Friday, October 24, 2014

Kiss a little longer...


 
Very often we write what we know. Little slivers of ourselves wedge into those characters we create. They like the things we enjoy. Say things we typically use in conversation. Work in a field we at least know something about.

At the same time, when we craft a story we step into someone else’s shoes and live outside our box. Which means RESEARCH. After all, crime writers aren’t always in law enforcement. Time travel is out so historical authors can only research a time long past. Fantasy writers venture out into a completely different realm of imagination.

But that’s the thing I love about writing romance. Your real life experience AND your research are right at your fingertips and, well… fun! Granted, there are usually other aspects of the story that also involve research and experience but for the purposes of this post we’re staying on the love train.

A few months back I read this article called The "15-Second Kiss" Experiment. The basic premise of the article states that couples should commit to a “15 second kiss” each day to stay connected. Fifteen seconds doesn’t seem like very long, but honestly, if you are timing it, it’s a decent chunk of time. Enough time for a kiss to shift from chaste-mindless peck to something more intimate. You might get so caught up in your busyness and your routine that something as simple and as lovely as a real kiss becomes something you begin to neglect.

To be honest, I tried the experiment, and sadly, after a few days the mandatory fifteen second smooch got lost in the shuffle again. But the thing is, I still think about it. No, I don’t log my kiss on the calendar with a tidy little check mark, but when I’m snuggled next to my hubby at the end of the day I ask myself if we had a moment of intimacy or if the romance got trampled under the dirty diapers and the pile of Lego's. And then I think, wouldn’t that starry-eyed 13-year old Amy be sad to know that once she did snag her handsome prince and got to making babies that all those kisses she’d dreamed up got taken for granted? That it all just became mundane and routine? Is that the love story we would write for ourselves? Not this girl!

Since I’m such a hopeless romantic at heart, and since I tend to love reading and write all things schmaltzy, and spicey, and romancey, I realized that my interactions with my husband aren’t just personal experience I draw from for inspiration but also research. Really, really fun research!

It boils down to this... (you may want to jot this down.)
If you want to write great romance BE ROMANTIC!

Take note of the things you do that ignite that certain spark from your main squeeze. Try new things. Jump on that man when he walks through the door and plant one on him. Hold hands. Give a massage. Write a love note. Concentrate on the sensations that might have become commonplace after years of hitting that comfortable stride. Tastes, scents, textures that might have become so second nature they’re almost invisible are all still there if you bother looking for them…. And they all become a beautiful palate of flavors for writing a romance novel.

So go ahead, in the name of research, kiss a little longer. Why the heck not, right?

Curious minds want to know… do you kiss your sweetie every day? Even if you don’t, do you still take the time to really kiss? If not this is your wake up call. Side effects of kissing can include an endorphin rush, feelings of connection and desirability, foot popping, smiling, and general happiness. Warning: Kissing may lead to other fun frisky behavior guaranteed to improve your day. Get to smoochin’ people!
 
 
 
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Amy Leigh Simpson is a writer, singer, runner, foodie, coffee-lovin’-chocoholic. When she’s not dreaming up saucy love stories sprinkled with suspense and mystery, she’s chasing around her two adorable tow-headed toddler miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with her miracle princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most hunky hero on the planet (sorry, ladies—taken). Though Amy doesn’t use her Sports Medicine degree for anything but patching up daily boo boo’s, she enjoys weaving medical aspects into her writing. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.
 
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Finding the Courage to Hit Send!


You've spent months, maybe even years, working on your story. You've read, and reread, and reread its pages so many times that the characters seem real and the lines feel like they've actually been spoken. You love this story, and maybe you hate it a little too. I think all writers have this dream of seeing their book on the shelf every time they walk in Barnes and Noble... I know I do.

Maybe it goes further than that. Maybe you have an agent helping you along the journey, or you went to a conference like ACFW and bravely pitched this manuscript. Maybe you even received some requests for the proposal or the book! If that's you, then first of all, congratulations! And second of all, buckle up.

Image from http://mothersniche.com/free-printable-sign/
The world if submissions can be daunting. And to be honest, the longer I write, the more daunting it becomes. I started my fiction journey as an academic writer with an MA in English. I was well used to receiving criticism and rejection. So while those first fiction rejections stung, I already had the life experience to pick myself up, dust myself off, and determine to learn more about the craft before the next story. I've now been writing fiction for about five years, and I can tell you, I've discovered that really good fiction is almost always autobiographical. No, I don't mean your real great aunt is the great aunt in the story, or that your character has to have an awful experience with braces like you did in high school. What I mean is that the way you see flowers alongside the road, the first time you had your heartbroken, and the way you felt the first time you set foot on the crowded streets of a big city are inevitably going to color and influence not only your writing voice, but also the characters' selves. A character may be your total opposite, but he or she will still inevitably carry the color of you in the story, because you are author, and you simply can't escape that in honest, heartfelt fiction.

In my opinion, this very concept is the reason why rejection can be so hard to swallow. As artists, we have to believe that the art we create and the heart it came from are two very separate things. This helps us to process rejection from editors, agents, and reviewers. But is it really true? Do any of us really believe that? Because, at the end of the day, if you're writing your heart story-- especially if you feel like God has giving you a calling to write it-- then that story is inherently bound to you in some way. To write a story out of your heart is to first write from your heart.

And so it only follows that sometimes we get scared. We want to avoid rejection, and so, we essentially freeze. Or maybe we drag our feet. We get so excited when we receive a proposal request at a conference, but four weeks later, when we're polishing the last few elements of our manuscript in the middle of the night wearing sweatpants and fuzzy socks, something happens. Fear begins to creep in.

Romans 8:15 is the key verse for my current book. It says, "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"

We do not have to keep company with a spirit of fear of apprehension. Fear says you are unworthy. Sonship and daughtership say you are your life is valuable, purposeful, and loved.

See, we don't have to look to acceptance or rejection for a sense of validation. It's hard-- don't I know it's hard!!-- not to perceive an editor or agent's comments as validation or refutation of your calling as a writer. But if God called you to write, keep your eyes focused on Him. Whether you receive a three book deal from your dream publisher, or you get another "not yet," at the end of the day, He is our anchor and our all-in-all. To become fearful and fretful and to entertain all the "what if's" is to take our eyes off of Him.

So, certainly take time to polish, polish, polish that manuscript. Put it away for a little while and then come back and polish more. Don't underestimate the power and importance of the editing process. Remember that once you submit a story, it's out there. There's no going back to make a few more changes to a character or subplot. Don't rush yourself or the manuscript.

But once you have put in the time and energy to make your manuscript the best it can be, be brave. Send it into the world. Yes, maybe it will get shot down. But on the other hand, maybe it will fly. And wouldn't you hate to miss that sight because your fears held you back?

Let's end this post with a prayer. I hope it encourages you to be brave, bold, and courageous, and send those stories out into the world for valuable feedback and perhaps even the chance to get into readers' hands.

Lord, thank You for this unique and beautiful calling to write. Thank You for the writing communities you've sown me into and those who have come alongside me in this journey so far. Would you send all the friends, mentors, agents, editors, and readers who will be part of my journey into my life, and help me be on the lookout for those divine appointments? Give me the discernment to know when a story is ready or is not ready, and the courage to hit "Send" when it's time. And most of all, fix my eyes on You throughout this process, as writing becomes a form of worship more than a popularity contest. We love you and thank You for all You're up to. Help us stay aware of your ways. Amen.


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Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Can I be honest? Guest post by debut author Camille Eide

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether we write novels, how-tos, devotionals, or articles, writers are Communicators. We want to engage and speak to readers in a significant way. And we want to be real. But is there such a thing as being too real?

Have you ever read a story that was not realistic enough (i.e. sappy, shallow, Pollyanna-ish) or way too realistic (wow, thanks, I now have that image burned on my brain forever)?

As a storyteller, my first goal is to engage and entertain, since readers don’t usually pick up a novel in search of a lesson or a personal challenge. For my own writing (and I love that we are all uniquely called to different goals with our writing), what follows hard on the heels of entertainment is to encourage hope and faith. And we are living in a time when people are desperate for hope and encouragement.

So how do we do offer bright hope and yet write real?

Though I would love to talk about my new novel, Like There’s No Tomorrow, I want to bring up a story I’ve not yet released, The Memoir of Johnny Devine.

Set in 1953, it’s the story of an ex-Hollywood heartthrob turned born-again Christian who hires a modest WW2 widow to write his memoir. It’s a twist on the fated “good girl reforms bad boy” tale because in this case, the Bad Boy reforms the Good Girl through the telling of his life’s story. (I had to study the art of memoir writing to do this, which made for a challenging dual story writing experience . . . more on that another time. . .) But . . . if you know anything about the top-billed stars of the 30s and 40s (think Clark Gable or Cary Grant) you know that their off-camera lives were often quite sordid.

I’m guessing most readers who choose Christian fiction hope to avoid these types of scandalous tales. And the last thing I want to do is shock readers with a womanizer’s escapades. But imagine for a moment a handsome, well-known actor driven to tell his story,whose only goal is to show the transforming power of Christ, and to share the hope he’s found. Telling his story is difficult—even painful at times—and it becomes more so when he must dictate it to a respectable young woman. 

What to do? Johnny has no desire to glamorize his past, and doesn’t like re-living things he’s now ashamed of, but for the heights of transformation to be fully appreciated, the depths of darkness must be shown. His past is what it is. He can’t sugar-coat it—especially if he wants to illustrate God’s amazing grace.

Perhaps Johnny will discover that gritty truths can be told with gentle tact, wisdom, and respect for the hearer.

I've heard testimonials at church from Teen Challenge participants who tell their dramatic stories of freedom from addiction and destructive lifestyles. The congregation holds their collective breaths as men talk about spiraling out of control with drugs or alcohol, and the subsequent impact on their lives and the lives of others. Most of the time, the details are presented with just enough reality to show the depth of hopelessness and yet not so explicitly that the hearers are overwhelmed and left with graphic images burned on their brain.

It’s possible to show reality in a way that doesn’t shock or grab people by the chin and force them to gawk at the wreckage as they pass by, leaving them with an indelible mental image. Yes, reality is gritty. It pummels and bruises and leaves us and those we love altered. It also reminds us that we need hope now more than ever. As if we need reminding.

Should we be real? Yes, please! No one wants to read Pollyannatopia. But let’s be real like a memoir—with wisdom and tact, not listing every gritty detail on some quest for full disclosure, but gently laying down key realities that point to a beautiful truth. Not hiding ugliness as if to fool anyone, but not framing it and hanging in on our front door either.

We must be real. And we can do so with wisdom, respecting our reader’s trust in us while using our powerful communication skills to convey the dark depths and dizzying heights of redemption.

Let's chat: How do you feel about this? What level of reality are you comfortable with writing about?

Yours Truly,
Camille

LTNT Cover
Camille’s new contemporary novel, Like There’s No Tomorrow, released Sept 30, 2014 from Ashberry Lane Publishing. It’s a mildly amusing yet tender love story about two young, single caretakers, two quirky old Scottish sisters bent on reuniting, and too many agendas. It’s a love story with a tug-o-war over a daft old woman, family drama, faith testing, and the gift of each new day.



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Camille Eide writes heart-tugging tales of love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, church office manager, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, and Peanut M&Ms. Find the book at: Kindle, Paperback, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords and Goodreads. Find Camille at: Camille’s Website, FaceBook, Twitter, Email Blogging on God’s grace at Along the Banks and about Fiction & film at Extreme Keyboarding.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Writing Books for Young Adults with Agent/Author Regina Brooks

Have you ever thought about writing for young adults? Regina Brooks is an agent with Serendipity Lit who released WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS this Fall.

Whether or not you write for the young adult market, these tips may be helpful. Millenials and young adults are a large portion of the new readership of Christian fiction, so it can't hurt to know how to pull in younger readers.

Regina has offered us an excerpt of her new release that will give some tips on how to engage young adult readers. She should be stopping by to answer your questions about writing for this market.





Chapter 1
Five Rules for Engaging Readers of Young Adult Fiction
Before you even start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), there are some issues that need to be addressed. A lot of writers out there think writing YA fiction is easy. It’s not. Some mistakes you might make will condemn your book to languish on the slush pile forever. So before we even talk about the nitty--gritty of how to shape your book—-character, plot, setting, point of view—-we need to talk about the five key elements that can make or break you as a YA writer.
The Holden Caulfield Rule—-Don’t Be a Phony!
Imagine traveling to a planet where your survival depends on hiding out among the inhabitants, where being recognized as a phony would mean instant annihilation. In that situation, you’d want to study the locals until you knew just how to look and sound and respond like them. It is the same in YA fiction. In this case, sudden death occurs when the reader, stumbling upon a false image, loses interest. The book closes with the splintering sound of a fatal bullet.
It’s no exaggeration.
Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, was always railing against the phoniness of other people, particularly adults. The enduring popularity of Catcher in the Rye demonstrates that teens today are the same way—-they despise fakes.
YA Fiction Rule #1: The life of the story depends on the writer’s ability to convince READERS that the protagonist is one of them.
The key to writing a successful YA novel means knowing kids well enough to channel their voices, thoughts, and emotions. (“Kids” is used as an operative word here. The official YA audience encompasses twelve-- to eighteen--year--olds, but it is expanding as children’s book publishers work to attract readers as young as ten and eleven, and adult publishers reach to capitalize on the growing market.) While some of your readers may be a little younger than the twelve--to--eighteen target—-children aged ten to twelve tend to read above their age—-and some may be a little older, keep in mind that you have to convince all segments of your audience that you know what it feels like to be a young person today. If you can’t convince your audience that you know how they feel about the world today and express yourself the same way, you will never reach them.
Avoid the Preach ‘n’ Teach
Whether YA readers attend elementary or secondary school isn’t an issue when it comes to the importance of YA Fiction Rule #2.
YA Fiction Rule #2: Don’t be condescending to your readers.
Young people won’t abide stories that suggest that their turmoil or idealism will pass when they “grow up.” Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club, says, “I’m a big believer that kids are smarter than we think they are.…I think kids can handle complexity and nuances, and the advantage to writing that way is that the book appeals to both teenagers and adults.”
Many adults read fiction as an escape—-teens are no different. Imagine spending a long day in school, learning boring lessons ’cause you’re supposed to, having everyone from parents to teachers to employers telling you what to do, how to think, what to wear, then picking up a novel—-and having someone else trying to shove another lesson down your throat! I can’t imagine a bigger letdown.
Don’t deal with young people by trying to push them in one direction or another. Deal with them where they’re at now.
Soak It Up!
A word of caution: don’t emulate your favorite authors, but learn from them. You’ll want to create work that is truly your own. In the resource guide at the back of this book, along with details such as schools that offer writing degrees with a YA focus, you’ll find listings for websites that recommend great YA fiction.
YA Fiction Rule #3: Read, read, read today’s
YA fiction.
The benefits to reading what’s already on the market are phenomenal. It will familiarize you with what’s selling, how kids today talk, what they wear, what issues concern them, and so on. If you don’t have easy access to a teen, reading books meant for teens is probably the next best thing to having a teen personally tell you what he or she would like to read.
Ideals First, Meals Later
Writing a successful book that aims to attract the widest possible audience should be every writer’s goal, shouldn’t it? The answer is yes and no. It helps to have a general audience age in mind, but you don’t want to be consumed with thoughts about how and whether you’ll sell your work.
YA Fiction Rule #4: Silence your worries about commercial considerations.
This allows you to concentrate on your primary objective, which is to tell your story. If a nagging inner voice surfaces or someone discourages you, rather than pulling on earphones and listening to music as a teenager might, transform the voices through the power of your imagination into “white noise.” This is the all--frequency sound emitted from machines that imparts a feeling of privacy, calming you and allowing you to focus on that world you’re creating. Keep your artistic integrity—-your ideals—-ahead of how commercially successful—-your meals—-you want your book to be. If you focus on writing the best possible book, commercial success will follow later.
As your manuscript develops while you work through the guidelines provided in the ensuing chapters, your audience will become as clear to you as if you were speaking on a stage and looking into an auditorium full of people. If you subsequently work with an agent, the two of you can determine whether the manuscript should be pitched to editors specializing in YA, adult fiction, or both. But the fate of your manuscript will still be up in the air. Editors, who are invested with the power to buy or decline a manuscript, will ultimately determine to whom the book will be marketed.
The significant rise in the success of YA novels has opened the way for a multiplicity of categories, and just to give you an idea, I’ve listed some alphabetically: adventure, chick lit, comical, fantasy, fantasy epics, futuristic, historical, multicultural, mystery, religious, romantic, science fiction, sports, and urban. If your story idea doesn’t fit into any of these categories, you may have to invent one. Consider it an opportunity.
The Undiscovered Country
From this point on, let your creative spirit be guided by YA Rule #5.
YA Rule #5: In your new world of YA fiction, erect no concrete barriers, wire fences, or one--way signs. Instead, forge new paths.
The YA field welcomes innovators. Encapsulating the newness of the time, YA novels are being published in nontraditional formats. Three YA authors banded together to compose a novel. Another entry is an interactive book with websites that combines reading with the world of Internet gaming. What will your contribution be? Think fresh.
Remember that young people are trendsetters—-they’re always looking to differentiate themselves from others. It’s how teens forge their own identities. Don’t be afraid to push the boat out as well. Coming up with a fresh idea will set you apart from the pack and might be the thing that sparks an editor’s interest in your work.
Okay, consider yourself warned. Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to learn how to craft the next YA bestseller. Step by step, this book will walk you through the mechanics of what makes a great YA novel.
Chapter 2 is about generating an idea, your story. It will talk about different ways to uncover stories that YA readers will want to read about. It will also help you discover new possibilities for stories within yourself that you may not have known you had.
Chapter 3 will discuss characters—-the heart of any manuscript. How to breathe life into interesting characters your reader will connect with is the main lesson of this chapter, but we’ll also discuss how to find the best characters for the story you want to tell.
Chapter 4 is all about plot, story, and how to tell the difference. Plot is like a machine that propels your manuscript forward, while story is the overall impression you want the plot to create in the reader’s mind.
Chapter 5 is about how to put together a believable plot. It’s all about action—-establishing the main conflict of your manuscript and putting it in motion. Of special concern will be integrating the events of the manuscript with the characters’ personalities, making sure that the characters react to events in believable ways.
Chapter 6 is about setting and timeline. Setting is the background of your story—-the when and where. This chapter is about understanding the atmosphere of your story and effectively manipulating the details of that atmosphere to influence your manuscript’s tone.
Chapter 7 is about point of view—-the perspective from which you tell your story. Point of view can be an extremely effective tool for connecting with character and clarifying or confusing the reader about events—-provided you use it correctly.
Chapter 8 is about the meat of your manuscript—-dialogue. Dialogue provides an opportunity for your characters to interact and opens up another way to build your characters.
Chapter 9 is about the theme of your manuscript. Theme is the overall impression you want your readers to take away. It’s a subtle but effective way for the author to express himself through the story.
Chapter 10 is about wrapping it all up, bringing your plot to a successful resolution. Endings can be very tricky, so there will be detailed discussion about what sorts of conclusions to avoid.
Chapter 11 is about how to find constructive feedback and incorporate it into your revisions. All authors need to edit and revise their manuscript, and this chapter will explain why the editing process is so necessary.
Chapter 12 is about getting published—what agents and editors do and how to get your work into their hands. This is the business chapter-—the one that details exactly how the publishing industry works.
Chapter 13 is about YA nonfiction and the emerging genre of New Adult. The YA market is constantly in flux, and this chapter will expose you to two recent developments in the market.
I hope all of these tools will be helpful to you as you begin the process of writing the next YA bestseller. Let’s begin exploring that magical new world.



Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, based in Brooklyn, New York. Her agency has represented and established a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and children's literature. Writer's Digest magazine named Serendipity Literary Agency as one of the top 25 literary agencies in 2004.  Prior to opening her own agency, Ms. Brooks held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons (where she was not only the youngest but also the first African-American editor in their college division) and McGraw-Hill. She is the author of Essences Magazine’s quick pick children's book,Never Finished! Never Done! (Scholastic) and WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS (Source Books) and is a well-received blogger for the Huffington Post. Brooks is also on the faculty of the Harvard University publishing program.  She has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals, including Forbes, Media Bistro, Writers and Poets, Essence Magazine; Writers Digest Magazine, The Writer, and Sister2Sister magazine.   She is also the expert agent called upon for the Michael Baisden Radio Show.


WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS is available at Amazon here and at all other major book retailers.




Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing For Him...or With Him?

It's been a long journey through a valley. At least, long to me. I know that we have a whole Biblical heritage of those before us who journeyed days, months, and years in deep valleys and over rocky terrain. But when one is in the thick of it, with the agony heightened and the pain overwhelming, it's hard to not beg for it to end. It is hard to not hope for a sudden stairway to appear that will take you up and out...or better yet, a giant hand to appear that you can climb up into as it lifts you away from the rocky path. Sometimes, I catch myself waiting for something better, wanting the end to come quickly, and in the mean time I make myself miserable in the here and now.

www.freedigitalphotos.net by Evgini Dinev

If you are anything like me, you may have taken this perspective on your calling to write stories. You may have decided that God gave you a story and sent you out to write it down, and once you've fleshed it out, you try to hurry up and present Him with a job well done. That's when you hope for the blessing, right? To be published, to be noticed, to climb out of the valley of learning and critiques, and into the world of awards and reviews. The tricky road of story-crafting is your part in the deal, and God acts as the agent/publisher role of getting your story to where it must be read. 

www.freedigitalphotos.net by Evgini Dinev
For several years I thought this way--that I was writing for God and would see His fruit at the end of it. But just like when I am going through a valley in life, the writing becomes taxing and strenuous when I try and do that part in my own effort. I can only look to the end of it and beg for God to come. Why do I forget that, actually, He is with me all along?

Does God want me to write FOR Him, or WITH Him? We are so blessed to be in this part of God's plan history-wise, where He has gifted us with the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that He is truly with us everywhere we go...even in the writing, the creating, the telling. 

I am still in a valley in life. And just now, I am finally giving myself permission to enjoy life regardless of the circumstance. I thought I would just hold my breath and survive until it was all over. But since I don't see a way up anywhere along these cliffs that surround me, I am about sick of holding all that air within me. I need to breathe in the Holy Spirit who is with me all this time, and I need to know there is everything good beside me in the valley. God's not waiting at the end of the trial. He's walking it with me.

When I sit down to write, I am not doing anything FOR God... But even better, I am privileged with the chance to write WITH God. To allow His Holy Spirit to direct my words and imagination and heart is just as rewarding as reaching the destination. I learn to abide that way, and take pleasure in the God who created me for His pleasure. I get to "do life" with the God of the Universe, instead of meeting Him down the road.
www.freedigitalphotos.net by tirverylucky


What journey is not worth that? Even in the valleys, even in the hidden corners of your writing cave, meet God in each moment, and He will walk with you to the higher ground.

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Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written five Historical Romance novels, has a Historical underway, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one sheets, selling Jamberry Nail Wraps, and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at www.facebook.com/dicken.angie and her personal blog at angiedicken.blogspot.com 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Writer's Alley Weekend Round-Up

Photo by photostock
freedigitalphotos.net
I love fun secrets. I also love it when someone is able to keep a secret from me and the surprise from learning the secret blows me away. This happened this weekend when my daughter and her husband walked through my front door! We were planning to go see her on Monday, but she had told my husband that what she wanted for her birthday was to surprise ME! (This totally explained why my husband would not make hotel reservations and just wanted to do a day trip...snort!) Secrets can be awesome!

Sometimes knowing a secret makes my heart so happy because I know that when the secret comes out, others will get their socks blessed off. Do you ever feel that way? It's the best feeling in the world, isn't it?  Well, that's all I'm going to say....maybe I have a secret and maybe I don't...now you can be mad at me. ;)

The Alley  Cat Weekly Line-Up

Monday - Angie's post will be sure to please, as always, so don't miss out.
Tuesday - Julia is hosting Regina Brooks, author of Writing Great Books for Young Adult
Wednesday - Karen is hosting Camille Eide with her debut of Like There's No Tomorrow. 
Thursday - Ashley has a great post about being brave and hitting SEND on those manuscript requests.
Friday - Amy will end the week with something especially spicy. (oh boy!)

The Awesome Link Round-Up

Gender Bias: Fact or Fiction? (Writer Unboxed)

12 Amazing Books That Pass The Bechdel Test (Huffington Post)

What To Do Before Signing A Publishing Contract (Litreactor)

Dreams VS Goals: Do You Dream Of Being A Writer? (Kaye Dacus)

10 Ways To Refuel Your Creativity (Write to Done)


Have a great week!




Friday, October 17, 2014

A View From the Assistant’s Desk

I first wrote this post for the Wordserve Watercooler, the blog of Wordserve Literary Agency, where I work as an administrative assistant to Greg Johnson. I thought the readers here on the Alley would also enjoy a view from my small desk in the publishing world. If you have any questions about life inside a literary agency, leave a comment below. I'm happy to provide any insight I don't have. ;-))

Working for a highly respected literary agency is not quite all it’s expected to be.

Some things I wasn’t fully expecting:

It’s a lot of emails. A lot.

It’s a lot of report filing.

Spreadsheet document, and, oh spreadsheet documentation.

I am far from bored since I started working for WordserveLiterary and frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

So what I do I see from my small desk in the publishing world?

·         Self-help books are really in. True, our agency has a felt-need and a niche in this market to pitch to the nonfiction sector, but it continues to surprise me how many marriage, parenting, general life/encouragement/devotional books continue to come through our office doors.
·         Book deals really aren’t that awesome. While this didn’t surprise me, as a writer myself, I’ve always wanted to know what dollar amount writers were always bemoaning. Makes me that much more grateful for the novels I consume on a regular basis and the authors that continue to write them.
·         Social media is huge. Something I already knew, but a platform is so incredibly vital to a writer. It’s the main reason Greg started FaithHappenings.com. Writers with a great story and no platform are getting passed right on by without that audience to market to.
·         Self-publishing is becoming more and more the normal. Writers who can’t get a deal for their greatest new book, or who don’t want to wait a year or longer for readers to have their next content, are pushing the “send now” button into the great wide world of Indie publishing. It’s the not the same as it used to be years ago. Indie is becoming a good opportunity to take advantage of with new cover options, quality printing companies and more opportunities out there to publish a good product. Self-publishing is walking away, though slowly, from the stigmatism of poor quality material.

Publishing is a swiftly changing monster. But I don’t need to tell you this. Even if you are not published, the reality is that you can’t be a book lover and not notice that things are always changing. Publishers are trying to find new ways to get their book in front of your attention—and are buying less content. Authors are pounding the pavement harder. Literary agents are pitching the right book to the right house and still hearing no, for seemingly no reason other than, “it’s not the right fit for our house.”

Does that make publishing a discouraging business to be in? Well, maybe, if you only look at the negatives of the business. But with changes, comes opportunities to rise to the occasion and come out on top with a great idea. A great book. The opportunity to impact lives with your words on the page. Because whether 
publishers are buying or not, a great book is still a great book. And passion for story can’t quell that. Ever.

The gift of a literary agency is the team behind you, believing in this product. It’s not just you. It never has to be just you. So even when the wait seems long and the emails slow in coming, we are behind you. Fighting for this book.

Keep on writing.



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Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado