Thursday, April 25, 2019

Two Epiphanies + A GIVEAWAY

During Holy Week, I (Laurie) had two epiphanies. First, have you ever noticed that so many of the verbs associated with the Lord begin with "RE"?

For example, He:

  • Resurrects the dead
  • Restores the broken
  • Redeems our debts and failures
  • Revives souls
  • Returns lost things
  • Refills what's empty
  • Receives the least of these
  • Renames the disenfranchised
  • Renews the weary
And so. much. more. Don't you think this common denominator only shows that our Father loves second chances? 

I've been listening to the newest album from the UpperRoom worship team on repeat. In their song "Healer," the bridge repeats these lyrics:


"You restore my heart over and over again."


As a writer, I'm always thinking of things in terms of recurring themes, common denominators, underlying significance, and meaning. My second epiphany was that second (and third and fourth) chances are what I love the most in fiction, whether it's characters rediscovering their worth after being stuck in lies for so long or romances in which people find their way back to each other at the end of the most unlikely roads. 

I think there's nothing our Father loves more than a second chance and people willing to drop their shame, fear, and failure to take it--to take HIM--and make the most of a new beginning. 

---


If you're like us and love second chances in fiction, one of our favorite authors, Kara Isaac, has a reunion romance on sale this week! Comment on this post for the chance to win ALL MADE UP or buy it for $1.99 here: https://amzn.to/2Gv4gTz 


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

#TipfulTuesday Expectations: Influencers vs Street Teams




On the Writer’s Alley, we share writing issues almost daily. We bounce around the problems and discuss solutions because the author’s journey is one that can’t be traveled alone.

Today’s topic is Influencers and street teams. What is the difference? What are the expectations for the author? What are the expectations for the reader?  Both are such an asset for an author.

What is an influencer? An influencer agrees to read the author’s book and write a few reviews, say on Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. That is about it. If the influencer wants, he or she may volunteer to also write a social media post or two about this one book. Authors should not blindly send books to someone for a review. Typically, the author communicates with potential influencers, asking if he or she would like to read and review the book. This is how the author’s book rises to the top of a TBR (to be read) pile and gets a review sooner.

An influencer can be a friend, a librarian, a women’s study leader, a bookstore owner, a book club leader, local radio or TV host, bloggers, etc. Think outside the box and be brave. It never hurts to ask. Most people love to receive a free book. Some of the individuals should receive a paperback instead of an eBook or pdf of the story.

What is a street team? Street team members support an author’s work. They enjoy the author’s writings and like the opportunity to tell others about the author’s new releases. The group is led by the author or the author’s assistant. They design memes, share posts, write Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook messages about the author’s new releases. They can form a community among themselves to work on bigger promotional projects. A wise author will give street members the opportunity to recommit annually or some other time increment in case life needs require the member’s time.

Some Alley Cats have street teams. Amazing. Amazing people.

Some Alley Cats would appreciate an influencer. Some of you have time and would like to be an influencer. Then again, perhaps some of you need an influencer too!

So let’s get together! 

In the comment section simply state if you are willing to be an influencer: read one book and write a review. Say what genre you prefer.

Those who need influencers state the genre of your book. Typically, the author gives a pdf or kindle version of the book to the influencer.

Ready to help each other?

I know I am. I am looking for a few influencers for either my new fantasy for YA or for my contemporary women's.

Go!

Happy reading!
Photo courtesy: Pixabay

~Mary Vee
#Influencer #Streetteams #TheWritersAlley #authors #readers #amreading #amwriting #TheWritersAlley

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter
 Meet my new fantasy story, Fire and Thorn. 
A Story for Teens


The day the king of Aerlis heroically dies and his lovely queen is viciously carried off to the dark north, dragons invade the land. Crops and homes near the border burn to the ground. Prince Gilbert must give up what he wants most to save his father’s kingdom and himself. Far away lies the answer. Something unseen. To save the kingdom he must go on a quest to bring the unseen back. A quest filled with danger. There seems an easier solution in the vast north. One that offers great wealth and power. Time is short. One choice will save his kingdom. The other will silence him and his people—forever.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bloom of the Cross for Writers

As Christians, Easter is THE day. It's the celebration of life - true life in Jesus.

It's the day we are reminded that Jesus has taken our crosses...our burdens, our failures, our sin...and nailed them to the cross. It's the day we are reminded that because of Jesus' resurrection, we have a new life, a beautiful life.

Jesus has taken the ugly, thorny cross of our sin and failure and replaced it with beauty and life. Real life. Joyful life. Life with meaning and purpose.

Our church flowers a barren cross every Easter. People file up to the front and place their flowers upon the cross, reminding them that Jesus replaces our failures with His goodness. What was once a cross of thorns and ugliness becomes a cross of velvet beauty.

That's what Christ does for each and everyone who believes in Him. He takes our failure and sin and turns it into success and beauty. He transforms us, loving us into becoming a person for His glory. A person of beauty. A person of joy. A person who oozes God's love.

As writers, we all struggled with feelings of failure, disappointment, angst, rejection, and despair. It's not an easy road. But like the picture of the flowered cross, when we give our hurts and rejections over to God, He redeems those feelings and replaces them with His love and encouragement.

We keep drawing close to Him, bringing our offering of words before Him each and every day. He will make our words bloom into something beautiful as we trust Him and His timing.

What has the bloom of the cross done for you? Are you experiencing His transforming power or are you struggling under the weight of the thorny cross?

**************************************************************
Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, releases May 2019.

You can connect with her through:
Newsletter: Sign Up Here
Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Beware of the Dream

Beware of the dream, Writer.

At the beginning of this writing journey, I remember sitting around with my aspiring author friends and sharing our "dream publisher", our "dream contest win", our "dream career". Like when we were in high school crushing on the cutest guy, we'd crush on the possibilities for our stories. Kinda thrilling, actually. Declaring our very specific "dream" stepping stones would stir up anticipation for a dream-come-true, yet solidify a very stubborn expectation that the dream could only look a certain way.

 The thing is, this narrow focus on a specific something (or someone) distracted me from my unique path. I ignored places that offered potential growth, and I grew weary of the dead ends that cropped up because they looked different than what I expected. But, God's timing has been ever present, and I could only appreciate it once I finally surrendered the idolized "onlys" in my head.

 Remember, Writer, that the dream you create in your mind is not necessarily the dream God has already laid out for you. Take each step as it comes and don't ignore opportunity because it's not what you declared for yourself.

 The dream is much more thrilling when I am expectant for the next step and not stepping into self-prescribed expectations and crushing on a pipe dream that's just as likely to burst as it is to come true.

###

Angie Dicken- Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in England. Now living in the U.S. heartland, she's a member of ACFW, sharing about author life with her fellow Alley Cats on The Writer's Alley blog and Facebook page. Besides writing, she is a busy mom of four and works in Adult Ministry. Angie enjoys eclectic new restaurants, authentic conversation with friends, and date nights with her Texas Aggie husband. 

Visit Angie online at angiedicken.com


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Welcome Heidi Chiavaroli + GIVEAWAY

Ashley here! We are so honored to have Heidi at the Alley today. I had the privilege of reading her newest release a little early, and it's both stunning and challenging. Be sure to read the whole interview and comment for a chance to win your own copy! 

Welcome, Heidi!

Thank you so much for having me, Ashley!

 1) Tell us the inspiration behind The Edge of Mercy and what you learned through writing it.

This novel was inspired by two things: my parents’ marriage, and a hike in the woods.
Growing up, I watched my parents go through a lot of marital tribulation. I can still remember pacing my dorm room in college shortly after 9/11, listening to my mother’s voice telling me she was coming home, that she and my dad wanted to work things out.
I’d thought there was no hope for them, honestly. But God had a different plan. This summer, my parents will celebrate thirty-nine years of marriage. Theirs isn’t an easy story, and it isn’t the same as Sarah and Matt’s story (the characters in The Edge of Mercy), but my desire to explore a failing marriage was definitely inspired by watching my parents wade through theirs.
Being married, I’m of course familiar with the many ups and downs of a marital relationship. I wanted to sink deep into a story that faces some of these tough nuances of marriage, what it means to truly love when we don’t feel like it, what it means for love to change and grow as we sink deeper into our marriages.
The historical portion of the story was inspired while planning a hike for my youngest son’s Tiger Cub den. We stumbled upon a massive boulder in the woods with a cave on its west side…along with a rather haunting legend to go with it.
I couldn’t get the legend out of my head, and so I imagined the circumstances behind it. From this local legend, my first time-slip story was born. It would be six years until it would see the light of publication.
I think this story taught me that love is more complicated—and more beautiful—than I previously thought. My historical heroine, Elizabeth writes, “Even as love is an object of but two people, it is shaped and formed by others, by the circumstances that surround it. It can grow, or it can shrivel.”
I’d never really thought about that before, but I think it’s true. How much did having children change my marriage? It certainly made it harder, but it also made my marriage stronger.


2) What was it like to become a hybrid author with this novel and experience the indie side of things?

It was a bit scary, and it also made me immensely grateful for my publisher! J

In all seriousness, I am glad to have put this novel out myself. It made me more confident in the world of publishing, and it’s fun to see what promotion efforts make a direct impact on sales. But it also made me aware of how much a publishing house works as a team with their authors, how each person/group has strengths to support each other. There’s definitely a place for both, and I can see myself continuing down both roads in the future.

3) What might readers be surprised to know about your writing process?

I don’t spend an awful lot of time writing!

It’s not that I deliberately plan it this way, it just always seems as if deadlines come quick. ;) I like to really settle my brain into the story, do a lot of research, visit the sites I’m writing about, etc. Usually I write a book in three months or so (not including editing).

4) I am always amazed by your gripping characterization. What process do you use to develop your characters’ POV?

Thank you so much! I used to do interviews, but I don’t do them anymore. If I can have a good handle on a story, and it’s a story of my heart, the characters usually seem to make themselves appear pretty naturally.

This certainly was not always the case, and even now I often struggle making sure my heroines will be liked by readers. On both The Edge of Mercy and my next Tyndale release, I’ve had to completely rewrite heroines to make them more relatable.

5) I’m always fascinated by how unique your historical threads are — what’s your secret for finding these little historical gems that feel so fresh to readers?


Awww, thanks, Ashley! When I have an idea for a time period I want to write in, I do A LOT of research, and I don’t stop until some nugget of historical fact grabs me. I always know when that is, because my heart beats fast and the story starts coming alive…and I’m excited to tell it!

So that's it, friends! Thank you for stopping by today, and a huge thank you to Heidi for the chance to chat about her writing. 

Heidi is giving away a copy of her newest release to one of our readers! For a chance to win, simply comment below and help me welcome her.

About Heidi Chiavaroli:

Bio: Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. She is an ACFW Carol Award winner and a Christy finalist. Both her debut novel, "Freedom's Ring" and her sophomore novel, "The Hidden Side" are Romantic Times Top Picks. "Freedom's Ring" was also a BOOKLIST Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Visit her at heidichiavaroli.com





###



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 teaches literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW, and when she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals or finding charming new towns. 
You can find Ashley on her website,  www.ashleyclarkbooks.com - she would LOVE to have you as a newsletter subscriber so you can get her weekly devotionals. You can sign up on her website.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Key Ingredient to Getting Your Book Published




The manuscript is finished. It is edited.

You have endured all the glitches that popped up like Spring flowers in the plot, characters, and setting. The End.

If only that were so. Spring flowers seems an odd reference, doesn't it? I mean, who imagines glitches and brick walls when thinking of the life or beauty found in Spring flower sprouting on a sunny day.

So, what is the key that can get your book published? 

Allow me to share this last month with you.

(Backstory alert!!) Once upon a time, last August to be exact, a teacher from a school 1,500 miles away wrote a letter to me. She said, "I have read your manuscript, Fire and Thorn, to my students for years. Yesterday, several seniors visited my classroom. They asked that you finish the book so they can buy a copy before they graduate. The school year never had enough time for us to finish the story, and they are very curious how it ends."

I said yes!

Then - dedicated many hours, days, and months to perfecting this book for these and the other students who have had this teacher. Four editors, a book cover illustrator, map making, and other extras found in a fantasy book found their way nearing publication.

The work seemed on target for the end of March as I had planned. Copies could be ordered and shipped in time to reach the students! 

In appreciation for their interest, I planned a trip to visit the school, talk with the students, listen to their thoughts, and answer their questions. The principal said yes. An event scheduled at the school. Everything seemed to go according to plan.

Until the glitch. Make that glitches. 

The programs used for the various pieces didn't play nice with other programs used in the project. Production delayed. Issues sprouted. 

Sigh.

I prayed. "God, you knew the need before this very moment when I am asking for help. This story has evangelism threaded into a dragon, castle, knight, and a quest that interests the students. The trip is planned."

With that, I said amen and got busy. I reworked issues. Copied the information into other programs. Worked the problems with new ideas God gave me. It was really cool.

I cannot deny my concern that the books would not be shipped in time to reach the students, but getting a quality product trumped my concerns. I stayed up late, rose early, all to get the pieces to work together.

This morning, at 6:50 a.m. I received the email: your book is now available, both ebook and paperback on Amazon. It was like the sweet perfume of the beautiful yellow Spring flower in the photo. The students would not only have the book on time...they would hold a quality product.

So what is the key ingredient to getting your book published? Patience. Trusting God's timing.

~Mary Vee
#Patience #GodsTiming #TheWritersAlley #bookpublished #springflowers #spring #amwriting

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter
 Meet my new fantasy story, Fire and Thorn. 
The Perfect Easter Gift!



The day the king of Aerlis heroically dies and his lovely queen is viciously carried off to the dark north, dragons invade the land. Crops and homes near the border burn to the ground. Prince Gilbert must give up what he wants most to save his father’s kingdom and himself. Far away lies the answer. Something unseen. To save the kingdom he must go on a quest to bring the unseen back. A quest filled with danger. There seems an easier solution in the vast north. One that offers great wealth and power. Time is short. One choice will save his kingdom. The other will silence him and his people—forever.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Life Lessons from a Physiology Exam


Yes, that is a molecule. Yes, you're in the right place. But hang with me, y'all, because I'm about to go where no writing blog has ever gone before. I (Laurie) have a huge exam on Saturday, and won't the Lord speak to me while I'm studying?

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

This cutie is a hemoglobin molecule with a quaternary protein structure. It may look like a hot mess, but it’s one of the most important molecules in the body. 

And it’s exactly the shape it needs to be to perform the important functions God created it to do.

I think so many of us buy into the lie that God is waiting to use us until we’re in a better, more stable place—until we get our life together. 

The other day he gave me the image of a hand and a new generation using what’s in their hands, right now, to change the world. Starting with their little corner.

Hands letting go of the distorted misconception that they have nothing to offer the Kingdom. 

We don’t have to wait until the floors are clean, our platform has doubled, our book gets published, we finish school, or get that promotion. Even the messiest of stories reveal the Father in the light that shines through the cracks and the grace that glues the whole thing together. 

---

 Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author of That’s When I KnewWith No Reservations, and The Long Game, currently featured in the Once Upon a Laugh novella collection. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. You can connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook, and Instagram.