September 4, 2009
. . . Sharon Ball’s blog A Break from the Norm. Sharon’s a client who finaled in this year’s Genesis contest (Go, Sharon!), and she recently asked me some great questions about working with a freelance editor. If you’d like some professional help on your manuscript, I think you’ll enjoy the interview.
July 17, 2009
Did I already tell you all that I’ll be offering these critiques from time to time? My goal is to do one a month, at least. We’ll see how that fits into my schedule. Sometimes the I-can-do-this side of my brain goes into hyperdrive and needs an all-nighter to get recalibrated.
The winner is — Bonnie.
Bonnie, I’ll send you an email with the formatting for the ten pages.
Thanks for throwing your name in the hat, everyone. I always hate that only one person can win. Maybe next time I’ll have two winners. (See? That side of my brain is heading for the cliff.) Regardless, let’s do it again soon.
May 8, 2009
This week, the
Bethany House (March 1, 2009)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.
But that all changes when a former client–a man deeply connected in the Justice Department–is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he’d once sold, he quickly discovers he’s bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.
Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers–even lives. Charles soon learns he isn’t the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife–and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?
Sally Says: When I read the back cover copy on this book, I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to read it. It sounded like it was a political novel — which I’m not fond of – but the idea of secrets in rare books (and did I mention secrets?) intrigued me. So I thought I’d give a new author a try.
Paul Robertson is now on my automatic read list.
First, this isn’t a political novel, even though some of the characters are politicians. Charles Beale runs a rare book bookstore, and he stumbles upon secret papers when he buys back rare books he sold a client who’s been murdered in what seems to be a home break-in. Charles is a really well done character with a wonderful dry sense of humor. Each time he leaves the store, he asks one of his employees if they’ve sold anything. She tells him the latest book they’ve sold, and the rest of the scene, sometimes the day, plays off that book.
My favorite example was when they sold the Tom Swift books.
“Have we sold anything?” he asked Alice.
“The whole set of Tom Swift books.”
Two feet of shelf was empty. “What a large space,” he said hollowly.
“It is,” she said, broadly.
“Have Morgan order a new set,” he said, commandingly.
“I did it right away,” she said, quickly.”
Gotta love writing humor.
According to Their Deeds is a unique book because while it is described as a murder mystery/suspense, it’s a light-hearted and fun murder mystery/suspense. I think this book will have a broad audience — fans of mysteries, suspense, general fiction, humor — and especially readers who love the English language and appreciate the beauty of thoughtful, well-written prose.
This book shouldn’t be limited to readers of Christian fiction. While Charles and his lovely wife are Christians, the story doesn’t have a strong spiritual message. It’s just a really, really good read. It’s a book you can recommend to anyone, regardless of whether they read secular or Christian fiction.
There’s some good techniques in this book for writers to study too. Robertson uses a more distant POV with Charles, but it works really well because the plot is so good and there’s always something happening. Also, he knows how to not give back story in order to intrigue the reader. Charles and his wife are dealing with a past tragedy throughout the book, and we don’t know the details of that until much later in the book. But we’re never lost or confused.
So there it is, my first must-read of 2009. I can’t wait to get my hands on Robertson’s first two books.
January 16, 2008
WaterBrook Press (January 15, 2008)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual “Christian Writers’ Market Guide” for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children’s picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel–plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the “Christian Communicator,” “Advanced Christian Writer,” and the Oregon Christian Writers’ Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers’ Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.
Check out her blog!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!
Check out the section on Blogging on page 69…the CFBA is listed!
Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.
To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at http://www.stuartmarket.blogspot.com/.
A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.
Sally Says: This is a must for every writer, whether non-fiction or fiction. The book is, as always packed with publisher listings and magazine listings, but there’s so much more than that.
The book has writer resources, helps, and recommended books. Websites for fiction writing or tax info are given, online reference tools and legal concerns.
In the back are agent listings and freelance editing listings. I’m even in there on page 559. How cool is that?
And of course the book comes with a CD which lets you view the entire book on your computer.
All writers, go buy the book now. Read the introduction, read the How to Use This Book page. And then use it.
I already have.
July 16, 2007
Okay, I’m going to be
stupid brave and post my goals for this week. Maybe if I put them in writing, they’ll happen.
So I’m finishing an edit for a client. I hope to get that done today, and it may take me all day. Then I need to brainstorm with my critique partners on a new book called Kept that I want to pitch at the ACFW conference in September.
I haven’t done a lot of reading this summer, and I need to get back into that. I’m going to concentrate on recent releases from the houses of the editors I’ll be meeting with in September. So at some point I’ll need to run to the library and use that gift card I’ve got to Borders.
It’s also time to start working, too, on pitches and one-sheets. Ugh. I hate that part.
Plus I’m seriously trying to lose about 15 pounds before summer ends. Okay, I’d prefer to lose it by next Monday, but I like to eat and feel energetic too, so . . . middle August would be absolutely great. I’m back to getting up early each morning and spending quality time with the park district’s elliptical machine.
Plus I’m in charge of ACFW’s Forty Days of Prayer leading up to the conference. I need to get that out to our e-mail loop this week, hopefully by Wednesday, so people can start signing up to pray on specific days.
We also just finished our VBS. Our theme was Rescue Zone, and for our Friday night closing program we had about eight different rescue vehicles (and workers associated with them) on our church’s front lawn — huge plow/construction vehicle, roadside emergency vehicles, army vehicles, and a fire engine that got called to a fire at one point. We got to watch them jump into their gear while their ladder retracted. They backed out of the driveway (that took a minute or so), and as soon as they made it out, the call was cancelled and they pulled right back in. Made for a great show!
All that to say that my kids and a couple other families are going to make cookies tomorrow to take to the fire department and some other places as a thank you for spending their time with us. If I get my editing done that is.
So I’m busy. What am I doing blogging??? Sorry, I’ve got to run!
- On Wednesday–July’s novel giveaway announced, one of my favorite books of the last year!
July 11, 2007
No worries, Mom. I’m talking about writing.
I’ve been in editing mode for so long that creating mode is really freaking me out. If you think writing comes naturally to writers, think again. It’s hard, hard work, and most often our rough drafts are nasty rough.
I’m still in the early stages of the first draft of my book Shelf Life. I love the story. It’s far more complex than the last book I wrote. I’ve even written a nine-page outline of the thing, but where I am right now in the story is a black hole. I don’t know how we’ll get from here to where the action becomes clear again, and each time I sit down to write, I remember that the laundry needs to be folded or that I haven’t checked my e-mail in about 3 minutes or that my kids probably need their glasses refilled.
Frankly, I’m scared to type. I know it’s going to be — gulp — horribly bad.
But lately the desire to write has been building, no matter how awful my rough draft might be. I just want to write bad if that’s what it takes to get it on paper. And sadly, that’s what it will mean — rough drafts that will never see the light of day. If they do, I’ll be absolutely mortified.
But that draft is the building block to the finished product. I know that once I get those scenes on paper, once I print them out and sit down with my red pen and bleed all over the thing, I’ll have a good idea of what I need to add, what I need to delete, and what kind of work I’m looking at in my rewrite.
I can’t wait to get to that rewrite.
I’ll never get there if I don’t glue myself to my laptop and write a pathetic first draft.
So, deep breath, it’s time to do it. Time to step away from the e-mail, set my timer for the dryer, and let the kids refill their own glasses.
I’ve got to write.
March 24, 2007
Before I felt the burn, I felt the dream.
I’m one of those writers who’s “known” since third grade that I was going to write Christian fiction. That’s what God wanted me to do so it was going to happen.
Then I started writing.
Eventually I overheard myself repeating something as I wrote. “This scene is good, not quite like a published novel, but I’m tired. I’ll fix it next time around.”
After three or four rewrites like this, I realized my book had hit a ceiling. It wasn’t enough to have the dream or the call. I had to do the work. But how?
I eavesdropped on myself during the rewrite, waiting for that nasty procrastinator to appear. Didn’t take long. But this time I hijacked it.
Nope, I told it. Your little editing brain is staying right here in this scene, and we are SO not leaving till this reads like a published novel!
I was in chapter one for three weeks.
By the end, I was exhausted. I had studied what I’d written and analyzed what didn’t work, why it didn’t work, and what I needed to do to make it work. I grit my teeth and kept writing when scrubbing the bathroom floor sounded like crazy fun.
When I finished, I moved on to chapter two. Spent one week there.
Then chapter three. Another three weeks.
At this point, I was frustrated. So I was emerging with something far better than anything I’d ever written, but writing this way would take forever. Was this what real writing was like?
I kept going, and somehow my rewrites began to take less time. Chapters four and five flew past in less than a week. Chapter six a few days, chapter seven a day. I began to worry. Had I subconsciously reverted to procastinating?
As I read my finished chapters, I realized what had happened. I’d pushed through the burn of excercising new writing muscles.
I’d become a stronger writer.
In the past I had always stopped when the writing got hard, and so I’d plateaued. By forcing myself to stay with a scene until it worked on every level, I’d excercised writing muscles I never knew I had and in the process learned a whole lot about the novel.
And because I continued to push myself, being business-like about my words, the writing became easier. Not easy, of course, but easier because those muscles that had ached with their first use were now in shape. I could identify quickly what was wrong with my writing and how I should fix it. I could move faster through a manuscript and find behind me polished writing that breathed.
Where are you at in your writing? Have you felt the burn? Have you pushed through a scene until you learned some technique, understood a writing element, and left with your story ready for the world?
Don’t be satisfied with this round of rewrites. Push on. Feel the burn. And watch your writing muscles grow.