Latest Blog Posts for July 2012

Aligning Our Dreams With God’s Calling, by Nan Trammell Jones, Guest Blogger; Golden Parsons Book Give-Away

It’s my joy to introduce my friend, writer and speaker Nan Jones, as our guest blogger. I know her words will encourage you today, just as they did me.

Be sure to read Nan’s complete bio below and then check out her Morning Glory blog, a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His presence.

Welcome, Nan.

Aligning Our Dreams with God’s Calling

by Nan Jones

“It’s impossible to throw cold water on a dream birthed from the fire of God’s revelation.”
~Matthew Barnett

Tears cascaded in an endless flow of frustration, disillusionment…failure. Failure to thrive, they say, as a newborn clings desperately to life. Failure to thrive, I say, as a wannabe author and speaker frantically trying to hold fast to God’s call.

God’s call. It’s rather illusive, isn’t it?

Do you suppose we clothe God’s call in an air of sophistication, making it something grandiose to satisfy our need to be needed, to be used by the One who is our everything? Do you suppose, in our attempt to understand a totally awesome God, we place His “calling” into our proverbial box of understanding while He shakes His head back and forth at our foolishness? After all, God is grand, so our calling must be grand too. Right?

I feel as though I am rambling, yet I sense that I am not the only one who struggles with this. It is my desire to love and serve my Lord with all of my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. It is my desire to honor Him with the written words of my heart and the spoken words of my mouth. It is my desire to share the message of God’s Presence in our darkest hours with those who are hurting and struggling with their faith.

That is my desire.

That is also God’s desire for me.

His calling.

For several weeks I have questioned God’s calling on my life–His request for me to encourage others with the lessons He has taught me. I watched as life’s difficulties carried my dreams far, far way, only to turn and fight their way back like the ebb and flow of a salty tide. The force of emotions has been driving me crazy.

And then God’s Word spoke to me.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24, NKJV (emphasis my own)

I realize this scripture is referring to our salvation, but in the quietness of that moment, God opened the eyes of my heart to understand a profound truth. It is God Himself who sanctifies me–sets me apart–to fulfill His purposes in my life. Not a publisher, not a scholarship committee, not an agent. God calls me to Himself and to Him alone. He doesn’t call me to “a calling.” Not really. He simply calls me to Himself.

That’s amazing, isn’t it? Why do I fight it so much? His “calling” is to Him alone and, while in His sweet Presence, He orchestrates the purposes of my life. Regardless of life’s events that distract me and take me off course, God is calling me to Himself. Perhaps those life events aren’t really getting me off course. Perhaps they are leading me right where the Father wants me–sitting at His feet, drinking in His love, learning His wisdom and instruction.

And from that place of grace I am satisfied.

From that place of grace I can extend my hand to one reader at a time, one weary soul at a time and draw them to this same place of restoration I have found.

Could there be any higher calling? I think not.

Author’s Bio: Using the written word and the spoken words of her heart, Nan Jones assists fellow believers in discovering the essence of who God is in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His presence. Nan is also available to speak at conferences, Bible studies, ladies’ retreats, mother/daughter teas–any event where two or more are gathered in His Name. No event is considered too small or too large. To read Nan’s devotions, please visit Morning Glory. For information on speaking engagements, please visit Nan’s website at www.jubilantlight.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who Won Golden Parsons’ Book, His Steadfast Love?

Drumroll, please…

The winner is #8 Susan Stilwell! Congratulations, Susan! Simply contact me with your mailing address by email or through the Contact Page and Golden will get the book right out to you!

And, I have some NEW good news to share, His Steadfast Love has been named a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards! Hoo-wee! Congratulations to you, Golden!

Readers, if you’d like you own copy of Golden’s book, here’s your direct link: His Steadfast Love by Golden Parsons.

Read entire post »

 

Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Gary and I visited old friends one night this week and they told us a story about their 1-year-old grandson with his mother’s cell phone.

They had watched from the sidelines as he picked up the phone, and anticipated him putting it to his ear–as children have done for generations–to imitate a verbal conversation.

But instead, they watched in amazement as he fumbled the phone between his tiny hands until he had the keyboard securely cradled. And then his thumbs went to work. Up and down, back and forth they went, sending imaginary texts and and unwritten conversations.

Of course, this precious little fella had no idea what he was imitating, only that he was doing what he had seen others around him doing.

Scary, huh? And I’m not talking about texting.

I’m talking about what children see in us. Children are going to imitate and believe us, whether good or bad, right or wrong.

“Tell them I’m not at home.”

“Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

“You’re stupid.”

“Why can’t you be like your brother?”

“He runs this house.”

“You’re fat.”

“Hey, they gave me too much change! Let’s get an ice cream!”

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.      Matthew 18:6

What will the children in our realm of influence believe and imitate because of us?

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

Read entire post »

 

Writer’s Headlines: Writers Conferences, Christian Communicators Speakers Conference & MoGo7000 Writing Challenge

This week’s post includes upcoming writers conferences, new rooms available at speakers conference, and your chance to win $100 in the MoGo7000 Challenge…

 

Regardless where you are on the writing journey, writers conferences should be part of your year. Check out these great conferences:

1.  Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: August 1-4, 2012, Langhorne, PA

2.  Writers’ Publishing Workshop: August 6-10, 2012, South Hamilton, MA

3.  Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival: August 11-16, 2012, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

4.  Christian Authors Guild “Catch the Wave” Writers Conference: August 23-25, 2012, Norcross, GA

5.  Marketing in the Mountains Writers Retreat: August 29-September 3, 2012, Gatlinburg, TN

6.  East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers Conference: September 7-8, 2012, Covington, GA

7.  American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW): September 20-23, 2012, Dallas, TX

8.  Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference: September 24-28, 2012, Near Norton Shores, MI

9.  C. S. Lewis Southwest Regional Retreat and Writers Workshop: October 27-30, 2012, Navasota, TX

10. CLASS Christian Writers Conference: October 31-November 4, 2012, Ghost Ranch, NM

11. Writing for the Soul Conference: February 14-17, 2013, Colorado Springs, CO

12. Write2Ignite: March 15-16, 2013, Tigerville, SC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 2012 MoGo7000 Challenge Continues!

Catherine Young, a writer and friend from Delaware, has graciously offered to sponsor this year’s MoGo7000 Challenge. Thank you, Cathy!

And the good news for writers is, you don’t have to change a thing.  So…are you currently working on a book? If so, Catherine Young and I want to help you finish it AND give you an opportunity to win $100!

All you have to do is write 7000 NEW words (not rewrites) on a book project during the calendar month and you’ll have an entry. Meet the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Meet it 10 months and you’ll have 10 entries and increase your chances to win!

And it’s all free! Want more details? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page for the guidelines. And yes, you can work on more than one book at a time.

You have a few more days to meet the June goal, so what are you waiting for?

Thank you, Catherine Young, for your support of writers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Double and Single Openings at Christian Communicators Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove!

We’ve just received word from The Cove that they have opened up at least two more single or double rooms for us! Yay! So if you’ve been hesitant to register because of lodging options, here’s your unexpected chance to snag a double or single room! Of course, we still have spaces available in the triple/quad room as well.

The 2012 Christian Communicators Conference will be August 29-September 2 at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.

We also have a few more “Conference and Meals Only” spots available for those who are able to arrange off-site lodging. But you must hurry. The conference is limited to 30 participants.

Check the Christian Communicators website for more details.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, that’s it for this week’s Writer’s Headlines. Be sure to check back next week for the monthly call-outs!

Write on!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Interview and Book Give-Away with Author & Speaker Golden Keyes Parsons

It’s our 4th Tuesday, so today you have a chance to learn about another author AND have a chance to win a free book! You can read Golden Parsons’ official bio below, but I can tell you from experience that this is one talented woman! We first met back in 2006 when we both were on faculty at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico (now called CLASS Christian Writers Conference). If I remember correctly, she played the keyboard in the praise band that year!

But today Golden is here to talk about writing. His Steadfast Love is her latest book and her next book, coming out this fall, is Trapped! The Adulterous Woman, the first in the series Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women in the Gospels. Be sure to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

So let’s get started. Okay, Golden, I’ve known you for a while, and I’ve always wondered about your name. Is “Golden Keyes Parsons” your real name or is it your pen name?

I’m glad you asked. This is the first question that I usually am asked, so let’s dispense with it right away. Yes, it is my real name. My dad was a newspaper editor and publisher, and he thought it would be a clever name to give me. I actually have enjoyed it. I don’t have a middle name. My parents always intended for me to use “Keyes” as a middle name when I married, however, I never did until I started writing professionally.

What made you start writing?

I’ve always written. I learned to read when I was four years old, and grew up loving the printed word. As I mentioned in the previous question, my dad was a newspaper man, as was all his family, so our house was always full of books, newspapers and manuscripts. My first newspaper article was printed when I was nine years old. But incredibly I never thought about being a “professional” author until Marita Littauer with CLASS told me that if I wanted to speak professionally, I needed to be published. So I started the writing journey.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I’ve been writing professionally for about 13 years. I sold my first novel in 2008.

I assume you got some rejections along the way. How do you handle them?

Not very well. It’s discouraging. I received SIX rejections in one day at one point. But I’ve learned to deal with it, try to learn from it and move on.

Why do you write?

I write because it is a part of my nature. I express things much better with a pen than I do speaking. And I’m a professional speaker!

What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Reading, playing the piano, painting

What are you working on right now?

Edits on the first installment, Trapped! The Adulterous Woman, in my novella series, Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women In Scripture.

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I wouldn’t know how to bring characters to life any other way.

Me, either! Tell us about the book you have out right now.

My latest book is a Civil War novel set in Texas, His Steadfast Love. It is about how divisive the Civil War was in the lives of families, communities, a state and our nation. The heroine’s Southern family live on the Gulf coast of Texas and their town and plantation are invaded by the Union forces. Her brother has gone to fight for the Confederacy, but her sweetheart, whom she fell in love with before the war began, is a dedicated Union officer. You can see the problem that is presented.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If God has called you to write, keep writing and never quit. I have a quote on my desk that has inspired me over and over again: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

I would also say that if you are serious about your writing career, be disciplined about it. Write every day, even if it’s only ten or fifteen minutes. If you are on deadline, set your word count and get it done. The inspiration will come as you begin to write.

How important is faith in your books?

I write from a Biblical world view, but I don’t have Scripture or “Christianese” on every page. I think that belongs in non-fiction Christian books. The faith element is clear, but is incorporated realistically. In my opinion, what makes Christian fiction Christian is when God’s redemption is woven throughout the book and is the solution to the dilemma in the book. It is obvious, but not blatant. (BTW, I teach a class on What Makes Christian Fiction Christian that has proven to be very provocative and makes people think.)

What themes do you like to write about?

I like to write about strong women who overcome obstacles in their lives.

What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

I really can’t answer that. I’ve written several non-fiction books that have not yet been published, and I love them. But I adore writing fiction and tucking the life of faith in the pages of a book that perhaps a person who doesn’t know Jesus might pick up. I hope it causes them to consider Jesus.

What is your writing schedule like?

I get up early and have a time with the Lord, then I write in the mornings, and tackle marketing in the afternoons, or any other business that I might have to do. If I’m on deadline, I divide the word count by the number of days that I have until the manuscript needs to be turned in, and I get that word count done.

Where can you be reached?

My web site is www.GoldenKeyesParsons.com. I love hearing from readers. My email is golden@goldenkeyesparsons.com and you can find me on FaceBook as well.

Golden’s bio: Golden Keyes Parsons writes historical fiction, and is also a popular retreat/conference speaker. Her highly acclaimed Darkness to Light Series chronicled the journey of her French Huguenot ancestors in 17th century France. Her newest novel, His Steadfast Love, a Civil War novel set in Texas, just released November 2011. Her newest book, Trapped! The Adulterous Woman, is the first in a novella series entitled, Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women in the Gospels, and will be released October 2012. Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine, where they enjoy their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and are avid sports fan of their alma mater, Baylor University.

Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to join us, Golden. And thanks for offering a book give-away! Friends, be sure to leave a comment for Golden and your name will be in the hat! Be sure to come back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Blessings, all!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Writing can be a negative world, if we allow it. It’s the world of RE. Re-writing. Re-jection. Re-negged contracts. Yep, in today’s unsettled world of publishing, it’s not unheard of for signed contracts to be canceled.

But Ephesians 2:10 has another RE word we can count on as Christian writers:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

  • We are God’s masterpiece. When God looks at you, He sees a masterpiece. He sees the same thing when He looks at me. He specializes in seeing the potential in us.
  • He has created us anew in Christ Jesus…in other words, He is RE-creating us in Christ. Why would He do that?
  • …so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. He has plans for you and me. We don’t always know what they are, but we do know He has gifted each of us to complete the good things He has for us. It will take time, commitment, and work, but this verse promises we’ll be able to do them…at least the ones He planned for us all those years ago.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities for YOU!

Welcome to the 4th Thursday’s Writer’s Headlines

A huge thank you to Marilyn Shipe for offering this collection of writing opportunities and contests. Thanks, Marilyn! Enjoy, friends!

1.  HILLERMAN MYSTERY SHORT STORY CONTEST--$20 ENTRY FEE. Winner receives $800 and two tickets to the awards dinner, part of the annual Tony Hillerman Writers Conference. Also publication in New Mexico Magazine. Submit mystery short stories that are 2,500 words or less, written in English, set primarily in New Mexico. Deadline August 15, 2012. Critiques are $100 extra.

2.  FIVE CURRENT GREETING CARD MARKETS

3.  CREATING KEEPSAKES MAGAZINE–We’re always looking for fresh, never-before-published scrapbook pages and tips. If you’ve always wanted to be published, e-mail your pages and ideas to editorial@creatingkeepsakes.com. Seeks original and creative ideas for scrapbooking enthusiasts. Pays $350 to $600 for articles up to 1,200 words. 50 percent kill fee.

4.  SOME PERSONAL ESSAY MARKETS

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul has an ongoing need for uplifting stories for their anthologies (pays $200.00, plus 10 free copies)
  • Thrive in Life (online publication) publishes stories on “how people thrive” (pays $75)
  • God Makes Lemonade publishes stories of how “something unexpectedly good happens that never would have happened without something painful happening first” (pays $250 plus 10 free copies)
  • Thin Threads publishes stories of “moments, events or decisions, each showing how the course of our lives can be redirected for the better” (pays $100)

5.  EARLY AMERICAN LIFE–Since 1970 Early American Life has been the source for information on early American style, decorating, and traditions. In addition, we cover both antiques and reproductions made by crafters working in period styles with traditional tools. We do it with our own style–we aim to entertain as well as educate. We also feature stories on gardening with a focus on early America. A one-page story in Early American Life, such as Worth Seeing, runs about 750 words. A typical feature may run 2,500 words. We would estimate $500 for a first feature from a new writer, more if you are an experienced, skillful writer. If we assign a story to you, we will negotiate the rate before you begin work.

6.  DELICIOUS LIVING–Educates readers on nutrition, disease prevention, integrative medicine, healthy cooking, personal care, and ecofriendly products. Up-to-date information in a clear manner. Only wants fresh new angles. Features 1,000 to 1,200 words. Departments vary widely from fillers of 50 words to columns of 800 words. Send queries and clips to deliciousliving@newhope.com

7.  YOGA JOURNAL–Pays up to $2,000 for features. As little as $50 for fillers. Articles are up to 3,000 words. The magazine explores yoga in its form and practice. It involves integrating yoga in all aspects of life as well as on the health, nutrition, exercise and concepts that broaden its understanding. Big
publisher of freelance articles.

8.  ADOPTIVE FAMILIES–Adoptive Families is the leading information resource for families before, during, and after adoption. The award-winning national bimonthly magazine provides independent, authoritative adoption information in an accessible and reader-friendly format.

9.  THE 2012 HAZEL HILLES MEMORIAL SHORT FICTION PRIZE
$6 ENTRY FEE
1st $500
2nd $100
3rd $100
Deadline: September 18, 2012. Length: No minimum. Maximum 5,000 words. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older, but there are no geographical restrictions. The contest is open to anyone writing in English. Stories can be in any genre and address any theme. All entries must be previously unpublished. Authors retain all copyright to their work. However, Be-a-Better-Writer.com will have first publication rights to the winning stories, which will be published in Page 47 online anthology.

10. FAITH AND FAMILY–At Faith & Family Magazine and Faith & Family Live! our goal is to be a source of support for Catholic women seeking information, inspiration, resources, and encouragement as they embrace their vocations to marriage and motherhood. Our aim is to share personal struggles and triumphs, challenges and joys, and also the lighter side of Catholic living.

Children’s books: $400 (1,000 words)
Features (Home, Adult Relationships, Raising Kids, Spirituality,
Marriage Matters): $400 each, (1,800-2,500 words)
What’s Cooking: $450 (intro 300 words + minimum 6 recipes and
1-3 sidebars)
My Faith & Family: $400 (1,000 words)
The Quiz $150 (700 words)

11. FAMILY DOG FICTION WRITING CONTEST

12. FAMILY DOG MAGAZINE–From hands-on training techniques to solving common behavior problems to inspiring and entertaining stories about our canine pals, the experts at the AKC will help you provide the best care for your best friend. Our helpful tips, how-to’s, and feature articles are written in an engaging and reader-friendly format. Regular columns include information on natural therapies, nutrition, health-care, and much more. Articles are 1,000 to 2,000 words. Pays up to $500. Columns are staff written. Email address at bottom of page for editorial staff.

13. CHILDREN’S WRITER–A 12-page monthly newsletter in two sections reporting on the marketplace for children’s writing—books, articles, stories, plays, activities, and more. Current news, trends, tips, how to write to publish. Aimed at beginning to well-established professional writers interested in learning more and keeping up-to-date on writing for children, selling their writing, and the juvenile publishing industry. Informs subscribers about, and analyzes, current markets in articles, columns, and reporting of editorial needs. Helps writers of all levels of expertise to strengthen their writing with markets in mind. Features 1,700-2,000 words. Submit a detailed query, listing potential interview sources, proposed length, and proposed submission date. Payment on acceptance, $300. Columns are each 750 words, with a sidebar of approximately 125-words. Submit a detailed query. Payment, on acceptance, $200.

14. GAMES MAGAZINE–GAMES, founded in 1977, is a consumer magazine featuring a wide variety of verbal and visual puzzles, brainteasers, trivia quizzes, and many other features, as well as reviews of new board games and electronic games. Email query to wschmittberger@kappapublishing.com . Articles 1,500 to 3,000 words. Columns and puzzles/games available as well. Pays up to $1,000 for articles. Columns pay up to $250.

15. GEMINI FLASH FICTION CONTEST–ENTRY FEE $4 ($3 for each additional entry). Grand prize: $1,000. Second place wins $100, and we’ve added a third place prize of $50. There will also be three honorable mentions. All six finalists will be published online in the October 2012 issue of Gemini. Maximum length: 1,000 words. Deadline: August 31, 2012. Absolutely no restrictions on content, style or genre. Both new and established writers are welcome.

16. GRASSIC SHORT NOVEL PRIZE–$25 ENTRY FEE. Our idea is to emphasize the power, skill and enduring value of the short novel form: limit 30,000-70,000 words. $500 and publication by the Evening Street Press will be awarded for the best short novel manuscript. The contest is open to writers who have already published books as well as those for whom this is a first book. The winning writer will receive 25 copies from a press run of 250. Submissions deadline December 1, 2012. Fee includes a one-issue subscription to the Evening Street Review.

17. VALHALLA PRESS LITERARY FICTION AND CREATIVE NONFICTION CONTEST–$15 ENTRY FEE. First prize: $500, eReader of your choice and inclusion in Ragnarok, the Valhalla Press 2013 Anthology
Second prize: eReader of your choice and inclusion in Ragnarok, the Valhalla Press 2013 Anthology
Honorable Mention: Inclusion in Ragnarok, the Valhalla Press 2013 Anthology
Limit your work to 5,000 words. Deadline August 30, 2012.

Write on!
Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Giving Birth to Your Book, Part 2: All Cleaned Up, Now Where Do We Go?

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’ve gone through the steps mentioned in the previous blog entry, Giving Birth to Your Book, Part 1, you’ve already written, proofread, received feedback from readers and other writers, and rewritten several times, and you’re happy with the finished product. Now what do you do with your baby?

1.  Be sure it’s ready. I know, I know. I’ve already said this, but it can’t be said often enough. Don’t even think about submitting your work until it’s as good as you can possibly make it. Be sure you’ve followed the steps listed in Part I before you proceed to step #2 below. Remember, your project will rarely get more than one shot at a publishing house.

2.  Study the Writer’s Market and The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. In the world of writing and submitting for publication, these books or online products can be your best friend. Each book lists contact information, submission guidelines, editorial needs, and payment information for the publishers of books, magazines, greeting cards, plays, and other specialized publishers. Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writer’s Market Guide specializes in Christian publishing information. Both books offer additional resources and tutorial guides, such as information on agents, conferences, websites, and writing instruction. But the primary focus of each resource is to help you find the best fit for your book. This will take time, but you must research these books! Don’t make the same mistake I did. I didn’t think I had time to study the market–and consequently I dashed to publication in a mere 7 years! Study the market and you could save yourself lots of time and money.

3.  Research internet writer’s guidelines. In this day of technology, more and more publishers post their guidelines on their website.

4.  Learn the lingo. Both market guides have a glossary of terms listed in the back of the books. You’ll also want to check out Jane Friedman’s Writing & Publishing Terminology 101.

5.  Find a good fit in the market guide. If a publisher of children’s books says they don’t want picture book submissions, don’t waste your time and theirs by thinking your amazing “baby” will be the exception to the rule. It won’t. (Yes, when I initially started sending out my first book, I thought that once the editor saw my beautiful baby, he or she would do anything to publish my book–including throwing out the entire editorial calendar and revamping their marketing strategy to make their guidelines fit my baby–even if the company had never published juvenile mysteries!)

6.  Follow the instructions in the market guides. This is a biggie. If it says not to send out simultaneous submissions, don’t send out simultaneous submissions. If it says to send one chapter, don’t send two. If it says to send the submission by snail mail, don’t email it. (Yes, there still are a few who request snail mail submissions.)

7.  Invest time writing a great query or cover letter, whichever the editor prefers. If you don’t know what a query letter is, see #4. And whatever you do, don’t say, “It starts off a little slow, but if you’ll just stick with it to page 21, it’ll be really exciting.” If that’s the case, perhaps your book starts on page 21. For more information about openings, read my earlier blog entry, Hook ‘Em!

8.  Be professional in your submission. I’ve personally heard editors tell stories of the ridiculous things some writers have done to get the editor’s attention. Believe me, this is not the kind of attention you want! Instead of elevating their chances of publication, the writers were eliminated from consideration by the following unprofessional actions:

  • Writing on the outside of the envelope: “Your next best seller is inside this envelope!”
  • Sending the submission on hot pink or lime green paper or anything other than plain white computer paper. (One editor repeatedly received one writer’s submissions on the backs of recycled paper. And I’m not talking about environmentally-green paper. I’m talking about the backs of previously-used, printed-on-the-other-side paper!)
  • Putting it in the wrong format. If you’re unsure of proper formatting, check out this earlier blog post, Formatting Basics. There are hundreds of websites that cover it as well.
  • Enclosing tickets to athletic events. (One editor admitted that he opened an envelope, found tickets, removed them, and returned the submission to the writer–unread. After all, he reasoned, the writer enclosed the tickets as a gift, and a gift is something given for free.)
  • Saying, “God told me you are to publish this book.” I can promise you, the editor’s response will be, “Well, when God tells me to publish it, I will.” (Now, before you get bent out of shape, yes–God often leads us to write words, but He is responsible for what He does with it, not us. When we insinuate that a publisher will be out of God’s will if he or she doesn’t publish our work, we immediately cut off communication.)

9.  Before submitting, call the publishing house for confirmation. Editors move and change jobs quite frequently. Before you send or mail your submission, call the switchboard (NOT the editor) and ask if Jane Doe is still the editor to send it to. If it isn’t, be sure to ask for the correct spelling and clarify the gender title.

So there you have it–the second half of how to get your book ready and in the hands of editors. I wish I could promise you that by following these suggestions you’ll be sure to see your work in print, but I can’t. But I can tell you that if you follow these steps, you’ll certainly be miles ahead of where I was when I started sending out my first book. That’s why The Christian Writer’s Den is here. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did. :-)

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Read entire post »

 

Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Writing is hard work. It’s so hard that many never invest the time and money to learn how to do it well. Instead, they call themselves writers and dream of the day they have the time…the muse…the plot…the motivation…the freedom…the inspiration…the fill-in-the-blank to write.

King Solomon spoke to those people when he said:

Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words. Ecclesiastes 5:7

Yes, writing well is not easy, but the satisfaction–the joy of spreading the Good News, of creating something of worth, of seeing your name in print, and sometimes even the blessing of an income–is the reward for a job well done.

Dream. Go. Do the work.

And receive your reward.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Writer’s Headlines: Kudos and MoGo7000 Results

Happy Thursday to you!

Well, it’s that time again–time to bring out the cowbell and drums and make some noise. We have lots to celebrate!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kudos to These Writers Who’ve Found Success…

Congratulations to all these Christian Writer’s Den writers. You’re doing it!

1.  Beth Fortune (SC): The June 2012 issue of “AT HOME in the Upstate” magazine used something I wrote for a sidebar in an article about Container Workshops in which I also helped teach. AT HOME in the Upstate magazine can be found online here. Also, three devotions were accepted by Christian Devotions and will be posted in Aug., Oct., and Nov. 2012.

2.  Dave Weiss (PA): Just released my new “manifesto” Ministering the Creative Soul. It’s available as a free pdf on my blog. Go here to get your free pdf of Ministering to the Creative Soul. The print version and Kindle version of Ministering to the Creative Soul are also available from Amazon.

3.  Edie Melson (SC); Feature article, Taking Your Blog from Good to Great, is in the July issue of Southern Writers, page 9. The July issue of Southern Writers is being offered online, free to everyone. My Social Media Column is in the My Book Therapy Voices Ezine, June Issue: Fall in Love Again with Social Media.

4.  Sandy Quandt (TX): My article, Just 5 months From Wedding to Bed Pans, is in the July 15, 2012 issue of Power for Living magazine.

5.  Nancy Machlis Rechtman (SC): Heartland Plays has just published my adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It is now titled “The Emperor’s New Threads.” So, if you know any theater companies looking for a very fun and funny children’s play, please check it out!

6.  Catherine Young (DE): Haunting Memories took 3rd Place in Personal Experience and Marbles made Honorable Mention in Flash Fiction at the St. David’s Christian Writer’s Conference in PA.

7.  Marcia Moston (SC): Call of a Coward: the God of Moses and the Middle-class Housewife releases August 7 by Thomas Nelson. It was reviewed in Publishers Weekly, which seemed to please the publicity team at TN! Call of a Coward review in Publishers Weekly.

8.  Kimberli Buffaloe (NC): This month, Christian Fiction Online Magazine published my short story, Hear the Wind Blow. This is the second month in a row CFOM featured one of my stories. Last month, they published An Ornamental Peace.

9.  Johnna Stein (GA): While “Googling” my name I found a link to an article I’d written and submitted to Atlanta Parent magazine, but didn’t know it had been published. I contacted the editor and through an error, they forgot to contact me and pay me. “The 5 Myths of Dyslexia” appeared in the November issue. The new editor promptly sent me a check and a copy of the magazine. Lesson learned–it pays to Google yourself (literally!). The article, The 5 Myths of Dyslexia, is still on-line.

10. Marilyn Shipe (SC): One and a half years ago, I submitted an article to American Fitness in CA. It was about a 70-year-old man in my church who rode his bicycle across the US. Recently, I heard from the editor, and he has published the article! I was shocked to say the least because I had completely forgotten about it. This has motivated me to keep submitting and NEVER GIVE UP!

11. Jeanne Doyon (CT): My article, A New Heart-itude,is published online.If you weren’t able to send in a kudos this month, don’t worry. Next Thursday I’ll be posting new Writing Opportunities just for you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are Our MoGo7000 Qualifiers for June!

The MoGo7000 results are in and one of these writers could be $100 richer at the end of the year! Congratulations to these writers who met the goal of 7000 new words on a book project in June:

14.  Esther Wallace–28,859 words
15.  Tim Knoff–7,157 words
16.  Katrina Dunkin–7,841 words
17.  Jamy Whitaker–15,281 words

Congratulations, MoGo-ers! You’re in the drawing for the end-of-the-year $100 award!

We’d love to have you join the fun and complete a book! You can begin any time and it’s absolutely free! Check out all the MoGo7000 Challenge details here.

Well, that’s it for another week of Writer’s Headlines. Hope you’ll join us next week for Writing Opportunities–and more!

Write on!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Giving Birth to Your Book, Part I: Clean It Up!

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You’ve worked for months or years and finally, it’s done. You’ve accomplished your dream and finally created “new life.” But new life is just the beginning. Yes, your baby–your book–is created, but how do you start the delivery process and get your baby out into the world?

1.  Save a copy. And I’m not just talking about saving it on your personal hard drive-that’s a given every time you write. But in addition to your hard drive, every time you make a change to the manuscript file, you should save it to the Cloud, back it up on an external hard drive, and/or on a memory card. I can’t tell you how many friends have been working on manuscripts and lost them because their computer crashed or they hit a wrong button. (I’ve come really close a few times myself!) And even though those files can often be salvaged, you may experience a lot of stress–and sometimes a lot of expense–to retrieve them.

2.  Put it away. Yep. Close the file and put it away for a while. Work on another writing project, take a vacation, or set aside a week to visit friends who’ve given up on ever seeing you again. Or, like me, you can begin to attack the stacks of unopened mail, half-eaten meals, and very important papers that have accumulated on your desk while you’ve been in the throes of writing. Just do whatever you need to do to get your mind off the manuscript. (Yea, I know. Easier said than done.)

3.  Begin the rewriting process. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you’ve probably been rewriting as you wrote, but believe me, that is not the same as final rewriting. After you’ve been away from the book for a while, start it again with fresh eyes. You’ll eventually find a way that works best for you. For me, I read through the book from beginning to end, looking for plot problems, timeline issues, and slow sections.

4.  Dig in for a deeper rewrite. At this point, I read the entire book aloud, looking for areas that just don’t work. I check for cadence, realistic dialog, and the right balance between description and action. This would also include searching for telling where I should be showing, eliminating weak verbs and sloppy use of adverbs, and making sure there are no extraneous uses of the word, “that.” Make every word count. Make it earn its keep. It either does the job and does it well, or it needs to be outta there! Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Done right, this rewrite could take months.

5.  Get feedback from other writers. Sure, you can let your mom and your kids and your best friends read the book, but you really need a group of serious critiquers who are familiar with writing for publication. You need people who will be honest and tell you when they’re bored with your words, when the plot feels contrived, or when the dialog doesn’t ring true. Ask them to analyze your opening paragraphs for hooks, setting, and time placement. Ideally, you’re also doing this as you go through the initial writing process, but this time it needs to be read with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. If possible, get critiques from writers who write in the same genre as your book.

6.  Do another rewrite. Based on the responses from your serious critiquers, you probably will need to do another formal rewrite.

7.  Get feedback from readers. Once you’re sure you have it as good as you can make it, then get readers from your target audience to read your book. If you write for children, get readers in the age range you write for. If your target audience is young mothers, locate some young women who will commit to read and honestly give you feedback. Stress to them that they are not helping you if they simply tell you how great your book is. In addition to looking for typos and general mistakes, ask them if the story kept their interest, if they felt a connection to your characters, and if they felt the dialog was on target. If you write non-fiction, you need to know if your explanations were clear, if you drew in the reader, if your words motivated them to change or taught them something new. You wouldn’t believe some of the feedback I’ve gotten from my readers. I especially look forward to hearing from a few of these hardnosed readers–even though I know they’ll send pages of comments. But that’s what I want and need! I’d much rather these readers catch the problems now than for an acquisition editor catch the problems later–and promptly reject my book!

8.  Rewrite, yet again. And yes, it’s probably time for another rewrite. Depending on the readers’ responses, this could simply be an editing process or it could be another complete rewrite. But either way, you need to address the issues that arise through this feedback. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved from serious problems by having readers in addition to my critiquers. If your writing group reads your stuff frequently, it’s sometimes hard for them to catch things that have been revisited several times. Your readers will see it with fresh eyes, often discovering new areas that need to be addressed.

9.  Put it away again. If possible, allow time for the book to settle again for a few days.

10. Read it aloud again. After a few days, read it aloud again, critically looking and listening for any areas that may still need work.

So there you have it–the first steps to getting your book delivered and out into the world. It won’t be easy, but it’ll sure be worth it. Remember, you have one shot to make your baby pretty. You don’t want to miss your opportunity because you were tired of cleaning her up. ;-)

Be sure to come back next week for Giving Birth to Your Book, Part II-All Cleaned Up, Now Where Do We Go?

Have a blessed day!

Vonda

Read entire post »