Monday, June 30, 2008

Writers Online Classes

My good friend and fellow author, Molly Noble Bull brought these online writing classes to my attention over the weekend. I thought some of my readers might be interested in taking advantage.

Not all of us can afford to attend an actual conference at this time. Costs can be high, distances great, and hey, who wants to put the gas in their tank to get there? Click here to see what classes are available. The rates are reasonable and there is something for everyone.

Happy Writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pesonality Test

I took this test just for's a good thing because I don't think it got me at all. No one has ever thought I'm overbearing. I'm a big pushover who can be talked into anything. And any business I ran, would probably be run into the ground. But maybe they know something I don't.

Anyway, take the test and let me know how you do.

You Are An ENTJ

The Executive

You are a natural leader - with confidence and strength that inspires others.

Driven to succeed, you are always looking for ways to gain, power, knowledge, and expertise.

Sometimes you aren't the most considerate person, especially to those who are a bit slow.

You are not easily intimidated - and you have a commanding, awe-inspiring presence.

In love, you hold high standards... for yourself, for your relationship, and for your significant other.

While it's easy for you to impress others, it's hard for you to find someone who impresses you.

At work, you are organized and good at delegating. You understand how to achieve goals.

You would make a great CEO, entrepreneur, or consultant.

How you see yourself: Rational, calm, and objective

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Inflexible, controlling, and overbearing

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Copper Fire--A Novel

I'd like to welcome my guest today Suzanne Woods Fisher and congratulate her on the release of her latest historical novel.

Suzanne novel Copper Fire, is the sequel to the three-time award-winning Copper Star, a World War II love story inspired by true events. Fisher was a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her work has appeared in Today’s Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, and Marriage Partnership. She has contributed to ten non-fiction books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs. A wife and mother, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The best thing about being a writer, she feels, is that all of life becomes material for writing. It’s all grit for the oyster.

Check here to learn more about Suzanne. During the month of June, Suzanne is running a book-a-day-giveaway contest. To enter, scoot on over to her blog or pop her an e-mail:

Copper Star (ISBN: 0-9793327-4-5) and Copper Fire (ISBN: 978-0-981-5592-0-9) are available at Amazon or other on-line booksellers, at Suzanne’s website, or can be ordered through your favorite bookstore.

1. Who do you want to meet and why?
If I could pluck one person out of history (aside from the Lord Jesus, of course), it would be Simon Peter. He's someone we can all relate to (so VERY human), and we see a before-and-after picture of him in Scripture. A little unusual! This fall, I'm going to be speaking at a women's church retreat on Peter. The entire weekend will be about Peter! So he's on my mind a lot lately. A lot.

2. What’s your favorite comfort food?
Just one?!

3. What would be your dream vacation?
An Indian Summer Fall on Nantucket Island, when all of the summer people have gone home and it's quiet. Oh, I need my computer with me. It's an inspiring place to be!

4. Is there anyone who has influenced / encouraged you to write other than God who ultimately gives us any talents including creativity? Who and how / why?
My niece, Hilary. She gave me a book by Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write (published in 1938) that has this quote in it: "Everyone is talent, original, and has something important to say." Reading that became that "moment" when I took the plunge to write a novel. Kept it a secret, though, even from my family, for five months!

5. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first book?
As I said, I wrote the novel secretly, in a cramped laundry room on an antediluvian computer. When I finished, I told my family that I had written a book, and my teenaged son said, "So that's why there's no food in this house!"

From that point, came first readers, and queries, proposals, rejections, more proposals, and finally, an offer from a little publishing house, Vintage Inspirations. It was 2 1/2 years, from start to finish. I remember that afternoon when the UPS guy delivered the pre-publication copies. I was just about five feet away from that laundry room...but what a journey!

6. What else have you written / are you currently writing (including unpublished works)?
Grit for the Oyster is a devotion for aspiring writers that will be out in late August. It was written with three other wonderful writers and I think will be very well received. For the Love of Dogs is a novel, set in 1969, about a woman going blind, learning to have faith in things unseen. It will be released in February 2009. In Spring 2010, Amish Peace in an English Life (non-fiction) will be published by Revell/Baker.

7. What first gave you the idea for the Copper Springs books?
I had an interest in Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and an interest in the John Tracy Clinic...their histories collided in 1943, so that's where the story began.

8. What else would you like to share with readers about yourself or Copper Fire?
I have been a non-fiction writer for twenty years, and always thought I couldn't write fiction, that a writer was on one side or the other. Not true! All of my research skills made my fiction writing more credible. And writing fiction has helped me "jazz" up my non-fiction writing.

9. Share with us one of the craziest things you've done or that's happened to you?
Hmmm...sometimes, I can't believe I'm writing books! Especially fiction. Just amazed.

10. What five books would you take with you to a desert island?
NIV Study Bible, and four books about surviving on a desert island.

11. What concept or scripture is God revealing more deeply to you in this season of your life? And how is that revelation influencing your life?
"Do not despise small beginnings" (Zechariah). I love that thought...starting small.

12. Why did you start writing and when?

As a child. Loved to read and write! But I was never, ever identified as a good writer!

13. How do you choose names and get to know your characters?

When writing historical fiction, I look for popular names of that time. Developing the characters takes a while...but soon, they really come to life in my mind.

14. What’s your favorite character / scene from the Copper Springs books (so far)?
I really like Louisa's flawed character, and her sense of humor about herself. She inspires me not to take myself too seriously.

15. Do you have any teasers you can share for the next Copper Springs book (if there is one planned) or your next project?
I was at a book club the other day and the women encouraged me to write another book because they wanted to see what happens to Elisabeth and Danny, Aunt Martha and the judge. I finished up Copper Fire so that the reader feels "satisfied." (I hate books that just set you up for the sequel.) the back of my mind, I do think about fast forwarding the family a few years, placing Danny in Israel in its infancy.

16. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to share?
Thanks, Teresa, so much for hosting me today!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

E-books: The wave of the future

Got this from Paul Krugman's NYT's Bits, Bands and Books blurb. I thought it was interesting since I've been tossing around the idea of writing a nonfiction ebook on writing. I'm only posting an excerpt here. Go to Mr. Krugman's blog if you want to read the introduction.

"...In 1994, one of those gurus, Esther Dyson, made a striking prediction: that the ease with which digital content can be copied and disseminated would eventually force businesses to sell the results of creative activity cheaply, or even give it away. Whatever the product — software, books, music, movies — the cost of creation would have to be recouped indirectly: businesses would have to “distribute intellectual property free in order to sell services and relationships.”

For example, she described how some software companies gave their product away but earned fees for installation and servicing. But her most compelling illustration of how you can make money by giving stuff away was that of the Grateful Dead, who encouraged people to tape live performances because “enough of the people who copy and listen to Grateful Dead tapes end up paying for hats, T-shirts and performance tickets. In the new era, the ancillary market is the market.”

Indeed, it turns out that the Dead were business pioneers. Rolling Stone recently published an article titled “Rock’s New Economy: Making Money When CDs Don’t Sell.” Downloads are steadily undermining record sales — but today’s rock bands, the magazine reports, are finding other sources of income. Even if record sales are modest, bands can convert airplay and YouTube views into financial success indirectly, making money through “publishing, touring, merchandising and licensing.”

What other creative activities will become mainly ways to promote side businesses? How about writing books?

According to a report in The Times, the buzz at this year’s BookExpo America was all about electronic books. Now, e-books have been the coming, but somehow not yet arrived, thing for a very long time. (There’s an old Brazilian joke: “Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be.” E-books have been like that.) But we may finally have reached the point at which e-books are about to become a widely used alternative to paper and ink.

That’s certainly my impression after a couple of months’ experience with the device feeding the buzz, the Amazon Kindle. Basically, the Kindle’s lightness and reflective display mean that it offers a reading experience almost comparable to that of reading a traditional book. This leaves the user free to appreciate the convenience factor: the Kindle can store the text of many books, and when you order a new book, it’s literally in your hands within a couple of minutes.

It’s a good enough package that my guess is that digital readers will soon become common, perhaps even the usual way we read books.

How will this affect the publishing business? Right now, publishers make as much from a Kindle download as they do from the sale of a physical book. But the experience of the music industry suggests that this won’t last: once digital downloads of books become standard, it will be hard for publishers to keep charging traditional prices.

Indeed, if e-books become the norm, the publishing industry as we know it may wither away. Books may end up serving mainly as promotional material for authors’ other activities, such as live readings with paid admission. Well, if it was good enough for Charles Dickens, I guess it’s good enough for me.

Now, the strategy of giving intellectual property away so that people will buy your paraphernalia won’t work equally well for everything. To take the obvious, painful example: news organizations, very much including this one, have spent years trying to turn large online readership into an adequately paying proposition, with limited success.

But they’ll have to find a way. Bit by bit, everything that can be digitized will be digitized, making intellectual property ever easier to copy and ever harder to sell for more than a nominal price. And we’ll have to find business and economic models that take this reality into account.

It won’t all happen immediately. But in the long run, we are all the Grateful Dead.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Appearances better not be deceiving

Last time I talked about how a trip to the library spurs my creativity. Like the majority of readers, the title on the spine is the first thing that attracts me. The average reader spends three seconds looking at the front cover. If it's appealing enough, they will flip the book over or peek inside the jacket to read the synopsis for another ten seconds or so.

Not long to leave an impression, is it? Puts a lot of pressure on everyone involved in the book design process. I suppose that's why many writers are allowed little or no input in their book's appearance. The designers have it down to a science on what will sell and what won't. We writers shouldn't complain though we have a vision early on about what our book should look like.

I can't count the number of times I've brought a book home based on its appearance, only to be disappointed once I started reading. Either the title grabbed my attention or I was lured in by the back copy. Then the story didn't live up to my expectations.

Many times the author's name tempts me to take it home. That's another thing designers capitalize on. You can always tell when you've arrived as a writer; if your name if bigger than the book title. Like many readers, I've raced to the bookstore upon the release of my favorite author's latest to find a huge display in the middle of the store and long lines waiting for the author's signing.

Alas, I don't think many readers have gotten stuck in traffic waiting for my latest release. But I'm holding out hope.

So what inspires you to part with your hard earned money on a book? I gotta admit most of my reading is done at the expense of my public library. I love the place. For the inspiration as much as the reading material.

Pay attention next time you're perusing the shelves to see what grabs you. Then notice if the hype lives up to the content inside the book. Don't disappoint your readers. You may never get another chance to make it up to them.

Happy reading.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's all in the Title

Nothing quites spurs my creativity like a trip to my local library. Just seeing shelf after shelf of books, untapped minefields of potential discovery, magic, and yes, disappointment, is enough to get me fantasizing about all the books lurking inside me. Lurking inside each of us, really.

The real creativity kicks in once I start pulling titles off the shelf. I often marvel at the genius behind some of the titles on these books. How did the writer or marketing department inside the publishing house or whoever, choose those two words that would make me want to know more? It's an art each writer needs to learn.

I am very impressed by writers who consistently come up with intriguing titles that are a perfect fit for the book. Titles are usually the hardest part for me. Sometimes I come up with a wonderful title and file it away, waiting for the book to present itself years later. With other books, the title comes pretty easily. RE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO DARCY CARTER. I think I had that title worked out before writing the first word. Other titles come during the course of writing the book. A word or a phrase inside the story reveals itself, letting me know where my title lies. RE: A TENDER REED and EVIDENCE OF GRACE.

The there are stories where the title is elusive and contrary, like in the case of my current work in progress. I am in the editing and polishing stages, looking forward to sending it off by the end of the month and I still don't have a title. Barely even a theme for a title. I'm thinking of sending it in untitled, but I hate to do that. Someone inside the publishing house might come up with a title that doesn't suit my vision at all.

Song titles and lyrics are usually a goldmine of possibilities, especially the old hymns. I guess I'll go online in a few days to search through those for that elusive title. Something that will make a potential reader yank the book off the shelf in anticipation.

If you have any suggestions or methods that work for you, let me know. Even after all these years, it's an art that continues to elude me.

Happy Hunting.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Love Inspired Authors

This note is to let you know about the GRAND RE-OPENING CELEBRATION over at Love Inspired Authors. They have just updated their group website.

The Love Inspired authors are posting and offering individual giveaways. Linda Hall just posted a really good one in which someone can win a copy of her latest, SHADOWS IN THE WINDOW. In addition, they hold quarterly contests. And the prize this time will be SUPER DUPER with all the new authors contributing to the pot. Visitors should drop in and make a comment on the blog and then stop and register on the contest page.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Terror at the pumps

Analysts announce this morning that soaring gas prices have crippled the U.S. economy.

DUH! I wonder how long it took them to come up with that data. Oh, that's right. Three years. That's when gas prices first went over two dollars a gallon and Americans saw a major recession on the horizon. Thankfully the analysts have finally caught up.

So, how has the skyrocketing fuel costs affected your book promotions and marketing plans? Most authors I've talked to are taking things online more than ever. Just because you can't afford to get behind the wheel of your car doesn't mean there's nothing you can do to promote yourself and your writing.

Blog tours are relatively painless and free if you play your cards right. Revamping your website can attract new readers without forcing you to travel several hours to nearby bookstores. Combining a book tour with other authors in your genre can boost media coverage while making it possible to share travel costs.

Cutbacks within the industry and a sagging economy that isn't going to rebound is forcing writers to examine the way they network and market themselves and their books. Like every other industry, we must rethink the way we do business.

One thing that hasn't changed is the need to write an outstanding book. Now more than ever, we must focus on craft and stand out above the rest.

Happy Monday and happy writing.

Friday, June 06, 2008

What are you doing with your dreams?

Yesterday I posted an article by Misty Taggart about the perils of Hollywood on one's career. It's easy to listen to others when they say, or even imply, that we're too old or not photogenic enough or smart enough to succeed in the world. Media examples tell us over and over if we're more than a size six, don't have a list of initials after our name, or have a gray hair or wrinkle, we have nothing to contribute to the world.

Shame on us for buying into the garbage. We do have something to offer the world because Jesus said we do. We are more than conquerers through him and by him. We don't have to measure ourselves against the world, who hates us anyway in case you forgot.

I recently began working on a book about writing, a subject I know a little about and love to teach. Immediately the enemy began to whisper in my ear that there are already too many books on the subject. Books by people more qualified than me. I almost listened.

What could I possibly add to an inundated market? What makes me think I'm talented enough to write this book?

Well, why shouldn't I? I am living proof that an unagented, not-so-smart, first time writer can find a traditional publisher. I speak at conferences and am asked all the time about how to break into the field.

All you hear these days is to dare to dream. Dreaming is a blessing. It's the first step to something bigger. Just make sure you don't stop with your dreams. A dream that never comes to fruition, whether through fear or self-imposed limitations, won't do a thing to edify your brother or sister.

If there's something you want to do, something you're dreaming about, don't let the enemy tell you you can't do it or you're not qualified. Listen to the one who loves you, the Creator of heaven and earth, who says you can do all things through his loving grace.

Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hollywood Screenwriter takes on Real Life

"I thought my life was over."

Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret
by Misty Taggart

I was living my dream. To be a Hollywood writer was everything I had wanted since I was a very young child. There was never a time in my life when I didn't know absolutely what I wanted to do. And there I was, a member of the WGA, a working Hollywood screenwriter. It was glorious. My life was so exciting! Each day was an adventure full of running to studios, pitching stories, writing and rewriting. Location shoots and lunching with Hollywood insiders.

I was so very fortunate to meet William Hanna of Hanna/Barbera fame. He told me he liked my "drive" ... my passion. It reminded him of his own. Bill quickly became my mentor and very good friend. He believed in me and my talent so much that it was this famous and very generous man who made it possible for me to be one of the first women to ever write for animation. Until then, it had been a closed boys club ... and yet, there I was writing dog dialogue for Scooby Doo in my own office at Hanna/Barbera Productions! How incredible it was to be sitting in the many recording sessions with all the big name voice-over talent.

I was so proud as I watched my talented husband, Joe, appearing on Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and Three's Company. Our friends were all in the business. We were surrounded by lights, cameras and action, all the things I had dreamed of and worked so hard to attain. It was an exciting time in my life. The strange thing was, I thought it would go on forever.

But under all the glamour and the fun, if you are in this industry very long you will find Hollywood's dirty little secret. What is that? Well ... Hollywood will not allow you to grow older! They simply won't allow it! They don't say it ... but it is made very clear. Opportunities to pitch stories stop coming your way. Meetings are difficult, if not impossible to get. It is heartbreaking and irreversible. You are on your way out! It is as though the "Hollywood Powers-That-Be" believe a human brain stops working, in any cognitive fashion, when you near the BIG 50! (A testimony to that thinking can be had by simply watching current TV.) I laugh when I think that just perhaps their skewed thinking has come back to bite them in the behind!

When it was clear that my life as a Hollywood Screenwriter was over, I was truly devastated. I felt my whole life finished. Depression and fears set in--stealing any joy I had left. Hollywood had done a good job on me. I bought all of the lies. And those lies almost killed me.

I was convinced my dream had been stolen. I was too old to ever have other dreams or to truly enjoy my life ever again. Going on living that way, wasn't an option.

But I was so very wrong! God simply had new dreams for me in this season of my life. But I didn't come to this discovery easily. It's taken time and the willingness to work with my own Life Coach. No, she didn't do it for me, but she listened to me ... gave me new ways to look at my life. Things I hadn't thought about in my devastated, crisis state. She asked the hard questions and I found answers. It was an amazing process.

Could it be that I was getting excited about life again? Together, my coach and I made a PLAN OF ACTION that fit me perfectly. I began slowly but surely to move toward a new dream.

My life coach shared her knowledge, giving me many incredible and solid life tools to deal head on with my depression and feelings of worthlessness. My faith became stronger and I was empowered to see the possibilities God was offering to me. And, with her encouragement, I had the desire to reach out and grab them! Wasn't this what Bill Hanna had loved about me? My drive! My enthusiasm? I realized I was the only one who had given up on me. God had done His part, as always .. now it took action on my part.

Would I give up on the rest of my life, brokenhearted over the past? Or would I find new vistas to conquer? I had a choice to make and I chose LIFE! I chose TODAY and all of my tomorrows. I looked at my life and all of the many trials and victories. I longed to share that with other women. To let them know they could achieve their dreams. It all became so clear! I began the study necessary for me to become a Certified Christian Life Coach. With my faithful readers, like you, at Ordinary Woman/Extraordinary God, who had been with me for so long, I began my practice.

Now, I want YOU all to experience the POSSIBILITIES for your lives! Don't give up! The definition of life is CHANGE. Helping other women walk through transitions using what I had been through myself became my passion ... My life is once again filled with excitement and I get up each day with true joy. I look forward to the day.

God had not taken dreams away, but given me new ones.

This is why I'm so passionate about Life Coaching. I've been where you are! Let's do this together.

Don't you want a Life Coach who has been in those stuck and dark places ... a coach who knows how it feels to be frozen in place by fear and hopelessness? Give it a 4-week try! You will be amazed at what you will accomplish.


For more about Misty's Life Coaching, go to:


Misty is making this new 1-month Life Coaching experience available to you for free, if you are the grand prize winner of this blog tour drawing. Did I say free? I meant to say FREE! $75 value. Great opportunity. Don't miss out! Leave your comment here to be entered in this great contest.

And for those of you who don't win, here's another freebie for you:

Start your week off with inspiration & a coaching tip of the week!

Listen as Misty gives 2 - Live 10-min Laser Coaching Sessions. Each Monday!

10am (Pacific) - 11am (MNT) - Noon (Central) - 1pm (Eastern)

To join us on this Free call or to receive a Free Laser Session with Misty on the call CLICK HERE to SEND an Email!
You will receive a return email with the Dial-In number and Access Code! MARK YOUR CALENDARS!


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Get outta my way!

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of making each character in your ms or in your next book unique from all your other characters. You may have a brand in your genre that makes you familiar with your readers, but you don't want each book to be the same story simply set in a different locale and happening to the same people with different last names.

Now let's explore ways to insure you--the writer--get out of the way and let the characters tell the story.

Your novel is not about you. It is more than your chance at immortality. It is a story about a group of fascinating and intriguing people who happened to be created by you. Let them tell the story their way.

In my book, REDEMPTION'S SONG, I created two characters for the sole purpose of filling a role I thought the book needed. Neither character would cooperate with all the scenes I wrote for them. I was trying to force them into a role that didn't fit. Eventually I realized what I was trying to do would never work so I scrapped the scenes and let the characters be who they were. The book turned out much better for the effort.

Never manipulate your characters. It may sound strange if you haven't been writing long, but the writer must step back and let the characters tell the story. After all, it's their story, not yours. Get out of the way. Blend into the background. Don't have them spout your political views or preach your message to the reader.

Let the characters do what comes naturally to them, not what you think the book needs. Let them react naturally to the situations they find themselves in. Your book will be better for it and your reader will thank you. Have faith in the characters you created.

Happy Writing.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Don't I know you?

A big problem of multi-published writers is coming up with unique characters to tell their not-so-unique stories. If you are a fan of an author who's been around a while, you may have noticed their characters have many of the same qualities. Jaded career women who can't commit because of past hurts. Physical male characters with tattoos and bruised egos they cover up with hard language and hard living. Aging debutantes with haunting pasts that keep her from drawing closer to those she loves.

I have nothing against formulas, especially ones that work. Writing is a business and we need formulas to tell us what works, what doesn't, and most importantly, what sells. When readers go into a bookstore for the latest Grisham or Clark or Patterson because they know what to expect. At least they have an idea of what they're in for.

The writer must be wary though that each character isn't a barely disguised rip-off of the last hero or heroine. In my books I tend to have one older female character with plenty of wisdom and opinions she isn't shy about bestowing on anyone within earshot, especially my heroine. I love this type of character and I think I portray her well. But I don't want every book to be littered with the same stiping aunt or grandmother, just with a different name and hairstyle.

How do writers give the reader want she wants and expects without ripping off their own last bestseller?

Stay true to character. Pay attention to detail. You may know several hard fisted, truck drivers with Mom complexes, but they are all individuals, regardless of their similarities. Give your characters a unique personality even if you've tackled their type before. It's all in the degrees, not to mention the different situations in which you put each character.

Readers will resent you more if your book does not live up to their expectations. Keep surprising them. Keep delighting them. And give them what they've come to expect from you, a fantastic story.