Friday, May 30, 2008

And The Winner Is . . .

Wanita won the copy of Leave It To Chance by Sherri Sand! Congrats, Wanita! Send me an e-mail via this blog with your address and I'll get the book in the mail to you.

Speaking of contests: There's one over at The Writing Show. It's their third annual First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Contest. The deadline for entering is June 20th. First prize is $1000! Four other cash prizes and ten 750-word critiques also awarded. For more information, go here.
But, here's a quick take on what they're looking for:

We want to find the world's best first chapter of an unpublished novel. Above all, you must tell a compelling story. That means that you have to grab us so quickly, so completely, that we can't stop reading, even if the house is burning down.

And thanks to The Writer's Edge blog for bringing this contest to our attention.
Have at it, all you fiction writers. Let us know if you enter!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Taglines: Can You Hear Me Now?

“Believe it or not.”—Robert L. Ripley

From products to movies to TV shows to authors to books, a believable tagline goes a long way to being remembered. Ever heard of “Bundy Very Used Cars?” No? How about “Rent-a-Wreck?” Bundy’s changed tagline made their business standout. I wish I could think up an author tagline that readers remember, even with a lobotomy.

Taglines are supposed to be like the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland. Once you take the ride and hear the tune, it keeps playing repeatedly in your mind. Studying taglines may trigger an idea for your tagline.

ABC Taglines
Stronger Than Dirt
Alien: In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.
Alka-Seltzer: I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing.
Allstate Insurance: You’re In Good Hands With Allstate.
Altoids: Curiously Strong Peppermints
American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It.
Apollo 13: Houston, We Have A Problem
AT&T: Reach Out And Touch Someone.
Avis: We Try Harder.
Bic: Flick My Bic.
Blue Bonnet Margarine: Everything's Better With Blue Bonnet On It.
Budweiser: Wassup?!
Burger King: Have It Your Way.
BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine
California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?
Calvin Klein Jeans: Nothing Comes Between Me And My Calvins.
Camel Cigerettes: I’d Walk A Mile For A Camel.
Capital One: What’s In Your Wallet?
Chiffon Margarine: It’s Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature.
Chrysler: Inspiration Comes Standard.
CNN: The Most Trusted Name In News.
Coca-Cola: It's The Real Thing!
Crest: Look, Ma, No Cavities!
DeBeers: A Diamond Is Forever.
Disneyland: The Happiest Place On Earth.
Dr. Pepper: The Friendly Pepper Upper.
Ebay: The World’s Online Marketplace.
EF Hutton: When EF Hutton Talks, People Listen.
Fed-Ex: Relax, It’s Fed-Ex.
Fox News: Fair And Balanced.
Friends Of The Animals: Extinct Is Forever.
FTD: Say It With Flowers.
General Electric: We Bring Good Things To Life.
Gerber: Babies Are Our Business.
GLAD: Don’t Get Mad. Get GLAD.
Greyhound: Leave The Driving To Us.
Grey Poupon: Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?
Hebrew National: We Answer To A Higher Authority.
Hertz: We Try Harder.
In And Out Burger: In And Out, In And Out, That's What A Hamburger Is All About.
International Coffee: Celebrate The Moments Of Your Life
Ivory Soap: 99.44% Pure.
Jaws II: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water...
Jimmy Dean Sausage: Breakfast Never Sounded So Good.
Kay Jewelers: Every Kiss Begins With Kay.
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes: They’re G-R-R-R-Eat!
Kellogg’s Smart Start: Start Aging Smart.
Kentucky Fried Chicken: Finger-Lickin’ Good!
Las Vegas Convention And Visitors Authority: What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.
Lay’s Potato Chips: Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.
M&Ms: Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hands.
McDonald’s: I’m Lovin’ It
Memorex: Is It Live Or Is It Memorex?
Merrill-Lynch: Merrill-Lynch Is Bullish On America.
Morton Salt: When It Rains, It Pours.
Mountain Dew: Do The Dew.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.
National Crime Prevention Council: Take A Bite Out Of Crime.
National Pork Board: Pork. The Other White Meat.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: You Could Learn A Lot From A Dummy. Buckle Up!
Nike: Just Do It.
Nikon: At The Heart Of The Image.
Oldsmobile: It’s Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile Anymore.
Ore-Ida: Ore-Ida! It’s All-Righta!
Parkay Margarine: The Flavor Says Butter.
Partnership For A Drug-Free America: This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Drugs. Any Questions?
Paul Masson: We Will Sell No Wine Before Its Time.
Pep Boys: Cars Like Us. People Love Us.
Petco: Where The Pets Go.
Quiznos: M’m, M’m, M’m, M’m, M’m...Toasty!
RAID: RAID Kills Bugs Dead.
Reebok Athletic Shoes: Because Life Is Not A Spectator Sport.
Rolaids: How Do You Spell Relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S.
Secret Deodorant: Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman.
7-Up: The Uncola.
Star Trek: To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Wars: A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...
Surprise By Design TV Show: We're Not Just Changing Rooms. We're Changing Lives.
Taco Bell: Think Outside The Bun.
Target: Expect More. Pay Less.
The New York Times: All The News That’s Fit To Print.
The X-Files: The Truth Is Out There.
Timex: Takes A Licking And Keeps On Ticking.
United Negro College Fund: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
UPS: See What Brown Can Do For You
U.S. Army: Be All That You Can Be.
U.S. Dept. Of Transportation: Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.
U.S. Forest Service: Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.
U.S. Forest Service: Give A Hoot, Don’t Pollute.
U.S. Marines: We’re Looking For A Few Good Men.
U.S. Peace Corps: The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love.
Verizon Wireless: Can You Hear Me Now?...Good!
Visine Eye Drops: Gets The Red Out.
Volkswagen: Drivers Wanted
Wal-Mart: Always Low Prices. Always.
Wall Street Journal: The Daily Diary Of The American Dream.
Waterford Glass: Every Piece Is A Work Of Art.
Wendy’s: Where’s The Beef?
Wheaties: The Breakfast Of Champions
Wisk Laundry Detergent: Ring Around The Collar.
Wrigley's Chewing Gum: Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun.
Xerox: The Document Company.
Xerox: We’re Moving Beyond Documents.
Yellow Pages: Let Your Fingers Do The Walking
Zenith: The Quality Goes In Before The Name Goes On.

Taglines are reader oriented. What do you feel when you read a tagline? What benefit or promise do you perceive?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Find an Online Critique Group

“Criticism is how we get better. Why is it the worst writers seem the least ready to listen?”—Chip MacGregor
Can’t find a local writing critique group? The following online groups include critiquing opportunities. They are listed on the Writer’s Digest - 101 Best Sites for 2008.

Critique Groups for Writers [http://www.critiquegroups.com/]
Members of this site can form private groups to workshop their writing.

Edit Red [http://www.editred.com/]
Head over to Edit Red for peer critiques. The site also offers a free personal webpage.

Fanstory [http://www.fanstory.com/]
This site presents free contests and peer-to-peer reviews. It also includes the ability to create your own contest and challenge other writers.

Mike’s Writing Workshop [www.groups.yahoo.com/group/mikeswritingworkshop] This community includes nearly 9,000 writers willing to share information and critique your work.

My Writers Circle [http://www.mywriterscircle.com/]
This forum boasts nearly 6,000 members and an active critique section.

Romance Writing Tips
This site doesn’t offer critiques, but it offers links to other groups that do.

The Internet Writing Workshop [http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/]
The Internet Writing Workshop offers discussions and critiques delivered to your e-mail inbox. There’s no fee for this service, but there’s a minimum participation time of 30 minutes a week.

The MuseItUp Club Critique Group
Critique groups are limited to five people so your work can get more personal attention.

The Writing Bridge [http://www.thewritingbridge.org/]
If you are serious about your craft, members have access to critique forums and creative writing prompts.

Today’s Woman [http://www.todays-woman.net/]
Today’s Woman has nearly 1,000 members who participate in its forum, online critiques and weekly contests. Forty-three percent of the members are men.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blog Tour: Your Chance To Win a Copy of Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck

**Post a comment for a chance to win a copy of Sweet Caroline**

I've read Sweet Caroline. Rachel Hauck weaves an engaging story about the consequences of choices. The ending left me a bit surprised--but life has a way of doing that, doesn't it? Sometimes I think Hauck ended the book just right. Sometimes I wish she'd written a different ending. Hhhhmm. That's also a bit like real life, isn't it?

Here's a peek at Sweet Caroline's storyline:

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny.
Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart.
But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

Visit Hauck's Web site. She's also involved with My Book Therapy, a writing craft blog, which won over the heart of this non-fiction writer.

**Rachel Hauck is sponsoring a contest too!**

Enter to win a Scrumptious Baking Basket from Rachel. The basket contains a super cool apron, a low country cook book signed by Pat Conroy, rolling pin, and a pie plate! All you have to do to enter is sign up for Rachel's newsletter here.

Other stops along the blog tour:

Revka at Our Family Porch

Lauren at Baseball and Bows

Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life

Joanna at Becoming His

Patty at Girlfriends in God

Pam at Without Fear

Lynetta at Open Book

Tricia at It’s Real Life

Mindy at Ponderings of the Heart

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

Whatever else you do this Memorial Day, take time to remember those who sacrificed their lives in service to America.

Here's an article about the origins of Memorial Day, with a list of 15 Simple Ways to Remember the Day.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Word Lover Alert

“If your work is not in your heart, your heart will never be in your work.”—Dr. Mardy Grothe

I love a great twist of words. A chiasmus (ky-AZ-mus) is a literary device. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines chiasmus as, "A grammatical figure by which the order of words in one of two of parallel clauses is inverted in the other."

Here are some examples related to the writing craft.


"I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better."— A. J. Liebling

"A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite."—Edward Albee

"Is getting well ever an art, or art a way to get well?"—Robert Lowell

"If a dog bites a man, it's a story; if a man bites a dog, it's a good story."—Charles A. Dana


"In poetry you have a form looking for a subject and a subject looking for a form. When they come together successfully you have a poem."—W. H. Auden


Literature was formerly an art and finance a trade; today it is the reverse."—Joseph Roux

I subscribe to Dr. Mardy Grothe’s weekly newsletter featuring chiasmus sayings. He has a great sense of humor and his website also includes a great list of oxymorons.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prayer for Unemployed Writers

“It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own.” —Harry S. Truman

I filled my gas tank yesterday. When I bought my car, it cost $22. Yesterday? $64. Ouch!

Double Ouch!

For many writers the wheels are coming off their finances because of publishing layoffs.

Even people who are employed, fear lay offs. A poll on beliefnet.com asked, "Are you worried about losing your job because of the current economy?"

Not at all.

A little.

A lot.

As a single parent who did not receive the court-awarded child support, I often felt like a tight-rope walker deprived of a safety net. Unemployment terrified me. When an employer dismantles our financial safety net, the emotional plunge is devastating.

As fellow writers and editors try to re-balance their lives, families and finances on the unemployment high wire, let’s remember them in our prayers.

Editor and Publisher reports that Mike Koehler, a sports editor for The Oklahoman, has launched a blog called Praying for Papers. The blog offers prayers for those in the industry who are losing jobs. There are also prayers to help guide the newspaper industry's leaders.

Author Interview with Sherri Sand: Part 2

** Win a copy of Sherri Sand's book, Leave It To Chance**

Sherri Sand's first novel is Leave It To Chance, a humorous tale of a romance between two stubborn people and the antics of a horse named Chance.

Sherri is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. She is a member of The Writer’s View and American Christian Fiction Writers. Sherri finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories.

On Tuesday, Sherri shared her experience along the Writing Road.

Today, here are Sherri's Top 3 Tips for Submitting a Successful Book Proposal:

1. There are many excellent books on how to write a proposal. Study them. It will ensure that the proposal you send in is polished and professional.

2. Don’t make the mistake of submitting substandard writing assuming that an editor or agent will see your potential and take you on. Make sure it’s your very best work before submitting it.

3. Get feedback from other writer friends or a critique group before submitting it. You’ll be amazed at how an already strong proposal can get stronger.

Visit Sherri's Web site.

**Post a comment to win a copy of Leave It To Chance**

Thanks for stopping by Sherri Sand’s Leave it to Chance blog tour!
Here are the blogs featuring Sherri during our May 19-23 tour.
Amber Miller: http://www.ambermiller.com
Blog Tour Spot: http://blogtourspot.wordpress.com
Camy’s Loft: http://camys-loft.blogspot.com
Chatter Matters: http://jenndoucette.blog-city.com
A Christian Romance Writer’s Journey: http://www.eileenastels.blogspot.com
Cliffy’s Mom’s Blog: http://nancyjbailey.blogspot.com/
Fictionary: http://cballan.wordpress.com
Flying Changes: http://flyingchanges.wordpress.com/
The Friendly Book Nook: http://thefriendlybooknook.com
Horse Book Reviews: http://horsebookreviews.blogspot.com/
I Don’t Wanna Blog: http://elizardbreath8.blogspot.com
In the Dailies: http://www.tanyadennisbooks.com
Leap of Faith: http://marriageleap.com
lighthouse-academy: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com
A Little Bit of Sunshine: http://footprintsinthesand.us/blog
Margaret Daley: http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com
Ma Space: http://grammaspace.blogspot.com
Musings on This, That & The Other Thing: http://jenniferallee.blogspot.com
Mystery, Suspense and God, Oh My!: http://writesthoughts.blogspot.com
Net’s Notes: http://www.annetteirby.blogspot.com
Novel Journey: http://noveljourney.blogspot.com
Penning Prose: http://www.audrasilva.com/blog
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted: http://www.ginaconroy.com/ginablog/wordpress
Readin N Writing with Patricia: http://readinnwritin.blogspot.com
Real Women Scrap: http://realwomenscrap.typepad.com/
Relevant Blog: http://relevantblog.blogspot.com
Sharon Hinck: http://www.sharonswriting.blogspot.com/
Sips ‘n Cups Cafeteria: http://peggyblannphifer.blogspot.com
Smells Horsey: http://www.smellshorsey.com/
Toni V Lee: http://www.tonivlee.blogspot.com
Writing by Faith: http://writebyfaith.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Got Ya Back" or "Got Your Back"?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”— Red Smith

“I got ya back,” were the words a critique group member said to me.

My blinking eyes tried to mask surprise and hurt. My chest flinched at her tone. I dreaded looking at her critique of my manuscript.

Her critique was incredible! I loved it.

Maybe not the response she expected? I don’t know…and I was clueless.

What had I done to motivate her to feel like she had to “get me back?” My guess? My critique of her work rankled her.

A manuscript critique can hurt, but intentionally offending a critique group member certainly was not my intent. Each person’s unique skills analyze words on paper. Analyzing what hurts ambush a writer’s heart—those hidden hurts that don’t bleed onto paper—is impossible for others to access or assess.

I’ve Got Your Back
Last week, one critique group member dissolved into tears, appreciative of our input, sacrifices and faithfulness to her. Right now, there’s more stacked on her plate than ours. She felt guilty and said no one—not even her family—gave back to her like we did.

I could relate. Too often, I’ve given and given and sacrificed, only to receive a slap in the face. No thanks. No appreciation.

Just used.

Nothing in return—except maybe feathers—angry words strewn to the wind intended to malign. Often, to survive I dam my tears within the walls of a self-erected stony heart.

My writing vein needs a safe place to bleed my shame, hurts and disappointments onto paper. One whiff of condemnation snuffs out healing. The safer I feel, the more I share—and heal. I am grateful to be part of a group that thinks the best of me, draws me out, pushes me to improve my writing, and sacrifices to help me succeed. The motives, actions and words lived out in our critique group heal places wounded by hurting people.

What’s the difference between a “Got ya back,” and an “I’ve got your back,” critique group? Safety, comfort, acceptance, and the courage to write to touch the hearts of those who hurt.

This poem expresses my heart and the spirit of our critique group.

I Got Your Back

I got your back
You got mine,
I'll help you out

To see you hurt
To see you cry,
Makes me weep
And wanna die.

And if you agree
To never fight,
It wouldn't matter
Who's wrong or right.

If a broken heart
Needs a mend,
I'll be right there
To the end.

If your cheeks are wet
From drops of tears,
Don't you worry,
Let go of your fears.

Hand in hand
Love is sent,
We'll be friends
Till the end.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Author Interview: Sherri Sand, Author of Leave It To Chance--Win a Copy!


Sherri Sand's first novel, Leave It To Chance, is a humorous tale of a romance between two stubborn people and the antics of a horse named Chance.

Sherri is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. She is a member of The Writer’s View and American Christian Fiction Writers. Sherri finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon.

Here's Part 1 of a two-part interview with Sherri. Come back Thursday for Part 2.

What got you started along the Writing Road?
I felt pretty powerless as a child and escaped into a world of fantasy. At bedtime, I would lay awake for hours concocting stories in which I was the heroine and could say or do things that made me feel empowered. Sometimes that world was more real to me than my own. I think I’ve always known that I would write. About ten years ago, when I was pregnant with twins and on doctor mandated bed rest, I had the time to start. So the passion to write started to bloom, but it was five years before I had the confidence to pursue publication.

What are any obstacles that you've experienced along the Writing Road?
I tend toward perfectionism, and for a lot of years my value and worth were tied up in performance. So it was a bit scary tossing my manuscript out there to get chewed up by critiques and rejections. It was easy to withdraw into my cave when I didn’t feel that my writing was strong enough. A couple years ago, God did a tremendous transformation in my life and walked me through the process of putting my value where it truly belongs—in Him. Though it’s something I have to remind myself of often.

What's next for you along the Writing Road?
I’m involved in a collaboration project that I’m jazzed about, but we’re still in the outlining process.

**Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Leave It To Chance.**

Visit Sherri's Web site.

Thanks for stopping by Sherri Sand’s Leave it to Chance blog tour!
Here are the blogs featuring Sherri during our May 19-23 tour.
Amber Miller: http://www.ambermiller.com
Blog Tour Spot: http://blogtourspot.wordpress.com
Camy’s Loft: http://camys-loft.blogspot.com
Chatter Matters: http://jenndoucette.blog-city.com
A Christian Romance Writer’s Journey: http://www.eileenastels.blogspot.com
Cliffy’s Mom’s Blog: http://nancyjbailey.blogspot.com/
Fictionary: http://cballan.wordpress.com
Flying Changes: http://flyingchanges.wordpress.com/
The Friendly Book Nook: http://thefriendlybooknook.com
Horse Book Reviews: http://horsebookreviews.blogspot.com/
I Don’t Wanna Blog: http://elizardbreath8.blogspot.com
In the Dailies: http://www.tanyadennisbooks.com
Leap of Faith: http://marriageleap.com
lighthouse-academy: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com
A Little Bit of Sunshine: http://footprintsinthesand.us/blog
Margaret Daley: http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com
Ma Space: http://grammaspace.blogspot.com
Musings on This, That & The Other Thing: http://jenniferallee.blogspot.com
Mystery, Suspense and God, Oh My!: http://writesthoughts.blogspot.com
Net’s Notes: http://www.annetteirby.blogspot.com
Novel Journey: http://noveljourney.blogspot.com
Penning Prose: http://www.audrasilva.com/blog
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted: http://www.ginaconroy.com/ginablog/wordpress
Readin N Writing with Patricia: http://readinnwritin.blogspot.com
Real Women Scrap: http://realwomenscrap.typepad.com/
Relevant Blog: http://relevantblog.blogspot.com
Sharon Hinck: http://www.sharonswriting.blogspot.com/
Sips ‘n Cups Cafeteria: http://peggyblannphifer.blogspot.com
Smells Horsey: http://www.smellshorsey.com/
Toni V Lee: http://www.tonivlee.blogspot.com
Writing by Faith: http://writebyfaith.blogspot.com

Monday, May 19, 2008

Write an “It’s Great” Query Letter

“An art whose medium is language will always show a high degree of critical creativeness, for speech is itself a critique of life: it names, it characterizes, it passes judgment, in that it creates.”—Thomas Mann

Top Six “How to Kill” An Editor or Agent's Interest

The old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” applies to writing a query letter. It’s like a first date. It may be your only chance to receive an editor or agent’s call.

Rachelle Gardner, an agent with WordServe, gave Springs Writers a few tips that put an editor or agent on guard or kill their interest.

“This article or book is great.”
“Your reader’s will love it.”
“My revolutionary work…”
“There are no books written about this.”
“This is perfect for your publishing house.”
“This breathless story…”

An agent or editor wants to read a letter that makes them say, “This is great!” For more writing tips, check out Rachelle’s blog.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Online Author Video--What Will They Think of Next?

I mentioned on an earlier post that New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins joined the ranks of bloggers.
His book, Riven, hits bookstores this July. Tyndale House is publishing Riven. If you want to learn more about the book, you can hear Jenkins talk about it in an online video posted on Tyndale's Web site.
The book's plot is intriguing.
But, I've got to tell you I was also intrigued by the fact that I was watching an author interview online.
How cool is that?
Talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing! Talk about using technology to your advantage! There was a list of other author interviews on the Web site--and I'll definitely be checking out Susan May Warren's video. And Kevin Leman's. And Francine River's.
Check it out. You'll probably find some of your favorite authors on the list!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is There a Rejection Letter Vaccination?

“You've got to love this business. You have to be able to take rejection.”— Jessica Biel

Dear Writer,

We appreciate the time you took to send our publishing house your manuscript that God told you to write. We may never again have the opportunity to read anything equaling your heavenly masterpiece.

We have carefully considered your manuscript. However, your sensational story of how God told you that we must publish your book just did not grab our editorial or marketing teams’ interest. If we were to publish your book, how could we publish anything of lesser supernatural creativity? Something compels us to encourage you to send your divine composition elsewhere.

Our publishing house receives thousands of book proposals each year. Since we don’t have the time to personally critique everyone’s work, we hope our suggestions from our Top Ten Reasons Why We Reject a Manuscript are helpful (check all that apply.):

X The audience is too small.
X It doesn’t fit our publishing needs.
X This type of book doesn’t sell.
X It’s too narrowly focused.
X It’s already been done.
X It’s an article, not a book.
X It’s too risky not worth the financial outlay to publish it.
X The acceptance dart didn’t hit your book proposal.
X This is the worst book we have ever read. You are functionally illiterate.
X You aren’t famous nor are you an expert in your field.

Best wishes…

P.S. We strongly recommend that you obtain professional help to address your problems and neurochemical disorder.

Stinger Zinger Rejection Letters
Ouch! Even wannabees, who later became bestselling authors, were judged as crazy, boring, uneducated, or out-of-touch with reader interests.

1. “The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.” Crash, J.G. Ballard. Rejected by many publishing houses. Crash was adapted for the screen by David Cronenberg.

2. “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the “curiosity” level. A dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.” The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank. Rejected 16 times. More than 30 million copies are currently in print, making it one of the best-selling books in history.

3. “A long, dull novel about an artist.” Lust for Life, Irving Stone. Rejected 16. Sold around 25 million copies.

4. “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Carrie, Stephen King. Rejected more than 30 times. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted Carrie for publication. On Mother's Day of that year, Stephen learned that a major paperback sale gave him the financial means to write full-time. The movie Carrie received two Oscar nominations and one Golden Globe nomination. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA nominated it for a Golden Scroll as the Best Horror Film. The Edgar Allan Poe Awards nominated it for Best Motion Picture. The Hugo Awards nominated it for the Best Dramatic Presentation.

5. “I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny—possibly even satire—but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.” Catch—22, Joseph Heller. Rejected over 20 times.

6. “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.” Animal Farm, George Orwell. Rejected 23 times.

7. “These stories have trees in them.” A River Runs Through It, Norman MacLean. Rejected by every New York publishing house. It became a hit movie.

8. “Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss. Rejected 24 times.

9. “My dear fellow, I may be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may, I can't see why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.” Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust.

Antidote for Crazy Rejection Letters

An editor from the San Francisco Examiner sent Rudyard Kipling this rejection letter: “I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language.”

If editors jab bestselling authors with rejection, I'm not immune either. The antidote to overcome rejection? Keep writing, believe in your personal brand of writing insanity, hone your skills, and pursue publication.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Check It Out: Advanced Fiction Writing Blog

We've got a great local writer's group. Last night, Rachelle Gardner talked to the group about query letters and book proposals. Rachelle is a literary agent. with lots of experience in the publishing world and a great blog: CBA Ramblings.
Rachelle emphasized the importance of writing an eye-catching summary of your book for your book proposal. She mentioned that author Randy Ingermanson, of SNOWFLAKE fame, had recently blogged about one-sentence summaries. So, I wandered over to Randy's blog and found the starting post. You can follow the rest of the posts by clicking on the Craft link at the end of the post.
Just for fun, you might want to read all the one-sentence summaries that other folks posted for Randy to critique. Along the way, you'll see what other folks are writing about--and learn the ins and outs of crafting a good one-sentence summary of your book.
Enjoy wandering the blogosphere. I'm off to edit!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tips for Coping with Rejection

“The drama is a great revealer of life.” —George P. Baker

Has a life trauma drama ever left you emotionally drained? If anyone is qualified to write passionate fiction, a trauma momma drama queen could write a New York Times blockbuster in the fantasy or horror category. Their ability to exaggerate or create a nonexistent plot line is beyond rational thinking. Recently, a discussion ended with a surprise twist.

Back Story
An organization proposed a plan that may consume twenty hours of my week for the next nine months. Did I mention—without consulting me or considering my writing commitments or schedule? I honestly expressed my surprise to the person requesting this program: I would appreciate being included in any decision processes affecting my life.

The response? It will only take four, maybe five hours a day—Monday through Saturday. That’s all. No big deal.

Excuse Me!
What kind of person thinks it’s okay to hijack someone’s life without consulting them? I have a right to say, “How can we work together to accomplish everyone’s goals?”

A simple request for consideration turned ugly. The trauma drama ratcheted up on the other end of the phone line. Crying. Manipulation. Accusations. Exaggerations. Name calling. This person “heard” words I never said or even thought. Slam! The phone line went dead.

Ten minutes later, I am still sobbing. Ring. A calm, demanding voice says, “Will you do this or not? Yes or no. That’s all I want to know.” How did this person process all that trauma drama in such a short period?

Again, I attempt to calmly state that to participate in this program, a conversation that includes me needs to take place that respects my commitments.

The conversation ended. My chest felt heavy, painful hives popped out, and I did not sleep. As this person retreated to a spouse’s arms, I felt emotionally desperate. I’m single. My body ached to be held, affirmed, comforted.

I didn’t want to dump my emotional heaviness on anyone. I longed for understanding. I journaled and then decided shopping therapy might relieve the pain.

It didn’t. I just felt lonelier cruising up and down store aisles alongside strangers.

That night an intense dream merged and surged the heart-not-to-heart conversation, my fears, past maltreatment, and the topic of my current book proposal. I reunited with my X who was unfaithful, only to be rejected again. Processing the last couple of days reminded me of the facts of life on the writing road.

Life Interruptus
Life interrupts my writing. Drama enriches it. People try to entrap and distract me in their conflicts. I have enough issues of my own to deal with. So what have I learned?
Guard your writing life.
Stay focused.
When distracted, refocus.
When emotionally trampled, journal.
Fight to pursue your passion.
Keep your commitments.
Pursue reconciliation.

Not Everyone Values Your Heart
Rejection smarts. You will receive Simon Cowell stinger zingers. If you write—
some people will not respect the time you set aside to write.
not every manuscript achieves acceptance.
not everyone values your point of view or writing style.
expect rejection letters, they’re proof—you’re a professional writer!

To Be or Not To Be a Writer
How do I face rejection? Laugh. Cry. Learn. Be fearless. Choose joy. Embrace peace. Keep giving, living, loving, and writing. Temporary rejection or life interruptions cannot hijack a writer’s dreams. It may slow them down. Giving up, quitting or bowing to other's unrealistic demands halts the pursuit. Always remember: publication is forever.

Monday, May 12, 2008

8 1/2 Steps to Writing Better, Faster

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I love Visual Thesaurus. It's an online, mind-mapping thesaurus. Plug in a word you want a synonym for, and you get a muticolored "map" of different words.
The Web site is packed with other must-haves for writers too, like a word of the day and word lists and columns and blogs.

One of the columnists, Daphne Gray-Grant, is a writing and editing coach and the author of 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Better, Faster.
  1. In 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better you will learn:
    1. Why you should never, ever, ever write an outline to plan your writing (and what you should do instead).
    2. Five methods for turning off the voice in your head that says “I’m a crummy writer."
    3. How to budget your preparing, writing and self-editing time (the numbers will surprise you).
    4. Why walking away from your work is one of the single most important steps in writing.
    5. Nine different ledes (journalists call the beginning of their stories "ledes") to help grab your readers right from the first word.
    6. The exact sentence length you should write for maximum reader appeal.
    7. How to “automate” your editing so your computer does half of the work for you.
    8. Why you should consider turning off monitor when you write. (Yes, you read that correctly!).
    9. 10 tips for writing a book.
    And what’s the deal with the half step? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Go here for an interview with Gray-Grant on Visual Thesaurus. In the interview, she says she recommends that writers turn off their computer monitors when they're writing.


Gray-Grant says the goal of the exercise is to get you to stop reading what you've just written. She explains why:

"One of the metaphors I use in the book is that writing is a bit like driving a car. Everybody knows that only one person can drive at a time. And if your editing brain is driving, then your writing brain is in the backseat. And, conversely, if the writing brain is driving, you don't want the editing brain to be sitting there, too, trying to grab the steering wheel -- that's the way to get into an accident."

Interesting writing exercise. I just may try it. My only concern? I know there will be lots of typos on the screen when I turn my monitor back on!!

Anybody else game to turn off the monitor while they're writing?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Writing Whiplash

“Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work” —Carl Sandburg
My neck is beginning to feel like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. I'm experiencing writing whiplash due to the electronic and internet impact of changes in publishing...and sometimes life in general.

The new words added to dictionaries reveal how life and times change. The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary was the first dictionary to include "Internet" and "World Wide Web". Only their dictionary includes these words:
Bleeding edge
Identity theft
Push poll

Words Entering English Since 1940

Quiz show
Tape recorder

Hash browns

Cable television
Instant replay
Jet lag
Space shuttle

Punk rock
Video game

Automated teller machine (ATM)
Compact disc
Desktop publishing
Sandwich generation
Twelve Step
Virtual reality

Bad hair day
Buffalo wing
Designated driver
Personal trainer
Web site

A Look Back…
The Merriam Webster Dictionary added these “new” words in 1806.
Advocate, verb: to defend, plead in favor of
Electrician, noun: one versed in electricity
Psychology, noun: the doctrines of spirit or mind
Census, noun: an enumeration of inhabitants, a register of people, etc.
Constitutionality, noun: the state of being agreeable to the constitution, or of affecting the constitution
Presidential, adjective: pertaining to a president
Unmarketable, adjective: not saleable or fit for the market
Americanize, verb: to render American
Checkers, noun pl.: a game
Immigrant, noun: one who removes into a country
Penmanship, noun: the act, art, or use of writing
Slang, noun: vulgar language, cant phrases [low]

How Hip Is Your Vocabulary?
How many of the new words added to the 2006 Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary do you use?
Mouse potato, noun, a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer
Ringtone, noun, the sound made by a cell phone to signal an incoming call
Gastric bypass, noun, a surgical bypass operation that typically involves reducing the size of the stomach and reconnecting the smaller stomach to bypass the first portion of the small intestine so as to restrict food intake and reduce caloric absorption in cases of severe obesity
Soul patch, noun, a small growth of beard under a man's lower lip
Supersize, verb, to increase considerably the size, amount, or extent of
Drama queen, noun, a person given to often excessively emotional performances or reactions

I don't want to be a drama queen, so I'll keep rolling up my sleeves, spitting on my hands, and putting my fingers to the keyboard.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

For Your Blogging Pleasure

I found out about a couple of new blogs and wanted to share them with you:
Writing News bills itself as book, author, and creative writing news. The stated goal of the blog is "to provide daily news updates for writers on all the topics they find interesting. We’ll report on writing, authors, contests, events, awards, markets, books, poetry, various genres, related websites, and anything else that seems relevant."
The most recent news post, dated March 30th, lists the Hugo nominees.

New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins has started a blog. Besides posting some photos of his adorable grandson, he mentioned the upcoming July 22nd release of his book Riven, from the lyric of Rock of Ages, referring to Christ's riven side. Jenkin's said this is "the novel I've always wanted to write. The story has been rattling in my brain for decades. It's about a present-day condemned man who chooses crucifixion as his method of execution."
Go here to see the cover.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Struggle for Recognition

“You cannot make a difference in someone’s life if you do not have entrĂ©e in that life.”—George Barna

Name awareness facilitates potential book sales. That fact stresses wannabe and published authors. If you’re feeling like a nobody, consider the surprising results of a Barna Research survey.

Major Christian Authors Are Widely Unknown, Even Among Christians

Rick Warren’s New York Times bestseller and blockbuster, The Purpose Driven Life sold 25 million copies. However, three out of four adults (72%) have never heard of Warren, including two out of every three born again Christians (63%).

James Dobson has sold tens of millions of books. His radio program reaches the largest audience of any religious personality. However, almost six out of every ten adults (57%) have never heard of Dobson; in fact, nearly half of all born again Christians said they don’t know who he is.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling fiction Left Behind series, has sold more than 70 million books during his career. Despite his writing success, he is unknown to three-fourths of adults.

Joel Osteen, who just landed a multi-million dollar book contract and has sold millions of books, is unknown by two-thirds of the adult public (67%), and unknown to born again adults (57%).

George Barna pointed out, “One of the reasons that the Christian faith is struggling to retain a toehold in people’s lives is because even the highest-profile leaders of the faith community have limited resonance with the population.”

And My Point Is?

Don’t stress. Authors can be responsible to build their platforms, websites, blogs, blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, I believe that being published is in God’s hands, not mine. My responsibility is to write the passion He places in my heart.

Never Forget

1 Samuel 2:8 and Psalm 113:7–8 reminds us Who is in control of our destiny: He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people and has them inherit a throne of honor.

Write Honestly

Our culture is full of needy people. Reject Christianspeak. Connect with timeless wisdom. Disconnect from those who want you to support their agendas. Avoid putting an unrealistic, super-spiritual face on faith. Confess your fears and struggles to trust God. Admit weaknesses. Allow your writing to resonate with real people struggling with real hurts, needs and issues.

Humility opens hearts. Honesty breeds trust. Hope changes hearts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To Kindle or Not to Kindle, That is the Question

Amazon's Kindle: Are you for it or against it?
Maybe, like a friend of mine, you're asking what is a Kindle? Amazon calls it an wireless reading device. Call it a handheld electronic bookreader. No bindings. No front and back covers. No pages.
I was intrigued by the idea--and put off by the $399 price tag. Downloading books cost $9.99 per book. You can also subscribe to newspapers or magazines via your Kindle.
There are pro-Kindle folks and anti-Kindle folks. Some people--me included--like holding a book in their hands when their reading. They don't like the idea of reading off a screen. They think a Kindle will interfere with their reading pleasure, if you will. I think this might happen--but until I try a Kindle, I won't know for sure.
Author David Edelman says such talk is silly when you consider that a Kindle allows you to hold your entire library in your hand or download new books whenever you wish. Edlman goes so far as to suggest that the Kindle will lead to the death of the novel.

"... the written word is going electronic. Permanently. Soon. Once that happens, storytellers will have no need to shoehorn their stories into these 8x 12 hunks of pulped wood and ink. And once we’re not restricted to the medium of the novel, we’ll be leaving the form behind.
The death of the novel doesn’t mean the death of storytelling. It doesn’t mean that nobody’s ever going to put an Aristotelian structure of fiction into 120,000 words. On the contrary, it’s going to mean that storytelling will finally be unleashed. We’re going to see fiction strap on blue tights and a red cape and really soar.
Personally I think that’s going to be fun to see."
Hhhhhm. I see Edelman's point, but I'm not sure if I agree with it or not. And that's okay. I haven't seen a lot of people toting Kindles around yet. Maybe if the price drops that may change. I don't know.
To be honest, I've read novels that have jumped over the proverbial building in a single bound--and they were the old-fashioned kind. I don't think Kindle is the new superhero tool of novelists.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Top Ten Writing Prompts

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."—Gandhi
What do the top ten issues facing families today mean to writers? Your writing can change the lives of others. LifeWay, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, solicited the opinions of more than 2,000 people from around the country. Here are the Top Ten Issues Facing Families Today:

1. Anti-Christian Culture
2. Divorce
3. Busyness
4. Lack of Father Figure
5. Lack of Discipline
6. Financial Pressures
7. Lack of Communication
8. Negative Media Influences
9. Balance of Work and Family
10. Materialism

The Competitive Advantage
Okay, let’s say you do not have “brand equity,” which refers to a famous author who has a certain name, reputation, built-in audience, or media platform in the marketplace. If you want to write a book, Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers offers hope, “…Competitive advantage…is something a new title must have in order to succeed in the marketplace. You can succeed without brand equity, but you cannot succeed without a competitive advantage—at least not for very long. No author can afford to ignore it and be consistently successful.” *

Are You The Next Great Voice?
How does that advice apply to a beginning or intermediate writer? Your book must have a natural advantage over other books written on these topics. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I narrow any one of these topics down to a specific concern that virtually no one else is addressing?
2. Do I have a unique perspective?
3. Do I look at the topic in a fresh and exciting way?
4. Am I willing to admit weaknesses and confess fears so readers naturally trust me?
5. Is my writing compelling—a can’t-put-it-down read?
6. Can I provide practical solutions to combat real problems?
7. Do I have a catchy angle to interest the media?
8. Is this a book or several salable articles?

Reality Check
Christian Book Publishers receive nearly 250,000 manuscripts during a typical year. Some of the 300 publishers receive more than 10,000. On average about 5% of those submissions are published—approximately 12,000 titles a year. The average first printing of a book for a new author is just under 4,700 copies. (Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2008, Sally Stuart, WaterBrook 2008)

There is no secret to publication. It takes more than a great idea. If you want to be published, work at being a great writer.

* © 2007, Michael S. Hyatt. Used by Permission. Originally posted at www.michaelhyatt.com

Friday, May 2, 2008

Cleaning up the piles and hearing voices

"Any writing genius, from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison, derives much of their reputation from their ability to create a unique voice from every character."
~ James V. Smith

You never know what you'll find when you tackle the piles on your desk.

Or, in my case, the piles that overflowed from my desk to my dining room table.

How's that for honesty?

I found lots of interesting tidbits--article ideas scribbled on pieces of paper, quotes jotted down in various notepads, encouraging letters from people I've met along the Writing Road--and lots and lots of things needing to be filed.

I rarely file. I'm more of a pile-er.

Anyways, I found a piece I cut out of somewhere--I have no idea where--titled, "Fiction Writers--Get Thinking!" It talks about James V. Smith's book, The Fiction Writer's Brainstormer. On the paper is Smith's take on five qualities of voice that fictions writers should always consider. They are:

1. Vocabulary: Give you characters distinctive words.

2. Verbosity: You can create a distinctive voice just by controlling the length of a character's thoughts and speeches.

3. Velocity: This is reflected in how you arrange words, sentences and ideas.

4. Viewpoint: The literal point of view and omniscience allowed that character by the author.

5. Venom: When you're talking about emotion, you hit upon a central issue in the character's makeup.

So, to all you voice-hearing fiction writers out there: Your characters may be talking to you. But as the author, you get to decide what they sound like when you sit down at your computer and put those characters into your novel.
Now you know five ways to do that.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Short, Sweet and to the Point

Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.—Murphy’s Law

Before an editor or publisher will look at your manuscript, you must hook their interest with a book proposal. My research on writing a book proposal is hundreds of pages long.

“Writing a Winning Book Proposal” written by Michael S. Hyatt provides the best description and example of how to write your “Unique Selling Proposition.” He suggests filling in the blanks to this sentence:
If consumers in the target market purchase and read [name of book], then they will [list the book’s benefits], because the book will [list the book’s features].

If you want to write a winning book proposal, download Hyatt’s ten-page how-to article.

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