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 30, 2014

#ACFW 2014... And No, I Wasn't There

I don’t know about you, but this past weekend separates writers into two categories.

Category One: Those soaring from the incredible experience that is the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Annual Conference.
Category Two: Me. (The full time working mom who is blessed – yes,  blessed! –to have stayed at home with my family again this year.)

For those in category one, the weekend included in-person hugs from friends and colleagues spread across the country, workshops, worship, parties, and galas. For those in category two, the weekend included watching Frozen (for the seven hundredth time), setting up a big-girl bed and dealing with the joy that is potty training a toddler.

I’ve only been to one ACFW conference, and to be honest, I was a little naïve. (Like, I actually said I was going to be the next Karen Kingsbury to a living, breathing agent, naïve). Let’s just hope when I do find myself in category one again said agent doesn’t remember me. Or maybe she will, and we’ll have a good laugh...

Either way, I’d love for those of you who were blessed to be at ACFW, or blessed to remain at home, to share some of your ACFW 2014 highlights – good, funny, frustrating, heartbreaking. Let’s rejoice with each other, laugh with each other, lift each other up, and pray for one another until 2015!
For my “ACFW 2014” highlight…the big girl bed was a smashing success!



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good Writing Examples from the World’s All-Time Bestseller

No, it’s not the Harry Potter series. Those books would come in at a distant second.

The world’s all-time bestseller never needed promotion or a marketing campaign. In fact, many folks, even today, have suffered for the privilege to own it. One researcher estimates there are over 6 billion copies in print.

The name of this bestseller?

The Bible.

I understand that the Bible is much more than literature. It’s the living and powerful Word of God. But still, it makes sense to me that the “God-breathed” book would also contain great writing.

I’ve often taught my students that the quickest way to improve their writing is to use vivid verbs and specific nouns. So let’s take a look at the verbs and nouns in a single chapter of the world's best selling book. Here’s a quick list from Job 39.

Verbs: scorns, explores, searches, bind, harrow, flap, abandons, forgets, tramples, lifts, laughs clothe, leaps, rattles, races, scents, soars, mounts up, lodges, spies out, suck up

Nouns: mountain goats, wild donkey, wild ox, threshing floor, ostriches, plumage, snorting, quiver, spear, javelin, thunder, hawk, cliff, crag

If you’d like a quick-fix to your writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, check your verbs and nouns. Make the verbs dynamic and the nouns specific.

What others methods would you suggest for a quick remedy?

Have your ever looked at the Bible as, not only God's Word, but as great literature?

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.