Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Did writing save your life?

"[If I] hadn't become a writer ... I would have been stabbed to death in the parking lot outside a bar in Florida at 24, or something like that. I really believe that, actually. I think writing saved my life."

~~Russell Banks , (books by this author ) born in Newton, Massachusetts (1940), who wrote Continental Drift (1985), The Sweet Hereafter (1992), and Cloudsplitter (1998)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Tip...Addiction

Okay, someone has to stop me. I’m addicted … to Writer’s Digest Book Club.

I’m in their monthly book club. They sucked me in a few years ago with the offer of four free books. Boy, did they win out on that one.

Rarely a month goes by when I don’t order a book! This month I’m ordering four:

You Don’t Have to Be Famous: How to Write Your Life Story

Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction

Page After Page

Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher

Plus, I get two free books because I’ve bought so much in the past

What I Know: Letters to My Younger Self

13 Ways of Looking at the Novel: Jane Smiley

Somebody stop me!

Truthfully though I learn SO much from books on writing. I’ve rarely been disappointed by any writing book. I always come away with something I can apply to my work. Always.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Voices and Voyages...

One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone long dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.

~~Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blogging Series...

For the next few weeks I'll be running a series on Blogs!

Blogs, BLOGS, Blogs...

What are they, who are they for, why are they effective, how to blog, and more. I encourage you all to leave your feedback and tips as well. I have lots of blogging experience, but I'd love to hear your blogging successes! Ever learning...

Last week we talked about the blog's scope and reach. Go here.

This week we're addressing:

Who? Who should blog?

I will not start by saying that everyone should blog. If the idea of having to write a daily on-line journal stresses you out, then blogging is not for you.

But you should consider blogging if you can say yes to any of the following:

  1. I want to build a larger readership.
  2. I want a larger web presence.
  3. I have more information about me, my writing, my life than I know what to do with.
  4. I am pretty technically savvy.
  5. I like to write.
  6. I like immediate feedback.
  7. I like free stuff. (You can set up a blog for free, and people often send you free stuff, like books if you promise to review them on your blog.)

If you answered yes to those things, then blogging may be for you.

And if you're already a blogger, check out my friend Amy's blog: 10 Signs You're a Blogging Addict!

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Mother taught me...

I found this great quote over at Mary E. deMuth's blog...

Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, said this about her mother's help in her writing career:

"She taught me
to write 1000 words a day,
stay focused,
not get dragged down
by the negativity
in the publishing business
and to have fun.
If you can't have fun writing,
then what's the point?"

Friday, June 22, 2007

35 Things you need to know about writing...

Check out 1-6 here, and 7-9 here.

#10: If you plan to do your writing only when you have free time, you’ll never get beyond the first few pages. Make a regular schedule and do your best to stick to it.
marlo schalesky

#11: Your non-writing friends will not understand “I have to write.” Tell them you have to work. That they’ll understand.
marlo schalesky

#12: Consider what books you enjoy reading best. Why do you like those types of books? Make a list of reasons. Now, when you craft your novel, make sure you add in these elements. You have to love your story more than anyone. You don't just want to start a project because you think it will sell, but because there's a passion for the story.
tricia goyer

#13: When you think about your main conflict for your story, don't forget that books have many layers. in addition think of different problems that could arise for your character. They could be complications to the main problem or altogether different problems. These can be woven together to build one fantastic plot.
tricia goyer

#14: When working with your antagonist, don't just make him all bad. Think of one area in which he tries to be a good person. This will add depth to the character and surprise your reader.
tricia goyer

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday Tip...Writing Non-fiction

My all-time-favorite advice for writing non-fiction!

Craft something specifically to meet the felt-need of your audience.

Just as if you wouldn’t knit a sweater that fits YOU and sent it out to others trying to sell it, so you don’t craft an article or book proposal with your fit in mind. Or a one-size-fits-all. Who really believes that?

I think “package” when I create a proposal. For example, when I wrote a parenting book for Gen Xers (Generation NeXt Parenting), I thought about their fit. I use 80s song titles, short chapters, lots of input from Gen-Xers as side quotes, and I write about topics that fit them.

When I wrote for teen girls (My Life, Unscripted), I centered everything on the drama of their lives. The book is about writing their own script for their lives. I crafted actual scripts from my teen years … ones for them NOT to follow. I use screen writing themes and carried these over for my chapters. And I describe the Bible as God’s drama. I also included comments from real-life drama from girls. Teen girls LOVE this book. Gen Xers love the parenting book … because it fits them. They think, “Finally, something just for me!”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.

~~ Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter,
Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blogging series...A Blog Story

For the next few weeks I'll be running a series on Blogs!

Blogs, BLOGS, Blogs...

What are they, who are they for, why are they effective, how to blog, and more. I encourage you all to leave your feedback and tips as well. I have lots of blogging experience, but I'd love to hear your blogging successes! Ever learning...

Who is reading your blog? You never know.

This is a letter I received from someone who read my blog title Club Sandwich, which was about my balance between raising kids and caring for my grandmother in my home. (I cut it down for your benefit.)

Hi, Tricia.
My name is Melanie. I noticed from your post "Club Sandwich" that not only are you a member of the sandwich generation, but have had issues with your grandma's Medicare coverage. Because of that, I thought you might be interested in this campaign.
I should let you know that I am writing to you on behalf of Prilosec OTC . . .
More information about Prilosec OTC and the coverage gap can be found at here:
I also have the applicable press information if you’re interested - you may also qualify for a free sample of Prilosec OTC that you or you one of your readers could try. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. If you're interested I have some other topics that should be of interest to Gen Xers that I'd be happy to send your way. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me personally.
(who works for Prilosec OTC)

This story has a point: The world is starting to pay attention to bloggers as an easy and inexpensive way to spread the word of mouth about the product.

And don’t think blogging is going to go away. The generations growing up live in a digital world. They like instant information and interaction via the Internet. The new “neighborhoods” that kids grow up with has expanded world-wide.

If Prilosec OTC knows the power of connecting with people through blogging shouldn’t you?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Live deeply...

My friend James Coggins sent this to me!

When I first started writing, a newspaper editor gave me this one, which I have since found quite helpful and profound, even challenging: "If you want to be a great writer, live deeply." Unfortunately, I've lost the reference, but I did write a poem about the quote. After all, who wants to live deeply, since that can be painful?

Friday, June 15, 2007

35 Things you need to know about writing...

Check out 1-6 here.

#7: 80,000 words is a LOT of words.

#8: You are not in charge, your characters are. They'll want to change things. For the good of you both (and the good of the story) let them have their way.

#9: Be able to sum up your hero and heroine's conflict - what they want versus what they need - in a paragraph.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday Tip...Writing with children...

Here is a story from Patty Hickman. It will be included the book Our Horn of Plenty, WaterBrook Press/Random House in the coming two years.

I’m going no mail because all of this chatter, like always, is just too much of a temptation. But before signing off, I’d like to comment on the thread that comes up from time to time about writer’s boundaries concerning family.

We promote Townsend and Cloud’s Book Boundaries in our church and I have to exercise boundaries with church folks and relatives. But when it comes to my children, I take a different approach than some writers and many will not agree with me, but I felt led to share this for those who may feel differently about how you keep office hours. As long as you do it according to God’s plan for you, that’s your accountability. (and guilt relief!)

When I came home to write, I had been in a high pressure job environment in Washington D.C. It was good in that it made me wise to the world and thick-skinned. But it also made me callous and that included toward my family. While I may have had the world by the tail in my office, my family was falling apart. At the time we had two children and they were growing up nurtured mostly by their dad, and even that was hit-and-miss. My son’s ADHD was a reason for me to pour myself into my work, let my hubby deal with his problems. I told myself that parenting wasn’t my thing and God had tooled me to administrate. I wanted to become a CEO and I could work those upper strings like mad.

But as my hubby and I drifted apart, the Lord gave me a picture of myself (yes, I claimed to be a Christian) that sickened me. I had to become literally sick of my own sin and pride. As a woman who has healed-up inwardly in my small group says, “I had to become ashamed before God.” One day I was sitting in my office, very content to stay the way I was. I had a staff of eighteen and we were rehabbing a D.C. high rise mixed-used building. I had just given everyone their day’s orders and was preparing my report. My rents were climbing so swiftly and my clientele profile elevating so much so that my boss called me panicking. I had quadrupled the rents. Was I insane?

I told him to come and pick up the new leases of the wealthy new clients moving into the building. Even the corporation owner’s wife was dropping in to visit me and get my opinions on matters like color schemes. The CEO was starting to call me directly rather than go through my own boss, and I was even managing that carefully so as not to upset my boss. Then my concierge got a phone call. My little girl had not shown up for school. She was going to this brand new neighborhood school that was a three mile bus ride from our home. I had put her on the bus myself. How could they lose her between my house and the school? The principal was in a panic and was racing to the classroom while I was packing up my briefcase to take a one and a half hour subway ride home to start the hunt for Jessica in a dangerous metropolitan city.

God had already been working on me which is why I took that job and left behind another that had required 70 hour weeks of me. But this was his final way of breaking through to me. In those few seconds, I felt a literal death inside of me, but also the birth of something I had never understood because of my upbringing—a passion for my kids! In that few minutes between my desk and that front door, I told the Lord, “I know that it’s taken a lot of retooling to get me to do what you want, but if you’ll give me back my little girl, I’ll leave this job and do anything you want.” Funny how pressure causes God’s will to pop to the surface!

Just before heading out the door, the concierge called me back and said, “The teacher didn’t take the roll right. She counted Jessica absent when she’s really there.” I nearly fainted.

At the same time that was going on in my life, God was calling Randy into ministry. We sat down as a couple and decided what we wanted our life to look like. We wanted a ministry life that glorified God and yet didn’t backburner our children. God was doing such a transformational work in me that I was literally craving my children’s company. I would use the same job skills to work and become a stay-at home mom as a writer and our children would get the full attention of us. They were only going to be with us so long and we wanted them to enter adulthood loving God and loving us.

Little did we know that Jessi would be called home at the age of twenty. I’ve often thought about those few years that we home schooled, the field trips, the home art classes and figuring out algebra, all the while I was writing novels. But we were together, doing life together! They could interrupt me any time with an important question or if they just wanted to tell me what was going on in their life.

What did I give up? Probably hours I could have spent marketing my books or actually meeting deadlines. But God gave Randy and me a biblical picture of family success. The world’s success calls our life a huge failure. What do they know? If they don’t know the beauty and transformational work of surrendering to Jesus Christ, they will know only an empty dead end, and I’ll say the same thing to ambitious Christians. My caboose, Jared, will graduate high school next year. He is a driving leader type and if we had not have stayed on our toes, we would have lost him, but he is serving God and we still do a home bible study with him. Josh has applied for the millionth time to music school. He may or may not be accepted, but either way our relationship is intact and he loves God.
So I haven’t written a hundred books in fourteen years, more like sixteen.But I’m building something eternal. I’m still a high energy choleric, but just a retooled one. As we aim Jared toward the graduation finish line next year, I’m building up the energy and plan to increase my speaking engagements and retooling to market myself. But I also remember I have a hubby to love and care for too.

I have a product that I’m very proud of regarding my writing. I’m a confident writer in that I feel good about what I submit to the editor; maybe this time under the radar has given me confidence as a writer or maybe it’s just my confidence in God. I just say all this to you younger moms and dads who beat yourself up and worry over that ridiculous best seller list. We all have our seasons, but the important thing is that we are building a life that holds eternal value and is shaped by God.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

River Teeth

My friend, Jane Kirkpatrick, sent this to me...

“David James Duncan {River Teeth} in his introduction explains that ‘river teeth’ are the little icons of wood whittled out of fallen trees by the abrasive action of rivers – the enduring knots of greatest density. This named idea enables Duncan to gather a series of ‘tales’ and ‘epiphanies’ into a cohesive sequence. They are short. They are dense. They have survived in the mind by the tenacity of their importance. And now they want to be together. What is this book – fiction? Yes. Memoir? Yes. And it reads like, well – river teeth.”

~~Kim Stafford in The Muses Among Us, Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

To Answer Your Question...

Some people ask when I know my novel is done. The answer is . . . I don't
think I ever would ever be finished if it wasn't for a deadline. How could
one ever look at a whole body of work and say, "It is perfect."

There are always descriptions to deepen and dialogue to make more
believable. The ending . . . well, is never quite right, and there are
always those few places that bug me. The words I can never get quite right.

Working with critique partners helps. Working with editors does too. But
still I can see so many weak spots.

Even now I'm reading the galley for my upcoming novel. I'm suppose to be
just checking for errors, but I can STILL see things I'd like to change.

Since I am human, I'll never write a perfect novel. But still, as I send the
comments back with the galley, knowing that whatever is there will be in
print ... I have to say "It is finished."

Just like a day is finished, without everything getting done, the
realization comes that a novel will never be perfect. And it never can be.

Still, I can rest easy at night knowing God strengthened me and guided me
and knowing that I gave it my best . . . and knowing that even without
perfection God can use my story to touch hearts. And with that I can say,
"It is good."

Friday, June 8, 2007

35 Things you need to know about writing...

#1: Realize that as you sit down at your desk to pen the 'Great American Novel' you may want to write 'the book of your heart', but you must also write a novel that's marketable to today's readers. These two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive-you can do both. You just need to be aware of both facets as you write. Then once you're done, you must somehow shift how you view your novel (easily said, not as easily done), because your novel, once published, becomes a product. And that product will be scrutinized, criticized, idolized and pulverized, all before the book even hits the shelves (you've heard of book reviews)! You must learn to write your best with where you are now. You cannot write today's story with the skills you will have acquired ten years from now. Write the story with the skill level you have today. That's the only way to get better. So, write from your heart while knowing your market, and once you've written the book, release it and let it go, trusting it to the One who called you to write it in the first place.
tamara alexander

#2: It's okay to write post-it-notes to your imaginary characters,But if they start to write notes back to you, you're in trouble.
sharon hinck

#3: Before starting your novel--
"There are going to be hard spots. Don't let that fool you into thinking it's not good. Some of my best passages came from sitting at a computer for days, staring at a white screen, trying to come up with something interesting."
rene gutteridge

#4: Purge from your vocabulary the redundant "fiction novel." A book that is fiction is a novel. A novel is fiction. It seems that might be point one that a writer should know before they begin writing.
robin lee hatcher

#5: Do NOT quit your day job
cheryl hodde

#6: STUDY. Read novels, read books about writing novels, take novel writing courses, attend conferences, connect to other writers.
cheryl hodde

I'll post a few more next Friday! And if you have something we Need to know shoot me an email!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thursday Tip...ACFW!

I love having things to look forward to. Things to dream about and plan for. One of the things I'm dreaming, planning, and PREPPING for is the ACFW Conference coming in September.

Haven't heard of ACFW? Then let me tell you! ACFW stands for American Christian Fiction Writers. You can find out all about this organization by going to http://www.acfw.com/.

I joined about four years ago, yet this will be my first conference. I've heard so many wonderful things about it ... I can't wait!

One cool thing is that these writers have amazing taste. My novels Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights have BOTH won Book of the Year for Historical Fiction from ACFW.

This conference also has EXCELLENT teachers. I'll be teaching a Continuing Session this year on Writing Historical Fiction. You can check out the other continuing sessions here: http://www.acfw.com/conference/sessions.shtml

Other teachers include Deborah Raney, Randy Ingermanson, Colleen Coble, Rachel Hauck, just to name a few!

Have I piqued your interested yet? If so, then maybe you'd be interested in joining me September 20 – 23, 2007 in Dallas, Texas. We can laugh and learn together ... won't that be fun?

I think so!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Hoof prints...

Marshall Shelley on criticism: Solitary shots should be ignored, but when they come from several directions, it's time to pay attention. As someone once said, "If one calls you a donkey, ignore him. If two call you a donkey, check for hoof prints. If three call you a donkey, get a saddle."

~~Well-Intentioned Dragons -CTI/Word Publishing

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Publishing and Pitching...

Nearly every day I get an idea for a book project. Some are ideas I think of on my own. Other ideas are sent to me by friends. Or sometimes they’re sent to me by people I don’t really know but who like my writing (which is always a compliment!). Having a good idea is a great first step … but it’s only that. Turning an idea into something that is publishable is so much more work.

Sometimes people send me ideas they’d like me to pitch to my publishing houses. The way publishing works is that the author must submit his/her own work to publishing houses or magazines. For a good idea of what publishers are out there and what they are looking for, check out Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market. There are also tons of other resources/books that teach how to write query letters and book proposals.

Publishers are not only interested in an intriguing story/idea they purchase the "package": the ability of the writer, the format for the idea, and the marketability of the book.

Another way to connect with editors beyond normal means is to attend writer's conferences where one can make personal appointments. Here is a link to recommended conferences.

The editors I work with get 100+ submissions per week. These submissions are in the form of book proposals or query letters. To try to get an idea to them any other way doesn't work. Even with publishers I've worked with before, I have to follow the same system.

So got an idea??? Great! You’re off to a wonderful start!

Monday, June 4, 2007


"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment."

~~Hart Crane, poet (1899-1932)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Get started...

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

~~Walt Disney