Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Makes sense, doesn't it?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Husband: Do you remember when we watched The Three Stooges and they ordered food.
Me: No, I don't remember.
Husband: Two of them ordered good food but Curly ordered a rotten egg and other inedible stuff.
Husband: He said he had a tape worm and didn't want to feed it good. Isn't it funny how we remember things from The Three Stooges?
Me: You remember things from The Three Stooges.
Husband: Too bad they didn't teach math.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
That applies to writers too. We have to believe in ourselves more than anyone else does. How do we do that? Without being, feeling, acting arrogant, I mean? I suppose continuing to write after receiving rejections is one way. I guess.
I heard from two submissions this past week. They both came in on December 8th. A rejection from an agent. Major compliments on my query letter and my strong hook. She even commented on my “intriguing” idea. I paid more attention to what she didn’t say--absolutely nothing about my writing. I’ve read and re-read the rejection, trying to conjure up what she really said. Do you try to read between the lines, analyze or are you smarter than I am and give your rejections a cursory glance before getting back to what's important: your writing.
A few hours after receiving the rejection I got an acceptance from 5x5 Fiction: Stories told Loud and Clear. The editor gave me wonderful compliments. I can live on them for a month or two, or three--at least until another rejection comes in. My 25-word story will be in the fourth issue of 5x5 Fiction. Watch for it. There are still a handful of spots left for the fourth issue; read guidelines HERE. These little stories are tricky.
Also, see a few of Stephen Collins' writing credits below and check out his books HERE. I always liked this guy! :)
Double Exposure a novel published by William Morrow, May, '98 (hardcover).
Eye Contact a novel published by Bantam, July, '94 (hardcover) and May, '95 (paperback).
Super Sunday a play produced at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, directed by Paul Benedict. Starred James Naughton, Faye Grant, Marilu Henner, and George Wendt. ('88). Revived at The Moth Theatre, Los Angeles, directed by Jamie Wollrab. ('11).
Water Hazard a short story in a collection of golf-related suspense stories edited by Otto Penzler.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
I remind myself often that I have exactly the same amount of time as Stephen King. I'm always a little shocked by the thought.
I have a friend who used to share with me every detail of the novel she planned to write. Color of the heroine's hair. Dimple in the hero's cheek. Plot points, conflict, black moment. Minute details. And then she'd sit down and write the book. She sold about eight or nine Silhouette Romances before she quit writing. I wonder if she was 'verifying' her story before she committed it to publication.
And when I do this, I have the biggest mess. Revision has turned into a real challenge for me--at least with the book I'm working on now. I think it's because I've taken a Christian romance and tried to change my characters for a secular audience. I've quietened their prayers and they aren't too happy about it. Then again, maybe I'm not skilled at revising. I'm doing more than revising. I'm adding scenes, twisting, turning, manipulating. And I'm not accomplishing anything.
This quote actually makes me angry. I hate that fiction really does have to make sense.
This is hilarious.
What's your favorite quote and how does it speak to you? Share.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Meet five of my favorite guys: Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Mike Strahan, Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long.
There are a lot of ways to become a great writer. There are a lot of ways to become a selling writer. Well, obviously, we have to write but what else?
To quote Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Packers: "We defeat ourselves. We have to go out there hungry."
How hungry are you to be a good writer? A great writer? A selling writer?
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Everyone who comments will have their name tossed in a hat to win a copy of The Visionary. And I'm sure Pam wouldn't mind answering questions if you have any.
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
Learn more about Pam by reading an interview I did with her back in 2008 HERE and by visiting the following links:
If The Visionary sounds like a story you can't resist, then head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble these links and purchase a copy.
Read more about Pam and The Visionary in the following interview:
Question: How did you come up with the concept and the setting?
Answer: Characters came first then setting for The Visionary I wanted to do a book around a set of M/F twins, don’t know why, just thought the concept would be interesting and I hadn’t read anything similar so I thought it would be something different. My family history goes back to the early settlers of Lake Charles, and I’d visited the old ‘LeBleu’ homestead so the idea that these twins would be hired to restore/remodel this home back into its previous grandeur and was supposed to be a light-hearted story until the twins revealed to me the horrific abuse they suffered as children. This has been my most difficult—yet most rewarding—books to write.
Question: Is any part of The Visionary factual?
Question: How much research did The Visionary take?
Answer: Other than the research into the LeBleu estate –which I enjoyed immensely—actually very little, after all, the book is set in the area where I grew up so the setting was very easy to incorporate.
Question: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?
Question: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
Answer: To what or whom do you credit your success?
Answer: Many people have a love/hate relationship with their muse. My muse is the Holy Spirit and I accredit every ounce of success to the grace of God because without HIM I seriously doubt I could write a single word, much less stories that bring hope and healing to so many.
Question: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
Answer: Unlike many writers, I'm not strictly disciplined. Sometimes I feel I need to be because I haven't written anything new in quite a while. I've completed a couple WIP's and edited existing projects, but nothing brand new—and how I long to just throw everything out and start fresh LOL! However, when I am actively writing, I write—very little editing, or working on other projects, limited time online, not much networking or blogging, sleep comes only in snatches, meals are scarce and light, and definitely no playing!
Question: When do you feel like it all began to come together for you as a writer—was there a particular moment?
Answer: After years as a closet writer, penning stories in 5-subject notebooks, I'd have to say when I purchased my first, USED word processor and started typing in all those handwritten manuscripts I really began to feel like a writer.
Question: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?
Answer: There is really no one person to whom I can attribute this to, so many have helped me along the way. I’d have to say that my love of reading has influenced me the most. Reading opens doors to the imagination, takes you places you’d never be able to go otherwise and improves your visualization and vocabulary skills. Now, I’m able to implement all those things into my own writing.
Question: What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Answer: The biggest challenge I face is not having my work accepted by the “Christian” publishers. As one reviewer said, “though undeniably Christian, it is never dogmatic or insular; offering faith rather than religion.” (Review of Tempered Dreams by Elizabeth Burton for Blue Iris Journal) My books deal with issues in a way that is unacceptable in the traditional CBA market. Now that is not saying that my books are better than those published through traditional CBA publishers, only different. As I’ve said many times, everything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!
Question: What are a few writing tips you could share with aspiring writers?
Question: Any marketing tips?
Answer: Marketing is an intricate part of the publishing business and publishers today expect authors to do their fair share. However, marketing/promotion can be overwhelming as the more you learn, the more there is to learn. For every thing you accomplish, there are hundreds more you can do. My motto is: Do something every day and your best then let God do the rest and remember it takes time to build a career.
Question: What is your goal or mission as a writer?
Answer: A committed Christian, I firmly believe in God and His promises. God is very real to me. I believe that people today need and want to hear more of His truths wherever they can glean them and I do my best to encourage readers to develop a personal relationship with Him. The deepest desire of my heart is to glorify God and to get His message of faith, trust, and forgiveness to a hurting world. My hope is that all of my stories will touch the lives of everyone who reads them and - in some way - bring them a truer knowledge of God and urge them into a closer walk with Him.
GREAT interview, Pam! Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading my copy of The Visionary.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
When we face a relocation like this, I can't focus on anything else. So many unanswered questions. All I know about Oklahoma would be a drop in a thimble. I have a writer friend there—but of course, she lives just far enough away that we won’t be able to have daily meets. We have family in the Tulsa area. That’s more than an hour away.
There are many, many writers, writer groups, and conferences all through Oklahoma so why can’t I get excited about this? Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a new adventure, but I’m past the age for really enjoying new adventures--unless it's coffee with Dale Robertson.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
The ghoul mask fell from his hand to the floor.
“Up yours,” he said.
I grabbed his nose and put my face an inch from his ear. “The next time I hit you, sport, you’ll lose your teeth.”
His eyes strained to look at me. I removed my fingers from his beak.
“I chased you four blocks,” I said, “and ripped my pants going over that fence. I am not a happy policeman. I’ll ask again. Where did you get those fireworks?”
I smacked him again, this time a little harder.
His hand went defensively to his head. “I’ll have your badge for that, man.”
“I doubt that. Blowing up a mailbox makes you guilty of a felony. Where did you get the M-80s?”
An arrogant smirk crossed his face. “From my father, the chief inspector.”
Wayne will receive a print copy of Southern Writers Magazine. Thanks everyone!
Monday, October 24, 2011
I'll be shooting them off to the judges and will get back with you soon. I hate, hate, hate choosing just one winner, but those are the rules.
Winner will be posted soon -- I hope!
I’ve enjoyed reading (and writing for) the new Southern Writers Magazine . The pages are packed with encouragement and advice from voices of experience. The articles and interviews share secrets of success by experts in book marketing, promotion, branding, blogging, screenwriting, songwriting, conferences and more—all with a touch of Southern hospitality, of course. I want you to sample this great magazine so I’m hosting a writing contest. The winner will receive the latest issue of Southern Writers Magazine—a print issue because I want you to see just how wonderful it is. The color is vivid. The pages are thick. The print is comfortably readable.
This will be the first contest I've hosted -- hope it's fun!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
You can listen to a podcast HERE . He discusses his reading/writing history. Verrrrrry interesting.
Check out his novel Dirty Work HERE. This is the first in the Red Fox series.
and his second book in the series is:
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Marketing: More Secrets of John Locke's Success
Last month I began an analysis of John Locke's lastest book on marketing fiction, HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS IN 5 MONTHS, which you can get on Amazon for $4.99.
Locke has some great ideas, and my goal here is to organize them into something we can all can use -- a set of steps to follow when marketing a novel.
As I noted last month, there are six main tasks you need to accomplish in creating and marketing your
fiction. Locke doesn't list these anywhere in so many words, nor does he give you time estimates for how long they ought to take. So here's my list:
* Define your General Target Audience (days of work)
* Create your book (months of work)
* Create your platform (weeks of work)
* Launch your book (one day of work)
* Grow your platform (ongoing effort for years)
* Market your book (ongoing effort for months)
Let's look at these elements in turn:
Defining Your General Target Audience
I talked about the first of these, defining your General Target Audience, in last month's marketing
column. If you haven't done this task yet, there's just no time like the present, so go have a look now. All back issues of this e-zine are archived here: http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/ezine
Creating your book
Creating your book is of course a topic I've been teaching in this e-zine for years. Most of what I teach
is summarized and organized in my best-selling book WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES.
The one main point that John Locke makes which I believe is different from most authors is that he very consciously writes a novel that he believes will delight his General Target Audience -- and nobody else. He really doesn't care if he offends everybody else.
There is real freedom in writing just for a chosen few readers. Make them incredibly happy and don't worry about anyone else. That's the Locke strategy, and I think it's exactly right.
As a matter of fact, you might write a book for some subset of your General Target Audience. This would be the Specific Target Audience for that particular book.
Locke has done that with his western novels, which aren't for all of his fans -- they're only for those of
his fans who love westerns.
Creating your platform
There are certain standard elements of any writer's platform, and John Locke has nothing new to say here. His platform uses the same basic parts as anyone else's.
Here are the basic elements of a platform. Again, I'm giving time estimates for how long each of these
elements should take:
* Create a web site (weeks of work)
* Create an e-mail list for your fans (one day)
* Create a blog (about a week)
* Create a Facebook page (less than one day)
* Create a Twitter account (less than one hour)
All of these are standard parts of your platform. You don't have to have all of them, but most writers have several of these elements. I've listed them in the order which I'd suggest doing them, although there's nothing sacred about this order.
Since we're trying to understand in this article what John Locke is doing differently from everybody else, I'm not going to go into details about how to do any of the above. I've written tons of material in the past in this column on web sites, e-mail lists, and blogging.
You can find excellent books on all of these topics.
Launching your book
You can launch your book in one day, simply by announcing it to your platform. Add a page to your web site with all the details about your book, including an excerpt and directions on where to buy it.
Send an announcement to your e-mail list, giving them a good reason to buy the book right now.
Post a blog entry announcing your book. Ditto for Facebook. Tweet your book.
There, your book is launched. Again. John Locke does this the same way everybody else does.
Grow your platform
It's not that hard to grow your platform. You do this by adding good content to your web site, answering your e-mail, and posting on your blog and Twitter and Facebook.
Your goals are to increase the amount of traffic to your web site, the number of fans on your e-mail list, the number of people who read your blog, the number of fans you have on Facebook, and the number of people who follow you on Twitter.
This takes time and happens slowly. It pays off whenever you launch a new book, because over time
you'll build an increasing number of people in your General Target Audience who now know about you.
By definition, your General Target Audience is the set of people who LOVE your work, so each book launch should get better as the years go by and your platform grows and grows.
Locke really doesn't say much about the mechanics of growing your platform. He does say that he answers all his e-mail himself, and he encourages fans to sign up for his e-mail announcement list. And he tweets a lot, building what he calls his Friendship Circle.
So what is it exactly, that John Locke is doing differently than everybody else? From our analysis
above, it's clear that he's doing most things the same as most authors.
The answer is that he tackles the final main task differently. Let's look at that now.
Market your book
Marketing is an ongoing effort that begins the day you launch your book and ends when your book goes out of print.
Locke does some blog interviews, just like most authors. He considers this to be mainly an exercise in
building name recognition, and he's probably right.
He also listens to his readers, and this is key. What is he listening for? He's listening to what it is they
like (and don't like) about his books.
By listening to readers, Locke is continually refining his understanding of his General Target Audience.
If a reader likes his book, Locke asks himself what it is in that particular reader that makes her like the
If a reader hates it, Locke asks what it is about that particular reader that makes him hate the book.
Where does Locke listen to his readers? He reads the Amazon reviews. He reads his e-mail. He reads the comments on his blog. He reads what people say about his books on Facebook and Twitter.
I think this is where Locke differs from most of us.
Most authors read a glowing Amazon review or a fawning e-mail and think, "Wow, I'm amazing!"
Locke thinks, "Wow, I understand my General Target Audience better now!"
Most authors read a scathing Amazon review or an angry e-mail and think, "Gack, either I must be awful or this reader is a jerk."
Locke thinks, "Well, that person sure isn't in my General Target Audience! I guess I understand who I'm NOT writing for a little better now. So how can I revise the marketing copy for the book to attract more of my General Target Audience and scare off those who aren't in it?"
Locke does two other things for his marketing, and these seem to me to be unique. Certainly, these are the things he considers to be different from what everyone else is doing:
* He writes "Loyalty Transfer Blogs."
* He taps into the "Viral Circle" on Twitter.
These are going to take some time to analyze, so I'll talk about them next month. They're related, so it
makes sense to treat them as two parts of the same basic idea. If you're in a hurry to learn about them
right now, go ahead and grab a copy of his book, HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS.
Here's a quick link to his book on Amazon, and of course this link includes my Amazon affiliate code,
because I think the book is darned good and therefore I highly recommend it: http://amzn.to/ndd258
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 26,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.
Monday, October 10, 2011
He also finally got the first issue of his birthday subscription to Mystery Scene magazine. That’s really a great publication for mystery writers. Educates and informs.
And, I got something too! My copy of Wishcraft by Barbara Sher w/Annie Gottlieb. Hey! Don’t laugh at me—this is a great little book, originally published in 1979. If it’s still in print (I have the 30th anniversary edition) there’s good reason. Forty-six WONDERFUL reviews--go over and read them!
Kara also writes as Karen Leabo. She's written 50-plus contemporary romance novels. Kara's books have been nominated for major romance industry awards as well, including the National Readers' Choice Awards and the Holt Medallion. She won a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for best Harlequin American Romance in 2003. She has also been a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category of the RITA competition, the Romance Writers of America's prestigious peer award. In the world of screenwriting, Kara has written ten feature screenplays, three of which have been optioned. And these credits are just the sprinkles on her publishing cake. She's an actress too! So yeah, the lady knows how to focus and achieve those goals and dreams.
Do YOU have a career plan and steps to achieving your dreams? Do you know what's standing in your way or what diverts you from your goals? SHARE with us, please!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I met Christa several years ago when she evacuated from South Louisiana to Lake Charles because of Katrina. She was here when Rita hit so she actually experienced two hurricanes. Last week she told us how she put her manuscript in a zip lock bag when she evacuated. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Christa has a quirky personality. Well, quirky is probably putting it mildly. She's really quirky. I suppose you have to be if you successfully teach high school English. On second thought, quirky helps the writer too, doesn’t it?
For her first two books, Christa mined from her own life, but she’s quick to say, “You don’t have to experience everything to write about it.”
Christa’s simplified progression to getting published is this:
“Write the Book * Go to a conference * Network * Sell it”
Basically, that’s the way you do it with a little of this and that thrown it. The this and that is—and I witnessed this with my own eyes—negative critiques, bad advice, low scores from contests and discouragement.
Christa was told in critiques and from contest judges to cut the prologue of Walking on Broken Glass, which turned out to be her debut novel. She was told that no one reads or likes prologues. Thankfully, she didn’t listen.
She was told not to write in first person—that readers/editors don’t like first person point of view. She didn’t listen.
She was told that she would never sell a book about an alcoholic; she didn’t give up. She didn’t listen.
Christa says, “It’s all about story. Story trumps everything else.”
It would have been so easy to throw the book away and start from scratch but Christa says she knew she wasn’t the only recovering alcoholic who was also a Christian. She searched Christian fiction for real life struggles but the subject of alcoholism was like an elephant in the room that no one wanted to acknowledge.
from WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS, Prologue:
If I had known couples can be fragile and want what they are unprepared to give or unwilling to take, I would have been more careful with my words.
If I had known teaching lasts a lifetime, and students don’t speak of their tragic lives, I would have been more careful with my words.
If I had known my muscles and organs and bones and skin are not lifetime guarantees that when broken, snagged, unstitched or unseemly, can not be returned for replacement, I would have been kinder to the shell that prevents my soul from leaking out.
About EDGE OF GRACE:
When Caryn Becker answers the telephone on most Saturday morning, it’s generally not a prelude to disaster. Except this time, her brother David’s call shifts her universe. Her emotional reserves are already depleted being a single parent to six-year-old Ben after the unexpected death of her husband Harrison.
But when David is the target of a brutal hate crime, Caryn has to decide what she’s willing to risk, including revealing her own secrets, to help her brother. A family ultimately explores the struggle of acceptance, the grace of forgiveness, and moving from prejudice to love others as they are, not as we’d like them to be.
Above all else, we have to write what we want to write—from our heart—whether it is Christian fiction or that story of a serial killer that publishers call a cliché that is of no interest. Don’t listen to negativity. If we believe in ourselves and write the best story we can write, someone will buy it. Someone. Some day.
And we can take that bit of advice to the bank!