Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Achievement and Success...

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.

~~Helen Hayes

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Do I Write...

And where do I get my ideas? This was a recent topic on a writing forum I belong to. I thought I'd share some of responses from some of your favorite authors!

Sharon Dunn:
I get my ideas from all sorts of sources and I usually have dozen or so zinging around my head in different states of development.

For my Ruby Taylor book, the initial idea came when I read a string of Christian novels that had perfect people with perfect lives in them. I couldn't see myself in the characters.

From there, I started playing the what if game.
What if your didn't have perfect Christian parents?
What if they had done time in prison before they became Christians?
What if you had made incredible mistake before coming to Christ?

The other source for me is the struggles in my own life, the spiritual battles. For the Bargain Hunters series, I had gone through a season of God dealing with me concerning my attitudes about money and trusting him. (Okay, I still relapse once in while.)

Even though the character profiles and backgrounds are different from my own, their struggle and discoveries often mirror my own.

Where do I get my ideas?

From any place and every place. Most of my books begin with a character entering my thoughts and I want to know his or her story. Sometimes it is a line of dialogue that “they” speak to me. Sometimes it is a news story that I read in the paper or see on TV. Sometimes something is said in a TV show or a movie. Twice I have dreamed the opening of a novel, awakened, and dashed to my office to write it down. For me getting the idea is the easy part. The hard part is writing a novel from it.

Why do I write what I write?

I began my career writing historical romantic sagas. They were the type of books I loved to read. Then as my walk with the Lord deepened, I felt Him calling me to write Christian fiction so that I could explore the spiritual aspects of humanity as well as the emotional and physical. Whatever lessons the Lord has just taught me or is in the midst of teaching me generally make it into the book I’m writing at the time. I still write some books set in historical time periods but mostly I write contemporary stories. Why? Because those are the stories that come to me and that grip my imagination.

For my first suspense, Eyes of Elisha, the setting for the inciting incident really is true, right down to the restaurant (although I changed its name in the novel.) Mark needed to hire a VP for Datis. He took me along on the dinner interview with this guy he wanted to hire because he knows I can sense things about people. During that dinner, I thought—what if I really did sense something about this guy, something very, very bad. Like—I think he murdered someone? Would Mark even listen to such a crazy thing as that? After looking across the country for the right VP and finally finding him? And if I really believed it, and Mark didn’t …

Idea for Violet Dawn: started with something as simple as going out to our hot tub in California at night. It’s very private back there, and at night it’s very dark. We have one of those covers that we fold back halfway and slip into the tub. So often I thought—you know, it’s really dark in the water under that second half of the cover. Anything could be in there …

For Web of Lies: Okay, Brandilyn, you desperately need the idea for the fourth and final Hidden Faces book.

Right. So … what’s scary?

Hmmm. Hmmm. I know! Spiders are scary. Especially lots of them, poisonous ones, kept in a room by some maniac.

Okay, then. That’s what I’ll write about.

Normals (people who aren’t novelists) often ask me where I get my ideas. “Life,” I tell them. As a novelist I look at the world differently. I notice colors, emotional nuances between people, body language. I think in terms of metaphor. (Wow, look at that fat drop of dew clinging to the spider web, ready to fall any minute. I could use that metaphor to describe someone in dire trouble who thinks they can’t hold on any longer.) As I see the world, watch the news, read the paper, everything becomes Story. There’s a constant “what if” behind events. Not all of these “what ifs” turn into a novel. In fact, most go in my mind and back out. But some stay, sometimes for years—until the time comes to write them.

I'll post some more next Thursday! Check back.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Call Me Crazy!

People think I'm crazy ... seriously they do. I can't tell them about all the book ideas I have or possible projects coming down the pipeline ... otherwise they'll start hyperventaling.

People may wonder why I write. Is it to get famous? No way. Because I enjoy living by one crazy deadline to another? Uh, no. Is it because I really enjoy asking my husband to pick up pizza on the way home ... or perhaps just as a way to make sure I never get a coffee date with friends? Not even close.

I write so much--so many different things--because I am compelled by the love of Christ. In fact when I was doing my Bible Study today one verse especially resonated with me:

"For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels me ..." 2 Corinthians 5:14 (Amplified)

That's not to say I love God more and so I write more. (Not even close!!!) BUT when I get a new idea--and when an opportunity comes up to write something that will glorify God, share His love, and encourage others in their relationship with Christ--I HAVE TO say Yes. I HAVE TO follow. My whole soul burns within me until I do. I know when God is asking me to join Him ... and it would be disobedient not to do so.

This is my path and mine alone. It's a path of obedience to the messages He places on my heart. A path of desperation, because I can't write ONE WORD without Him. It's a path of connecting with the family of God, as God brings others alongside me to help me. (And, boy, do I need help!)

It's also on this path on which I've experienced God in amazing ways, mostly become I'm expecting and anticipating Him to show up ... and He does! He always does.

I was studying my Experiencing God workbook this morning when I came upon this phrase, which is talking about quiet time with God: "I keep that time alone with God, not in order to have a relationship but because I have a relationship."

And even though writing is TOUGH, I truly feel it's an extension of my alone time with God. I don't write to make God happy, to get published, to drive everyone around me crazy, but rather because I have a relationship and the messages burn within me. As I just recently started telling my agent ... "I have been overcome with words!" They're words of hope, of healing ... words that are an outpouring of my quiet time with God.

So if I'm crazy, I'm in good company. In fact, I totally understand Paul when he said, "For if we are beside ourselves [mad, as some say], it is for God and concerns Him; if we are in our right mind, it is for your benefit, for the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us ..." 2 Corinthians 5:13-14 (Amplified).

So go ahead ... call me a crazy [mad] woman. I'll completely agree! Just please remember to pray for me, please :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Two by Twain

"Write without pay until someone offers to pay."

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."

~~Mark Twain

Monday, September 24, 2007

The New and Improved triciagoyer.com!

I have a new website!

Check it out! http://www.triciagoyer.com/! I'm so excited about all the new features! (Like more writing helps!)

Stop by and let me know what you think!

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Key" pals...

This week I'll be on the faculty of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writer's) conference where I'll be teaching a continuing track on Writing Historical Fiction. Last night, I was out to dinner with my husband and I told him, "Honey, do you realize that this week I'll meet many of my friends for the first time face-to-face." It seemed an odd concept. These are women who know all about me, and I know all about them. We critique each others' writing. We pray for each other. We offer encouragement. And many of them I've never met in person!

When I was younger have one pen pal was cool. Today, most of my associates are like pen pals ... or would it be key pals?

The generation connects in ways that we've never seen before. Personally, I know my life is better because of it. These women have made it better.

Hopefully by the end of the week this blog will host many photos. Photos of best friends ... hugging for the first time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who's Writing Inspirational Fiction***?

Westerns: Stephen & Janet Bly, Jane Kirkpatrick

Military Fiction: Jefferson Scott, Dee Henderson

Cozy Mystery: Peggy Darty

Fantasy: Donita K. Paul

Chick Lit: Kristin Billerbeck

Romance: Karen Ball, Ron & Janet Benrey, Colleen Coble, Lori Copeland, Lyn Cote, Denise Hunger, Robin Lee Hatcher, Robin Jones Gunn, Yvonne Lehman, Kathleen Morgan, Jane Orcutt, Tracie Peterson, Deborah Raney, Lois Richer, Gayle Roper, Lauraine Snelling, Gail Gaymer Martin, Janelle Burnham Schneider

Romantic Suspense: Colleen Coble, Lyn Cote, Dee Henderson, Kristen Heitzmann, Gail Gaymer Martin, Lois Richer, Lorena McCourtney

Southern Fiction: Athol Dickson, Patricia Hickman, Lori Copeland, Brandilyn Collins

Techno-thrillers or Science Fiction: Jefferson Scott, Kathy Tyers, Randall Ingermanson, Shane Johnson, Lynn Marzulli

Legal Thrillers: James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins

Historical Fiction: DeAnna Julie Dodson, Anne de Graaf, Kristen Heitzmann, Jane Kirkpatrick, Kathleen Morgan, Tracie Peterson, Lauraine Snelling, Stephanie Grace Whitson, Liz Curtis Higgs, B.J. Hoff, Francine Rivers, James Scott Bell/Tracie Peterson, Judith Miller, Tricia Goyer, DiAnn Mills

Suspense: James Scott Bell, Terri Blackstock, Anne de Graaf, Doris Elaine Fell, Alton Gansky, Clay Jacobsen, Jefferson Scott, Brandilyn Collins, Linda Hall, Athol Dickson, Lisa Bergren

Mystery: Alton Gansky, Dee Henderson, Clay Jacobsen, Nancy Moser, Gayle Roper, Ron & Janet Benrey, Linda Hall, James R. Coggins, Mindy Stams Clark

Fiction for Kids: Sandra Byrd, Melody Carlson, Robin Jones Gunn, Dave & Neta Jackson, Yvonne Lehman, Lauraine Snelling, Bob Elmer, Bill Myers, Jim Denny, Lois Walfrid Johnson, Eric Wiggin, Angela Hunt, Lisa Bergren

Humor: Karen Ball, Gayle Roper, Lori Copeland

Medical Thrillers: Hanna Alexander, Harry Kraus, Jr.

Speculative Fiction: James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, Nancy Moser, Jefferson Scott, Bill Myers, Randy Alcorn

Women's Fiction: Deborah Bedford, Denise Hunter, Melody Carlson, Lori Copeland, Robin Lee Hatcher, Patricia Hickman, Kathleen Morgan, Jane Orcutt, Tracie Peterson, Deborah Raney, Lisa Samson, Lauraine Snelling, Angela Hunt, Roxanne Henke, Francine Rivers, Janelle Burnham Schneider, Brandilyn Collins, Karen Kingsbury, Lois Richer, Karen Ball, Sylvia Bambola, Kristin Heitzmann, Stephanie Grace Whitson

Mainstream Fiction: Deborah Bedford, Lisa Bergren, Terri Blackstock, Stephen & Janet Bly, Robin Lee Hatcher, Angela Hunt, Nancy Moser, Deb Raney, Yvonne Lehman, Hannah Alexander, B.J. Hoff, Sylvia Bambola, Randy Alcorn, Harry Kraus, Jr.

***(This is not an exhaustive list)?

Who is your favorite and why?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Paying the rent...

Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.

~~Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Guest Blogger...Cara Putnam

Today I am headed to Dallas for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ National Conference. I am so excited about many aspects of this conference.

First, it’s the only conference that focuses exclusively on fiction.

Second, at it’s opening session last year, I received my very first book contract. I will never forget that experience.

Third, God has used the people in ACFW to train me to be a writer. I’d read a ton before joining. I’d even read some craft books on how to write. But it was in ACFW that I learned what terms of art like POV (point of view) meant. I still remember going to my first state meeting and wondering at the strange terms I kept hearing. It was like another language.

Fourth, I’m excited to get to serve. This will be my first conference as a national board member. Plus, I will serve as a workshop hostess again and work in the bookstore a shift.

Fifth, I actually get to teach a bit at this conference. I love to teach, so am THRILLED to get to share some of what I’ve learned. One of the times is on a panel with several of my writing buds, so it should be fun.

Sixth, I get to meet Tricia Goyer…finally!
Enough said!

Cara C. Putman
Canteen Dreams -- October 2007; Sandhill Dreams -- May 2008 and Captive Dreams -- September 2008 (Heartsong Presents) Deadly Exposure -- June 2008 (LI Suspense)
The Law, Life & Books: http://carasmusings.blogspot.com
Original Writer for Jake Tremaine at Scenes & Beans: http://kannerlake.blogspot.com

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two by Jeff...

Practice, practice, practice writing. Writing is a craft that requires both talent and acquired skills. You learn by doing, by making mistakes and then seeing where you went wrong.


Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal.

~~Jeffrey A. Carver

Friday, September 14, 2007

Come Chat with Me!

I'll be chatting today about writing and books.

Friday, Sept. 14th. 8:00 p.m. Central.


Click on "Live Chat" or it may say, "Enter My Chat Room." (Above Tricia Goyer's photo.) Once you've entered the chat room, all you need to do is type in your name (Only the first name is necessary.) and click "Chat." You don't need to enter a Profile.

All because of the author!

'Without me the literary industry would not exist: the publishers, the agents, the sub-agents, the sub-sub agents, the accountants, the libel lawyers, the departments of literature, the professors, the theses, the books of criticism, the reviewers, the book pages - all this vast and proliferating edifice is because of this small, patronised, put-down and underpaid person.'

~~Doris Lessing's writers' manifesto, courtesy of Rosemary Friedman in Writers' Forum

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday's Tip...Mary DeMuth

Wow...there is just so much good information in this post by Mary that I just had to share. It applies to all writers regardless of what stage you're at!

What I wish I'd done in retrospect...

Recently, I posted something on The Writers View about what I wished I knew before going into my writing career. Here is what I wrote:

The thing I wish I would've done when I signed my first contract was to think through who I was and what I wanted to be. (I was just too thrilled to sign that contract to think ahead or be strategic. For all I knew, it was a fluke and I'd never write for publication again!) I wish I would've grappled with a mission statement way back when. Now I'm going backwards, trying to mine who I am from what I've already written, searching for common themes, different messages. It's been really hard to do in retrospect (but a valuable exercise).
If I could pull aside a new writer today, I'd say, "Think it through. What do you really want to write? What are you uniquely gifted to do in the writing arena? What are your strengths? What is your life message?" Answering those questions now will help you develop a brand, a tag line, a direction, a laser-like clarity about what it is God is calling you to.
After that posting, a writer asked me this:
I know that's what publishers and agents want from writers -- but it sounds like you're saying it is valuable to you as well (the one thing, common message). I'm curious where you are in figuring this out for yourself.

Answer: I recently hired Rob Eager of Wildfire Marketing. I initially believed having Rob mentor me would be simply about boosting sales and building my speaking ministry. But the cool thing is that God is moving in my heart. Going back to the deepest part of me and figuring out who I am has given me so much. I feel as if God is honing me through the process. It's never easy to grapple with what your life message is, but it's such a valuable personal experience, beyond what it may do to help with sales.

I am getting closer to a tag line, a "brand" if you will. It's taken weeks and weeks of thinking, talking to my husband, asking friends for feedback. I joked that it's been easier for me to write 80,000 words than it has been to write 7 words in a tag line. But I wouldn't trade the journey for anything.

The writer continued:
I'd love to have you pull me aside if you're serious. It would be helpful as I wrestle with these answers myself to bounce them off someone. You don't know me, of course. But I am a serious writer trying to figure out what to take on (several commercial projects always on the hook) and what to say no to so I can have more time to finish my novel and figure out how to make my non-fiction manuscript salable.

I wish I could pull you aside, but unfortunately with this marketing stuff, working on three books, and being a wife and mommy and business woman (ah, yes, this writing is a business), I just don't have the time to spare. I'm having to turn down folks who need endorsements just so I have enough time to get the important things done. However, I will say your best allies are your writing friends and those who know you best. I'd send an email that says something like:
Dear friend, I am learning to be strategic as I flesh out my writing career. I want to isolate what I believe is my life message, but I need your help. When you think of me, what words come to mind? What has God uniquely gifted me to do? To communicate? When someone finishes something I've written, what do they get from it? How do I specifically benefit my audiences? Thanks for your time....

There is no easy way to go through this. It takes time. It takes a lot of interaction with those who know you well. It takes journalling, thinking, praying. But I believe God will show you what you're all about. He'll show you how He's uniquely gifted you. He'll spotlight your strengths. I know part of this exercise may sound selfish. I thought so on the surface of it. But going through it, learning who I am in light of what God has done, has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. Why? Because I'm tracing the faithfulness of God through my life, finding His redemptive thread through it all. It's humbling. And beautiful.

The writer finishes with: I am still refusing to zero in at this point -- but it sounds like you wish you would have earlier. How could you have done that, though without going through the process which brought you to this point?

When I signed my first book contract, I wasn't thinking strategically. I didn't know if I'd ever sign another contract. I was just tickled someone wanted to publish me. I really do wish I'd thought about who I was, what my message was, and what I wanted to be known for earlier in my career. It would've helped me have better direction. I tend to be this crazy, idea-producing machine, flitting hither and yon with all sorts of schemes. Knowing my life message then, or at least a good idea of what it was, would've helped me not be so willy-nilly.

I'll post again about my journey. I'm still not there yet with a tag line. I'll outline that process when it happens. But I will say that going through the hard work of finding out who I am is already garnering great benefit for me personally. I'm thinking more and more about how I come across to others, how selfish I've been. I want to know my message, the one God lays firmly on my heart, and translate it so it greatly benefits others.

I hope my response has been helpful. I do pray for all of you, that God would stir you deeply, show you His great message He wants to convey through you, and that He would deeply encourage you to walk with integrity before Him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ha, Ha, Ha

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.

~~English Professor (Name Unknown), Ohio University

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some Encouragement

This was sent by to me by a My Writing Mentor reader, Holly! Thanks so much for sharing this with us Holly!

Two things that have probably been the most instrumental to date in keeping me on track mentally and spiritually in my writing. The first is a quote from Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird:

"What people somehow (inadvertantly, I'm sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here--and, by extension, what we're supposed to be writing."

To me this is always humbling, and has on many occasions been what I needed to keep going. I have this on a prominent place on my desk and when I freeze up or get frustrated, I take another look, smile once again as I realize my problem is not my inability to write but that awful monster called perfectionism, and I keep writing.

And the second thing is a stanza from a poem by Robert Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud Time." The poem is about two woodcutters who come across the poet chopping wood for fun. They can't understand why this work that they're paid for would be his pleasure, and they want to try and wile him out of doing it himself so he can pay them to do it. But the poet ends his observations with this statement:

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

This also has a prominent place on my desk, and these words echo over and over in my head as I realize just what it means for me to play with my words for "Heaven and the future's sakes."

Thank you again for all your effort, your words, and the blood, sweat and tears that are poured into them! May God bless your words and use them for His great purpose! (He already is doing this!)

Your sister in Jesus,
Holly Heisey

Monday, September 10, 2007


I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.

~~Truman Capote

Friday, September 7, 2007

I Can Juggle...

I interrupt my work to drop a short note ... I can juggle! Seriously I can!

Currently, I'm working on not one, not but TWO Galleys. (A galley is the pre-published version of a book in which the author and editors work on the last tweaks.) I'm working on galleys for 3:16 Teen Version (Max Lucado) and for Generation NeXt Marriage. I also got edits back for my next novel A Whisper of Freedom.

Oh, oh, oh ... and just this week I received author copies of A Shadow of Treason AND My Life, Unscripted. It was wonderful to hold these books in my hands!

So just call me the juggling author ... of course the only way I can do this is with the strength and wisdom of God. He keeps me afloat!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thursday's Tip...by Chip MacGregor

Talking with Agents

Today's question...

Martha wrote to say, "I have heard the best way to connect with agents (and sometimes publishers) is to attend writer conferences. I had also heard you can make an appointment to have an agent or editor look at your material. If so, how does an author find when and where conferences are held, and how does one go about making those appointments?"

It's true. In fact, one of the BEST ways to connect with agents these days is at a writing conference. In a few weeks, I'm going to be at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Dallas, Texas. There will be several hundred writers attending, so it's a great time to connect with other people who write fiction. There will be a dozen or so editors representing the publishing houses who compete in the Christian fiction market. And there are close to a dozen agents who will be in attendance. All of them make themselves available for a limited number of 15-minute appointments with authors. That allows an author to come into a room, sit across from me, and pitch his or her book idea. We may talk about the author's experience, or I may evaluate the author's proposal, or we may talk about the overall salability of the author's idea. In some cases, I'll read the first couple of pages of the author's opening chapter and offer my initial impressions. While there isn't time for this to be a full-blown evaluation of an author's work, it at least gives you some sense of how an agent will respond to your idea.

Many conferences also offer in-depth analysis of your proposal, done by a working professional in the field. This is usually an extra charge -- but to pay $30 and have a full-time freelance editor or writer examine your work is, frankly, a steal.
To check out writers' conferences, just google "writer conference" or "Christian writers' conference." Some of the biggest and best are the ACFW conference, Mount Hermon (California), Glorietta (New Mexico), Ridgecrest (North Carolina), and Write to Publish (Chicago). There are good Christian conferences in Florida, Colorado, Oregon, and Philadelphia every year, and there are good secular conferences all across the country. In addition, Jerry Jenkins' Christian Writers Guild puts on some very good conferences, as does Reg Forder's organization, though neither of these have literary agents attending. There are also many local conferences, as well as dozens of good writing conferences offered through colleges and local writer organizations.

Every conference will list the agents and editors who plan to attend, and will offer free sign-ups to conferees. Be aware that you have to go into a 15-minute meeting with realistic expectations. "I'd like to make a good first impression" or "I'd like to get an agent's opinion on my writing" are realistic. "I expect to convince a person I've never met before to take me on as a client in a fifteen-minute interview" is probably not realistic. But I encourage you to attend. It's one of the few places an author will find where he or she can not only meet agents, but hang out with them at meals and in hallways.

On a similar note, Dayle wrote and said, "An editor requested I send him my manuscript at a conference. They later sent me an evaluation memo with a few editorial notes, with a request that I rewrite it and send it back. Is this worth mentioning in an agent query?"

Absolutely, Dayle. The fact is, many editors get fatigued saying "no" at writers' conferences, so after a while they find themselves telling authors, "Go ahead and send that to me," thinking that it'll be easier to reject via an email after the conference than to sit face-to-face and tell the author, in essence, "I don't think this idea is any good." I understand that -- I've been fatigued at conferences in the past, and occasionally asked somebody to send me an idea that wasn't particularly stellar. But I've stopped doing that, since it just creates more work for me later, when the hard copy of the bad idea comes into my office and demands a response. It would have been easier just to say "no thanks" in the first place. So an author who tells me "the editors at a recent conference all liked it" doesn't gain much prestige in my mind.

However, an editor who asks for your proposal, then takes the time to review it, make notes, and send you a request for a revised version is showing serious interest in your work. THAT means a lot to me as an agent. So yes -- make sure that information gets conveyed to your prospective agent.

Hope this is helpful. If you're going to be at the ACFW conference in Dallas, make sure to say hello.

MacGregor Literary
Books That Make A Difference

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

20 Minutes...

I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it.

~~Lord Brabazon

(And for those of you waiting with baited breathe for the My Writing Mentor Newsletter...it's coming! I'm running behind...just a tad!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

All the colors...

Detail makes the difference between boring and terrific writing. It’s the difference between a pencil sketch and a lush oil painting. As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors.

~~Rhys Alexander