Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The changing publishing landscape

Early last week, Love Inspired Historical announced that their line would be closing in June of 2018 after their final contract has been fulfilled.

This rocked the publishing community that is LIH—and it’s readers. We’ve seen a lot of shaky foundations in our Christian publishing world in the last handful of months and to have one of the major publishers of such a high volume of Christian fiction decide to close one of their branches, we all felt the guillotine looming that much closer.

This has followed on the heels of Family Christian Stores shutting their doors—for good.

Harvest House closing down their fiction line, following in the steps of Abingdon Press, Moody’s River North and B&H.

We’re seeing more and more displaced editors turn to agenting and more and more of the remaining houses, trimming back on their acquiring lists and their volume/output.

It’s hard, as a newbie writer to not become discouraged and wonder if traditional publishing is in the cards for them.

And it’s hard for the published author with the contract in hand, to wonder if this is the last time this house will publish their book and when they will get the news that their house is throwing in the towel.

It’s a discouraging business when looked through the lenses of numbers, production, and opportunity. And it’s easy to get wrapped up in writing for the market, striving, crunching the numbers and wishing upon a star that you’ll get that all-elusive publishing contract and keep it.

It’s discouraging to live your dream at times, isn’t it?

Publishing is all about production and in the midst of the changing landscape, we forget and lose
sight of the fact that we’re dreaming and driving towards a dream that is too important to give up.
And we absolutely shouldn’t.

You might be shaking your head as to why I’m telling you not to give up.

And here’s why: this dream is bigger than you. It’s bigger than the changing publishing world. It’s bigger than what feels like one more damning flaming arrow against the fortress that has always been our beloved goal.

And it still should be your beloved goal.

Why?

Because God’s idea of this publishing dream for you is not defined by what publishing is or is not doing at this point. What houses are or are not publishing fiction. What genres are hot and which ones are ice cold.

What I’m saying to you might seem a stretch and like irresponsible planning, but I’m here to tell you: if you write for the market or the remaining publishing houses or any house that decides to make a go of it, you’ll write without purpose.

Because those opportunities fade. Another writer who’s better and published more than you will take the spot you’ve been aiming for and you’ll grow discouraged and beaten down.

Here’s the thing with writing for publishing: trust that God’s got this. He’s got you and your book—wherever that leads you. It doesn’t matter what the publishing world is doing around you, because when the time is right and the story is ready, you’re going to be published. I promise you that.

Here’s the thing: your dream is God breathed and God doesn’t follow the rules of publishing. He’s got His own blueprint and it’s a sight better than anything we strive to create on our own.

So that story you’re writing? Keep at it. It might not be on your specific timetable or what you thought were your specific expectations, but I promise if you surrender this story to God, it’s going to flourish. And so will you.


Take heart, dear writer. Yes, these are interesting and uncertain times, but we absolutely and irrevocably serve a certain and true God. 

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Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 

   

   

Friday, May 19, 2017

FRIDAY FIVE with Cara Putman (plus Alley Cat cover reveal!)

Excited to host our own Cara Putman. She has published over 20 books in a variety of genres: suspense, romantic suspense, historical romance, mystery and even nonfiction. She is a very busy lady with her hands in writing, law, teaching and more. She has a new release you'll want to check out, too!






FRIDAY FIVE WITH CARA PUTMAN
1) Julia: What has surprised you the most about the writing journey?

Cara: How much joy I get from my writing friendships. At least in Christian fiction, there is such a community of writers that have come alongside me—and I get to come alongside them. I truly can’t imagine my life without these friendships. They have added such richness and beauty to my life.

(I agree, the community of writers just can't be beat...)




2)  Julia: Do you have a favorite summer place?

Cara: Friends of ours used to have a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina that we loved to escape to about every three years. It was such a retreat for us at the times we really needed a break away from life. We miss that cabin. Because I teach even in the summer, it’s hard to get too far away, but we also enjoy traveling to Mackinac Island or to Nebraska to visit family. We have this thing for going places ten hours away. 

(I've always wanted to go to Mackinac Island. My family is about 10 hours away, too...)




3) Julia: Is there a book or verse of the Bible that keeps speaking to you this year?

Cara: Such a great question. This year I’ve been reading several books as well as reading through different portions of Scripture with my kids. Lately we’ve been reading Romans and a Psalm. There’s something exciting about diving into such a theologically rich book as Romans with my kids. My six year old son’s reaction to all the talk about circumcision was hilarious. But I truly count it an honor to have the opportunity to grow with my kids in the Word.  

 (Kids...and Bible study can be a fun combination. So great when you can find opportunities to be in the Word as a family....)





4) Julia: If you had a free day, what would you do with it?

Cara: Right now? Curl up with a book or two and never get out of bad. I’m fighting a bit of a post book deadline blah, so that sounds really good. Any other day, I’d pack the kids in the car and go find a place we can hike and get out in nature. 

(Hiking and books...both great choices! Congrats on hitting that deadline, that means you'll have more books to share with our readers soon...)





5) Julia: What projects do you have coming up that you are excited about?

Cara: I am super excited about the Hidden Justice series. The first book just released last month. it’s been humbling to see people’s reactions to Beyond Justice because it’s a legal romantic suspense. I just turned in the nearly perfect version of Imperfect Justice, which will release in December, and I’m headed into writing the third book. It’s been fun to write these bigger books the combine romance, the law, and ripped from the headlines issues. If people bop over to my website and sign up for my enewsletter, I’ll send them Dying for Love, the ebook prequel to the series.

(Congrats, Cara! Excited about your new release! Sounds like a thrilling read and very timely. Don't forget to head to Cara's website for that free ebook prequel!!!)





MORE ALLEY CAT NEWS:



Alley Cat Angie Dicken has a cover for her fall release!!!

Check it out!!! With Laurie Tomlinson's book recently hitting a mailbox near you, we have all kinds of Alley Cat fun going on around here!!!




 

Seekerville Sighting: Our very own Laurie Tomlinson was featured on Seekerville Thursday talking about Branding and Why Its Important.



What's it like in your neck of the woods? Here in southwestern Virginia we've been sweltering with weather in the low to mid-90s...but I hear some parts of the country are seeing white right now (and not the sand!). Hope you have a restful weekend! Thanks for stopping by...





 




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Going Back

I've been reading in the book of Acts in my morning quiet time with Jesus every day.

Holy.

Cow.

Y'all. If you're like me, you might not have read the book of Acts lately. It's probably been since my teen years (and maybe not even then) since I've actually read the whole book of Acts. Sure, we hear sermons that quote a verse or two. Or a devotional that sends you to a scene or chapter. Or read it along side a devotional that then tells you what to think about each part.

But there is just something about starting at the beginning and reading a few chapters a day, just me and the Holy Spirit and no outside voices, that has made the book really come alive for me. I can't tell you how many things God has impressed on my heart the last week reading it, and I'm barely halfway through!

This morning, I was in chapter 14. Paul and Barnabas are on Paul's first missionary journey. And the moment I finished reading the chapter, I KNEW I needed to write this blog post.

I'm a fan of YOU reading it yourself, so I highly suggest you get out your Bible and read the chapter before coming back.....

.....

You done reading yet?

That's okay. I'll wait.

.....

Okay. So you read it. WOW right?

In case you didn't have your Bible handy, I'll summarize. Paul and Barnabus went to Iconium (after they had been in Antioch and been run out of time by the "influential religious women" and leaders of the town. YIKES right there.) Anyway, they stayed in Iconium for a good while, preaching the gospel, right? BOLDLY the Bible says. But there was always this small section of people that would rile up the others. Finally, the mob was planning to attack, so they left the city and went to another one named Lystra.

And that's when it REALLY got crazy. These people, so deep in their worship of false gods, thought Paul and Barnabas were gods and started to sacrifice and WORSHIP them. Paul and Barnabas probably about wet their pants when they found out about it, and tried their best to get the people to stop and to understand they were only human, and that there was only ONE true God where the power came from. But the people weren't listening well.

Then some of the Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and convinced the people that not only were these people not gods, but should be killed. So the mob of people ended up taking Paul outside of the city and stoning him.

What did Paul do? Yeah, he stood right back up after they all thought he was dead and walked BACK INTO THE CITY. Of course, then he left the next day and went to Derbe. I'd be getting the heck out of Dodge too!!

There was so much here I thought was good, but I haven't even gotten to what really struck me yet.

They went to Derbe, right? And preached and people believed, and considering the Bible doesn't talk about people stoning them and threatening to kill then, you'd think that'd be a great place to stay for a while, right?

But in verse 21, what does it say they do?

THEY WENT BACK TO Lystra, Iconiu, and Antioch.

The three places where they were just stoned and threatened to be attacked.

Why?

"... they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that they must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God."

This struck me for two different reasons.

1.) "Strengthen the believers." This, my friend, is what I feel the calling of my writing is, and what I feel many people struggle with as seeing value in. Some people debate the merit or need or value or even Christianity of Christian Fiction--but I've felt since day one that my calling for my writing was to help edify and strengthen the church. To encourage other believers to stay strong in the faith. To help make not only believers, but disciples. I definitely don't think Christian Fiction is THE way to make disciples. Please don't hear me say that, because it's not what I'm saying. But I think it is A way, and it is a way God has called me to. Am I "preaching" to a choir? Maybe. But that choir is a messed up bloody mess right now and could use some strengthening, and if those who God calls to help edify the church refuse because it doesn't seem important enough, then who will? In the end, I obey God, not man. Paul and Barnabas saw such value in strengthening believers, they went back to towns where they had a decent shot at being killed in order to do so. If God wants to use these stories I pen to strengthen the faith of fellow believers, then I am humbly his servant and honored to be obedient to that calling.

2.) I don't know about you, but if I was run out of a city and stoned, I would have a hard time going back. I would feel like I'd failed. If people started worshiping me, I would feel pretty rotten and horrible too. I definitely wouldn't be going BACK for a repeat. But that's exactly what Paul and Barnabus did. They picked themselves back off, swept off the dust and kept going in the calling God had given them. Too many times I think we can take what looks like failure to our human eye and believe this means we did the wrong thing.

Poor book sales?

FAILURE. Shouldn't have published it. Should have marketed it more. Should have... Should have... Should have....

Bad reviews?
FAILURE. They hated my book. I never should have written it.

Rejection after rejection?
FAILURE. God called me to write but dad gum it, I'm not good enough to get it published so what good is that??


I was chatting with a friend the other day about results. SO many times we judge the success of what we have done by the results we achieve. But I challenge you, especially related to your calling: It is YOUR job to be obedient to God, it is GOD'S job to handle the results.

The parable of the talents come to mind. The 3rd guy didn't get judged for working hard and not making much. He got judged for burying his talents and not trying in the first place.

All that said...........

Are you being obedient? To what God wants, not what you want? Because if you aren't, that IS on you, my friend. Paul could have run away when the rocks started being thrown. He could have refused to return. He could have licked his wounds and stayed in the places where it was easy, where he was seeing easy results. But he didn't.

"How do I know what God wants me to do" you might ask.

I can only answer this based on my own experience.

If I'm not daily on my knees asking him...
If I'm not daily in the Word of God seeking him...
If I'm not daily dying to self and picking up my cross....
Then I rarely have a clue what God is truly asking of me.
I might THINK I know. But 9 times out of 10, that really ends up being what *I* want disguised with pretty intentions. But interestingly, THOSE are the times we want to blame the results on God....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Back to Basics-Point of View



There has been some discussion about Point of View around the writing world of late. 

It's a concept that seems so easy to grab a hold of, yet can sneak up behind you, right in the middle of a paragraph or a scene and mess up a story.

Let's tackle this one today. I am in the mood to conquer something.


FIRST: We need to know whose story we are in. What one person's life are all the pieces  impacting?

This does not mean the entire story is done in this one person's point of view. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. Feel confused? This is most likely the core of a point of view problem. Don't worry. We are going to take this concept apart.

To best communicate Point of View, I am going to use a familiar Bible story:

John the Baptist had an epic role in Christendom. His job was to announce and point the way to the Lamb of God. John had a feisty personality. He said what he knew and thought. He didn't apologize when someone became offended. From the announcement of his birth in the temple to his beheading, any part or all of his story is important to read.



To truly know John's story, we need to hear from others who impacted his story as well as John.

We could start from the beginning. Whether we use this in our written story we at least should research this information to have a better feel for the whys and whats that John did.


John's father was a priest. A high ranking priest who was chosen to go into the Holy of Holies one day. While his father was there, an angel appeared and told him he and his wife would have a baby. Zechariah didn't believe the angel's message. Zachariah and Elizabeth were much too old to have a baby. They probably didn't live long after John's Bar Mitzvah. They probably didn't have much of an inheritance to pass on to their son because they didn't think they would ever have one. Most likely they raised John in an environment of older adults, people who were their friends. 

Everything written in this story from Zechariah's point of view must only pertain to John the Baptist. Everything in Zechariah's point of view MUST be solely Zechariah's opinions, what he witnessed by sight, hearing, feeling, etc.

By including Zechariah's side of the story, we learn a lot about John the Baptist. We see why John lived in a desert, ate little more than locust and honey, and had a simple wardrobe consisting of clothes made of camel's hair. Why he had little money. Why he grew up with old parents and probably never learned to play with kids his age. John had to be a survivalist.

A portion of John's story needs to be from Herod's point of view. Politics played an important part in what John and others did. Herod, the governor, hated John, but was intrigued by him. This scruffy desert man made a fool out of Herod by accusing him of killing his brother then marrying his brother's wife. Imagine! Herod, a high ranking official serving the Roman government being accused by a desert rat. The story may have been true, but John obviously didn't know the power behind the man he accused. Still, the words John said intrigued Herod. He wanted to hear more but was embarrassed to admit it. This same spunk was a characteristic Herod had and appreciated. However, he was not afraid to put John in jail to still John's thunder.

Everything in Herod's point of view must only pertain to John the Baptist. Everything in Herod's point of view MUST be solely Herod's opinions, what he has witnessed by sight, hearing, feeling, etc. regarding John.

Sometimes there is a character that is difficult to write. The reason why can be anything, (ex, could I write talking trees like Lewis or Tolkien?). As the writer you have three choices: 
*You can choose to include something in a scene or more from this character's point of view.
*You can choose to leave this aspect of the story out.
*You can choose to represent this character from the Main Character's point of view.

In John the Baptist's story, telling Jesus's point of view would be the difficult one.  John had several interactions with Jesus. One while he was yet in Elizabeth's womb, one when Jesus was baptized, one when John sent his disciples to follow Jesus. 

The problem I would have with telling Jesus point of view is Jesus is God. I don't know and never will know what that is like. I can't begin to imagine how Jesus would have felt when he asked John to baptize him. What was inside of Jesus's mind when John said, "No, I should be baptized by you." I can suppose there was the compassion, the understanding, the need to make a point, all characteristics of our loving Father. But I don't really know. 

I can figure out how to portray a man's point of view because men and women are both creations of God. We are both human. But doing Jesus, God's beloved Son? Well, I would feel unsure about the words on the page.

For me, I'd include the portion about Jesus, BUT I would do it from John the Baptist's point of view. What John saw Jesus do, what he heard Jesus do, why he sent his disciples to follow Jesus, and etc. Nothing from Jesus point of view.  In the brief example about the C. S. Lewis' trees, I might have presented the trees from Lucy's point of view. What she heard and saw them do and how it related to that story.


THE KEY IS a point of view is given it's own scene, chapter, or chapters. Everything written in this portion of the story must solely be from that character's view. What that character sees, hears, feels, touches, tastes. If the character's back is turned, he cannot see what is happening behind him. He cannot KNOW what someone else is really thinking. He cannot HEAR what another person hears unless circumstances allows him to.

General rule for stories: the younger the audience/reader, the fewer points of view allowed. 

A story about the John the Baptist for children should only have ONE point of view (probably John's)

A story about the John the Baptist for young adult can have TWO points of view (probably John's and ... let's see...I'd probably add Herod's for spice)

A story about the John the Baptist for adults can have multiple points of view but don't go crazy. Too many can be confusing. (probably Zechariah's, John's, Herod's, and maybe Andrew's)

I hope this has cleared the waters for you. If there is still some muddy parts, ask! We are here to help.



I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Help others--tweet or FB share this post

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Mary Vee -  Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. These activities require lots of traveling, which is also tops on her list. For some crazy reason, the characters in Mary’s young adult mystery/suspense fiction stories don’t always appreciate the dangerous and often scary side of her favorite activities. Unbelievable.

Mary studies marketing and writing skills, and pens missionary and retellings of Bible stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has been a finalist in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


CLICK HERE to learn more

Mary has a new release. William Worthington Watkins III and the Cookie Snitchers.  Someone took the cookies from the church's kitchen and William wanted--no he needed to know who did it. Who isn't telling the truth? Mystery. Junior Fiction. Humor.  Click here to learn more. A GREAT READ FOR THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR OR SUMMER.



All subscribers to Mary's newsletter will receive her novella, an intriguing suspense/mystery. Come, read a good story. To get your free gift, sign up for the newsletter at Mary's website  Never Give Up Stories. Join the adventure!

Friday, May 12, 2017

What are you reading this weekend? This blog post might help you decide!





Happy Friday, friends!!

Friday, is always a good reason to celebrate and as we enter a new weekend, I wanted to make you aware of all these great books that are currently on sale!

Today we're also celebrating with CARA who just hit send on her latest round
of edits for her next legal suspense. She's also offering Canteen Dreams FREE for a limited time only! I can personally vouch for this book--it's a keeper!














Now...as promised, here are those books currently on sale!

Be sure to double check the price before hitting "buy", but if you're anything like me, the majority of these great-sounding books will be hitting your kindle in just moments!

$1.99
Moving Target
Lynette Eason









$1.99
Dani Pettrey
















$2.24
Susan May Warren
















$1.99
Susan May Warren
















$1.99
Karen Witemeyer
















$1.99
Jen Turano
















$1.99
Tamera Alexander
















$0.99
Tamera Alexander
















$1.99
Mary Connealy
















$1.99
Laura Frantz
















$1.99
Jocelyn Green
















$1.99
Katherine Reay
















$2.99
Deborah Raney
Melissa Tagg
Courtney Walsh














$1.99
Rachel Hauck
















$0.99
Gina Holmes















$1.59
Candace Calvert















$1.99
Kathryn Cushman















$1.99
Ronie Kendig















$0.99
Susan May Warren
(one of my all time favorite books!)















$0.79
Julie Lessman














There are so many good books on sale right now! And more on Amazon that this blog post couldn't fit all of them! Be sure to enjoy a bit of browsing for your weekend reading plans. 

Which one of these books are you snagging for your next reading adventure? 

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