And on to 2015!

Can you believe 2014 is nearly over? January 1 is a mere two days away. Maybe it’s time for us to look at our writing progress over the past twelve months and plot a course (with the Lord’s guidance, of course) for the year to come.

Of course, this doesn’t just have to be about writing. But since this IS a writing blog, that will be my focus (though not laser-like LOL) in this post.

I pretty much always set goals for myself – because, for me, accountability is HUGE. I have daily, weekly, and annual goals (I used to do monthly as well, but decided to lighten up A BIT :::eyeroll::: ), and I have found, for me, anyway, that having them there helps me accomplish them (and remember them LOL). It helps me with my focus.

For instance, my writing-related goals for 2014 (posted on my blog sidebar) were only three in number – but they definitely helped me stay focused. And I can say with almost complete confidence (because as of this writing one part is undone – but I’ve got a few days yet) that I achieved all three.

While I didn’t specifically follow all of the rules of creating SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely) – which are VERY good rules, by the way – they each had at least one or two of those aspects.

I would recommend you at least try to set a couple of writing goals for 2015 (note, I said goals, NOT resolutions. Sounds a bit more doable in my book :) ). Feel free to post them in the comments if you want.

Another popular approach to the start of the new year is to choose a single word to focus on for the year – to center and inspire you. Check out this site  (there are several others too – Google it :) ) for a Christian approach and support if you’d like.

Just FYI – I did this for 2015 also – for the first time. My 2014 word is/was “Content” (accent on the second syllable) and it was a great reminder to me when things were tough. So maybe you want to pick a word yourself.

(By the way, if you want to see my own goals and word for 2015, check out my personal blog, where I will have a post about them no later than the 2nd of January)

Do you set goals? Are you going to pick a word for 2015?

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Meet 2014 Page Turner Runner-Up Debbie Roome

New Zealander Debbie Roome is no stranger to FaithWriters – or to being in the winners’ spotlight. Not only has she placed in the Page Turner in the past, she has also been a runner up for the Writing Challenge Best of the Best several years ago. Read on to learn more about her, her writing journey, and her entry, A Pile of Stones, that wowed the judges.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

DEBBIE ROOME: I landed in Christchurch Airport after a day in Auckland and switched on my phone while we were taxiing to the gate. I saw on Facebook that the Page Turner winners had been announced and was very surprised to see my name there. It was an exciting moment and I felt like standing up and announcing my good news to the whole plane-load of passengers!

JOANNE: I likely would have done just that! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?Deb 1

DEBBIE: I’ve been writing since I was five. It’s a lifelong love and I always did well at creative writing and poetry at school. I wrote my “first book” in a spiral bound notebook at the age of 6.

JOANNE: Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?

DEBBIE: It’s a hobby, a ministry and hopefully will be a full-time career one day.

JOANNE: Share a bit about A Pile of Stones. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?

Continue Reading…

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Xulon Fiction and Quarterly Writing Challenge Winners!

After several months of submissions, and a few weeks of waiting, we have our winner of the Xulon Press Bestseller Package for a fiction manuscript. Congratulations to Ennis Smith, whose novel, The Walking Dead, rose above the other submissions to take the prize. Watch for an interview with Ennis, and more information on his book and his prize, in coming weeks!

And now, for MORE winners

The FaithWriters’ Writing Challenge is on a break right now, with the last winners of the Genre quarter announced just last week. And that means it’s time to announce the four winners of the quarterly level awards. The highest scoring entry in EACH LEVEL over each entire ten-week quarter receives a $50 cash prize.

LEVEL 1: Meant for Us by Rebecca Real (from the Autobiography Challenge)

LEVEL 2: Vagrant by Trace Pezzali (from the Coming of Age Challenge)

LEVEL 3: Life, One Clue at a Time by Diane Bowman (from the Action/Adventure Challenge

LEVEL 4: The Night He Was Laughing by JK Stenger (from the Inspirational Challenge)

The Writing Challenge starts up again on January 8.

CONGRATULATIONS!

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Meet Nikola Dimitrov

Nikola Dimitrov is a FaithWriters member and ministry leader in Bulgaria who has a book available in the FaithWriters book store (where it is part of FaithWriters’ free reads for reviews program) and on Amazon that allows you to look at the life of Jesus chronologically. Read on to learn more about his book, his process, his family, and his ministry.

Joanne Sher: Thanks for being willing to be interviewed, Nikola. Tell us a bit about how you got into writing. Is it something you have always wanted to do, or did it come about later in life?

Nikola Dimitrov: Hey, thank you for this opportunity and Happy Holidays!nikola-3

I love writing and I have been doing it since a very young age, even before I became a believer. After I got saved, I wanted to surrender to the Lord the gift He had given me, and use it to His glory alone. So, during the twenty-two years of my full-time ministry, I’ve written, translated, edited and published more than fifty books altogether. It’s my passion. If I have to dictate my thoughts for a book or a letter, it would be much harder, but as soon as I sit down in front of a computer or start writing in a notebook, the words just pour out of my mind and through my fingers without any hesitation or difficulty. Sometimes I can write as many as 100 emails a day, all to different people, explaining completely diverse Biblical topics and it is an absolute joy and pleasure – no pressure, no stress, no hard work.

Joanne: Wow – your writing is certainly a gift! Tell us a bit about your latest book, The Four-In-One Gospel of Jesus. What motivated you to write/compile it? How long did it take? What kind of reception have you gotten?

Continue Reading…

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Characterization Multitasking

CHARACTERIZATION MULTITASKING

By Linda Yezak

Your two main characters are in the same scene, but they’re not together. He’s doing his thing, she’s doing hers. You can reveal so much about both when you illustrate your POV character observing the other. Of course you can describe the observed character’s physical features, but why leave it at that? Why pass up the opportunity to tell your reader something about both characters?

As the author and creator of these people, you know things about them that 1) you want to introduce to the reader, and 2) you want to introduce to each of the of the two people in the scene. What you know about them is called “backstory.” (I recently discovered that Miriam Webster has “backstory” as one word, so when you type it on your computer, ignore the little squiggly red line under it).

Whether you pre-plan your novel with outlines and character bios or, like me, you look at a scene and think, “How can I make the characters more interesting here?” and do a character interview on the spot, you need to have a backstory for each of the primary folks who populate your books. What you don’t need, though, is to dump the entire backstory into one scene and explain everything you think the reader needs to know about your hero and heroine all at once.

Let me introduce Anna Roberts and Cody Batson.

Anna was a late-bloomer, the ugly duckling who didn’t become beautiful by shedding weight until her early twenties. Although she’s a knock-out now, her self image, ingrained by kids’ cruelty during high school, is that of a fat girl. Today, she’s a computer scientist at NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and spends the bulk of her time alone.

Cody was the star quarterback and played the role of “popular guy” in school, but in truth, he’s shy and longs for a relationship that goes deeper than an appreciation of his athletic skills and build. He’s highly artistic, but since he got the bulk of his positive reinforcement from those who valued his athleticism, he played up to that image. Today, with his PhD, he’s a professor of English Literature, specializing in the Romance Era, at George Washington University. His biggest daydream is for sonnets to make a comeback.

Continue Reading…

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Meet 2014 Page Turner Winner Lori Dixon

We have quite an international bunch this year for Page Turner winners – an American, a Kiwi(New Zealander), and a Canadian each placed in this year’s contest. The FaithWriters/Breath of Fresh Air Press 2014 Nonfiction Page Turner champion is the lovely Lori Dixon of Canada. Read her interview below to learn more about her, her winning manuscript Walk a Mile in her Shoes, and her other passions.

Joanne Sher: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

Lori Dixon: It was rather disappointing and anti-climactic as I had been soooo excited and hopeful, since I didn’t want anyone to help me on my book but Deb. Seriously. So I decided to open up the webpage on my phone before bed so that in the morning I could check it. The thing is, though, it was after midnight on the West Coast and and the results were already up. I couldn’t even wake up my family and tell them. (Okay, so I did wake up my hubby: but come on! I was so excited!)

Joanne: I’m sure you had quite the celebration in the morning! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

Lori: During my typing 9 class. I did not appreciate “The quick brown dog jumped over the lazy fox,” so I would write “Muppet News Flashes” instead. When it was time to pass our typing papers for our peers to mark, my best friend who sat behind me was very amused. My friend was a straight A student right through to her college degree – except for typing 9 where she got a B because of me. Continue Reading…

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Xulon Raffle Winners Announced :)

After several months of entering and waiting, we have our winners of the three prizes in our raffle.

Congratulations to Karen Pourbabaee, who won the Xulon Press Bestseller Package (with a retail value of over $4,000)!

Rebekah Duchesneau is the winner of a free FaithWriters platinum membership (with a $120 retail value)

And congratulations to Pinkie Taolo, who won a free FaithWriters gold membership (with a $65 retail value)

Watch for the winner of the fiction contest (who also receives a Xulon Best Seller Package) no later than December 20 – and keep your eyes open for MORE contests like this in 2015!

Congratulations, ladies!

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What’s the Big Idea?

What’s the Big Idea?

By Delia Latham

Got a Mason jar? Or maybe an old mayonnaise jar you’ve run through the dishwasher and stuck in the back corner of the top shelf in case you need it for some unknown something in the future?

Here’s that something.

As a writer, you should always be seeking “the big idea.” As a writer, you should be using the bellows of imagination to ignite tiny sparks of idea into blazing fires of fabulous fiction.

Ideas are everywhere, and if you’re a serious writer, you spot them in places no one else thinks to look. You see shadows of “story” in mundane conversation and fictional scenes in places others walk by without a second glance. You pick up a newspaper and spot ten possible story lines in the first three pages. You visit a child’s show-and-tell and go home with a brand new novel percolating in your brain.

Trouble is, most of those bright spears of genius never make it into a book. Why? Because they go unrecorded, fizzle out, and are forgotten. The idea was so sharp, so bright, so vivid…you were absolutely certain you’d remember.

But you didn’t.

Don’t let it happen again. Pull out that useless jar (the one in the back corner of the top shelf) and put it to good use. 

How?

Well, you could start by taking a solemn oath. Come on…hand over heart, and repeat after me:

Continue Reading…

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Congratulations to 2014 Page Turner Winners!

After nearly a year of suspense and excitement, we now have our winners for the eighth annual FaithWriters.com/Breath of Fresh Air Press Page Turner Contest.

This year the focus was on nonfiction, and 45 Platinum members submitted a book proposal, outlining the planned work overall, together with the first chapter of their manuscript. Judging was based on how well each entry worked in a number of key areas, including creativity, freshness, craftsmanship and, most importantly, page turning power and potential for publication.

Congratulations to:

2014 PAGE TURNER CHAMPION:

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes by Lori Dixon

Lori has won:

  1. A cash prize of $800;
  2. Free editing of her manuscript (up to 300 pages);
  3. Free publicity and marketing of her book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication;
  4. A special Page Turner Champion award plaque; and
  5. Publication of her winning manuscript by new Christian publisher, Breath of Fresh Air Press (publisher of the new line of Mixed Blessings books)

2014 PAGE TURNER RUNNERS UP

A Pile of Stones by Debbie Roome and Glimmers of God by Rebecca Real

Debbie and Rebecca have each won:

  1. A special Page Turner award plaque;
  2. The offer of half price editing for their winning manuscripts; and
  3. Consideration for publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press.

Also, for all 2014 Page Turner entrants who requested a feedback report, the marvelous Deb Porter reports that they are all finished, and will be sent this week. If you requested one and don’t have it by the end of the week, you need to check your junk folder and/or follow up with her.

Watch this space for interviews with the winner and runners up in the coming weeks – and watch for the 2015 Page Turner Contest – which will focus on fiction, and is set to open the first week of January 2015.

Congratulations, Lori, Debbie, and Rebecca!

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Finding Your Dream Agent

Finding Your Dream Agent

By Dorothy Love

You’ve spent months, maybe years on a manuscript. Finally it’s finished and you’re ready to look for your dream agent. How do you wade through the bewildering maze of literary agents out there to find the one who is your perfect match? For twenty years, I’ve worked with wonderful agents in both the general and inspirational markets. Here are a few FAQ’s to help you  as you go about finding just the right match.

How do I find a reputable agent? Is the agent you’re considering a member of the Association of Artists Representatives (AAR)? This professional organization for agents handling literary and dramatic works sets standards for membership and requires their member agents to abide by a code of ethics. The organization maintains a database of members available to authors seeking representation.  Their official website provides a list of questions to ask of potential agents. Find it here: www.aaronline.org

Among the questions listed on this site, pay particular attention to these: How long has the agent been in business? How many clients does he/she have? How many verifiable sales has this agent made within the past year?

An agent has expressed an interest in my book but requests a reading fee up front. Should I pay it?  Because the potential for abuse is so great in this situation, the AAR prohibits its member agents from charging reading fees. Generally speaking you should look for an agent who does not charge such fees. A reputable agent does not get paid until he or she sells your work and collects the advance from the publisher.

What is an Author-Agent Agreement? Most agents require a written agreement that sets out the terms of representation. The agreement should indicate whether the agent intends to represent all your future work, or whether he or she will determine this on a book by book basis. The agreement should specify a time frame for selling the work and should include the terms and requirements for terminating the agreement. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of both agent and author, the  relationship just doesn’t work. It’s important for both you and the agent to understand how to sever the partnership in a professional manner.

Aside from these important legal considerations, you should consider the personal side of the partnership. It’s ideal if you can sit down with an interested agent and talk face to face. If that isn’t possible, schedule time for a telephone chat. A few questions to ask :

What form of communication do you prefer, and how often can I expect to have contact with you?  This very important question can forestall misunderstandings on down the road. Most good agents are very busy and don’t have time to give clients a day by day report. Since agents don’t get paid until a sale is made, they are happy to call clients the minute an offer comes in. Because editors are busy, too, this can take weeks. Understand, too, that the initial offer is just that–a beginning point. Your agent will then look over a short document from the publisher called a deal  points memo which sets out the basics of the offer. Many times these points are negotiated and changed. Your agent will keep you informed as the deal moves forward but don’t expect a daily report.

Some agents prefer to be contacted by email, others prefer the telephone. Try to accommodate their preferences.

What level of involvement with the creative process should I expect? Some agents are very hands on, and read their clients’ manuscripts before they are submitted. Others offer guidance and encouragement but expect clients to write and submit the contracted work with a minimum of direction.  In  my view, an author should write the book, the agent should sell it. Authors who need a detailed critique before submission should consider hiring a free-lance editor.

Do our personalities “click”? This is completely subjective but it’s very important to the success of a long- term relationship and it’s why a face to face meeting before you sign the agency agreement is so desirable.

Finding an agent with whom you can build a long-term, mutually advantageous partnership requires time and effort.  But the rewards of finding that dream agent can last throughout your career. New authors: Do you have other questions about finding an agent? Agented authors:  what questions would you add to this list? Agents: Describe your dream client.

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Dorothy LoveBefore moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times.  The second book, Beauty For Ashes, released  in early 2012. The third and final book, Every Perfect Gift, released at the end of 2012. CAROLINA GOLD, Dorothy’s next novel, a stand alone historical, was published last November. Her latest novel, THE BRACELET, releases December 9th. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: www.DorothyLoveBooks.com or her author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks

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