Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Evolution of an Indie Author


1970-ish: How vain would a writer have to be to slap down good money in order to see his work in print? What unscrupulous publisher would take advantage of such self-aggrandizement? Vanity presses, indeed! I eschew the like.

Mid-1980s: As a college student, I concede that certain academics, writing on esoteric topics, could find it beneficial to self-publish in their field. But never fiction!

1990s: Several of the members of our local poetry club have published chapbooks. That’s quaint. Not something I would do, but I see the value, especially for their families and friends.

1992: I begin my first book, a picture-book with quite a bit of text, Up a Rutted Road. When it comes time to submit it, I begin at the top with a major publisher. One of the high-ranking editors likes it and asks if I would be willing to rewrite it as a middle-grade novel. Uh, yes. No self-publishing for me!

1993: The rewrite of URR is finished. I resubmit to the same editor, who eventually responds with a lovely personal note. "Unfortunately, our MG list is full now. We cannot consider another title for a couple years." Though discouragement rears its ugly head, I continue to study fiction writing, but abstain from submitting, waiting for the wound to heal.

Early 2000s: What in the world is going on in publishing? I hear of many writers who, after forfeiting all hope of being pubbed traditionally, now turn to print-on-demand, whatever that is. I’m pretty sure it’s a type of self-publishing. Meanwhile, I continue to study my craft and write occasionally.

2001: I co-founded Southern Indiana Writers' Salon, a group of local writers. A few of us intend to seriously pursue a writing career.

2002: My friends, Ron and Jo E., support my writing. They seem to think I have some talent and want to sponsor the—here it comes—self-publishing, vía POD, of my manuscript. I decline. “If I can’t find a traditional publisher, I’ll go unpubbed. I’m leaving my writing career in God’s hands.” And He would never want me to do such a vain thing. Would He? No. No. Of course . . . not. But is vanity the only thing that drives one to . . . ? Never mind.

2003: Now I can say I’ve met people who have published their own work. As for quality, that varies. Some works are very good. Most could benefit from a careful, critical editing by a pair of knowledgeable, objective eyes.
             I’m sticking to the traditional route. I approach the same editor again, ignorant that that generally is not done. She agrees to take another look. Alas, again she rejects it, saying it needs more conflict.
            At some point around this time, the Lord—always gracious and merciful—leads Ramona K. Cecil to SIWS. We become friends, and she urges me to look into ACFW membership, attend conferences, and beat up my darlings.

Late in the first decade of the 2000s: I’m following Ramona’s advice by attending conferences and having sit-downs with editors, never giving a thought to self-publishing, though I hear more about the issue, especially following the release of Amazon’s Kindle in 2007. (One of our SIWS writers actually brings one to a meeting for us to see. What a fun toy, much like the little Connect Four electronic game I carry in my purse. Nothing to take seriously.)
            At the first major conference I attend (the now-defunct Central Ohio Writers of Literature for Children Conference, Columbus), I present my work to two editors, since I now have two MG manuscripts to pitch. The first editor requests to see the full of Up a Rutted Road. “Your style reminds me of Cynthia Rylant, but for slightly older readers,” she said. Since Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains is one of my favorite picture books, I was pleased by the comparison. Unfortunately, that editor had to take an extended medical leave and never got to read the full. The second editor also requested a full, but her publishing house was bought out, and she moved on, so—you get the picture.
            Self-pubbing is looking better. Just teasing. Sickness and loss of position, those things happen. I will keep praying, keep polishing, keep learning, keep submitting, keep attending conferences, keep on.

2011-12: The ACFW Conference, the main event for Christian writers, is held in Indianapolis! An hour down the road from me! Huzzah! When I receive my schedule, I’m thrilled to see the name of one of my favorite agents, and I get to have a sit-down with her to pitch my second novel, The Second Cellar. She likes it and requests the full. I have to admit it isn’t quite finished. “That’s all right,” she says. “When can you get it to me?” We agree that March would be good timing, after the holidays.
She retired from the agency in December, before she could see it, and none of the other agents handled MG.
            Lord, what are You trying to tell me? I honestly don’t know. What’s next? A battle rages within. I enter into a dark night of the writer’s soul. A shadow seems to hover over my computer. I want to write, but doubt my calling, doubt my ability to put words together cohesively on a page. The enemy tells me I should give up, use my computer to play Spider Solitaire and check Facebook.

2013: Southern Indiana Writers’ Salon lived a good life, lasting for seven years—longer than most writers’ groups—but suffered a tragic demise a few years ago. In 2012, a handful of Writerly Sisters, former SIWS members, began meeting at my writer’s nest each month.
          One of our scribes publishes some of her children’s books using and suggests I consider doing the same. She presents me with my own copy of Publishing E-Books for Dummies and some other resources. They sit gathering dust until—

May 2013: I have an internal debate:
Why do I write?
Because I must. It’s been in my soul since fourth grade. I can’t not write, not for long, anyway.  
What if I never get published traditionally?
That’s possible because publishing is changing.
Do I want to make money with my writing?
Well, that certainly would be nice. But it’s not my priority.
Then what is the true and important thing?
That my work glorifies God. That I write winsomely, pointing readers to Him.
No one is reading my work now. It’s languishing in my computer.
What if I go to all the work of e-pubbing and still no one reads it?
I have grandchildren, my "grandtreasures." They’ll read it. And if they’re the only ones, it’s well worth the effort. Maybe someone else will, also. And perhaps—just perhaps—the right agent or editor will stumble over it and decide it has possibilities. It happens!
But I’m writing middle-grade. Research shows that few middle-grade readers read e-books.
As fast as things change in the world of publishing, that could turn overnight. Up a Rutted Road waiting for them.

I have no plans to e-pub my second MG novel, The Second Cellar, or my third. I’ll leave those decisions to God’s leading. For too long, I held the misconception that members of ACFW eschewed indie books. I've since learned that many of my brother and sister scribes have self-published. I’m sure I’ve read and enjoyed some of their work without knowing it because they took the time to do it right through careful revision and editing and by creating (or paying a professional to design) a professional-quality cover.
This topic came up for lively discussion on our ACFW members loop recently. One writer put it in perspective by reminding us of how blessed we are to have so many options open, considering that in closed and threatened countries, any type of Christ-proclaiming publication is outlawed. Apparently, those who would muzzle Christian writers understand the power in the printed word.

Write on!
Because of Christ,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Friday, May 24, 2013

Interview with Speculative Fiction Author, Pastor's Wife, and Familiar Name on this Blog -- Morgan L. Busse

by Jeff Reynolds

Okay, I'll admit -- I'm the only person who regularly posts interviews. But I still feel like I've got the big one this month, the one that others wish they had lined up (or considered lining up). This month, we have a former contributor to Hoosier Ink, Morgan L. Busse.

One exciting fact that I learned following to sending these questions: Morgan is a finalist this year for the coveted Christy award. She deals with that in her blog (see below).

Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Hoosier Ink, Morgan. No, let me rephrase that. Welcome BACK to Hoosier Ink, Morgan. Your blogs have been missed here, not to mention your presence at the Indiana Chapter events. We'll get to your writing shortly, but what's been new with you since moving away from God's country here in Indiana, personally and your ACFW involvement? Yes, I'm kidding about God's country being Indiana -- we all know it's in northern Arizona.
Morgan L. Busse: Hi Jeff! It’s great to be back. As you mentioned, God moved my family from Indiana to Oz, I mean Kansas. My husband is the pastor at a fairly new church, which we love and feel is our home away from home (that is, heaven). I never thought we would live in Kansas. I love mountains, trees, and rain. But here we are and I have discovered there is a lot of beauty in Kansas.

JR:  I am intrigued by your series. Can you tell us about it and what inspired it?

MB: Originally the name of this series was supposed to be the name for the last book. But when I talked to my editor, we decided Follower of the Word would be a great name for the entire series.

This series is a Christian fantasy for the adult market. It follows four different characters, the main one a woman named Rowen Mar. Rowen has the ability to see inside the human soul with a touch of her hand. Daughter of Light is Rowen’s story: how she came to discover her power, how it affected her life, and her journey toward becoming a Truthsayer.

Son of Truth is the second book in the series. In Daughter of Light, readers are introduced to a ruthless assassin named Caleb Tala. Son of Truth continues his story, reveals who he is, and what part he will play in the final book.

JR:  From what I gather, your second book -- Son of Truth -- has the challenging aspect of a negative lead. Without giving away plot or anything, can you tell us how you managed to create a character we grow to love even while he's a bad guy?
MB:  For those of you who have not read the series, the character in reference is the man named Caleb Tala. Like I said above, he is a Temanin prince and ruthless assassin. It is always interesting to see what character readers loved or resonated with the most. So when emails and comments came flooding in with Caleb’s name, I was surprised. He’s not a nice guy!

Did I plan this? No, not really. As I was writing, there was a character standing in the shadows with a story to be told. The first time I met Caleb Tala, he had just murdered a man. Really, Morgan? This was not the kind of book I had set out to write. But Caleb would not leave.

He intrigued me. A cold-hearted murderer, driven into this profession by his thirst for gold and women. He was ambitious, focused, and prided himself in always getting the job done. But I came to realize Caleb had one fear, a fear no one else knew about because it lived deep inside him: he knew someday he would pay for the lives he took.

I had to write about him. I had to know what would happen to him. I cared about this flawed man. I think this is what makes readers like Caleb so much. He reminds us of ourselves. We are afraid because we are just as dark as he is on the inside. So we need to know: can he be saved? Because if he can, perhaps we can be too.

JR:  Your Amazon page starts off, "Morgan L. Busse writes stories about hope. She believes that in the dark times of life, there is light and draws on her own life's experiences." Okay, I believe we're in dark times. Sometimes I wonder which will be quicker -- my road to publication and this country's path to utter destruction (or at least a point where Christian publishing can be a crime). Of course, maybe I spent too much time with Uncle Eeyore when I was young. What in your stories and in your faith gives hope in this hopelessly divided country?
MB:  Jeff, I’ve been thinking the same thing. I was reading through Romans a month ago and I think chapter 1 sums up what we are seeing in our country right now: a denial of God and a descent into depravity.

But Romans 1: 16 is a light amongst the very dark and bleak picture painted by chapter 1: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…” (emphasis mine).

The gospel is the light and hope for our world. It is the very power of God at work. It can save any and all, and it cannot be stopped. That is what I place my faith in. It is what I write about. I am not preachy, but I don’t hold back where the real power in my world comes from. It is not in strength, it is not in magic, it is in the power the Word has to forgive the darkness inside us and change us into new people.

JR:  I'm sure the speculative authors here are familiar with Lord Marcher Press. Could you tell us about them? And I'm especially interested in one selection they have -- But Who Would Be Dumb Enough To Even Try It? Are you part of that effort?
MB:  Marcher Lord Press is an indie publishing company that specializes in award winning Christian speculative fiction. MLP was started by Jeff Gerke, an editor who worked for various Christian publishing houses. He grew tired of seeing great speculative manuscripts come across his desk that he had to refuse because they would never make it past the board due to their genre. So he started his own company and Marcher Lord Press was born. MLP will be celebrating 5 years this upcoming October. To find out more about MLP, here is the website:

But Who Would Be Dumb Enough To Even Try It? is a story collaboration between seven MLP Authors. Each week one of us would write the next chapter in the story. I was one of the participants. I enjoyed seeing how unique each of our writing voices were, but how they all came together to tell a very interesting fantasy story about band of thieves brought together by greed and a righteous calling.

JR:  From what I gather on one of your recent blogs, you're a preacher's wife. How does that ministry and other activities you're in feed into your writing and vice versa?
MB:  As a pastor’s wife, much of my life is immersed in the Christian world, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. One of my observations in ministry is that sometimes we as Christians define ourselves more by where we go (name of church) or what we do (name of ministry) than by who we are (followers of Christ).

It is this idea that made me want to write a world where I ask questions like:

  • What is a Christian really?
  • What does it mean to follow God?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • What if we saw people the way God does: broken and full of darkness?
As far as balancing both ministry and writing (as well as being a mother and wife), it comes down to priorities for me. My family is first. Then writing and ministry. I have had to learn how to say no to things. I can’t do it all. It also takes me longer to write a book (I write a book a year). But in the end, it is worth it.

JR:  What's next on the agenda, both with writing and other wise?
MB:  I am currently working on the third and last book for the Follower of the Word series. Then I am planning on working on a whole new series that is set in a steampunk world (steampunk is a work of either science fiction or fantasy that usually takes place in an alternate history of 19th century Victorian era or American “Wild West” where steam is the main source of power). Mine will be a fantasy set in the Victorian Era that revolves around the lives of a bounty hunter and a young woman from high society.

JR:  Thank you for your time, Morgan. Could you direct us to your webpage, as well as where those who miss your blogging on Hoosier Ink can go to get their fix?
MB:  Thank you, Jeff, for your wonderful interview. Here are places people can find me:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Case of the Sneaky Cook

If you want to get something published, it doesn't hurt to be Jerry Seinfeld's wife. At least that's what Missy Lapine apparently thought when her idea to sneak healthy ingredients into children's foods showed up in a cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld. And when an imprint of the same house that had recently turned down Lapine's The Sneaky Chef published Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious, Lapine was convinced that Harper Collins and Seinfeld had stolen Lapine's idea.

So Lapine sued--and lost.

As Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun. That's why ideas belong to everyone and cannot be copyrighted. Sneaking healthy ingredients into children's food is an idea. There was no evidence that Seinfeld or Harper Collins got the concept from Lapine's manuscript, but they were acting legally if they did.

Beyond the basic idea, the two cookbooks were very different. As the judge described it, The Sneaky Chef covered thirteen methods for sneaking healthy ingredients into children's foods, was printed in muted colors, and was dry and text-heavy with a lecturing tone. In contrast, the judge said that Deceptively Delicious concentrated on one method (pureeing), was bright and cheerful, and provided simple, step-by-step recipe instructions for busy parents.

But if you can't copyright ideas, what can you copyright? You copyright expression, which covers the words you choose to present the idea and the way you arrange those words. (The exception is when there are limited ways to say something, such as describing how to make a particular recipe.)

Still, how do you know where the courts draw the line between ideas and expression? Find out next month when I cover the case of the aging protagonist.

* * * * *

Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Her new book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013) is available from and other retailers. Kathryn is also the author of In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court's First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion (FaithWalk Publishing 2006) and numerous articles. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Word Count and Stephen King

by Rachael Phillips
Today my word count will multiply like dandelions.
Like the amorous rabbits who devour my newly sprouted green beans.
Like the number of unanswered e-mails in my exponential account.
Well, all right, I’ll answer the important ones.
Ninety minutes later, I’ve subtracted twenty-five from eleven thousand and two.
And I’ve liked all the people who already finished their books.

Today’s word count stands at zero.
Well, actually at negative two.
I deleted an adjective from yesterday’s writing.
I wrote “The” to start today’s chapter,
Then decided that if the previous seventeen began with “The,”
I should start the eighteenth some other way.
Not that I’ve completed three-fourths of my book—
I’ve rewritten chapter one seventeen times.

Today my word count will multiply like the screamers
Who inhabit the neighboring school playground
Like the phone calls from telemarketers who can’t speak English
Like the lawnmowers in my neighborhood with arrhythmia
Parked outside my window.
Along with four dozen cars suffering from spastic car alarms and
Three off-key ice cream trucks.

I usually don't read Stephen King because his stories
Make me want to hide under the sofa.
However, he once said something to the effect that
Writers are like oysters. Oysters do not create pearls
By going to pearl-making conferences,
They make pearls by turning life’s irritations into something beautiful.

True, and quite poetic. At the rate
Irritations are multiplying today,
My word count should grow enough to
String necklaces for the entire population of Indiana,
Plus one,
Which I will send to Stephen King.

However, the pearl-making miracle hasn’t happened today,
At least, not to me.
How about you?












Monday, May 20, 2013

Is It All In A Name? by JoAnn Durgin

Are you of the “Writers are Born” camp or the “Writers are Made” camp? If it’s possible, I stand firmly in the middle. It’s my opinion the good Lord gives us the desire to write and the ability to fashion a story. I also believe it’s up to us to take the germ of talent He gives us and cultivate and nurture it in order to see it grow.

One key thing I’ve noticed since becoming a published author is this: the aspiring writers getting published in Christian fiction these days are the individuals who’ve made themselves known. How do they do this? If you’re an author hoping to be published, I hope you might glean something of interest and/ or helpful in your writing journey. But always remember you are a writer, published or not. The following list is comprised of my own personal observations. Feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions. I'd love to see a free exchange of ideas.

Here’s some of the things I’ve noticed pre-pubbed authors doing in order to make themselves known in the industry:

•Make a commitment to writing and improving their craft—and stick with it (including editing, revising and reworking as much or as often as necessary).

•Find critique partners.

•Submit queries on a regular basis (and proposals/manuscripts when requested).

•Join online writing groups and organizations (including participating in online classes).

•Join a local writing group and attend meetings.

•Network and form solid friendships and relationships with fellow writers and others in the publishing industry via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other media outlets.

•Visit and make comments on blogs.

•Maintain a website and/or blog and post regularly.

•Enter contests.

•Attend at least one conference a year and meet with editors, agents and/or publishers.

•Volunteer at conferences.

•Read books.

•Review books.

•Offer to be a beta reader or promote an author’s new release.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Helpful hints or suggestions? I’m not saying you have to do any or all of these things, but if you can employ one or more of these activities, they will help you to grow and stretch as a writer, whether you're not yet published or published.

Most published authors are also more than willing to help aspiring writers achieve their dream. They can give encouragement, add a new perspective, give you suggestions and answer questions. Reach out to them. Ask questions on the e-mail loops of the ACFW or any other online writing group. We’re all in this journey together.

Blessings to you as you write for His glory.

JoAnn Durgin
Matthew 5:16

JoAnn is the author of The Lewis Legacy Series, contemporary Christian romantic adventures, published by Torn Veil Books. She also published a Christmas 2012 novella, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, with Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing and a short story in I Choose You, a romance anthology from Oak Tara. A full-time estate administration paralegal in Louisville, Kentucky, JoAnn lives with her family in her native southern Indiana. She is a member of the ACFW and its Indiana chapter as well as the Louisville Christian Writers.




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ten Ways to Know if You’re an Introvert ~ Quiet Book Review

Hi, my name is Meghan, and I’m an introvert.

“Hi, Meghan.”

Welcome to Introverts Anonymous. It’s the perfect group for you because most introverts do, in fact, wish to remain anonymous.

First, though, ten characteristics of introverts to help you know if you’re in the right group. {And please note that everyone is different. In fact, there are no set-in-stone definitions of introvert and extrovert.}

Introverts ~

  1. Prefer lower levels of stimulation, such as reading a book or having a one-on-one conversation with a close friend or family member.
  2. Work more slowly and deliberately than extroverts.
  3. Have significant powers of concentration.
  4. Are not as drawn to the lure of wealth or fame.
  5. Listen more than talk.
  6. Prefer to work alone.
  7. Often feel as if they express themselves better when writing than when speaking.
  8. Feel uncomfortable with small talk.
  9. Avoid conflict.
  10. Avoid risk.
How did you do?

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking details a fascinating history of the rise of psychology and what I would call the idolatry of personality. It is so easy to become immersed in the nitty-gritty of why people are the way they are, but caution must be exercised or one personality “type” will soon be elevated as superior. This, in fact, is exactly what the author says has happened ~ the rise of the Extrovert Ideal.

Yet, introverts have a lot to offer such as attention to detail, thorough analysis, and a steady manner in communication. The American ideal of extroversion has convinced our culture to overlook the contributions of introverts, though, much to our detriment. Much of our modern way of life is the result of the deep thinking and innovation of introverts. Is the author right? I think so, but I would love to hear your opinion.

The writing is superb, and the author includes many personal anecdotes as well as incidents of famous introverts in a story-telling manner, relieving the book from having a research-paper feel. It is not a Christian book from a CBA publisher, so there are many mentions of evolution, secularism, and politics. However, if you can bypass that, Quiet is well worth the read. You will come away from it understanding and accepting your own introversion better or the introversion of a spouse or child. You won’t want to miss the last fifty pages or so about living as or with an introvert.

Above all, I’m reminded that, no matter whether introvert or extrovert, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator.

Q4U ~ Are you an introvert? Or are you married to an introvert? What do you think introverts have to offer? I’d love to read your take on introversion in the comments, and I’ll respond to each one.


 Meghan Carver is a 2013 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the author of several articles and short stories. After achieving a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Millikin University and completing a brief stint in immigration law, Meghan heard God calling her to be at home. Now homeschooling her six children with her college professor husband, Meghan has returned to her first love of writing. She blogs about homeschooling and homemaking at

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Hey! Stop that!! I'm exclaiming here!!!"

Don't make this your brand.
Exclamation marks. They serve a vital function. But just as a child can overdose when spooning sugar onto his breakfast cereal, authors can insert too many !!!'s.

Of course, no professional writer uses more than one exclamation point at the end of a statement. In Facebook posts or text messages, there's no shame in writing, "A truck just rammed my car!!!" or "Jonny, don't forget to feed the dog!!" But in writing for publication, two or more is overkill and is a time-honored way of announcing, "I'm an amateur."

"Sure, I know that," you think. So you're tempted to stop reading this post. Don't. Let me share a personal experience that may prove helpful.

When I considered my latest YA manuscript ready for a critique, I contacted a fellow author who has proven herself to be a sharp-eyed critique partner. Tucked among her suggestions for improving my story was this observation: "There are way too many exclamation points--this is something that ha been driven home to me time and time again."

I thought, "Oh? All right then. I'll change a few exclamation marks to periods." I opened my doc, clicked the "Replace" feature and set to work tracking down nothing but exclamation marks. What I discovered shocked me. Her note had been an understatement. I truly did find far too many exclamation marks. Many of them changed to periods without losing any punch at all. In fact, in a quick-paced, action-packed chapter, exclamations must be used more sparingly than you're tempted to do. Otherwise, you simply knock the reader down with too shouts.

For instance, consider the scene after a battle. A soldier bends over a falled commander and feels his wrist. When the soldier finds a pulse, sure, you could make him blurt, "He's alive!" to those huddled around them. On the other hand, if you've already written lots of shouting and orders during the battle, you might want him to say the same words as a statement of relief--"He's alive.--before staunching the blood flow and beginning First Aid.

Another way to trim down the number of exclamation marks is to combine sentences or phrases. Instead of writing, "Bill! Don't shoot him!" simply change the first ! to a comma: "Bill, don't shoot him!"

You don't even need exclamation marks to make a powerful statement. Consider this cliffhanger line at that concludes one of my chapters: “Tell me, impudent little fool, if I give you a choice, is there any particular way you would like to die?” Whoa. Unusual question, right? I could have made the lady speaking these words yell them in anger. However, the low-key, subtle approach really is more effective.

So here's my suggestion as part of your self-editing process. Place your cursor on page one, start the"Find" feature, and scrutinize every exclamation mark. Is it truly necessary? Or are you weakening their effectiveness by overusing them?

Question: Maybe your !'s are under control, but do you OD on other punctuation? A love affair with question marks? Cancer of the semicolon? Do you dash all over your pages? Or maybe abundant ellipses make it look like G.I. Joe targeted your story with a machine gun? Spotting such problems is the first step to eliminating them.

Rick Barry is the author of over 200 published short stories and articles, plus two novels. Visit his personal blog at

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What a Solid Person Taught Me This Week

One never knows where a teacher might turn up. I found one in the pages of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. A Ghost, a well-known painter in his earthly life, comes via bus from Hell to Heaven. There a Solid Person meets him and does all he can to persuade his guest to stay. What follows is their conversation, condensed and altered for us writers. We’re not Ghosts but there might be something in it for us.

Why didn’t I think to bring my things so I could tell all this?

Solid Person:
I shouldn’t bother yet. There is nothing in the world to tell us. For now, we see better than you do. When you’ve grown into a Person—it’s alright; we all had to do it—then there’ll be some things you see better than anyone else. You’ll want to tell us about them. But not yet.

Come and see.

But I’ve had my look. How soon do you think I could begin telling my story?

Solid person:
If you’re interested in the story only for the sake of telling it, you’ll never learn to know its meaning. 

Come and feed.

Here the Solid Person takes the lead.

Solid person:
Your first love was Beauty itself. You loved to write only as a means of telling about beauty. What happened?

One grows out of that. One becomes more interested in writing for its own sake.

Solid Person:
Pens, plots and words are necessary but they are also dangerous stimulants. But for Grace, every writer is drawn away by them and taken down. Beware the slippery slope when love of Beauty shifts to love of telling. It will sink lower, to a love of one’s personality and then to a love of one’s reputation. Finally, in Deep Hell, writers cannot be interested in God Himself but only in what they say about Him.

Come and drink from the fountain.

When you have drunk its clear, cold water you will be cured of any inflammation. You forget forever all proprietorship in your own works. You enjoy them just as if they were someone else’s: without pride and without modesty.

The lesson leads to an invitation to something—indeed, Someone—far greater than the painter, or a writer, might seek: “He [who] is endless.”

Friday, May 10, 2013

"A Noble Groom" by Jody Hedlund - A Writer's Review by Member Blogger Dawn Crandall

Jody Hedlund does it every single time.

She impresses me. Yes, Dawn Crandall, the virtually un-impressible. And yet she does it... every single time.

With that said, she doesn’t have nearly enough books out! This is only her fourth published novel (with Bethany House), and in my opinion, there aren’t too many authors out there who write half so well.

Also, before I start in on what I loved SO MUCH about the inside of this book, I have to add that A Noble Groom has THE BEST COVER EVER. I don’t often like covers with the hero of the book pictured, especially without the heroine involved at all! But this one went so well with the blurb about the book. Everything about it was perfect: the farm, the wind, the clouds, the suit, the cravat, the colors, the look on his face... everything about it matched everything inside the book to perfection.

I really don’t know how exactly Jody makes reading about two mismatched people working on a farm in the middle of nowhere Michigan in 1880/1881—speaking German (hypothetically) to one another no less—so enthralling. But like I said, she does it every time, no matter what she’s writing about.

You know, on second thought, maybe I do know what it is. It’s her characters. Their emotions are so true, their thoughts so amazingly accurate. The situations they find themselves in... so complexly and perfectly orchestrated.

Both Annalisa Werner and Carl von Reichart have so much to learn throughout the pages of this book; about themselves and about each other, as well as about life in general. Although they’re both German immigrants from an area called Saxony, they are from extreme opposite worlds. Annalisa is the widow of a mean-hearted peasant farmer who’s family had relocated to America six years before because of the severe work conditions in Saxony... and Carl, the wrongly-accused fugitive, who happens to (secretly) be the son of the over-bearing Baron who caused the death of Annalisa’s older brother which resulted in her entire family immigrating to America in the first place.

Talk about complex! Although I did begin reading this book the first moment I had it in my grasp (and after, literally, stalking my mailman everyday waiting for it to arrive!), I did not end up reading it quickly. Partly because I simply didn't want it to end and partly because there were so many points in the book that I just had to stop reading so I could digest what all was (or at times, what wasn’t!) going on within and between these two characters. There were also all of the times when I felt that all was lost, and I had no idea how Carl and Annalisa were ever going to end up together by the end of the book....


Then I finally read the last twenty percent as quickly as possible because I couldn’t stand not to any longer.

And then I sighed again, and again, and again. (Haha, that’s especially for Jody and anyone else who might have read the book already).

Now every time I see the cover of the book pictured anywhere, I simply sigh and say, “Oh, yes... that book. That wonderful book.”

I blessedly received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I give Jody Hedlund’s A Noble Groom 5 (million) stars. 


Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of The Doctors Lady and The Preachers Bride. She won the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.  

Find out more about Jody at

To read specifically about her tips on writing these enthralling characters of hers, click here. 


Read all of Jodys amazing and BEAUTIFUL books! I promise, you wont be disappointed. 



Dawn Crandall writes long inspirational historical and contemporary romantic suspense from first person point of view and is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. All three of her manuscripts have made it to the semi-final round of the ACFW Genesis Contest. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive husband, Jonathan, and her two cats, Lilly and Pumpkin. 

Visit Dawn’s author page at, or her facebook author page at  She also hosts a book review blog at and tweets those reviews at @dawnwritesfirst.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Writer's Day

In learning my way around marketing gadgets, gimmicks and gurus, I've toyed around with a lot of infographic makers and presentation templates. There's a learning curve to be sure, but I think in this digital, visual age we live in, it's going to become an important part of a writer's career. That is, communicating with fans visually.

Here is my presentation about a Writer's Day.

One reason infographics are a good marketing tool is that if you include your URL on them, and they go viral (people re-post them),they can lead people back to your website.

 If you want to see more infographics and steal them from my blog, please do so! Click here.

 Karla Akins is author of the best-selling Jacques Cartier (that went #1 on Amazon in its category)O Canada! Her Story and  Sacagawea. Her debut novel The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots  is due out August 9, 2013When she's not writing she dreams of riding her motorcycle through the Smoky Mountains.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Originality? Maybe You're Trying Too Hard

I love to read an author who's truly an original, don't you? Perhaps that's why writing conferences devote so much time to techniques for developing our own "voice." It may also explain how we get trapped in a ceaseless round of rewrites, trying so hard to say something in a fresh way.

I recently came across a comment by C.S. Lewis that pulled me up short. Here's his "take" on original writing:
No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work's sake, and what men call originality will come unsought.--"Membership," quoted by Patricia S. Klein, ed., A Year with C.S. Lewis, April 29.
Faithfulness to the Lord demands that we invest every story with the best efforts of which we are capable; but when we obsess about giving the story our own unique "brand," we shift the object of our faithfulness--to ourselves!

Lewis' comment reminds me of the time a friend tried to teach me golf. Having never played golf before, I needed to start at the most basic level, so he took me to a driving range and began giving a series of instructions: Stand this way...grip the club that way...turn your shoulders, but not your head, etc. I eventually grazed the ball with my club. I kept on trying, and my friend kept on instructing, until he finally said, "You're being too self-conscious. Forget about yourself and just hit the ball." When I did that, it flew down the range.

"Try to tell the truth as you see it," Lewis advises. "Try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work's sake." In other words, forget about yourself and keep your eye on the "ball," story that needs to be told. Then originality will take care of itself.

Joe Allison and his wife, Judy, live in Anderson IN, where Joe serves as Coordinator of Publishing for Church of God Ministries, Inc. Joe has several nonfiction books in print, including Swords and Whetstones: A Guide to Christian Bible Study Resources. He's currently writing a trilogy of Christian historical novels set in the Great Depression.

Visit Joe's blog at

Friday, May 3, 2013

Interview with Prolific Author Lynette Eason

By Jeff Reynolds

Today, my guest is Lynette Eason. She is the author of several books -- I'll let her tell about them. I'm enjoying reading one of her books, When A Heart Stops (book two of her Deadly Reunions series).

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome to the blog, Lynette. I trust you’re having a blessed day. If I read correctly, did you publish your first book in 2007? What got you interested in writing?

Lynette Eason: Thanks for having me, Jeff. And I am having a great day.  You read correctly. I got the call on February 16th, 2007 that Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense editors, Krista Stroever and Emily Rodmell, wanted to publish what would become Lethal Deception. Lethal Deception released in February 2008. It was a LONG year! LOL. As for what got me interested in writing, I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband travelled with his job. Needless to say, I was lonely quite a bit of the time and so I decided to keep myself company with my imaginary friends. <G> My daughter was nine months old when I started writing, so when she slept, I wrote. And with my husband gone quite a bit, I had a lot of time to pound out the story. At first, I wrote just because it was something to fill the hours. Then I started learning more about what writing a novel was all about thanks to a mentor named Dee Henderson and by the time I finished the first book, I wanted to see if I could get published. Eight years later, it happened.

JR: While math is usually a good subject for me, I lost count. How many books do you have currently published? Do you work on just one book at a time?

LE: LOL. I’ve kind of lost count, too. And I don’t mean that in an arrogant sort of way. I really don’t bother to keep up with the number because it’s not very important to me.  BUT, for those who want to know, I’ll figure it out. I have six books out with Revell (counting WHEN A SECRET KILLS releasing May 1) and fourteen out with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. I also have a short ebook out with Revell called GONE IN A FLASH. It’s a continuation of the Women of Justice series. I have six more books still contracted with Revell that I need to write and I have eight more books with Love Inspired Suspense (I’ve already written two which will be out later this year.) I also just finished a 10,000 word short read for Harlequin which will be a free online read. It will span a period of four weeks, one chapter per day for twenty chapters. So, yes, if you want to read the whole thing, you have to log in every day for twenty days. Ha. So, how many is that? 6+14 = 20 books out, 14 in the pipeline, 1 short ebook and the online read. I think that about covers it.

I’m usually writing at least two books at a time—one for Revell and one for Love Inspired Suspense. And I’m working on something that’s just fun for me (not very often and not usually for very long due to my paying obligations, but…) so right now, it’s two books and a third upon occasion. I also fit the online read in the schedule last month.

JR: You have finished the Women of Justice series and Deadly Reunions series and currently are working on the Hidden Identity series: Could you tell us about your latest offering? Also, do you have any other recent releases?

LE: Yes, I’m so glad to have those two series finished. The last book in the Deadly Reunions series releases on May 1, 2013! Woohoo! I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail for the cliffhanger endings in the first two books! LOL. I’m very glad to wrap everything up and satisfy my readers’ curiosity.

Then the first book in the Hidden Identity series will release in the spring of 2014. The title is No One To Trust. It will deal with the Witness protection program and the lives of those are affected by crime and the effort to stay alive while putting the bad guys behind bars. There will be two more books in the series after that. I’ve also just sold another series to Revell to be release in the coming years. I’m very excited about that series that will deal with female bodyguards. The research has been so much fun.

On the Love Inspired front, I have two books coming out this year. One in August called Hide and Seek and one in December called Christmas Cover Up.

JR: Your website mentions you are a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the Romance Writers of America (RWA), and Faith, Hope, and Love (FHL). How do each of these groups help your writing, and what is your involvement with them? Also, I'd like to hear about what FHL is.

LE: They are all professional writers groups. Each group has different advantages and offerings. One being they all offer contests for published and unpublished authors. In 2006, I placed second in the Touched By Love contest offered by Faith Hope and Love group. FHL is a part of the Romance Writers of America organization and is the Inspirational division. RWA has the prestigious RITA contest for published authors and the Golden Heart contest for the unpublished. All are just really great organizations with members who are fabulous about helping new authors get off the ground.

JR: Your husband Jack has an interesting sounding ministry. Could you tell us about him? How do your ministries complement each other, and how do you manage to keep from heading in two (or more) different directions all the time?

LE: Jack is multi-faceted. It’s hard to know where to start. LOL. He is a professional fundraiser for Christian radio stations all over the country so his job entails a lot of travel. He also is the director of the Pursuit conference ( which is a conference for high school to college age students who believe God is calling them into full time ministry. The conference has ministers from all areas of ministry there to answer questions and empower these young people to be present and future ministers.

However, to answer your next question, because of his many contacts in radio, he’s able to get radio interviews for me, etc. He takes at least several copies of my books to every radio station he goes to and hands them out. Sometimes they even use them as giveaways in order to entice people to make a donation to the station. Jack also has me share at his conferences about how writing is a ministry and what to expect if you want to write full time and be published.

Jack’s also very involved in music himself. He played keyboard in a band and is often asked to do music for youth groups and camps. As far as making sure we’re on the same page (pun intended), we simply make time to sit down and discuss what needs to be discussed. We do the bills on Saturday or Sunday afternoon before he has to be somewhere on Monday. We Skype a lot, email, text, chat online, etc. We just make the time. It’s just making the effort to keep it all together, you know? Sometimes it’s crazy (okay, most of the time), but we manage to make it all work. To put it simply: It’s a God thing.

JR: Between your writing, you and Jack's ministry, and your involvement with the three groups, I'm sure you have an occasional opportunity to minister. Have your readers let you know what impact your stories have, or any ministry you've had with the members of your groups (such as being hostess for ACFW's Romantic Suspense loop?

LE: I consider my writing the full time ministry God has called me to. It’s a different ministry, as opposed to serving in a church or on the mission field in Africa or something, but it’s still definitely ministry. I get emails all the time about how my books have touched lives or just kept a lonely person company. It’s a real blessing to hear those comments from readers.

JR: Thank you very much for your time. Please pass along your webpage so we can follow you.

LE: My website is: and I’m SO EXCITED that it’s going to be getting a complete overhaul soon! Readers can also find me on Facebook at and twitter: @lynetteeason.
Jeff Reynolds, addressing the reader:
I hope you enjoyed this interview. Is Lynette's prolific bibliography something that intimidates you as a writer, or an encouragement to keep plugging? Like Lynette's writing, do you see what you're doing as full time ministry? Any other source of inspiration through this interview?