Category : Uncategorized

  • July 2, 2013

    The “b” word …



    School is out, summertime is upon us all, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who has heard the “b” word from their kids more than once recently. I’ll confess, I used to hate it and get terribly frustrated when my son would utter it. Lately, though, I actually find myself smiling when he uses it. And I’ve been looking for opportunities to use the word myself. 

    I think you should too.

    In our house, the “b” word is spelled B-O-R-E-D.

    I want to challenge you to actually try embracing it and exercising the meaning of the word. As in doing nothing on purpose, and sitting still through the restlessness until you feel like you did the last time you said “there’s nothing to do! I’m bored!” (And … I wonder, how long has THAT been?)

    I also wonder if the reality that being, and staying busy – just for the sake of not being still – is potentially one of the most overrated endeavors humans undertake. To that point, I agree with several of the ideas in this article on the topic of being caught in “The Busy Trap.”

    I’ll admit, not producing is one of the hardest things for me to do, er, not do. Or not, not do.  Ack. You know what I mean.

    Sometimes, after dinner, when my son says, “Mom, just sit down with us,” or my husband suggests we go for a bike ride or walk the dog, I usually have a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t. Emails I should write or answer. Calls I should schedule. Manuscripts I should look at. I’m a hard worker. I naturally gravitate to being productive. It’s just who I am.

    Or is it just what I do?

    Recently, I’ve begun to realize that pursuing a state of boredom/idleness/stillness is the best antidote to the “crazy busy, purpose-driven over-achieving” state of

    Continue Reading "The “b” word …"
  • July 1, 2013

    Refining Our Fiction



    GUEST WRITER Tina Bustamante lives in Temuco, Chile with her husband and two children.  Her first novel, As Waters Gone By, releases in September with Leap Books.  You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or at where she writes about her life in South America.


    By Tina Bustamante

     In thinking about the arduous task of refining our fiction, I see myself at my desk, staring at yet one more editorial letter from my editor asking me to think more about the theme of my novel.  When I see this picture in my mind’s eye, it is also accompanied with a clear and noteworthy desire to inflict painful harm on said editor, and write her a lovely letter in response, explaining that if she can’t figure out what the theme of my novel is, perhaps she ought to find a new job.  The problem is not me.  My book is fine.  I know exactly what I am trying to say.  Why doesn’t she?

     This has been the story with my editor for the last year.  I make changes, sharpen the prose, cut the darlings she thinks are superfluous, and re-send it, believing in the core of my being that I have sent her something good, maybe even amazing.  She writes me back, attaching some ridiculous advice about theme, about honing in on what it is I’m trying to say, and then asks me to do another short assignment on figuring out the theme.  Consequently, I would sit at my desk and rage, clenching my teeth in agonizing frustration.

    For months, I chafed.  I wanted to throw her lovely editorial letters into a fishing boat motoring its way into the center of the Black Sea.  For a while, it was either forget her advice or forget the novel, because for the life of me I didn’t understand what she was talking about.  Until one beautiful sunny day,

    Continue Reading "Refining Our Fiction"
  • June 24, 2013

    To Write A Series or Not To Write A Series, by GUEST BLOGGER RACHEL HAUCK


    Guest blogger Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and RITA nominated Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series, the Nashvegas series and the Songbird Novels penned with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.  Her current release, Once Upon A Prince, hit #5 in Kindle Amazon.

    To Write A Series or Not To Write A Series        by Rachel Hauck

    Thanks to Chip for the opportunity to blog this week! I’ve known Chip for a number of years of which the last four he’s been my agent.

    It’s been an honor and privilege to work with him. Our working relationship started when God shouted “Chip MacGregor” to me in a dream. True story.

    It’s also how I found out he played the glockenspiel in the 8th grade band.

    Chip likes to joke on his blog and unabashedly share his opinions, but he also cares about people and writers, and is more kind hearted than he’ll let show.

    Thanks Chip for being on the other end of the phone when I need it!


    So, now to the real purpose of the blog. How do series play into publication for published authors as well as unpublished? Should unpublished authors be concerned with writing a series?

    I live in a really cool little community, a sort of oasis in the middle of busyness, and it’s easy to get to know our neighbors.

    A new family recently moved in and the wife/mom wants to be a novelist. The other day we stood in front of her house talking books and she mentioned how she had a whole series planned.

    Her comment landed on a pile of “I’m writing a series” statements I’ve heard from beginning writers over the years. Seems everyone wants to write a series.


    Continue Reading "To Write A Series or Not To Write A Series, by GUEST BLOGGER RACHEL HAUCK"
  • June 18, 2013

    Should I try to pre-sell my book on Amazon?


    Someone wrote to say, “While perusing Amazon yesterday, I filtered my search by ‘date published’ and noticed several pages of books listed for pre-orders due out in late ’13 or early ’14. Is this a sales strategy? Is it common? Is it effective? And how far out is realistic to get a worthwhile response?”

    The practice of directing friend and readers to pre-order your book on Amazon has been popular for several years now. Yes, it’s a sales strategy, and yes, it has become more popular for the savvy author. Here’s why: If you push everyone you know to pre-order your upcoming book, all those orders go into effect THE DAY OF RELEASE. So if you’ve done a lot of groundwork, and really convinced a lot of folks to pre-order your book, then on that first day it looks like a lot of people logged on and ordered your book. The book gets noticed, your title shoots up near the top of the Amazon rankings, and you hope to get some great word-of-mouth buzz going. Maybe it gets some momentum that gets it noticed by other reviewers and readers. The rankings on Amazon are all comparative — that is, the Amazon system is constantly monitoring sales velocity, so if a bunch of orders are triggered at once, it suddenly causes your book to look like a bestseller, even if it’s just briefly.

    As for the effectiveness of this system, it seems to work best for authors who really beat the bushes and convince people to pre-order a book (not an easy thing to do in these days of instant gratification). Store orders are great, but a sudden hit of 2000 books on its release day can really grab the attention of people (and of your publisher).

    You asked for how far in advance to do this… a tougher question. I see some bestselling authors working as much as six months

    Continue Reading "Should I try to pre-sell my book on Amazon?"
  • June 3, 2013

    How to Thrive Through Rejection: A Guest Post by Tina Bustamante



    While our hardworking agents are winding down from BEA this past weekend in New York, another author is filling in with a guest post. Enjoy!

    Tina Bustamante is a writer, passionate reader, wife, mom, friend, and traveler. A world traveler who hails from the Pacific Northwest, she studied Theology at Northwest University and considers the craft of writing a journey that is sometimes bumpy and downright rough, but always worth continuing. Currently, she speaks when invited and writes fiction during the day. She is married to Rodrigo Bustamante and they have two lovely children named Emma and Lucas.

    Seven years ago, I completed my first novel. I considered it a brilliant piece of work, worthy of a great publishing contract. I had worked hard on the manuscript–putting my soul, my mind, and all my attention into crafting a great story full of adventure.

    I decided to take a risk and give it to a few friends, who read it and encouraged me to send it out. So, feeling like I might be the next Madeleine L’Engle, I sent it to another author who agreed to help me.

    About three weeks later, I received an email from him letting me know I was not ready for prime time. My work was not good enough. He tried to encourage me, told me I had talent, but that he didn’t think The Secret of the Keys was going to make it into the publishing world. He suggested I write my next novel, which I thought rude. In hindsight, I wasn’t looking for critical feedback. I wanted someone to tell me my work was great. I wanted a quick contract and easy fame.

    I cried. For three days. Then, with ever-increasing arrogance, I decided he had no idea what he was talking about. I would send it out to other agents and someone was bound to love my book. They didn’t. It got

    Continue Reading "How to Thrive Through Rejection: A Guest Post by Tina Bustamante"
  • May 31, 2013

    A Newbie Writer's First Trip Around the Marketing Block: A Guest Post by Rajdeep Paulus



    While our hardworking agents are attending BEA in New York this week, several authors are filling in with guest posts. Enjoy!

    Rajdeep Paulus decided to be a writer during her junior year in high school after her English teacher gave her an “F” but told her she had potential. She studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and began writing on the island of Dominica, while her husband of two months biked down to campus to begin his first day of medical school. Fifteen years, four daughters, and a little house on a hill in the quaint town of Locust Valley later, she now writes YAFiction and blogs weekly In Search of Waterfalls. 

    I’m not the first newbie author to wade through the waters of marketing her first book with a bit of trepidation. Truth be told, when I learned that a writer’s job was not simply to write a great story, sit back and wait for readers to come in flocks to scoop up copies galore, I welcomed the challenge that lay before me. Simply because I’m a tad atypical to the hermit-writer stereotype: I love people and rubbing elbows with the world outside my writing cave.

    So when I read a title like “The Extroverted Writer” by Amanda Luedeke, I think, oh, she’s talking about me! When, in fact, she’s composed a book chalk full of practical advice for all types of writers who find the whole marketing thing as messy as a knot on a bad hair-day morning. Something I am all too familiar with since I have four princesses. Hair balls up the ying-yang, but where was I?

    Yes. The art of marketing your first book. How do you do it? Successfully? And how do you know how to proportion your time, giving yourself time to write, edit, market and still take time to breathe.

    So I began my marketing momentum by brainstorming. A bunch of ideas

    Continue Reading "A Newbie Writer's First Trip Around the Marketing Block: A Guest Post by Rajdeep Paulus"
  • May 30, 2013

    A Room of Her Own: A Guest Post by Keri Wyatt Kent



    While our hardworking agents are attending BEA in New York this week, several authors are filling in with guest posts. Enjoy!


    Keri Wyatt Kent writes and speaks on slowing down to listen to God, and occasionally tries to follow her own advice. She and her husband Scot have two teenage children and live in Chicago. This piece originally ran on Tim Fall’s blog.

    In an oft-quoted lecture on women and fiction, Virginia Woolf remarked that a woman needs a room of her own if she is to write.

    Woolf had been asked to lecture on women and fiction. Here’s a bit more of the context:  “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”

    What is meant by “a room of her own” has been discussed countless times since Woolf said those words in 1928. It’s obvious she meant much more than a physical space with four walls to contain it. But certainly she was talking about some space, and boundaries to protect it (whether physical or metaphorical).

    In the same lecture, Woolf noted that because of her gender, she was barred from walking on the lawn or even entering the library at the university she was visiting, unless accompanied by a man.  Certainly independence and autonomy were part of what Woolf longed for and recommended.

    I am a writer by profession, and if you take these requirements literally, I do indeed have both financial resources and a “room of my own.”  The spare bedroom in our house is my office. And I earn my living—modest as it is—by writing.

    Women have far greater access to resources than they did in Woolf’s day. And yet, sometimes we think we’re still not allowed in the library. We

    Continue Reading "A Room of Her Own: A Guest Post by Keri Wyatt Kent"
  • May 14, 2013

    A Guest Post by Elizabeth Musser


    Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native and the bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’  Her latest novel, Two Destinies, from The Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was recently nominated for a Christy Award.

     Bonjour from just outside Lyon, France.  My just-got-a-little older but still-sharp-as-a-tack agent, Chip, graciously invited me to write a post about my novella, Waiting for Peter, which was recently released as an e-book with MacGregor Literary.  While I was thankful for the opportunity, it is a little daunting to follow all that bad poetry with a semi-serious post about, well, a dog.  And a boy.  And his mother.

    But here I go.

    Five years ago, my Dutch publisher, Kok-Uitgeverij Voorhoeve, asked me to write a novella for ‘The Week of the Christian Book’, a cool annual offer where, for one week, Christian bookstores throughout Holland give a free novella to customers who purchase over ten euros of products at their store. The only criteria given me was to work the story around the theme of animals.

    And so I went about writing Waiting for Peter.  I had plenty of inspiration for the story from personal experience with our loveable mutt, Beau, who is actually the dog on the cover of the novella.  If you are a dog-lover, this next part will make sense.  If not, it may sound a little heretical.

    Throughout the years, I had often journaled about lessons I was learning from our dog as well as the way he ministered to our two sons as they navigated elementary school, Jr. High and high school.  I also included in many journal entries how Beau was teaching me a lot about what my relationship with my Master, the Lord, should look like.

    So I came up with the story—fictional, yes—but with some parts sounding a lot like those journal entries. Here’s a description of

    Continue Reading "A Guest Post by Elizabeth Musser"
  • April 24, 2013

    What are the first steps in writing a book?


    Someone asked, “If someone feels a passion to write a book, what would you say should be the first steps (realizing most people want to fast-forward to the ‘contract’ stage)?”

    Sometimes it seems as though everyone is writing a book. But a “passion” doesn’t constitute a “call,” of course. Neither does a “need” constitute a “call.” Nor does “a cool personal story, complete with miracle” constitute a call to write a book. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, and I realize the world is made up of millions of people who apparently all want to be rock stars. But the desire to be a rock star doesn’t mean you can actually sing, or that people will pay money to come hear you sing. There’s a big difference between sounding pretty good in the church choir and asking people to plunk down $18.99 for your new CD at WalMart.

    Let me explain it this way… I’m a pretty good swing dancer, and can usually make a beginner look okay as a partner on the dance floor. But there’s quite a difference between being a pretty good amateur dancer at the publisher’s ball and asking people to pay $65 to buy a ticket and come see me dance in a show. Writing is an art, and with any art it takes practice, training, creative vision, talent, and hard work. I too-frequently see people who want to do a book because they think they can make a fast buck, and they lack all of the above. Or they think they have a “lesson” to teach the world, and they feel a need to write it down — as though all of life’s lessons are publishing-worthy. Every book is a combination of a great idea, expressed through good writing, preferably from an author with a solid platform. Your great lesson may just be for you and those close

    Continue Reading "What are the first steps in writing a book?"
  • April 22, 2013

    Sandra on The Power of Personal Meetings



    I haven’t traveled much in the last six months, but I’ve just returned from a three-day conference. Though I fully registered for it, I only attended two conference events, but my time there was incredibly valuable and enriching regardless.

    Aside from the three-hour-thaw-by-the-pool-mini-sabbatical I scheduled for myself on Friday afternoon before boarding the plane home, I spent every waking hour while there in pre-arranged meetings with editors and authors. In the end, when responding to questions about how my trip went, I heard myself say “I really enjoyed connecting with everyone!” And I today, I added several items to my task list newly motivated by an urge to help each of these people succeed in their roles.

    Sure, when I requested time together, I had a project in mind. But as usual, I found that holding “my” agenda a bit loosely, and taking the position of investigator vs. sales person always returned a rewarding and gratifying encounter that will begin, or enrich, a long-term relationship.

    There’s so much more to personal meetings than just “putting a face to a name.” When I meet an editor or other prospective associate in person, the encounter requires real listening. I’ve learned that more often than not, my “canned” speech goes out the window in favor of personal dialogue once an editor or prospective author and I start talking about whether what’s working well for them and how/if what they’re hoping to publish next aligns with the project(s) I’m interested in.

    A side perk of meeting in person is that, unlike with email, I must also practice the art of keeping the conversation going in both directions. I’ll admit, I’m still working on controlling my tendency to be so terribly interruptive – an inexcusable habit that I still give into when I’m especially enthused about something.

    As anonymous, and bottom-line, and impersonal as this business can sometimes feel,

    Continue Reading "Sandra on The Power of Personal Meetings"