• November 22, 2011

    Hello, I Love Me, Won't I Tell Me My Name?


    I don't know if it's possible to start out a blog and not say something about what the author has been doing. So… here it is: I've been writing a book. 

    No, I'm not kidding. It's called 40 Ways to Get Closer to God. 












    Here's the cover. I'm happy with it. It's an important topic for me, and I was thrilled to be able to work on it with Keri Kent, a writer I respect. But let me warn you: if you read this book, you're not going to glow in the dark. It's not one of those, "I worked to be perfect… now YOU can be perfect like me" type of books. Those books always make me want to vomit. Besides, I'm not tall enough, and I don't have cool enough hair to get my picture on the cover. Instead, this is more of a "I'm a dork, but I did this stuff, so now I'm less of a dork than I used to be… in a way, I guess" sort of book. 

    I can tell you one bit of good news: I know if you and I sat down at Starbucks to talk about this topic, the things in the book are exactly what I'd say. The stories (about my dad's suicide, or my friend's death, or my kids going for a pajama ride) are all true, and they're the stories I'd tell. There's no pretense here.

    There's also no magic potion. Moving down the road spiritually takes time. You don't pick up a guitar one day and start selling concert tickets the next. You don't take up a paint brush in the morning and expect to create a masterpiece in the afternoon. Anything good takes time — and that includes your spiritual life. 

    So I don't know if this is the most important thing you can do if

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  • November 21, 2011

    Time to Start Writing


    A year ago I decided to take some time away from from blogging. I was tired, becoming repetitive, and ready to take a break. So I took a year off. I've had a lot of people tell me, "You can't just take a year away from writing — it won't work." But… I did. So here I am, back to it. 

    I love to write. I love to talk about writing. So, here I am, back to writing my blog. The focus is to offer advice, tips, and wisdom to those who want to write and get published. I hope you find it helpful. 

    And yes, it feels good to be back. 

    -Chip MacGregor

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  • October 25, 2010

    All Good Things Must Come to an End


    Think about this for a minute…

    4 years.

    Hundreds of posts. 

    250 average readers per day. 

    A half-million visitors. 

    Time to hang it up. 

    I've said what I have to say, and while there are still questions out there (including about 300 in my in-box that I meant to get to), I'm going to wrap it up. I feel like I've said plenty, I'm starting to go over some of the same material, and I need to just go focus on the authors I have the privilege of representing. So I'll blog once more, to say good-bye, but then I'm done. I'm going to fold up my tent, cash in my soup ladle, hand over my keys, and all those other overdone metaphors for wrapping it up. 

    No more blog posts. No more bad poetry. No more whining about dopey queries and stupid ideas. No more offending the faithful. Time to spend my words on something else. I'll leave it all up, so you can wander through the archives a bit (once more, for the hundredth time — if you come to the bottom of the page and see a little yellow arrow that looks like this > , there are more pages to see on the topic). But I'm done. It's been fun. 


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  • October 22, 2010

    They say I'll be dancing again very soon …


    Calvin and Hobbes Happy Dance Seriously.

    So many people have written to ask about me; wondering how my back is, specifically. Thanks. It makes me want to do the happy dance, knowing that people have been concerned, and especially to know that people have been praying for me while I've been recovering from what we are now referring to as the "sweater incident."

    I spent the first week essentially horizontal, drugged up, and wiped out. 

    Last week I was working on getting vertical again, but still on meds. I had some pretty good stretches of time when I felt capable of getting back to work, but I'll admit, I had a hard time finding the drive. That's when my mother reminded me that the brain is a muscle, too. I tried to take that as permission to not engage in too many projects requiring mental heavy lifting.

    I think it was Tuesday of this week  that I began to realize just  how far behind I'd gotten on promised submissions, returned phone calls, mail, email, and bookkeeping. And that injuring oneself not long after being out of the office for a week-long conference is havoc on the follow up.

    But now I'm feeling much better, playing a pretty solid round of catch up, and happy to say that I think I'm done whining. 

    Pretty sure my family and clients are happy about that too.

    Just thought you'd like to know…



    Continue Reading "They say I'll be dancing again very soon …"
  • October 21, 2010

    What's the latest news?


    Random thoughts on proposals and writing as we end the week…

    I am teaching a one-day workshop in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday, November 6, at the Sierra Hotel near Short Pump. If you're in the area, I'd love to have you participate. All the details can be found here: http://www.regonline.com/the_perfect_proposal

    My friend and fellow agent Noah Lukeman has some great advice to share on how to write a strong query letter, and he's giving it away as a FREE downloadable book. Check it out at:  www.writeagreatquery.com

    And noted author Harlan Coben had some fascinating things to say about author branding in an interview he did with The Atlantic. Check out his thoughts at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/07/paperback-writer/5988/

    Several folks have written to ask if there is a book-marketing site I like. There is — check out what Rob Eager does at http://www.startawildfire.com/

    And there's fascinating advice on how to make the most of social media here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZ0z5Fm-Ng&feature=related

    I've had at least a dozen people write to ask what's going on with the various lawsuits among the guys who created the novel The Shack. Frankly, it's a mess. One guy is suing his partners for not sharing the money equitably. They are in turn suing him and claiming they helped write the book. And the publisher is even being sued (though it sounds like all they did was stick the earned royalties into a suspense account until the various other lawsuits could be resolved). It's ugly… and it's coming from people who bragged about how they didn't need an agent because they were all such good friends. Ugh. You can read about it here: http://www.christianretailing.com/index.php/newsletter/latest-etailing/21824-legal-showdown-over-the-shack

    There's something new coming up on the market — "Kindle Singles," a new idea from the folks at Amazon to create and sell e-books under 30,000 words (a size that is almost impossible to sell to a regular royalty-paying publisher). With the advent of e-readers and book-reader phone
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  • October 12, 2010



    Secret Cove, Maui BIG NEWS … Sandra is sitting upright again!

    Chip says it's age which caused my back to go out for no good reason last week. I say it's the onset of cold weather since I was reaching into my closet for a sweater. And it wasn't even a heavy sweater! Anyway, just more motivation for me to move to Maui. 

    Until then …



    Lacy Williams is writing MARRYING MISS MARSHAL, her first book for Steeple Hill.

    Jay Patleitner has signed with Harvest House to write three more books following his recent title, 52 THINGS KIDS NEED FROM A DAD.

    CATCH A FALLING STAR by Lynette Sowell was recently sold to Barbour.



    Sandra is teaching at the upcoming Nov 6-7 Indiana Christian Writers conference sponsored by Wesleyan Publishing.

    On November 6th, Chip is teaching a proposal seminar in Richmond, Virginia. Spaces are available…

    Well-known writer Alton Gansky has put together a strong faculty for his intimate, new-style writing conference, coming up October 18-22 in New Mexico. If you’d like to meet people in the industry, but are a bit intimidated by one of those 500-attendee gatherings, check out what he’s doing at the Southwest Christian Writers Studio: http://www.altongansky.typepad.com/swcws/

    Sandra has been invited to join faculty at the San Diego State University conference January 28-30, 2011; Florida Christian Writers conference March 2-6, 2011; and  Mt. Hermon, April 14-19, 2011.


    Anita Higman and Irene Brand's Summerside Press title LOVE FINDS YOU UNDER THE MISTLETOE, is going into its second printing after only one month. 

    Theresa Flores has teamed with actress Abigal Mason and producer Dan Paulson to produce a movie of the week based on her teen sex-trafficking memoir THE SLAVE ACROSS THE STREET. It is currently being pitched to networks.

    Poppy Smith will be the main speaker at Oregon Christian Writer's Fall conference this weekend.




    Susan Meissner's LADY IN WAITING
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  • October 11, 2010

    Getting To Know Us


    We've had a bunch of "get to know you" questions lately, so I thought I'd group several of them together…

    Andrew wrote to say, "You used to be a publisher with Time-Warner — why did you go back to agenting?"


    I love agenting. I enjoy working closely with authors, doing book development, planning careers, and spending time talking over projects. Actually, I never really got comfortable in my role as publisher – I always felt like a “suit.” Much happier being back on the agenting side of the desk.  

    Janice asked this: "It seems like you and Sandra have had a lot of success in a short time — to what do you owe your success?"

     Most likely it’s my good looks and Scottish heritage. But aside from that, I have a pretty good eye for writing. And let’s face it – an agent is only as good as the authors he or she represents. If I’ve had good success, it’s because I’ve had the privilege of representing really good writers. Go to my web site, select any author, and read a novel… all of them can write. That’s the main reason I’ve been successful.  

    Jim wants to know, "What types of projects do you get excited about?"

    always tell authors at writers’ conferences that I’m looking for “books that change me.” It’s true. I get excited about reading a book that will leave me changed, since I know it will have the potential to significantly impact readers. I also look for a strong voice – your book shouldn’t sound like everyone else’s book. If there’s great writing, a strong voice, and a message that has the potential to change me as a reader, I know I’ve got a winner.

    Dana asked, "Are there stories that you know right away you're going to be tired of?"

    Sure – The tough-guy hero opens his eyes,
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  • October 5, 2010

    Newsday Tuesday …


    Some quick notes and random stuff…

    Well-known writer Alton Gansky has put together a strong faculty for his intimate, new-style writing conference, coming up October 18-22 in New Mexico. If you’d like to meet people in the industry, but are a bit intimidated by one of those 500-attendee gatherings, check out what he’s doing at the Southwest Christian Writers Studio: http://www.altongansky.typepad.com/swcws/

    The INSPY Awards have announced their list of 2010 finalists. Included this year are some authors we represent: Gina Holmes, in the Literary Fiction category, for Crossing Oceans; Jim Rubart, in the Speculative category, for Rooms; and Jenny B Jones, in the YA category, for So Over My Head. Other finalists included two authors we represent, but whose books we weren’t representing at the time—Dean Nelson for God Hides in Plain Sight and David Gregory for The Last Christian. And Mark Bertrand made the finalist list for his fabulous novel Back on Murder, but then was taken off the list when it was revealed his book released one day too late to make the list! You can see the entire list of finalists here: http://inspys.com/

    Publishers Marketplace (a great resource that you should consider subscribing to) did some research on the number of deals being done so far this year in all of publishing. As usual, they reported things were slow in the summer, then picked up considerably in September. Overall books deals are up about 16% from last year (which is great news for authors), with “thrillers” being a clear growth category, and YA fiction on an upswing. And while big-money deals are growing, “debut” authors are down considerably—meaning publishers are looking toward their A-level authors to pay bills more than ever before. If you’re interested in staying on top of the publishing news, check it out at http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/automat/

    In case you missed it, Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, penned a wonderful piece of writing in the

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  • September 29, 2010

    Will E-books Kill the Printed Page?


    Benjamin wrote to ask, "What's your perspective on all the new e-readers?"

    History has taught us that as new technologies are developed, the culture adapts to them. We used to walk across the room to change TV channels. We used to stop and find a pay phone to call home. We used to re-type each page of a manuscript that had error. But we've adapted our lives to adjust to remote controls, cel phones, and PC's. (And, of course, the advent of TV's, telephones, and typewriters were cutting-edge technologies in their own days — each requiring adaptation from radios, telegraphs, and handwritten notes, respectively.) Right now we're moving from printed materials to digital materials, and that's creating a lot of change for people. My son will read a book on his cel phone — that's about all anyone needs to know regarding the future of digital technology. All those extant great books and words? They're all out there, ready to be interpreted through a new medium.  So you know what that means? If you don't own one yet, YOU are going to own an e-reader very soon. 
    Michaela asked, "Will e-books kill printed books in the long run?' 

    I don't honestly know about "the long run." But we've been living with books for roughly 500 years, and it's hard to see that changing. But sure, there are some rough waters ahead as we go through this change. Technology may be killing the cookbook. (Think about it — the last time you needed a recipe, did you go to a cookbook? Or did you simply go online and do a quick search for the ingredients?) Technology may be killing the do-it-yourself manual. (If you need help with a new software program, do you want to drive to Borders to buy a copy, or look for your solution immediately online for free?) It's clear that technology is changing the way we view books

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  • September 28, 2010

    Developing the Craft & Art of Writing – a guest blog


    When I was growing up, my parents decided to sign me up for piano lessons. They hired my second grade schoolteacher to also be my piano teacher—I think I was her only piano student. She probably didn’t charge much and I really didn’t require much work; flashcards for reading music and making sure I was banging the right notes with the right fingers.

    Two years later my second grade teacher moved away and so my parents found me a professional piano teacher who had dozens of students. She lived about thirty minutes away but she came highly recommended. She slotted me right into her typical rhythm and I followed the same path of hundreds before me—first the primer, then the secondary, then the suzuki, then the duets. I was learning but I wasn’t being offered anything just for me. It was education by curriculum.

    I met a couple of kids during these years who could play piano just because they sat down and listened to music and played what they heard. I never could get those kids—I’ve not been blessed with that ability to just sit down and pick out the notes I hear. I don’t think there are too many people who can do that.

    By the time I was old enough to realize what I wanted my parents found me a new teacher who lived just a few minutes from our house. Her house was small but she had managed to cram two baby pianos into the living room to sit side-by-side—those were the pianos we rarely got to touch. The lesson room was around the corner where she had her upright piano. Her name was Kathy, and she was the perfect piano teacher. If I wanted to learn something for church or school, I could bring it in and she would help me with it. But she also brought me a rich assortment of pieces both classical
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