Thursday, August 17, 2017

Where Are the FUNCTIONAL Families ? by Linda Sammaritan



Remember those good old TV shows from the Fifties? Andy Griffith, Leave It to Beaver, The Lone Ranger, and a host of others? Today’s viewers say, “Boring. No conflict. Not enough action.”

Excuse me? While superheroes didn’t bounce out of the sky and smash a city to individual cinder blocks, the characters in those programs faced real problems and taught children how to solve them. In many family comedies, Dads led their wives and children through a jungle of moral decisions. The parents, as a team, guided their children toward wisdom, unlike many of the buffoons in today’s sitcoms.

Take Eddie Haskell, a problem that never stopped. Wally and the Beaver didn’t like him, but they treated him with grace. Their parents told them to, they obeyed, and further conflict was averted. At least, until Eddie tried something else, and the cycle repeated.

Or Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith’s son. I remember an episode where he had to choose: prepare to fight the bully for what was right, or join the crowd to do wrong. Thanks to his father’s consistent example, Opie chose to stand for righteousness.



Dennis the Menace entertained us with his inept efforts to be helpful, and his generous heart taught children like me to love our neighbors. His parents were often at a loss as to how to handle what Dennis might get into next, but they always explained to their son how he might have done things differently with less disastrous results.

Even westerns taught Judeo Christian morality. In The Rifleman, a father taught his son right and wrong and to use violence as a last resort to save other lives. The Lone Ranger never looked for credit for his good deeds. The rescued asked, “Who was that masked man?” as he rode into the sunset. Lessons in humility.

I want the same lessons of goodness in the books I read where characters solve problems in an honorable manner. It’s why I prefer the classics, books that contain intact families who love each other and face conflicts together. I get so tired of the dysfunctional families and missing parents in today’s literature. As an experiment, I went through the archives of my book reviews and checked the family situations in each of the books I’ve featured. I was dismayed by the results:

Dysfunctional Family/Missing Parent  22; Loving, Intact Family 11.

 Even if I discount the handful of books written past 1990, earlier authors also use the lack of a good parent as an integral part of the conflict for the child protagonist.  I love each one of these stories, but I’m saddened by that reality.



Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars is a case in point. Thirteen-year-old Sara lives with her snarky teenage sister, her little brother Charlie, and their aunt. Their mother died; their dad split. Charlie has unnamed developmental disabilities. Today we might say he’s on the autism spectrum. Sara loves Charlie; she hates his neediness. She hates herself as many young adolescents do. The novel is beautiful and character-driven with a flawed protagonist who finally realizes she loves her brother as he is.

Most of the events in the plot could have been accomplished with a mom and dad still around. Two parents could have struggled together in dealing with Charlie’s eccentricities, and teens in their struggle for independence get in grand funks even when they grow up in wonderful, loving homes.

Strong families are not exempt from ongoing crises. I’m currently writing a fictionalized memoir covering the first five years of my little sister’s life. Our parents enjoyed a solid marriage, and they had to cope with the uncertainties of raising a profoundly deaf child. Heartbreaking events occurred, and comical episodes still made life fun. We were strong. We were together.

This is what I feel called to do in my writing, to glorify God with stories of family who strive together to overcome the obstacles in their path as they journey through life, pilgrims on the way to the Promised Land.



www.lindasammaritan.com

Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft. She still visits the school and teaches creative writing workshops.



Where Linda can be found on the web: 

                                           

 



Saturday, August 12, 2017

5 Ways Authors Can Enhance Author/Editor Collaboration

by Jean Kavich Bloom

Most writers care about their readers, and editors do too. Editors also value authors' caring about collaboration with their editors. Here are five ways I think authors can enhance the author/editor relationship. (Next month I'll share what I think editors can do to enhance that collaboration.) 

1.     Acknowledge an editor's expertise. If an editor has a proven, positive record within the publishing and author communities, that reputation deserves recognition. Not as a pat on the back, but as a springboard for great collaboration with you. Professional editors aren’t (or should not be) out to change voice or make manuscripts their own. They’re commissioned to boost the effectiveness of authors' writing and help them connect with their readers, and they work hard to do that. 

2.     Consider every editing suggestion. One level of editing is strictly about correct spelling, grammar, and so on. Other editing levels—especially in macro or line editing—include what I call “suggestion” editing. In other words, the editor sees ways a writer can improve or enhance the work, and not just for the sake of change or in a willy-nilly fashion. I recommend taking those suggestions seriously, with careful consideration. Sometimes authors say, “At first that idea seemed like hogwash, and then I thought about it.” But…

3.    Be upfront and honest. If you don’t like the way an edit is going, don’t like a suggested edit, or have any other issue with an editor, say so. Sometimes a glitch reveals the editor is not a good match for you, but many times an editor will simply adjust how she or he is going about the edit or how suggestions are communicated, to (within reason) better accommodate your personality or preferences. Some flexibility is required on both sides of almost any relationship.

4.    Express appreciation—if warranted. Just as a writer values words of encouragement from editors, editors value words of encouragement from authors. A time or two, I’ve been surprised to be asked to edit a second work by an author because they were so silent about my first edit. I thought they probably weren’t too thrilled with my work for some reason and would want someone else next time. Even a simple, “Thanks. You did a good job,” makes a difference.

5.     Consider acknowledgment in the final product or a recommendation. I’ve written before about why I think acknowledgments pages in books are important, and that includes acknowledging all the editors involved, as long as the thanks are genuine. Now, some publishers might not allow mentioning all participating editors for one reason or another, but I can tell you this simple act can be meaningful for editors, both personally and professionally.

       A word about freelance editors: Most of us have professional websites with a Recommendations or Endorsements page. I try to bravely ask authors I think have appreciated my work for a blurb on my “Author Testimonies” page, but for me, it takes working up the courage to do so. If an author asked, “How can I recommend your work?” I’d be over the moon! And anytime an author endorses my work by word of mouth, that's wonderful too. If you work with a freelance editor you like, consider how you might give a boost to his or her business.

If you have a great collaborative relationship with a writer as an editor, or with an editor as a writer, what do you think makes the most difference? Please share!

Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries
(Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with nearly thirty years' experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she sometimes posts articles about the writing life. She is also a contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, have three children and five grandchildren.

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=155174&picture=unity-is-us

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Secular Markets for Christian Stories

If the short story is your forte, consider submitting your work to secular magazines that look for high-quality stories with wholesome values. While denominational magazines are disappearing, secular magazines (both print and electronic) are multiplying, so this is a growing opportunity. 

You’ll find detailed information in the Writer’s Marketplace and other sources, but here’s a sampling of secular  magazines you might try:

Adventure Cyclist
Adventure Cycling Association
P.O. Box 8308
Missoula MT 59807
Fax: (406)721-8754
E-mail: magazine@adventurecycling.org
Website: www.adventurecycling.org/adventure-cyclist

Published 9 times a year, this magazine targets bicyclists who like to tour scenic places. They’re looking for inspirational stories of 1,000-3,000 words that spur interest in bicycling adventures. Payment ranges from $700 to $1,200 per story.

Country Woman
Trusted Media Brands, Inc.
1610 N. 2nd St. - Suite 102
Milwaukee WI 53212
Phone: (414)423-0100
E-mail: submissions@countrywomanmagazine.com
Website: www.countrywomanmagazine.com
This bi-monthly magazine looks for short-short stories (700-1,000 words) with “a positive, upbeat message” featuring country women as their heroines. The editor “would buy more fiction if stories suitable for our audience were sent our way.”

Friction Zone
44489 Town Center Way
Suite D497
Palm Desert CA 92260
Phone: (951)751-0442
E-mail: amy@friction-zone.com
Website: www.friction-zone.com
With a circulation of 25,000, this monthly magazine for motorcyclists wants inspirational short stories featuring motorcycles. Ideal length is 1,000-2,000 words and payment is 20¢ per word.

Woman’s World
Bauer Publishing
270 Sylvan Ave.
Englewood Cliffs NJ 07632
Phone: (201)569-6699
Fax: (201)569-3584
E-mail: dearww@womansworldmag.com
You’re likely to find this weekly magazine at your local supermarket check-out lane. Each issue has a romance of 800 words that is “contemporary and realistic, handled with warmth and feeling.” Pays $1,000 upon acceptance. One successful freelancer hosts a blog that trains newcomers like to write for this market: http://womansworldstyle.blogspot.com/


None of these periodicals want preachy stories, but you can include natural expressions of Christian faith (prayer, references to Christ, etc.), so secular magazines may provide a wider readership for your work.




Joe Allison has been a member of the Indiana Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN. His non-fiction books include Setting Goals That Count and Swords and Whetstones.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

11 Reader Tips for Writers

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For new writers it can be tricky to know what to focus on. In a sea of rules and guidelines, what are the most important elements to perfect first? I always wonder what readers want to see in books, so I asked readers what they would tell new writers if they had the chance. This was a savvy group of responses. I hope you find it helpful!

Description:
  • One thing that is a drawback for me is if I feel like the writer could say something very simply, but I can tell that they are trying to use more words or fancier words, than are necessary. It is one thing to paint an image or convey an idea with strong vocabulary, but another if you are trying to force something that isn't really there... don't try to just fill a page or use complicated vocabulary if that doesn't come naturally to you. Think about your audience and think about how you would tell the story if you were "telling" it, instead of writing it.
  • Some descriptive detail is good but don't go overboard with it. The character development is a lot more important than a description of the room where they are.
  • The story and characters need to capture me in the first 20 pages.
  • I love many new authors, as they seem to take the time to really make each word count. The story is incredible. Sometimes the ones that don't focus on keeping the quality in their stories lose me. Have a picture of the story you want to share to others. Make the words describe it.
Dialogue:
  • Authentic conversation style for characters. I have read some very good stories, but when the conversation is too stilted and unnatural, even though it may be good grammar, it just doesn't feel real.
  • Good dialogue, action in beginning, less flowery language, super plots & believable characters!
Editing Matters!
  • That editing is everything! You can have a great story, but if it's not well-edited I'm going to trip up on mistakes and the flow will be interrupted.
  •  Make sure they are well-edited with no spelling errors, punctuation errors, etc. Have several people who are good proofreaders read it before publishing. If there are multiple errors in a book, it distracts me from the story.
  • Spelling , Spelling, Spelling! I detest reading a decent story when there are so many mispelled words!
Characters:
  • Believable characters with believable feelings.
  • Personally, I struggle reading books written in first person. As a result, when I find a book is in first person, I'm loathe to delve into it.
Come back next week for more tips. If you're a reader, what would you add to this list to encourage newer writers about what you love to see in books?

An award-winning author of more than twenty books, Cara is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.