answering some questions for us today.

How does it feel to be an author birthing multiple book, especially in different genres?
It's quite challenging, and I felt very pregnant with some of the emotional ups and downs that accompany giving birth to two stories. :-) The difference in writing romance for the general market and romantic suspense for the Christian market is not all that different because the romance is full of godly principles...I just didn't include scripture. And romance without a suspense thread was quite different for me. I didn't think I could write straight romance, but felt God was leading me to write the story, so I told him He'd have to help me. And He did. It was a lot of fun.

I know sometimes even you do not know who the villain is until the end. And that your editor loves that you keep her guessing, too.
Pat: That’s especially true with A Promise to Protect. I got to the reveal chapter, wrote about a half page and said, "Nope, wrong person." Then I went back and started over with another person. 

What has been your biggest surprise in your writing journey?
That it took so long. Thirty-four years. And then all of a sudden it has exploded, first with the four-book deal with Revell, then the two-book deal with Harlequin Heartwarming and now another four-book deal with Revell—cold cases set in Memphis. And Harlequin has asked me to propose more books for them. 

Why do you think it took so long? (Pat has seriously studied and practiced craft.)
A couple of reasons. I had no one to teach me craft, so I kept making the same mistakes over and over. The other reason—it wasn't God's timing. So learn craft and get feedback on your writing, either from critique partners, or through contests, or even paid critiques. That's what I did after meeting Susan May Warren and she changed my writing life. I took what I learned and applied it. Three years after meeting Susan and attending writing retreats, I landed an agent and a contract. I would like to add one last piece of advice for unpublished writers? Don’t give up. What if I had given up after year thirty-three?

Here is a blurb from my upcoming release, A Promise to Protect: Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her—or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago—out of his head. When she calls out of the blue it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But when Tony dies just days later, Ben is charged with a different task—protecting Leigh and her nine-year-old son, TJ, from the killers. But how can Ben keep an eye on Leigh if she’s doing everything in her power to avoid him? And could the secret that Leigh is keeping change Ben’s life forever?

Amazon and B&N only have e-copies of the book. To order a paperback copy of Matthew's Choice, go to Harlequin's website: www,harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=53665&cid=3302#  

Congratulations, Pat, and thank you for your encouragement to other writers. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ponderers Welcome Author Angela Bell

The Ponderers welcome back our friend, Author Angela Bell, and she has big news for us!

1. Tell us a little about your journey in signing with Amanda of the McGregor agency.

I met Amanda at the 2010 ACFW conference—my very first writer’s conference where I’d be pitching my first completed novel. Leading up to the conference, I’d researched the agents attending, and Amanda was my first choice. At the end of our meeting, Amanda told me no but graciously offered to critique my first chapter. Hindsight, I realize that I was far from ready and that book entirely the wrong fit. But at the time, I was devastated. I na├»vely thought once an agent or editor had told you no, it meant NO forever and ever. The. End. That’s why the following year at the 2011 conference I didn't include Amanda in my three picks for agent meeting. I figured she wouldn't want to meet with me again, especially since I was pitching the same story. My inner critic agreed with this strategy, but God apparently had other plans.

Upon arrival at the conference, I found out that I hadn't been given any of the agents I'd selected for my meeting. Instead, I'd been assigned to meet with—you guessed it—Amanda! My inner critic had a panic attack and almost drove me to cancel the meeting, but a long, prayer-filled phone call with my parents convinced me to go despite my fear. The meeting went well, and Amanda requested my full manuscript. That request turned into a highly unconventional offer to work with me on a trial basis. Two and a half years later, I ended up signing with Amanda the day before my 24th birthday! I’m so glad God had a different plan.

2. What projects are you working on at the present?

I have two projects in the works right now. I’m editing a Steampunk, suspense novel currently titled Clockwork Deception. Of all the stories I've written thus far, this one is my favorite! I've called it my discovery novel because it was while writing Clockwork Deception that I finally felt like I’d discovered my writing voice, brand, and ideal genre. Funny that it took writing three different genres to find my niche. Along with Clockwork Deception, I'm also beginning work on a novella.

3. When you were a teenager, someone once told you to forget about writing because it is too hard. How did you overcome that? What would you say to aspiring writers now?

At first, I didn’t overcome. I gave up and didn’t write for two years. I figured that since Someone was older than me and had experience in the publishing industry, they must know what they were talking about. I didn’t have a shot.

But then the desire to write wouldn’t go away. The stories wouldn’t go away. As I neared graduation and prayed about my future, the dream of becoming an author refused to die. I finally overcame when I decided to follow where I felt God was leading me—despite the difficulty. Despite the naysayers. I realized that walking in obedience with God won’t always garner people’s good opinion or meet with their approval, and that’s okay.

My advice to aspiring writers is simply to never give up. Not for a day. Not for a second. If you feel that God has called you to write, then pursue His leading with passionate diligence. Write, write, and write some more. Don’t give up after the rejection. Don’t give up because of your fear. Don’t give up when the months stretch into years and it seems like it’s never going to happen. Don’t give up when you’re exhausted and weary of trying. At just the right time you will reap a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)

4. What was the most important thing you learned concerning your craft?

I've learned so much about writing in the past six years; it's hard to pick just one thing as being the most important. Conquering my Purple Prose. Learning the importance of Showing versus Telling. Grasping the concept of Subtext. More recently, how to delve deeper in my characters’ POV. Probably the most important thing I've learned concerning writing is that it's not about me. My success is ordained and determined by God, not by my level of talent or skill. Neither is my writing on me. I’m to sow seeds of diligence, hard work, and obedience, but God is responsible for the results. The harvest comes in His way, His timing, for His glory. Realizing that is both humbling and incredibly freeing.

5. Where do you get ideas for a book?

I always find this to be an awkward question because I don’t have a concrete answer. I've never gotten a story idea the same way twice! My first book (Unfinished Contemporary) was basically a fictionalized version of my life at the time. In other words, my therapy book. My second book (Completed Sci-Fi) sprang from a challenge you issued in fiction class to write something outside my comfort zone. That was my stretching book. Third book (Completed but a MESS) was a sequel to the Sci-Fi novel. My uh-oh-this-genre-isn’t-working-for-me book. Clockwork Deception developed gradually after I discovered the Steampunk genre one summer. The idea for my novella popped into my mind in the form of a plot concept while I was praying for story inspiration, and another story idea I’ve been nursing on the side was inspired by a series of dreams.

Update: Since Angela answered these questions for us, she has signed a contract with Barbour Publishing for a novella which will be included in a compilation. Here's a picture of the big moment!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Does a Writer Write?

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all. ~ Emily Dickinson

As I pondered this post, I thought of all the reasons I write, and all the answers I've gotten over the years when I ask writer friends why they write.

  •  I can't not write
  • The stories just have to come out
  • It's what God wants me to do
  • To tell a story
  • Because I have these characters in my head telling me their stories

And these are just a few. I can also state a few things that are not reasons writers write. 
  • For the money - if I take all the hours I've spent writing, I figure I may make a quarter an hour. Maybe. 
  • Fame
  • Prestige
  • Book signings
The four mentioned above are perks to writing sometimes, but I don't think any serious writer ever started writing for those reasons. No, I think most writers write because they love to tell stories, and not just any story but stories of hope. Writers want their words to make a difference in this world. 

Once I received an email from a reader who said she struggled with the same thing my heroine struggled with, and reading about how my heroine dealt with the problem helped her. And not just her, but because she now had closure, her whole family was going to be better off. I couldn't keep from crying. 

And my heart sang with the words: That's why I write.

If you are a writer, leave a comment, telling why you write. If you are a reader, have you ever read a book that helped you deal with something in your life?
Patricia Bradley
Follow me on Twitter: @PTBradley1
Follow me on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/patriciabradleyauthor

Shadows of the Past - Revell February 2014 
A Promise To Protect - Revell October 2014
Matthew's Choice - Heartwarming September 2014
Google Patricia Bradley for my books

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Words of our Heart

By Jennie Atkins

I was flying back from Alaska last month and we were going over a large inland lake.  I could see a boat in the middle, its wake visible from where I was 30,000 feet plus above the ground. I could see where the boat had traveled the length of the lake, its wake visible from the air, even if the swell of the waves had already dissipated on top.

It made me think about how much our lives and the choices we make affect those around us. How long after we’ve made a decision, is the wake of that choice is still churning—creating a ripple effect in the lives of others.

As a writer, my words have an impact on my readers and hopefully will continue to do so in the years to come. What I put on Facebook and twitter, will be there f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  What I put out online stays online, for anyone to see today, tomorrow, and next year, if they dig deep enough.

I want to be one of God’s instruments, used to spread his word.  But the responsibility comes with a heavy load. I often ask myself if I am truly honoring God. And, I am ashamed to admit that I often mess up.

Psalm 19:14 states:  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My words might be on paper, and the meditation of my heart may go forth in my stories. I pray they are God’s words and that I let Him guide my message.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Life's flotsam and jetsam

A recent blog from Israel was titled, “Ride the waves home," and that applies to life and writing. The author wrote that nothing can threaten a person’s bond with God more than going through a tragedy that may drive us further from Him, but that sometimes enduring hard times is the very thing that carries us home to Him.

There’s truth to that analogy. Rip tides sweep objects and lives away from shore. And things drift far in deep mid-ocean. But because of earth’s spin, waves eventually bring objects home to nearest westward coasts.

A recent wonderful visit with my siblings on Oregon’s Coast underlined this when we saw items not there on any previous visits. Large black barrels stood along shore to collect debris beachcombers are finding that’s just arriving from Japan’s March 11, 2011 Fukushima event. Those containers added glowing radioactive reality to what had been simple barefoot beach strolls before.

The stuff washing in is called flotsam or jetsam. Flotsam is wreckage or cargo afloat after ships sink. Jetsam is unwanted goods thrown overboard and washed ashore, especially material discarded to lighten vessels. Everything wrecked or cast aside eventually reaches shore to be re-evaluated and kept. Or tossed aside forever, and both terms apply to life and characters in fiction.

If we let go of things we should have held onto, God gives fresh opportunity to find its use now. If damaging old habits wash in and reappear, His black barrels are there to receive debris and take it away.

What about you? What have waves brought home that you once discarded but find valuable now? Or what had wrecked and sunk that you’re thrilled to rediscover and incorporate into life now?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teeny Flowers

Can you hold this, Mommy?

My baby, already two and a half, is getting to the age where she has "treasures." Packing to go to daycare in the morning is quite the production. As I'm busy packing actual necessities like her lunch, she's busy bringing me trinkets for safekeeping.

By the time we depart, I've got at least two "guys" (stuffed animals), a couple of books, a Mardi Gras necklace, keychain flashlight, two hair clips, spare bandaid, Minnie Mouse ears and a plastic strawberry stuffed into my already overflowing purse. Even when I don't think it's possible to fit another guy, I can't let her down when she trusts me to guard her treasures. It's part of my job. What's important to her is important to me.

When we were playing outside last week, she came scampering over with the teeniest flower I've ever seen. "Can you hold this, Mommy? We cannot lose it." Besides the fact that it was microscopic, there's nothing particularly special about it. Except it's hers.

Her insistence I keep her treasures safe has me pondering the things I bring to God for safekeeping. The dream of a published novel, my hope for more children, a simple prayer to make it through the day. Big things, to me. Yet, from Gods's eternal, sovereign perspective, these things must seem like teeny flowers. But just as I cherish being entrusted with that little piece of my daughter's heart, I know God treasures my trusting Him with the details of my life.

What hopes, dreams, goals and ambitions have you entrusted to God recently?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Great (or Horrible) Question

Novelists often ask “what if?”  It kick-starts brainstorming and stirs creativity at every stage of their writing. It can even lead to the idea for a book.

  • What if the host of a TV cooking show can’t really cook? (Rachel Hauck’s book Dining with Joy)
  • What if a Psychology professor and criminal profiler can solve any crime except for the one she most wants since it touches her family? (Patricia Bradley’s Shadows of the Past)
  • What if the star of a popular syndicated radio show gives advice romance even though she’s never had a date? (Susan May Warren’s My Foolish Heart)
  • What if the bride-to-be in an unguarded moment kisses the groom’s brother? (Beth Vogt’s Wish You Were Here)

Yes, writers love those “what if” questions that pop up in their heads—even if they keep us awake at night.

But recently I had a “what if” question raise it’s ugly head when I least wanted it.

My dearest friend from childhood (I’m talking about the one who’s like a sister), had to undergo a surgery. The day of her operation, I walked about the house cleaning since I could not sit still. Every time I thought about her, I whispered a prayer.

At one point during the day, a thought entered my head so strongly that it was almost like an audible voice. “What if she doesn’t make it?”

Thankfully, as quickly as I thought it, I recognized its source: the devil. Jesus never asked “what if” questions to raise a doubt or a fright. He made verily-I-say-unto-you statements to give assurance. He said, “Truly, truly.” His questions made folks pause and consider, not panic.

(I’m pleased to report that my dear friend is now recovering nicely at home.)

Have you ever had the experience of The Old Deceiver asking you a “what if” question?

Do you have a “what if” idea for a book or did you find one in a book you recently read? Please share!