Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kindle: The First 30 Days

A month ago, I went over to the dark side...I purchased a Kindle. I'll admit that for a long time I held forth that electronic readers were the work of Satan, that books would never die, etc., etc. But I've discovered that no exorcism was necessary before I used the device, and it's actually been sort of neat.

There are numerous e-readers out there, and I won't get into the merits and demerits of each of them. Suffice it to say, I chose the Kindle, and so far I'm happy. Here are a few comments after using the device for the first 30 days.

1) I wish it came with a printed instruction manual. It has a manual already downloaded into it, but there's something sort of comforting about looking at printed words, keeping a finger on the right spot on the page while looking at the offending instrument and trying to figure out how to do something. And it wasn't easy at first to find what I needed. This may change as I become more familiar with it.

2) The Kindle is just half the purchase. You need to buy a cover--preferably that neat cover with the built-in reading light. There's no back-lighting, and when your wife is about to finish a book on your Kindle and you want to turn out the light, believe me, this is a worthwhile purchase.

3) You'll need to develop a touch to avoid turning pages forward or backward inadvertently. I hold the instrument in one or both hands, with a finger on the "forward" page button, and sometimes I'll push when I don't mean to. Not a problem to turn back a page, and probably something I'll get better at as I use the device more. It's also going to take some practice to learn when to use the "home" button, the "menu" button, and the four-way navigation buttons. But that's my problem, not the device's.

4) Just as there are typos in books (despite numerous copy edits and proofing), there are glitches in e-books. Spacing is off at times, things that I'm presuming are printer's marks creep in, but I've learned to ignore these. I'm told that there's a whole section at some publishers devoted to formatting books for e-book publication. If that's the case, they need a bit more training.

5) It's nice that when you turn the device back on, it opens to the page you left. But I still find myself reaching for a bookmark when I get ready to close the cover on the Kindle after turning it off. Habits are hard to break.

6) I got the Kindle with both 3G and WiFi, and had problems connecting with my home's wireless router at first. To do that requires entering a long code, and to enter numbers via the keyboard requires hitting the "symbol" key and moving the cursor using the four-way navigation buttons. Going back and forth between letters and numbers can get to be pretty tiresome. It's not critical to have the WiFi active, because most of the time I'll use the 3G feature.

Would I do it again? Probably. Will this replace books? I think it'll be an adjunct. But those free or 99 cent downloads are nice when I can spot them.

Your turn now. Do you own an e-reader? Love it or hate it? Think it's the wave of the future?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Killing Your Darlings

If you get into an elevator with a couple of mystery writers at a writer’s conference , you’re likely to want to call the police when you hear them talking about ways to poison people without getting caught. But writers talk about another sort of killing, and this applies to all genres. We talk about “killing your darlings.” This refers to cutting segments from what you’ve written, even though you may think the words are "heartbreakingly brilliant" (to borrow a phrase from Randy Ingermanson). When would a writer ever want to do that?

Great writers from Anne Lamott to James Scott Bell have advocated the practice of getting a first draft down quickly, then polishing the work in subsequent rewrites. It’s rare to find someone who gets it right the first time, just as there aren’t too many folks who do the New York Times crossword in pen (except maybe my lawyer/golf partner, Jerry). There’s always room for improvement. But sometimes, in the process of getting that first draft down, the muse creeps into our study and perches on our shoulder, resulting in a paragraph or scene with which we fall in love. It's magnificent. We can't believe we wrote it. Unfortunately, often as the story unfolds those deathless words just don’t fit into the total scheme of the work. Then there are two choices. Keep that bit and totally rewrite everything surrounding it or get up your courage and cut it. “Kill your darling.”

When I end up in this situation--and I have, lots of times-- I generally compromise by setting up a desktop folder for the segments I have to remove. I cut them, then paste them into a Word document and save them in that folder for use somewhere else. Once or twice I’ve been able to use one in another novel, on another occasion I found that one of my rejects fitted in very nicely at a different spot in the story, but most of the time these darlings languish in obscurity and eventually I give up and delete them.

Has the effort it took to write these discarded words been wasted? Absolutely not. Is it wasted effort for a baseball player to take batting practice? The balls he hits won’t count in official statistics, but the muscle memory and improved hand-eye coordination will certainly show up later. So will the benefits of the practice involved in writing that brilliant bit that ended up on the cutting room floor. But it still hurts.
Ever have to give up on an idea or a dream that was so wonderful it became your darling? Recently an editor friend of mine reached that point with a book he'd spent two years dreaming about. Events finally made it necessary for him to move on. He'd in effect had to "kill his darling." Were the efforts of the past two years in vain? Absolutely not. He's a better editor and writer for his efforts. Sometimes the product isn't as important as the work. At least that's my opinion. What's yours?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Susan Sleeman: The Voice Of Suspense

Susan Sleeman is a multi-talented, very busy lady whom I’ve been trying to interview since gasoline was a dollar and a quarter a gallon. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only a little. Susan is a very successful author of novels that she describes as a blend of suspense and romance. She’s also the host of the website, TheSuspenseZone.com. I think you’ll be interested in getting to know her.

RM: I notice that you had one cozy mystery published before settling into your current niche of romantic suspense. Did this stop along the way influence the way you write novels now?

SS: I don’t know that Nipped in the Bud influenced the way I write, but it created the impetus to change directions in my writing. In 2008, Nipped in the Bud was contracted to be published as part of Barbour’s Heartsong Present’s Mysteries line. The line folded just before Nipped in the Bud was to release. It folded because Cozy mysteries don’t sell well in the Christian market and this line was no exception. So I saw the handwriting on the wall. If I kept writing and trying to get mysteries published in the Christian market, my career wouldn’t last long. So I turned to writing romantic suspense. I had never written much romance before and my editor will tell you it was like pulling teeth to get me to put an equal amount of suspense and romance in a book that the romantic suspense genre requires. But I’m happy to report I seem to have found that balance, and I have been blessed with additional romantic suspense contracts. FYI – Barbour did finally release Nipped in the Bud as a single title book as part of a Hometown Mysteries line. This line has also been cancelled but at least Nipped in the Bud came out before that happened. I’m now considering e-publishing the other books in my Garden Gate Mysteries series.

RM:  You’ve moved around quite a bit. Has your familiarity with certain parts of the country affected your choice of a setting for your novels?

SS: Quite a bit is an understatement. We’ve lived in nine states, Texas twice. It’s such a big state that I think to do it justice you have to live there twice. lol  Now to answer your question. Each area of the country where we’ve lived has a different culture and way of life. All very interesting to say the least. But I choose to set all my books in Oregon. Part of it has to do with the fact that my children still live there and I feel closer to them when I research the area. Plus I visit that part of the country frequently and that motivates to write about it. But also, Oregon has so many vastly different regions. Mountains, beaches, deserts, forests, it truly is a part of our country where you can see how amazing and powerful our God is.

RM: What was your impetus for setting up The Suspense Zone? And please tell my readers a bit about this excellent site.

SS: I started The Suspense Zone.com before Christian or inspiration suspense was popular. I didn’t even know the genre existed until I discovered Linda Hall’s books. Excited about finding the genre, I started scouring the internet looking for other books, searching site after site, until I’d compiled a list of over 300 books. I was ecstatic with the opportunity to find new authors with riveting novels. I couldn’t keep this wonderful news to myself. I had to share. So I hatched, er, gave birth to The Christian Suspense Zone. The site has grown over the years and now the database of books has expanded to include over 900 Christian Suspense tiles. The books are arranged by author, sub-categories, and alphabetically. I’ve included a section of new releases and upcoming books. I have book reviews, author interviews, contests, everything you could want to know about Christian Suspense. So if you like inspirational suspense, stop by and have a look and sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the new content added and the monthly contest.

RM: You have a couple of books already in print from Love Inspired’s suspense series, with more coming. Having reached this point in your career, what have you learned about publishing that surprised you?

SS: I have learned that you never really arrive and can’t take publication for granted. I once, naively thought that if I ever signed a contract to publish a book, I’d have it made—from that point on, my writing life would be easier. But you know what? That’s when the real work begins. Each book has to be as good as or preferably better than the one before. Each book requires dedication to the craft of writing and dedication to marketing and promoting the book. Each book requires flexibility and willingness to compromise. Each book has very real deadlines and you have to be creative on a schedule. It is a business after all. Sure, it may be a creative business, but in the end, it’s about selling books and if you want to keep publishing, the books have to be selling.

RM:  Please tell my readers a bit about your books, the ones already out and the ones to be published next year.

SS: I currently have three books in print. Nipped in the Bud as I mentioned earlier is a light-hearted mystery with a quirky character named Paige Turner. Paige is a landscape designer who has the odd habit of classifying people like the plant they resemble and treating them as such. When the city manager is found dead on her worksite, she has to figure out the killer’s identity before she is charged with his murder.
The other books are romantic suspense titles published by Love Inspired Suspense and are part of a three book series featuring a trio of brothers in rural Logan Lake, Oregon. High-StakesInheritance features Ryan Morgan who is a wilderness counselor helping Mia Culpepper to figure out who wants to scare her away from claiming her inheritance. Behind the Badge, which just released, features Police Chief Russ Morgan as he protects Deputy Sydney Tucker and her sister when a killer claims she has taken something from a crime scene that belongs to him and he’ll kill her if she doesn’t return it. And The Christmas Witness, the last book in this series releases in December and features ex-FBI agent Reid Morgan who must keep a former witness and her critically ill daughter safe when a bank robber is released from prison and threatens to exact revenge.
Also, I am now working on a new romantic suspense series contracted by Love Inspired Suspense. The series is called, The Justice Agency – When all else fails. It’s about five adopted siblings who work in various fields of law enforcement until their adoptive parents are murdered. When the police can’t figure out who killed their beloved parents the Justice siblings come together to solve the case. They discover in the process that they like working together and they form an investigative agency called The Justice Agency. They dedicate the agency to helping people who traditional law enforcement is either unable or unwilling to help. The first two books of this series will release in 2012

RM:  And, as I always ask, do you have any words of advice for the writers in my audience?

SS: As I look back on my writing career, albeit a short career thus far, I realized that I have learned the most from failure and rejection. All writers fear rejection, bad news, harsh critiques and bad reviews, but in my case that is where I can see the greatest growth in my writing. I hated the bad news. Hated hearing no again. I still hate it. But when I take the time to reflect on what I did wrong or why something didn’t work, it helps me learn to be a better writer. And most importantly, it’s the time I am reminded that God can change me most and bring me closer to Him. I do not want hardships. I do not ask for them. But I am a better person for going through them. Okay, off my soapbox, but though these rejections on the road to publication are painful, they are also important and can be career changing if we let them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

My dad, George Mabry, has been gone for eight years now, passing away just days before his ninetieth birthday. This picture was taken at Baltimore's Inner Harbor with my two sons, Brian and Allen, as three generations made the trek to see the Texas Rangers play the Orioles. It wasn't an easy trip, but I'm so glad we made it.

Thanks, Dad, for everything. And thank you, fathers everywhere. I hope you're aware of both the responsibility and privilege your position carries.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Money Secrets of the Amish

In the world of Christian fiction, Amish books have been a big seller for some time now. Matter of fact, I was kidding with an editor friend of mine, asking why he didn't buy one of my novel proposals, and his answer had a lot of truth in it: "If we can put a bonnet on the cover, I'll take a look at it."

When the folks at Thomas Nelson asked if I'd like a review copy of a book called Money Secrets of the Amish, I thought someone had gone too far in cashing in on this craze. Surely the only "secret" the Amish have about money is their lifestyle as Plain People. But my curiosity got the best of me, and I asked them to send the book. And I'm glad I did.

New York Times best-selling author, Lorilee Craker, has done her homework and done it well. She not only lists principles that are ingrained with the Amish, principles that have kept them on an even economic keel even in these hard times, but illustrates them with abundant stories and examples. (I just wish she'd included the recipes for shoo-fly pie and similar dishes). She covers such obvious things as delayed gratification, avoiding debt, and the time-honored principle of "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." But she also takes a hard look at the way the Amish raise their children, with examples and admonitions that made me think, again and again, "Yes, we need to adopt those tenets."

I got this book for free, with no promise that I'd give it a good review, but I do recommend it, not just for the economic principles it illustrates but the family values it teaches, values that are sorely lacking in our modern society.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Get To Know Author Christa Allan

Today’s guest is fellow Abingdon author and writing friend, Christa Allan. Other than her deplorable taste in professional football teams—she’s a rabid Saints fan—Christa is a really neat lady, a great friend, and someone you really should get to know.That’s why I asked her to do a guest blog. Here’s Christa.

If there’s an elephant in the room…I’ll find it.

When you’re the once divorced, twice married recovering alcoholic wife of a Jewish husband, mother of twins (one of the two has Down’s Syndrome) plus three other children, a daughter whose husband is black (and she’s not), and sister of a gay brother…well, just where are you going to go with that?

I never intended to write about issues. They found me first.  And when I first discovered Christian fiction, I wanted, needed, characters with whom I could identify.  Sure, I found some novels with characters that were alcoholics, or gay, or parents of special-needs children. But, generally, they weren’t the protagonists or their situations didn’t mirror life as I saw it.

As someone who came to Jesus in my late 30s, I wondered if I was an anomaly or if the people in the pews around me had equally messy lives.  Good grief…I was the one flipping pages furiously in my Bible during sermon time trying to find the scripture passage (could the Spirit have led to an alphabetically organized Bible? and could someone have explained to me sooner that Hebrews is not in the Old Testament?), I surely wasn’t going to start blabbering about my poster-family for dysfunctionality in Sunday School classes.

When I started writing for publication, my first idea was a romance novel.  Girl meets boy, they hate each other, then they like each other. Five pages in, and I was done. My husband suggested I write a mystery. I couldn’t even figure out who the killer was, so surely that wasn’t going to work either.  The notion to write about a woman alcoholic emerged after sharing with a co-worker that I’ve been a recovering alcoholic for over twenty years.  Her surprise that an average teacher-mommy-wife who led an otherwise average life was ever an alcoholic was my epiphany.

We never know just by looking at people what’s going on in their lives.  So many people look so bright-faced happy and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives.  Like those families in the picture frames sold in stores (who ARE those people, by the way?!). But turn those pictures over, and what’s there…nothing.   That’s not the life God planned for us. He wants our lives to be framed by His love. We called to compassion, and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.

Too many Christian families suffer in silence. Alcoholism, drug, sex, or food addiction, lifestyles are all the big elephants in the room we don’t talk about. But we all know they exist because they’re stepping on our toes and squeezing the life out of many of us. 

And that’s my passion for writing, to expose the elephants.  My goal is not for my novels to be labeled as “edgy”; I don’t write for the purpose of sensationalizing.  I want to comfort people facing issues in their lives, to let them know that being a Christian doesn’t mean immunity from the world’s problems. But if my words can pierce the fa├žade, then people can see God on the other side.

Christa Allan’s first novel, Walking On Broken Glass, is available now. Here, with her permission, is the prologue. I dare you to read it and remain unmoved.

If I had known children break on the inside and the cracks don’t surface until years later, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known some parents don’t live to watch grandchildren grow, I would have taken more pictures and been more careful with my words.

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.

If I had known I would live over half my life and have to look at photographs to remember my mother adjusting my birthday party hat so that my father could take the picture that sliced the moment out of time- if I had known, if I had known- I would have been more careful with my life.

Watch for Christa's second novel, Edge of Grace, in a couple of months. We’ll have her back at that time to tell us about it.

Thanks, Christa, for your openness and honesty, not just in your writing but in your life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to all of you who left a comment on the interview with Yvonne Anderson. My handy-dandy random number generator (isn't the Internet wonderful?) has chosen the winner of a copy of Yvonne's debut novel, The Story In The Stars.

Congratulations, Jo. I'm sending you an email with instructions on collecting your book.

To those who didn't win, I hope you'll come back again for more interviews and more chances to win books.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is There A Cure For Curmudgeon-itis?

Is the world slowly and surely deteriorating into a ball of dirt and water populated by people who just don't care? Or is that just my perception? My father was a hard-working man who never made a fortune but managed to provide for his family while doing one thing that meant more to him than wealth ever could--he was a man of his word. If George Mabry said he'd put up that TV antenna (yes, those were the days when TV reception required  antennas that were mounted on roofs or atop towers beside the house), he'd do it, when he promised, for the price he quoted. No written contracts were necessary in my small hometown. A handshake was as good, if not better, than a signature on a piece of paper.

I realize that the world has changed in the last several decades (and let's don't discuss how many decades I've been around to observe the change), but it just seems to me that you can't really depend on many things in life anymore. You want an example? Try this one: We decided before the Memorial Day holiday that it was time to grace our new home with a backyard grill. Our previous dwelling had one in the back yard, piped for natural gas. (It's Texas, folks!) No such situation here at the new Casa Mabry, so off we went to purchase a propane-powered one. We found one for a good price at a well-known store in the area. One swipe of the credit card, and it was mine to take home to put the words, "easy assembly" to the test.

I can wield a screwdriver with the best of them, but the first thing the directions said to attach was the handle. I searched the 28 or so parts that supposedly came with the thing--no handle. Okay, I'll get one from the store, but go ahead and assemble the rest of the unit. Then I found that it was packed without the slides for two of the legs, the wheels for the other two, the grease cup, and--get this--the knobs that turn the gas on and off.

I removed the parts I'd assembled, piled the whole thing back into the box, and lugged it to the store, where they expressed their disappointment and provided me with a grill that was assembled. I asked them what they would do with the incomplete one. "Oh, we send those back to the company all the time. Lots of things come without all the parts."

Allow me to be a curmudgeon for a few seconds. When did it become acceptable to send out units without all the parts, leaving it to the customer to play roulette with the boxes, hoping the one they choose would have everything needed for "easy assembly?" It wouldn't have happened in my father's day. But I'm afraid those days are long gone.

Oh, and the new barbecue grill? Works like a charm. Drop by for burgers sometime.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Interview With Author Yvonne Anderson

For a writer, the journey to publication is often long and arduous, but when “the call” comes, the struggle pales in comparison with the joy. That’s why it’s always a pleasure to introduce you to an author who has reached that point and is about to be published. Today, my guest is Yvonne Anderson, whose debut novel, The Story In The Stars, will release this month. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her.

RM:  How long have you been writing, and what made you choose the genre of speculative Christian fiction as your vehicle?

YA: Like most writers, I played around with putting words together almost from the time I could hold a pencil, but I didn’t get serious about it until about 2002. Until then, life kept getting in the way of any buried aspirations I may have had. But one day, realizing I had a story to tell as well as the motive and opportunity to commit it to words, I felt compelled to take advantage of the situation. So that’s when this journey began.

Four long years later, I got frustrated. Very frustrated. So much so, in fact, that I swore off writing altogether. Drowning my sorrows in some heavy non-fiction reading, I found a little book called The Gospel in the Stars, which premised that God proclaims the Gospel to the world through the constellations. Originally written in 1882, the book’s language was archaic and difficult, and I thought it might be fun to translate it into something more modern. About ten minutes into that endeavor I could see it wasn’t working, so I decided instead to write a fictional story that incorporated the concepts. I never had any intention of showing it to anyone, I just wanted to do it for fun. I’m not sure what possessed me to give the story a setting in space, because until then, that was never my thing.

RM:  What was your biggest disappointment along your road to publication? What was the nicest thing you discovered?

YA: At first, the biggest disappointment was realizing how little I knew about writing.

Probably the nicest aspect is the many wonderful, supportive people I’ve met along the way.

RM:  Tell us about your experience getting “the call.”

YA: I’d drafted Story in the Stars in 2006 and pitched an early version, rather half-heartedly, at the first writers conference I ever went to, in 2007. I was completely green, had no idea what I was doing, but I made an appointment with Andy Meisenheimer, who was then acquisitions editor for Zondervan. To my surprise, he seemed rather intrigued with everything I told him, asked several questions and nodded with interest at my answers. Then he asked, “Do you see yourself as a sci fi writer, or is this a one-shot deal?” I didn’t even read sci fi then, let alone have a hankering to write it, and being the honest sort, I told him that. And that was all he needed to hear – he was no longer interested.

Fast-forward to December, 2010. By then I’d not only revised Stars a couple of times but had also drafted a sequel, because I’d found so many cool things on the planet Gannah that I couldn’t include them all in one book. I sent a proposal for Stars to Risen Books, they asked for the complete MS, and early in January they contacted me again and asked, among other things, “What is your vision for the series?” Remembering my conversation with Andy, I laughed. Series? I had no vision for a series, I was just having fun. But once I started thinking about it, I came up with six story lines sprouting from Stars. Which, of course, I was happy to share with the people at Risen. A week later, they offered me a three-book contract, “with the possibility for more if the series does well.” Holy heart attack, Batman! I almost didn’t survive the shock.

RM:  You’re also a columnist for the blog, Novel Journey. How has that affected your life as a writer?

YA: It’s been huge. In fact, I’m convinced my affiliation with them made the difference between being offered a contract and being bypassed again. Apart from Novel Journey, I had no platform, and I’m grateful to Gina Holmes for asking me to participate in her wonderful blog a few years back. I’ve learned a lot, gained a little professionalism (I hope!), and it’s been a good time.

RM:  Tell us a bit about The Story In The Stars.

YA:  I call it a space fantasy rather than science fiction, because it’s way more “fi” than “sci.” There are other races of humans on other planets, there’s interaction between them, and it’s all very fanciful, not based on any science that we know today.

Centuries before the story takes place, the inhabitants of the planet Gannah were bloodthirsty warriors intent on taking over the galaxy. Their rampage was stopped when the people of Karkar created a plague virus that killed every star-soldier that was exposed to it. At the same time, Gannah’s king and a small recon team were checking out their next target—Earth—where they heard the Gospel and believed, to the saving of their souls.

When the story opens, the planet is experiencing a resurgence of the plague, and Pik, a doctor from Karkar, is assigned to the task of finding a cure and saving them from annihilation. Because of their violent history, he hates the Gannahans and wishes they were all dead, but his duty to the League of Planets and his professional ambition make him swallow his racial resentment and comply with his orders. By the time he arrives with the rescue team, though, almost everyone is already dead. The only survivor is a young woman, Dassa. Like her forefathers for the past eight centuries, she’s a Christ-follower, but on their planet He’s called the Yasha, which means Redeemer.

The Yasha tells her that she will not only recover from the plague, but He will use her to repopulate the planet with a new race of Gannahans. But she has no idea how He’s going to pull it off, especially with that annoying Karkar doctor always hanging around. Once she regains her health, she and Pik have numerous adventures together, including an attack by space pirates, a crash landing and a treasure hunt. And in the midst of all that excitement, of course, Dassa shares with Pik the story in the stars.

RM:  What writing project is next for you?

YA:  The second book in the series, Words in the Wind, is already in the hands of the publisher. I’m currently drafting the third, and starting to mentally plot the fourth. I don’t know if the fourth will ever be contracted, but I intend to write it, because I’m addicted to Gannah. And if the Lord tarries, I just might keep going after that.

RM:  If an unpublished writer came to you for advice, what would you tell them?

YA:  This writing nonsense requires a huge commitment of time, energy and emotion. I wouldn’t advise anyone to even get started unless and until the person is certain it’s what the Lord wants. So first off, I’d advise you to pray about it and ask Him to stop you if this isn’t His plan for you. Once you’re certain it is, jump into it wholeheartedly and don’t look back. Join a knowledgeable critique group, meet people who can walk with you on the journey. Be teachable, and don’t be discouraged. God’s timing is perfect. If you’re not published yet, it’s because you’re not ready yet, so keep working on it. If it’s His work, He’ll accomplish it.

Of course if the writer doesn’t know the Lord, I’d recommend he or she take care of that business first. In the final analysis, that’s all that matters.

Yvonne has kindly offered a signed copy of her book, The Story In The Stars, to one of my blog readers. Leave a comment to be entered, and come back in a week when I'll announce the winner.

Yvonne, thanks for a fascinating interview.  You've had quite a journey, and it's truly been novel. Thanks for sharing with us.

Monday, June 06, 2011

D-Day: June 6, 1944

On June 6, 1944, US troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, as the effort to liberate Europe was officially launched. Thousands of men gave their lives during that invasion, many more were injured.

Please pause today to silently thank those who made that sacrifice, as well as their families. Freedom will always come at a cost.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Are You Going?

I’ve had a number of people ask me on one of the social networks, “Are you going to conference this year?” Well, yes, since in a moment of weakness I agreed to function as an officer in the American Christian Fiction Writers, I’ll be attending. But here’s a bit of news. If I weren’t an officer, I’d still attend.

Ask an agent who represents authors writing Christian fiction to recommend a writing conference, and they’ll probably say, “ACFW.” Ask an editor from a publisher dealing with Christian fiction which conference they think you should attend, and they’ll most likely say, “ACFW.” Ask an author who is published in Christian fiction to recommend a conference, and they’ll probably tell you, “ACFW.” Why is that?

First, for fiction writers it’s a focused conference. Nothing on non-fiction, no sessions on periodicals. Just fiction. So, if you write fiction, it’s geared just for you. All the classes, from the early bird session to the continuing education classes to the individual seminars to the after hours get-togethers—the focus is fiction.

If you’re looking to get an agent interested in your work, here’s your chance. You can make an individual appointment to pitch your novel. You can sit at their table at a meal and get to know them. You can even meet them around the refreshment table, so they have a face to put with your name the next time it comes up.

The same goes for editors. The publishing houses are well represented, and the editors are pretty accessible. You’ll find them open and supportive (although you’d be well advised not to follow them into the rest room to pitch your work, a story you’ll hear repeated time after time in “don’t do this” speeches).

And there’s the networking. I look forward to seeing friends at ACFW, catching up with old ones and making new ones. Writing is a lonely business, and it’s neat to be around people who understand that special world we live in because they inhabit it, too.

I could go on, but I’ll close by saying this. If you write Christian fiction, please consider attending the ACFW annual meeting. You can click here for more information.

I’ll meet you in the shadow of the arch in St. Louis, September 22-25.