Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #199

Amanda Luedeke, a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, gives 7 ways to build a platform through blogging.

Writers: How are you building your platform?

Readers: What is your favorite way to connect with authors and find the latest releases?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cathy Gohlke - Author Interview & Giveaway - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our interview and giveaway with Christy Award winning author, Cathy Gohlke. Check out the giveaway details at the end of the interview.

3) Cathy, do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Read, write the best book/article/short story/feature/poem you can at this time in your journey, then revise, work hard, and expect the road to be long and bumpy. Embrace those bumps, twists and turns as gifts from a loving Heavenly Father. They're in your unique path, as they were and are in mine, to learn something valuable--something that will not only make each of us better, stronger people and better, stronger writers, but able to write with the unique voice we've been given.

Take full advantage of the opportunities within your grasp, learn from those who've gone before and from those who are willing to walk beside you. Never-NEVER-compare your work or opportunities with those of others--it is futile, and/or discouraging, and/or leads to pride that knows a sharp-ended timeline.

Share your gifts, bless others with your writing, and stay the course. Surrender each day to theCreator of days, and each opportunity--for joy or sorrow, trusting Him for the results.

If you decide this is more than you want to bite off, there is no shame. There are ways upon ways to honor God with your life, to live out who He created you to be, to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel," and to "love one another." Know the difference between "I should do this" and "I'm made alive by doing this!"

6) I'm already looking forward to another Cathy Gohlke book.What's next on your agenda?

Band of Sisters, which will release in September, was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery, and most of all to ask, "what can I do to help in a need so desperate?"

Here is a summary:

Maureen O'Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised their father over twenty years before.

But after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their NYC benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died, and his family, refusing to own hisCivil War debt, casts her out.

Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Despite her family's disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father's debt, but can't find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, who Olivia sees as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he's hiding.

As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading, or the love that might bring?

Thank you, Cathy, for doing this interview.

Thank you so much for having me, Susan. It's been my pleasure and joy to spend time with you and your readers!

Disclosure: The author provided her book for purposes of review. The opinions I've expressed, as usual, are totally mine.

Giveaway Details:
1) The giveaway is open to Followers and new Followers of Christian Writer/Reader Connection, who reside in the United States. The drawing is void where prohibited.

2) Leave a comment on this post with your email address. Next Wednesday, you'll have an opportunity to comment for another entry. If you mention the giveaway on your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, I'll give you another entry for each one as long as you inform me in your comment here.

3) The deadline is midnight, Saturday, March 31, 2012. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, April 1, 2012, and notified via email. I'll also make an announcement on the blog on Sunday, April 1, 2012. When you send me your snail mail address, I'll forward it to Cathy, and she'll send you her book.

Question for Writers: Did you find a nugget to help in your writing journey? Please share.

Question for Readers: What was your favorite part of the interview?

Monday, March 26, 2012

What's Your Style?

Photo: afasoulis

The publishing industry sometimes reminds me of a fortress with its imposing and almost impenetrable walls. Gatekeepers (agents) check our credentials (book proposal) to see if they're worthy of an audience with the king's representatives (editors). If we pass muster, our work is presented to those who have the ear of the potentate (publishing board).

How do we scale these walls? Here are a few styles I've observed over the years:

The writer suited up for battle:

1) Will pursue an agent/editor until they corner the hapless person and demand an audience.

2) Will "accidentally" trip the emergency button on the elevator, so they have their target captive for at least half an hour.

3) Will stalk their favorite agent/editor throughout a conference, hoping to gain inside information of how to locate a side entrance.

Photo: boquerones

The polite writer:

1) Keeps knocking on the castle door. Their theory centers around the logic that eventually someone will answer.

2) Follows the rules of etiquette when coming face to face with an agent/editor. They wouldn't think of approaching someone without a formal invitation (conference appointment).

3) Has 5,000 Facebook friends, a website, a blog, is on Twitter, and any other social media they hear about.

Photo: gworzdek

Photo: dsparil

The Mountain Climber:

1) Values slow, but steady, progress.

2) Works hard to improve their craft and put in seat-in-chair time.

3) Gives fellow writers a helping hand and values relationships.

4) Builds a platform without being obnoxious.

5) Prays for God's favor and is thankful for the opportunities He provides.

Writers:  Have you observed any other writer styles? Which writer style are you?

Readers: What traits endear you to authors?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #198

Earlier in the week, I mentioned attending the New York World's Fair. One of the venues matched young people with penpals in other countries. My penpal came from England. Today, we can write to people all over the planet with the touch of a button.

Jean Fischer, at Something To Write About, takes the mystery out of Facebook, including the new Facebook Timeline. She also gives information on setting up an Author Page.

Writers: Have you set up an Author Page yet? Please share your experience.

Readers: Did you ever have a penpal growing up? I mean the kind where you actually hand wrote letters. Where did they live?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway - Cathy Gohlke - Part 1

Cathy Gohlke and I met at a book signing event several years ago. We've become good friends, and I'm thrilled she took time out of her busy schedule to do this interview and giveaway.

I see the giveaway perked up your interest! Don't miss an opportunity to enter the drawing for her latest book, Promise Me This. Check out the details at the end of this post.

1) Welcome, Cathy! I notice you used multiple points of view in your latest story. How do you keep track of them? What prompted you to go that route rather than use one or two POV's?

Ah, you've hit upon one of my greatest challenges in writing this book. Both of my earlier books were written in first person, and I love the comfort of writing in that point of view. It's a natural storyteller's voice. But there were so many parts to this story--so many points of view needed to share the full experience--that writing in only one was out of the question.

Promise Me This is a picture of Christ's love story to the world--hence, Owen's viewpoint. It is also a picture of our response to Christ's unmerited gift of salvation--hence, the viewpoint of Michael, the young Titanic stowaway saved by Owen's grace and through his personal sacrifice. And then there is Annie, Owen's younger sister, whose viewpoint demonstrates our reluctance to forgive, even when we've been loved and forgiven. Annie shows through the experiences of her life, the differences between loving sacrificially, like Christ, and being coerced and guilted into serving.

Keeping track of these points of view, and even those of minor characters, was helped by thinking of all the characters as players upon a stage. The eye can only keep track of and the mind fully absorb one character's actions at a time. Everyone must be present--somewhere--and accounted for, but only one person can tell their story, until they relinquish the stage to another through (in novel form) new scenes or chapters or simply by changing points of view within a scene.

By allowing characters to speak freely, in their individual manner, the voices are distinguished. Once I begin "hearing" their unique voice and their perspective on the story, it's easier to see who needs to tell that portion of the story most.

2) We all like to hear about a writer's journey to publication. Would you tell us about how you landed a contract with your first book, William Henry Is A Fine Name?

When my novel was completed and as polished as I knew how to make it at the time, I looked up submission guidelines for publishers I thought likely to be interested. Following those guidelines, I submitted query letters and (if wanted) sample chapters to 23 ABA publishers.

My desire was to get a good book with strong moral content and that focused on a young person's ability to choose and stand by the consequences of his actions into schools and public libraries. I got a few bites, but no contracts. By the time most of my query letters were answered with rejections, I decided to try the CBA.

Not having an agent and unable to afford a Christian writers conference, I emailed The Writer's Edge, an on-line magazine that sends monthly listings of accepted books to Christian publishing houses. Details of my manuscript were listed in the magazine.

The idea was that if an editor saw something that piqued his/her interest, they would contact the author, and request the complete manuscript. Three editors contacted me, and after I showed myself willing and able to revise the manuscript, a contract was offered. I signed that contract on my 50th birthday--the beginning of a whole new life.

Giveaway Details:

1) The giveaway is open to Followers and new Followers of Christian Writer/Reader Connection, who reside in the United States. The drawing is void where prohibited.

2) Leave a comment on this post with your email address. Next Wednesday, you'll have an opportunity to comment for another entry. If you mention the giveaway on your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, I'll give you another entry for each one as long as you inform me in your comment here.

3) The deadline is midnight, Saturday, March 31, 2012. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, April 1, 2012, and notified via email. I'll also make an announcement on the blog on Sunday, April 1, 2012. When you send me your snail mail address, I'll forward it to Cathy, and she'll send you her book.

Disclosure: The author provided me with her book for review purposes. The opinions, as always, are totally my own.

Question for writers: What point of view is most comfortable for you as a writer and why?

Question for readers: What point of view do you prefer reading? Do you enjoy a character speaking in first person or getting into the head of many characters in a book?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Post - Christy-Award Winning Author, Cathy Gohlke

Today, we're welcoming Cathy Gohlke, author of two Christy-award winning books. Her latest novel, "Promise Me This," involved extensive research on the Titanic, its passengers, and the time period. I asked her to share her adventures and the development of this story. Here's Cathy.

Thank you so much, Susan! It's been an exciting journey.

Research for this book was fascinating! It began at a discount table in a bookstore, the moment I happened across a copy of a portion of Titanic's manifest, and found the name of a third class passenger, Owen George Allum, a London gardener sailing from Southampton, England.

My great-grandfather emigrated from England a few short years before Titanic sailed. Unable to find work as the gold-leaf artist he was, he embraced a lifelong hobby and was employed as a gardener for a wealthy Buffalo family. A Master gardener, he created beautiful arbors and arches of roses and developed new strains of flowers. I thought, what an interesting character those two combined would make!

I read a great many books on Titanic, poured over public inquiry records from America and England, toured exhibits in museums in America and Southampton, England, then trekked back and forth through Southampton, recreating as best I could the life of the ship's crew and their families (before and after the tragedy). I spent days in London absorbing its history, life, and atmosphere, as well as the story of John Bunyan's, "The Pilgrim's Progress," interesting features of Bunhill Cemetery, and Britain's experience in WWI.

I haunted a half dozen used bookstores tucked into the most intriguing places from Lincoln to London to  Southampton, then headed across the English Channel, saying good-bye to Dover's white cliffs and hello to Calais, France.

The next year, my husband, son, and I toured numerous WWI sites in France (east to west). In Berlin, Germany, our son flew home, and our daughter joined us for treks through Germany and Poland. Museums, historic sites, and individuals helped me flesh out the stories of each of my characters in ways I could not from this side of the Atlantic.

I read all of Charles Haas' work on Titanic and Lyn MacDonald's books on WWI. Digging up details of the American Ambulance Field Service in France was more challenging, but it was all pure joy.

When I finally returned to the U.S., I spent a few weeks in Cape May County, NJ (where I set Allen's Run gardens, modeled after Leaming's Run Gardens in Swainton). The Cape May County Historical Society staff and the Cape May County public librarians were wonderful companion sleuths, as was an elderly local historian.

Susan here. :) This post was originally part of the upcoming interview, but I wanted to give it prime space. While not all of us can travel far and wide, Cathy's research highlights some tools we can apply to our own writing experience.

Question for writers: What part of Cathy's research stood out to you? Please share some of your own favorite research tips.

Question for readers: How important is setting and time period in the books you read? Please elaborate.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #197

Formatting a manuscript can be a nightmare. Amanda Luedeke, a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, gives resources on preparing your manuscript for submission or uploading it to Kindle. There are 7 short videos by Jill Williamson that take you through the process step-by-step.

Writers:  What are the formatting problems that trip you up?

Readers: Do unusual fonts make reading more difficult for you? Please give an example.

Have a blessed weekend!

Picture credit: ba1969

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On My Nightstand - Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey

The Civil War meant loss for Faith Lindberg. With her father, brother, and Royal Baxter, the man she wanted to marry, taken from her, she yearns to travel west to Oregon and start a new life. Noble Springs, Missouri holds nothing but sorrowful memories.

The only thing stopping her plans is her grandfather. He's loathe to sell the family mercantile and leave the only home he's ever known.

When Royal Baxter shows up alive and well, she's overjoyed. He woos her with promises of moving west, but her grandfather is less than enthusiastic.

This was my first sampling of Ann Shorey's work, and I enjoyed it very much. She had me a nervous wreck by the end of the book, wondering what course Faith would take.

Question for Writers: Do you keep your readers biting their nails through the whole manuscript or give them a reprieve every now and then? Let's hear your thoughts.

Question for Readers: What kind of books do you prefer: those that keep your heart pumping faster than a high-speed train or something a little more relaxing? Why?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Little Foxes Spoil The Writing Vine

Like Red Riding Hood, we think the big, bad wolf presents the most danger to arriving at grandma's publishing house in one piece. Unfortunately, the little foxes can destroy our writing dreams.

As writers, we spazz over big stuff like getting an agent or editor. Does our story have the big emotional reaction, lots of tension, and multi-faceted characters? All of those things are important, but there are small things that can spoil our writing vine. Let's look at a few of them:

1) Writers Guidelines - ignore them and pay a hefty price. Agents and editors are looking for reasons to hand out rejections. When they receive material that doesn't meet their requirements, it's easy to send it to the circular file (wastebasket).

2)  Grammar & Spelling - If we don't have the basics down, publishing pros will assume our storytelling ability is also lacking.

3)  A Half-Baked Idea - Like a cake that's not quite done, this idea needs further development.

4)  Copying Other Writers - I once heard an author say, "God made you an original. Don't end life as a copy." It's one thing to admire the talents of others, but we need to develop our own voice.

5)  The Publishing Industry - It works in its own peculiar way. The more we know about how a book gets into print, the better the chances are we'll succeed.

Paying attention to the details will produce big dividends. It may mean the difference between an editor or agent tossing our manuscript aside or turning the page.

Writers: Can you think of other small things that can spoil your writing vine? Let's talk. :)

Readers: Does it drive you batty when authors produce awkward sentences or misuse words? Please give an example.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And The Winners Are...

Congratulations to:               KAREN LANGE
                                              JESSICA NELSON

Your names were drawn out of the bag for a copy of The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. You've been notified via email. Please send me your snail mail address, so I can forward them to Mindy.

Thanks to all who participated. We'll be having another giveaway soon.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #196

Nisa, at Wordplay, Swordplay, asks if you really want to create likeable characters. She uses a Charles Swindoll quote as a guideline.

Writers: How do you create likeable characters?

Readers: What traits bond you to a character?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway - Mindy Starns Clark - Part 2

Today, we'll continue our interview with Mindy Starns Clark, co-author of The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. Unfortunately, Leslie Gould, her co-author, was unable to participate at this time. Hopefully, we'll have her on the blog in the future.

Don't forget the giveaway! Mindy has generously agreed to provide not one, but two books for this drawing. See details at the end of the interview.

4) You and Leslie live on opposite sides of the country. How do you handle that dynamic? Have you ever met in person for a writing session?

I would give anything to have Leslie right next door! Being so far apart is very difficult, even in this digital age.

She and I have only gotten together in person twice, once when she came out here and once when I went out there. Mostly, we use email, though when we're down to final edits, we can also be found texting, calling, scanning and sending, faxing, or whatever else it takes. It would be a lot easier if we lived closer, but we manage to make it work.

5) Do you have something to share about your writing life, but nobody has asked that particular question? Feel free to express yourself here. :)

Actually, I'll share a little story about my co-author. :) Last winter, when she and I were working hard to wrap up The Amish Nanny and meet our deadline, poor Leslie was also having to deal with the fact that her husband, who's in the Army Reserves, had been called up for active duty to Afghanistan! I think the book was due the day before he was to leave the country. It was awful for her, but she was a trooper to the end and somehow managed to pull it off.

He's been gone a year, but would you believe it, he returned from Afghanistan the exact day before our next book, The Amish Bride, was due! Again, poor Leslie was having to finish up a novel in the midst of all of that. Even once he arrived, she had to find internet there on the base and continue to shoot files back and forth with me to get the book done and in on time the next morning. Which we did, I'm proud to say.

I've known lots of "poor author" stories about books finished while on the way to a funeral or while lying in a hospital bed, etc., but I think Leslie's situation ranks right up there. I have always had great respect for her, but after this, I've decided she's like a writing superhero.

Thanks, Mindy, for an awesome interview and giveaway. Okay, folks, we've got a deadline looming here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection: Saturday, March 10, 2012, at midnight.

1) The contest is open to both current and new Followers of Christian Writer/Reader Connection. To be eligible, you must be a resident of the United States.

2)  Four (4) chances to win! Comment on each interview post, mention the giveaway with a link on your blog, and/or Facebook. Please make a note in your blog comments if you've linked via your blog or Facebook.

3)  Leave your email address in the comment section. Sorry, no email = no entry.

4)  The winner will be notified via email on Sunday, March 11, 2012, and a notice will be posted on the blog that day. I'll provide Mindy with your snail mail address, and she will mail out a book to each winner.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration for this interview.

Writers & Readers: What was your favorite part of this interview? What nugget did you take away?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Writer's Stop, Drop, Roll

Firefighters teach us to stop, drop, and roll if our clothing ever catches on fire. For writers, the flames of fear and discouragement can destroy our dreams. What should a writer do to extinguish these dream killers?

STOP! If you catch yourself in negative self-talk, examine your thought life. Replace those words with positive, faith-filled expressions.

DROP! Leave the pity party behind. The things that make you want to give up won't always be there. They will pass. Everyone has good and bad days.

ROLL! See the positive side of rejection and negative feedback. Instead of allowing them to be the knock-out punch, roll with them and use the experience as a steppingstone.

How do you Stop, Drop, and Roll as a writer?

Picture: jewellanne

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #195

Kay Strom asks the question, "Happily Ever After - Yes or No?"

Writers & Readers: Must all the books you read/write have a HEA ending? Please elaborate.

Have a blessed weekend!