Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Guest Blogger...Jeanette Hanscome

Just Keep Writing
(Tricia here...I hear Dori from Finding Nemo in my head when I read this title...just keep writing, just keep writing...)

Hello from Jeanette’s house in freezing cold Reno, Nevada. Christmas is a week away and I’m a little bummed out. Or at least I was. As the year winds down, I see that I have made very little progress in my writing career. With money tight and medical bills rolling in faster than we care to discuss, writing has been limited to projects that generate income. I’ve written a lot of press releases, book reviews, and promo material singing the praises of other people’s books but sadly, I have no new titles of my own to brag about. This morning as I whined to God about it (I won’t try to be spiritual and say I laid my career at Jesus’ feet; it was a whine fest plain and simple) one phrase started replaying in my mind—just keep writing. Somehow that comforted me. Here is why.

I realized that . . .

· I may not be writing what I want to communicate with the world, but I’m still writing. I’m still using my gift and practicing my craft. In fact, I may be developing skills that will benefit my career in the future. Each day I sit in front of the computer and write or edit something, which keeps me disciplined and creative. These days “creative” usually equals reworking another author’s words or finding a newsy twist for a press release about a book that I had a hard time getting through but I consider it a healthy challenge.

· I’m meeting my family’s needs. Right now my husband and sons don’t need a new book with Mom’s name on it, they need paychecks so we can buy groceries and have little luxuries like electricity and heat. God continually reminds me that dedicating my hours to earning these things honors Him and that’s more important than meeting my personal writing goals. Since He has allowed me to earn an income by doing what I love how can I complain?

· This won’t last forever. I have to believe that God will eventually turn our situation around. Is it possible that He will reward my efforts with an exciting new opportunity when I least expect it? I’m not really a believer in telling God what He ought to do or “claiming” my desires as done deals (in my book that’s just a fancy way of telling God that He owes me). But I do know that He rewards faithfulness so who knows what He has planned. Whatever that is I am hanging on to the now trendy Christian phrase—this is only for a season.

Maybe you are struggling in the same way. Maybe it'll help you to know that you're not the only writer who needs to shift focus from books to articles, promotional material, editing and other assignments that keep the bank account filled and the kids out of the workhouse (oops, wrong century). If you see yourself in this post, be encouraged. It’s not forever. And as I have told a few friends, “I think I’m living material for future projects.” Maybe you are too!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Need Hope For Christmas?

Check out my friend Cindy's promotion for her new book.

From Cindy's website...

Christmas is coming fast, do you need more hope?

Hope for Christmas shares traditions, humor, gift ideas, planning helps, recipes, heartaches insights, culture and personal stories from bestselling novelist Cindy Martinusen Coloma (Orchid House) and freelance writer Julie Marsh.

During these especially hard times, Hope for Christmas will help you create wonderful Christmas memories whatever your current economic state.

Why $5.50? The price is our gift to you. We KNOW how hard it is, and we want to help each other. Because that’s what America and Christmas are all about.

By ordering Hope for Christmas, you’ll be automatically entered to win a set of Cindy Martinusen books ($100 value) and a session with Cindy for her writer’s coach service or freelance writing consultation ($100 value).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Marketing 101: What Works and What Doesn’t

by Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson.

Part 1: Start with Great Content
This is the beginning of a series of posts I am calling, “Book Marketing 101: What Works and What Doesn’t.” I have wanted to write this series for a long time. There are so many opinions when it comes to marketing books. I certainly don’t have the last word on this topic, but I do have some experience.

I have been involved in the book publishing industry for 30 years. My career has included working at three different publishers, serving as a marketing director, marketing VP, acquisitions editor, editor-in-chief, publisher, chief operating officer, and now, of course, chief executive officer. I was also a literary agent for six years and have written four books, including one that was on the New York Times bestsellers list for 28 weeks. I am currently writing a new book called, The How of Wow.

I’ve been able to experience first and second-hand what works and, mostly, what doesn’t. But before I give my perspective on the various marketing tools and vehicles, I would like to set forth a few basic principles based on my own experience. These are generalizations and there are definitely exceptions to every rule. But I think these apply 95% of the time.
Let’s start with content. What does content have to do with marketing books? Everything.

Several years ago, when I was the publisher of Nelson Books, I had a button made for my staff. It said, “It’s the product, stupid.” I am still convinced that this is the most fundamental truth about publishing. It all starts by acquiring great manuscripts.

Read the rest here!

Advice for Novelists (Part 57)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

I'm honored to feature today a favorite author of mine, Sibella Giorello. Here's her response:

Ask yourself: "What do I love to do, besides write?" Then kill it.Seriously, if you're going to write, sacrifices have to be made. For instance, I really enjoy visiting with friends. But I can't write novels, home school my kids and chat with friends. Although it was torture doing so, I pared down my social time in a serious way. I rarely go to parties, I don't talk on the phone. This means I miss some friends, and bow out of events that sound wonderful, but my writing output has soared.

--Sibella Giorello, Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of The Stones Cry Out (Revell) as well as the forthcoming The Rivers Run Dry (Feb. '09 from Nelson).

Monday, December 15, 2008

How do economic woes affect writers?

Read this insightful guest blog from my agent, Janet Grant. http://www.janetgrant.com/

As an agent, I realize that, with publishers tightening their belts, I need to stay the course. That might sound strange at first, but our agency has always had the philosophy that we wouldn't just be about getting the contract and then disappearing from the scene. Thinking long-term with our clients and working to build a career rather than just thinking about one book at a time helps in times of economic downturns. Part of that long-term thinking is shaping messages that make each author the go-to person on a topic or in a certain genre, which increases publishers' interest in producing books with that client. And making certain the marketing contributions the author makes to each project help to build a sense of identity for that author rather than creating what looks like a haphazard bunch of books.

In a risk-averse environment, what every writer needs to do is to think about how to become a necessity at a publishing house, not a luxury. That means that the author is helping to keep the publisher operating in the black. So offering original ideas on perennial topics, sticking to writing what you're known for, and being creative in the ways you can offer to publicize your book, all add up to the likelihood that you will make it through this recession in tact. That, plus a firm faith that God holds our personal universes together along with the big world we inhabit.

Literary Agent
Books & Such
"Discerning Literature"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have you entered to win yet?

What are you waiting for? You could win a few of those gifts you've been meaning to buy.

In celebration of Blue Like Play Dough (coming Summer 2009!) having a cover I'm hosting the BIGGEST Book Give-away EVER! (Watch the sneak peak video here! )

A bit about the book...I've never worked this hard on a book! What I thought would be a snap (well, maybe not THAT easy) to write turned out to be a long process of deep soul searching. Blue Like Play Dough contains reflections on things I thought I'd gotten over, gotten past and just plain forgotten!

What finally emerged on these pages is proof of what God can do with a mom who dared to say YES! to Him.

So in celebration of Moms everywhere who are up to their necks in the momminess of life, I'm hosting The Biggest Book Give-away EVER! (Props to Waterbrook/Multnomah for their generosity!)

Included in the basket will be these books:

~Generation NeXt Parenting

~Generation NeXt Marriage

~The entire set of the Shaunti Feldhahn books
For Women Only
For Men Only
For Parent's Only
For Young Women Only
For Young Men Only

~Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (gift edition) and With This Ring by Joanna Weaver

~My Mother's Wish by Jerry Camery-Hoggart

~Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

~Me, Myself, & I Am

~Also included in the basket will be some AWESOME body products by J.R. Watkins and a little something for your sweet tooth!

The contest ends Dec. 16th so I can get the loot to the winner before Christmas! A gift from me to you...or from me to you and some of your friends and family! (wink, wink!)

To enter the contest, go to my contact page and leave me a note telling me one way motherhood has shaped YOU!

I'll be sharing your answers (with your permission, of course) on my blog in January!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Faith & Writing

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I don't know about you, but this verse is easy to quote concerning things like heaven, and salvation, and God-with-us. Yet, I have a harder time with more pressing items such as deadlines, plot points, and thought like "with-this-book-my-editor-will-know-I'm-a-poser. "

Just as I sometimes wish I knew that triumph always prevails at the end of my trials, I also wish I could understand every plot point, character growth arch, and story resolution before I wrote the first word. Yes, as a girl who gets way too involved in historical research, I have a lot figured out before I start. I know which war battles my characters will be involved in, and I have a basic idea of how the book will end. It's the character growth and spiritual truth stuff that leaves me scratching my head.

But sometimes, as George Michael sang, "You just gotta have faith."

Like manna for the Israelites, God gives us what we need, when we need it. Yesterday, He dropped a plot twist on my lap. "Oh, God that's good," I said as my fingers began typing as fast as they could.

Then tears streamed down my face as I led my character through another heartbreaking trial! (Of course, this heartbreak will make the story even sweeter at the end!)

Yet, having that idea pop in my head reminded me of what Faith is all about--being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see . . . even in the case of fictional stories that bring us to our knees as we write them.

Especially in that case.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advice for Novelists (Part 56)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Molly Noble Bull's advice: If I could say one thing to aspiring novelists, it would be this. Never give up. Keep writing and keep trying. God willing, you will sell--in God's own time.

--Molly Noble Bull, author of Sanctuary & The Winter Pearl. Visit her at her website here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here is my story . . .

When did you first start reading Christian fiction? What kept you reading? Here is my story . . .

I was a very rebellious kid in highschool. A Christian friend of my mom's loaned her some novels by Jeanette Oke. I was a big reader. I usually read stuff like Stephen King, but I LOVED those Jeanette Oke books. I read them over and over.

When I was 17 and pregnant out of wedlock, I gave my heart to the Lord. A few years later, when I was first married, I remember going to a Christian bookstore and glancing at their fiction section. We didn't have much money, and I only had enough for one novel. I was looking through a few and someone pointed me to Bodie Thoene. I picked up Vienna Prelude and LOVED it! (And amazingly, people often tell me that my books remind them of Bodie's.)

After that, I started reading more Christian fiction. And then I started writing it. (Although it took about nine years for me to have a novel published from the time I first started writing.)

To me Christian Fiction became light, hope, and peace to my soul. There was tension, intrigue, and conflict, but I felt good after reading those stories--unlike the agnst I felt after books like Pet Cementary!

Christian fiction shared good news to me when I wasn't looking for it or wanting it. Recently, I received an email from someone who said she read my novel, Night Song, and it was the first Christian novel she'd ever read. She was surprised she liked it!

It's my goal to share the hope I found.

So how about you?

AND...Don't forget to scoot on over and enter the The Biggest Book Give-away EVER!

Monday, December 8, 2008

More on Creative Book Launches

by Christy Barritt!

There's one thing I've learned recently about marketing--you can't make it all about you and your book. Well, you can, but it won't be as effective.
Last week I talked about my Writing Mysteries Can Be Murder mystery dinner theater that I've been doing in conjunction with the release of my novel Suspicious Minds. Today, I'm going to talk about some ideas you can also use when planning your own creative book launch.

The first concept I was to talk about is thinking outside of yourself when planning your event.

Each of my mystery dinner theaters has gone to benefit a cause in the community. We never take the proceeds for ourselves. We've given to youth camps, church ministries, libraries, retirement homes, etc. This is a win-win because not only are you helping out a great cause, but, in doing so, you can feel good about your promotions. After all, you aren't promoting just yourself. You're trying to help someone else.

Having a cause behind your event can also generate some media attention. An author creatively launching a book while helping a needy family in the area? Who wouldn't want to cover that story? It has all the elements a reporter is looking for (I'm a reporter, so I should know!).

You don't have to do this just at a launch party, either. You could donate the proceeds from a book signings to a cause. It's especially relevant if what you're donating to ties in with your book. Does your book have a protagonist battling breast cancer? Then give the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. Does your book features a homeless family? Give the proceeds to a local shelter.

You can also apply this concept when writing articles or doing speeches. Don't make the article or speech all about your book. Talk about elements mentioned in your book and then use your book as an example.

(previously published on CAN)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advice for Novelists (Part 55)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Today multi-published novelist Creston Mapes responds: For me, although I feel "called" to be one of God's story-tellers, writing fiction is the most difficult kind of writing I do. For 25 years I've made my living writing marketing materials, news, and magazine stories—projects that I'm "in-and-out" in anywhere from a day to a week. That work comes easy for me. Writing books is a whole different monster. It zaps my energy and leaves me feeling spent. It drains me physically and somewhat mentally, because it does not pay hardly anything, unless you develop quite a large following of readers. I guess I thought that when I got my first 3-book contract I was "on my way." But the truth is, that contract was only the beginning of the challenges. This business—oh and remember that, it IS a business—is not for the faint hearted. However, if God has sewn that hunger in your heart to deliver his message through story, you will not be able to deny it. You will write without contracts. You will get hit with rejections and shake them off, knowing you were called for this. You will read and go to conferences and improve your craft.

I would also say this...don't write to gain glory for yourself. That is an easy trap in which to fall (especially once published). Instead, write to gain glory for God, while you learn to take a quiet, humble, meek back seat. That, too, I have had to learn the hard way—and am still learning.

--Creston Mapes, author of Nobody and the Dark Star Chronicles. Visit him online at his website here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Words that sell!

If you're getting ready to send out your Christmas newsletter, read this post Gaymer Martin wrote over at Christian Authors Network.

Last week I discussed an interesting idea that certain words help to draw interest in a product. People like bargains, getting in on something good, finding results or solutions and more. I present the 10 top words that sell, according to one marketing analysis. This week, I’m adding another set of words to consider.

As I searched for information on "words that sell" your product—in our case books—I found another list of additional words that followed the first ten I sent last week. Again, these words work for any product, but we can see how they may work for your new release. Keep the key word as close to the front of your sentence as you can.

1. Love: You’ll love THE NAME OF YOUR BOOK

2. Results: This book offers results if you have trouble keeping friends.

3. Safe: Spend a safe and cozy evening reading my latest release BOOK TITLE

4. New: A new book from YOUR NAME in stores now.

5. Save: Save time and energy. Order my latest release BOOK TITLE from Amazon.com or ?

6. Now: On sale now. BOOK TITLE

7. How-to: Ever wonder how to spend a lonely evening? Read BOOK TITLE

8. Solution: The solution to Christmas shopping is books. Buy BOOK TITLE today.

9. More: You’ll get more than you bargained for when you read BOOK TITLE

These ideas popped into my head as I looked at the words. I’m sure you can make them relate to your novels or non-fiction books with even greater meaning. Try using some of these words that sell and see if they make a difference in your marketing plan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Join me for a live chat at Abunga.com!


Goyer gives practical tips on how to lay a firm foundation while raising up the next generation. Knowing that marriages today also face challenges that no other generation has experienced, she wrote “Generation NeXt Marriage: The Couple’s Guide to Keeping it Together,” in which she offers insightful truths for Generation X marriages and those who minister to them. She also talks about marriage role models, and what “Gen X” is doing right. She will chat about both “Generation NeXt” books on Dec. 3. For more information, go here.

Login in today to submit a question...or wait until tomorrow. I'm looking forward to some GREAT conversation!

Abunga.com, the family-friendly online bookstore, continues its weekly “Authors at Abunga” chats in December with award-winning authors offering a Christian perspective on Godly parenting and strong marriages and engaging stories with themes of love and redemption.

The one-hour chats, held at 2 p.m. EST on the first three Wednesdays next month at Abunga.com, will feature family and parenting writer Tricia Goyer, New York Times best-selling novelist Beverly Lewis and Christian fiction author Robin Jones Gunn, respectively.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guest post by Jennifer Devlin

This was previously published on the CAN blog. Good advice!

Last week’s question asked: How can my marketing help my reader become more passionate about Christ, as well as my book? Did you think it thru?

Notice the question is two-fold. We have the primary goal of helping the reader become more passionate about Christ. They need to know how God has transformed us. We have written testimonies tucked in our book’s pages that will help readers understand the God we serve. We have a message worth reading.

But we also want to be good stewards of talent, time, and effort, and pray that our customers will read and share our book. We need to commit to doing everything we can do to make our effort successful. After all, no publisher is going to have the time or money to do all the marketing for us, so we’ve got to get out there and share the news about our new book release!

The most basic way we instill enthusiasm in others is to have zeal ourselves. We’ve got to focus on being our own best salesperson. Though we enlist many helpers, we’ve got to take the lead.

We are our best salespeople because:
We know our material better than anyone else.

We know why God pressed us to write the thing in the first place, and we know the core message we were trying to convey.

We understand our target audience, and even wrote a proposal that told an editor why it needed to be written, and who we wanted as our reader base.
We spent hours in front of a computer unraveling our heart’s message on a monitor’s screen one keystroke at a time.

We believe in our idea and book.

Let’s face it – our name is on the cover, and our reputation is on the line.

So, as we promote and share our marketing materials, we’ve got to convey our passion for Christ and our project. Sadly, this can be a tough thing to do. Why? Maybe we don’t want to be pushy. Or, perhaps we don’t want to get rejected by those who aren’t interested in the project we’ve invested so much of our lives into. Possibly we're already discouraged because our “baby” didn’t get the end cap placement in every book superstore like we’d dreamed. Whatever the case, if we don't seem thrilled about the book we wrote, why on earth should anyone else be excited to buy it?

What marketing goals do you have for your upcoming book release? Are you excited about the project and the possibilities?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gift boxes!

A unique way to say Thanks for all your hard work to your book's publisher!

A few weeks ago my trusty girl, Amy from Litfuse, put together these boxes for the Multnomah team who're involved with the production, release and sale of Blue Like Play Dough!

The boxes followed the themes of motherhood in Blue Like Play Dough...a little something for the kid in them (Play-doh, Play-doh toy, slinky, Go Fish or Old Maid) and a little something for the adult in them (an energy bar, chocolates).

Multnomah LOVED the boxes!
The team loved being thought of and given this small gift. I've done similar things in the past with other books. For my teen book, My Life, Unscripted (which uses a script writing metaphor) I put together boxes for the sales team that included movie theater tickets, theater candy, and a script from and episode of the TV show Facts of Life.
What are some unique things you've done for your publisher or editor?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unique launch party ideas

Christy Barritt launched her latest book with an AWESOME event! I'll let her tell you all about it!

Why does someone want me, a simple mystery author, dead?

That’s the question I’m asking myself thanks to the release of my latest book.

Let me explain.

I wanted to do something creative for the release of my mystery novel, Suspicious Minds. I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I sat down with pen, paper and a couple of friends to brainstorm some ideas. For awhile, I tapped my pen against blank paper.

I’ve done book signings before. I’ve taught workshops. I’ve had the book release parties.

I needed something creative and exciting.

That’s when an idea hit—why not do a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater that featured characters from my book? Better yet, why not do it as a fundraiser and give all the proceeds to a family-in-need?

The ideas started rolling. I contacted a woman I knew, Kathy, who writes Mystery Dinner Theaters to get some pointers on how to approach the script. We talked for awhile and she gave me some good ideas. Still, I felt stalled because of all the details. I had a lot of other demands on me and couldn’t fully give myself mentally to the task.

But God does work in mysterious ways.

A few weeks later, Kathy called and offered to write the script for me!
The idea continued to get bigger than I ever imagined. Several organizations expressed interest in hosting the event as fundraisers. All of the actors—whom Kathy also organized—volunteered to do the play as often as possible for free!

We titled the event “Writing Mysteries Can Be Murder.” The set up for the play is that I’m coming in to do a book signing, but on the way, my brakes fail, so I’m late. A detective shows up who’s been investigating several other mysterious incidents that have been happening in my life lately—including a kitchen fire, a failed pipe bomb and poisoned brownies on my front doorstep.

As audience members eat their meals, people begin popping up in the crowd, each saying awful things about me. I slowly realize that they’re characters from my books. Each of them has as gripe against me, for various reasons… I didn’t give them a big enough role in the book, I painted them in a negative light, I didn’t give them a last name, etc. Each of them also has a motive to want me dead.

The audience gets to interact with the cast and ask them questions throughout the evening. At the end, everyone votes on who they think is trying to kill me.

We’ve done four performances so far. The second performance took place at an old one room school house about 45 minutes from my house. The intimate setting was perfect, as was the thunderstorm that began during the course of our performance. There was lots of laughter and accusations and fun.

Afterward, cast members gave their testimonies. I sell my books. And audience members come away with a memorable experience! One person even accepted Christ for the first time after seeing the performance.
We have several more shows lined up. The idea was unique even that we’ve even gotten some media coverage.

I’m glad I thought outside of the box, or as the newspaper said, I had a “novel” idea. Now, if only I could figure out who’s trying to kill me…

In the coming weeks, I'll be discussing how YOU can also have creative launch parties for your book.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advice for Novelists (Part 54)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

The Advice for Novelists series continues with multi-published author Cec Murphey. He has 108 books published, 17 of them fiction. Not to mention 700 articles!

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Cec says...Learn the craft is common advice and I agree. I add: And make a commitment to God and to yourself never to stop learning. One way to see if writers have grown is to look at their earlier writing and compare it with their current output. If it's of the same quality, it shows they've stopped learning.

--Cec Murphey, author of the bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven (w/ Don Piper), the cozy mystery Everybody Loves Roger Harden, and many many more. Visit his website here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Writing contemporary novels...

Writing contemporary novels doesn’t have quite the same layers as writing a historical novel.

1. I write my idea in one sentence and then paragraph. (Randy’s Snowflake!)

2. I then sit down and write the first chapter. It gives me an insight into the characters/voice/theme.

3. I make sure the story problem is woven into the first page of the first chapter. What is this book about? What does my character want more than anything?

4. I play with the setting/character(s). I ask how can I make the setting almost a character itself. I ask what family situation/characteristics/history does this person have to make the stakes higher in his/her effort to achieve the goal?

5. I start researching—the setting, the lifestyle, the area, the occupation, etc.

6. I sit down a write out a summary for the whole book. With each chapter I keep making things worse for the character. Then I add the climax and resolution.

7. The summary is usually 12-17 pages, and I center each part around “scenes” for the novel. I skip over the boring stuff in my summary … which reminds me to skip over the boring stuff in my book.

8. I go back and start writing the novel. Sometimes I make notes of things I need to research. Sometimes I stop writing and start looking for the info I need.

9. I don’t’ start from page one and keep going to the end. Instead, I’ll write the scene that is freshest and/or more exciting in my mind. Later, I piece the parts together and fill in the spots that need filling. (Usually there is little filling needed, which shows that all the highlights have been hit.)

10. I write fast—as fast as I can, and I don’t edit myself as I go.

11. I close my eyes and picture what is happening. I put myself in the middle of the scene, see it, smell it, taste it, feel it and then put all that on the page.

12. When the novel is done, I go back and have software http://www.naturalreader.com/ read it to me. It helps me “feel” the story. Then I edit and send it to my friends to read.

(photo courtesy of flickr)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I co-wrote a novel, The Swiss Courier (Revell 2009) with Mike Yorkey. Mike wrote up his post about how we worked, and then he sent it to me. I then took the post, tweaked it, and I added my flavor and thoughts ... which is pretty much how we worked on the novel!


Mike and Tricia started by working hard on the one-sentence and one-paragraph synopsis for "The Swiss Courier," and then they began fleshing out the characters. They also firmed up a basic plot. They next wrote a couple of chapters, with some back-and-forth, and then it was off to the races for Mike. He was the lead researcher and writer. He knew where to take the plot. To use Mike’s horse-racing metaphor (Tricia knows nothing about horse racing!), Mike was the one doing the running in the co-authoring relationship (doing the writing of the rough draft), and Tricia was the jockey, making sure Mike was going in the right direction. This meant Tricia edited—told Mike what worked, what didn’t work, and why. Tricia also cut out chunks and added chucks, but she doesn’t know how that ties into horse racing! Mike won't say Tricia beat him with the whip, but she reined him in on some areas and then gave me a "hand" ride (a horse racing term for slight guidance) so as not to stifle his creativity. All the way, Mike and Tricia both knew where the finish line was, and they think it was a winning horse-and-rider combination.

From Mike, with Tricia’s additions and revisions included

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Plotting a historical novel...

Here are my notes (in 250 words) for plotting a historical novel. I write contemporary novels and non-fiction completely different!

Basic Time-period Research

-- Overall view of time period

-- Jot notes of interest

-- “Research” file in WORD doc.


-- Basic character sketch

-- Basic plot (10-20 points) (If I have multiple POVs, then basic plots for each)

-- Basic research for these plots (dates, battles, big problems during that time)


-- A file for each character

-- A file for general research

-- A date file

-- A plot file

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass

-- Work through the assignments.

-- This is a mix of getting to know your characters, their motivations, and their conflict.

-- As I work through the assignments, I put them in the document for that character

-- Motivations

-- Parts of scenes

-- Dialogue

Scenes, Research, Characters

-- If I also discover plot points I put them in the PLOT document


-- Scenes are color-coded by character

-- Research areas of plot and characters.

-- Check important dates/events

Blocking out scenes

-- Who does what.

-- Who goes where.

-- Motivation.

-- Conflict.

-- Setting.

-- This is what gave me the break though from unpublished to published—visualizing exactly what was going to happen and showing in dramatically, considering the goals, motivation, and conflict of the characters.

(photo courtesy of flickr)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Help from friends...

Great post from Julie Carobini from CAN...

Julie Carobini here from California.

My dad's a ham. Seriously, give him a microphone and he's in his glory. Me--not so much. Yet getting up in front of groups is necessary in this business.

So I've become a fan of group signing events. In the past year or so, I've signed books with both friends and strangers, Christian and general market authors (including one who writes erotica. No kidding.)

Here are five benefits of the group signing event:

1. Cross-marketing! Suspense readers get introduced to Romance, and Historical fans learn about Contemporaries, and on and on. (Yeah, send those erotica readers right this way...)

2. Higher attendance. Big names don't always mean big draws. (I once attended an event with a super big name--and there were only 7 in the audience, including me.) However, schedule several published authors together, and now we're talkin'.

3. Moral support. I was honored to do a Borders signing with Jim Bell and Kathryn Cushman. We sat together in the 'green room' before the event (i.e., a cluttered back office), planning and chatting and making each other laugh before heading out to the 100+ -- I did mention that Bell and Cushman were there, right? -- waiting for us.

4. Built in cheerleaders. Before a recent book tour with three other authors, we discussed one another's novels. When the time came to chat with interested buyers, we actively marketed each other's books. A win-win.
5. Hone those skills. Lauraine Snelling is friendly and bold. Cathy Hake has no problem leaving the signing table to chat with shoppers throughout the store. The more signings I did with these women--nine in all--the bolder I became (in my own beachy way, that is :)

Katie, aka Kathryn Cushman, says, "The thing I like best about group signings, is they don’t feel so 'all about me' like a single signing sometimes does. It’s great to have someone else to talk about, promote, and encourage."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Advice for Novelists (Part 53)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Here's Tosca Lee! Okay, my advice to aspiring novelists:Don't do it.

There's too much competition already and I have a troubled Shar Pei to support here. So help me out and put down the pen.

But if you must write, please write encyclopedia entries. Or obituaries. Or anything that I do not write.

If you must write fiction, and must write well, and feel somehow compelled to be clever and brilliant and relevant, then I guess you should invest in a good chair, at least, for those long deadline days. You'll understand what I'm talking about soon enough. And please consider contributing to my dog food fund.

Seriously, the best advice I can give you is that as soon as you are done with your first book, get right on to the second, even before you've sold the first. Publishing committees will want to know what else you have. You'll also make it easier on yourself with that second or even third novel if you have something in the works, almost done, or complete to offer. I wish I had done this--it would have saved me a load of work, angst, and general paranoia.

--Tosca Lee, author of Demon and the forthcoming Havah: The Story of Eve. Visit her online at her website.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Facebook part 2

Jan here again...let's continue this interview with Jean Damoff. In this second half, Jeanne delves deeper into what she's tried with Facebook (FB) . . .

Jeanne, please share one or two short examples of how you use Facebook?

Facebook has a number of great tools. If you write a blog, you can set your posts to import automatically as FB “notes,” increasing your potential blog readership. If the post applies to any particular FB friends, you can “tag” them in the note, and they’ll be notified. You can also upload photo albums and tag the people in the pictures. They (and all their FB “friends”) will receive notification. I adore these notification features, and FB is just loaded with them! You can also help your friends by posting their notes or group links on your own profile page. FB makes communication between its users very easy.

What other Facebook features do you see using in the future for your ministry and work as a writer?

A number of authors have created “fan” pages, which—like my Parting the Waters group page—allows the owner to compose one message and send it to all the fans or members. If you want to announce a book signing, speaking engagement, or a radio/TV appearance, you can also create an event page connected to your fan or group page. One click informs your entire group about the event. I plan to use this feature as I schedule events connected to this book release. I recently heard that an author hosted a book release party on FB. I’m not sure exactly how that worked, but I’d love to hear more about it. FB leaves room for a lot of creativity and the potential to reach thousands of people with your news or message.

What encouragement would you give to writers who are considering using social networking sites as a way to promote their speaking and writing?

I don’t know any Christian writers who particularly love the idea of promoting themselves, but it’s a necessary part of the business. Facebook is a non-threatening, relaxed environment where people seem more approachable than they might in a more professional setting. I don’t consider it primarily a place to promote my work, but I like the fact that—when I need to use it for that purpose—the process is relatively simple and painless. Most of the time, I’m just delighted to have such wonderful access to friends. And of course I still log on to look for new pictures of my kids.

Any other thoughts you'd like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers, Jan. Also, for those who aren’t already on Facebook, I encourage you to give it a try. It’s simple. Just go to facebook.com and follow the easy steps. And don’t worry about being the new kid. I’ll be your friend.

Thank you, Jeanne, for giving us some insight into Facebook! Be sure to check out Jeanne's website and her Parting the Waters Facebook page. (If you can't open the Facebook page, join Facebook, and ask to join her group.)

Let's keep the ideas flowing.

Question: What have you tried that has worked well for you in using Facebook or another social networking site?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A What For? and How To...

take advantage of FACEBOOK as a writer!

Welcome guest blogger Jan Kern as she shares an interview with Jeanne Damoff about how to use social networking tools as a writer. (reposted from CAN)

It seems there's always something new to try or to learn with online promotion. We can't do it all, and we quickly discover that some of the offerings work better for our books than others. Generally I've found that blogging and networking profiles (MySpace, ShoutLife, Facebook) work very well and very naturally for promotion of the writing I do for teens and young adults. So I'm intrigued when I hear of others who are also using one of those modes--especially when they're doing something I haven't tried yet. Recently I interviewed Jeanne Damoff, and she shared how she uses Facebook as a part of her promotional repertoire. "Listen" in as she offers both an introduction and some advanced creative options . . .

Jeanne, you use Facebook as one of your preferred networking sites. What do you most like about using this site?

Facebook (FB) isn't the only social networking site online, but it's my personal favorite.

I first joined without a thought to professional connections, but rather to stalk my adult children. I knew their friends had posted hundreds of photos of them on FB, and--thanks to the tagging feature--I could access many of those shots from my kids’ profile pages (assuming they accepted my "friend" request, which of course they did.)

There must have been some brilliant minds behind the FB design, because I quickly (and almost effortlessly) reconnected with all sorts of people. A simple e-mail address search helped me find lots of acquaintances. Then, as I added friends, other people found me, because FB informed them I was there. You can also search for people by name or based on a city, high school, or college. I've caught up with folks from a variety of life categories—-some I’d lost contact with for years.

Better yet, I don't even have to stalk anyone. Facebook informs me when one of my "friends" uploads a new photo (or is tagged in one) or posts an update or has a birthday. And that's only the shallows of the FB ocean.

How does Facebook help you network as a writer?

Hundreds of Christian writers and quite a few editors and agents have FB profiles. When you add one writer friend, chances are you’ll run into some more. And FB even suggests “people you may know” based on mutual friendships. The Christian publishing industry network expands quickly and easily through FB’s user-friendly format.

FB is not a place to pitch your project, but--because of its ingenius design--it is a place where you can get a better “feel” for a person in some respects than you can on a websites or even a blog. And it’s a relaxed atmosphere where you can leave a friendly message on a favorite author or editor’s “wall” without feeling like a sycophant.

Do you use Facebook as a promotional and ministry tool? Tell us how you do that.

I have a cool story about that, and it just happened.

I'm about to release Parting the Waters, a book about how God brought beauty out of brokenness through our son Jacob’s near-drowning accident. I decided to create a public FB group announcing the release to all my "friends" and encouraging them to help spread the word by inviting others.

When someone joins my group, their "mini feed" announces it to all their friends. News spreads. As a result, some of Jacob's peers joined the group, and a young woman who was in his graduating class noticed it and checked out the page. She remembered how the whole community rallied around our family, and she also remembered praying for Jacob, even though she didn’t know him well.

As God would have it, this young woman just happens to be the producer of KSLA News 12, a major news network that reaches parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. She not only joined the FB group, last week she contacted me and is planning an extensive feature story including on-camera interviews with our family and others. She said the whole newsroom is excited about it, and she wants to do everything she can to help me promote the book.

Of course, I'm not guaranteeing if you start a FB group, a TV station is going to call and ask to do a show about you. But, hey. God can do whatever He wants with whatever is available. I didn't even know this contact existed until FB brought us together.

(to be continued next tomorrow)


In the meantime, let's stir up a discussion. Feel free to share how you use Facebook or other networking sites for marketing (and ministry with your writing), or how you'd like to when you get your book published..

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Attitude of a Successful Writer

By Jim Denney

I snagged this from Terry Whalin's newsletter! Visit his site...he ROCKS!

In his book Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, Laurence Block wrote, "It continues to astonish me what a widespread and enduring fantasy 'Being a Writer' is for the population at large. It's a rare day when I don't encounter some misguided chap who expresses the desire to trade places with me. And it's on those not-so-rare days when everything goes wrong, when the words won't come but the rejections fly thick and fast, when the bank account's gone dry again and editors don't even bother lying about the check's being in the mail, that otherwise sane folks tell me how much they envy me."

I've noticed that, when people find out what I do for a living, they often say, "I always wanted to be a writer," or, "I bet I could write a book if I put my mind to it." The people who tell you such things might be pizza delivery guys or doctors or astronauts, yet they all admire writers. They all have a secret wish that they could write. They all think they could do what you do if they had the time or the opportunity or if their lives were different somehow.

But you know what? I've never met a writer anywhere who wanted to be anything other than a writer. Take any person who says, "I am a writer," and I don't care how penniless he is, how long it has been since his last paycheck, how much he struggles with self-doubt, writer's block, and unreasonable deadlines--he does not, even for a moment, consider changing jobs. Why? Because writing is not a job. It's a mission. It's a calling. It's more essential to your soul than a career. It is not just your profession--it's your identity.

A computer programmer can go to seminary and become a preacher. A school teacher can tender her resignation and become an exotic dancer. But can a writer give up writing and become something else? Unheard of! Writing is not what you do, it's who you are! If you are a writer, there is nothing else to be.

If you know in your bones what I'm talking about, if you know that you have to be a writer, then you must write. You only get one life, and the life you've been given is made up of a finite number of heartbeats. Between your first heartbeat and your last is a brief span of time in which you are permitted to write your books and speak your piece. When your time is up, they will put you in a box and throw you in a hole to make room for the next writer waiting in line.

So now is your time, my friend. If you're going to write your books, you'd better get at it. Here are the keys to maintaining the attitude of a working writer as you pound your dreams into reality:

• Stay cool under pressure. Writing requires intense mental concentration. Pressures are distractions, and distractions are corrosive forces that can stop the flow of your writing. Marital and family strife are deadly to your inspiration. Financial stress can make it hard to put two coherent thoughts together. Deadline pressure can make you freeze like a deer in the halogen highbeams.

Understand, I'm not telling you to eliminate pressures and distractions from your life. It can't be done. The problems and pressures of life are inevitable, so you must learn to cope. One of the best survival skills a writer has is the ability to remain cool under pressure. There may come times when you are under intense deadline pressure and intense financial pressure at the same time--way too much work and no money at all. It will seem massively unfair and unreasonable--but you still have to finish the work in order to collect your next check. Money or no money, stress or no stress, you've got to write.

My most important asset in the early days of my freelance career was a sense of perspective. I looked at things this way: Okay, there's no money--so what's the worst that can happen? I put off some bills and make my apologies to a few creditors. The check will eventually get here.

Meanwhile, I can still write, I still have my health and my family, and life goes on. On the scale of bad things that can happen to a person, a little short-term financial stress just doesn't even budge the scale.

• During bad times, avoid self-pity. Unless you somehow manage to write a best-seller right out of the box (and I'm not sneering at that--it has been done), accept the fact that it takes time, patience, and persistence to build your career and achieve your goals. That's the way it should be. If writing was easy, everybody would do it.

At times, you may be tempted to look with envy upon your workaday friends with their secure jobs and regular paychecks. You'll be tempted to feel sorry for yourself. Don't. You have a lot of things going for you that they don't have:

1. Unlimited upside potential. Sure, the money is lean and the checks are slow at first. But your friends, the nine-to-fivers, top out at a certain level. They reach a point where they are making as much as they can make, and they can't advance any higher. A talented, focused, determined writer has unlimited upside potential. If you can write as well as Stephen King, Tom Clancy, or J. K. Rowling, you can become a one-person publishing empire and deforest half of Saskatchewan with your brilliant words. And why shouldn't you?

2. You're doing what you love. How many of your friends can say that? Most of the people you know are just marking time until retirement. Few are doing what they really love to do. If your friends won the lottery today, most of them would quit their jobs tomorrow. But if you won the lottery, would you stop writing? No way! Sudden wealth would just give you more freedom to write what you want.

3. You are a writer. You aren't mowing lawns or delivering pizza. You aren't cold-calling on disinterested prospects. You don't have to wear a pager to the opera, be on call at all hours of the night, or answer to a mean-tempered, autocratic boss. That's not to disparage the people who do those jobs, because all honest work is honorable. But you have something better than a job. You have something nobler than a career. You have a calling. You have a purpose in life. You are a writer.

• Think like an editor. If you want to write books, then ask yourself, "What sells?" Become acquainted with trends, bestsellers, and niche markets. Spend time in bookstores, checking out the racks and the displays, figuring out what sells. Read the trade journals, like Publishers Weekly. Know what editors are looking for, and make it your business to deliver it.

I continually encounter people who want to write a book about their own life or the life of someone close to them. Unfortunately, such books rarely get published. Your grandfather may have been a fascinating man who led an interesting life, but the truth is, if your grandfather didn't win a war, a Super Bowl, or an Academy Award, it's going to be tough finding a publisher for your grandfather's life story. Non-fiction book publishing today is celebrity-driven, event-driven, and publicity-driven. Competition is fierce. If you want to sell your book, you've got to think commercially.

Magazine publishing is another thing altogether. There are thousands of magazines filling hundreds of niches. Even the story of your grandfather's adventures as a ringmaster with a traveling flea circus--if the story is well-written with just the right slant--will sell to one or more of those magazines. You just have to do your homework and familiarize yourself with the markets. That means you must research potential markets in Writer's Digest and on the Internet. If a magazine doesn't post writers' guidelines on its website, then invest in some stamps and ask for them (send an SASE). Most important of all, read the magazine. Get to know its content, focus, readership, editorial personality, and slant. Study the contents page--and study the actual content.

Select a few publications you'd like to write for, then make it your goal to crack that market and keep selling articles there. After you conquer one publication, use your credits to impress editors at other publications, so you can sell to even better-paying markets.

• Finally, have fun! Novelist Piers Anthony once told me, "I hardly need to generate the motivation to write because I love to write and I do it all I can." And writer-editor Robert Darden told me, "My most exciting moments as a writer occur when I'm working on my fiction. It's like a drug--I crave it. Writing fiction is the greatest joy in this business--and when writing is fun, you can't keep from writing!"

So do what you love, have a blast, and write!

Jim Denney has more than 70 books to his credit and has been a fulltime freelance writer since 1989. His titles include Answers to Satisfy the Soul and the "Timebenders" science-fantasy series for young readers (beginning with Battle Before Time). Visit Jim's website at www.denneybooks.com. This article is adapted from his book Quit Your Day Job!--How to Sleep Late, Do What You Enjoy, and Make a Ton of Money As a Writer, copyright 2003 by Jim Denney. You may order Quit Your Day Job! from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookseller. You may also order directly from the publisher, Quill Driver Books, at 1-800-497-4909.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Advice for Novelists (Part 52)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

It's been terrific to hear all the responses. If you're just joining us and would like to read the rest in the series, click here.

Take it away, Mike Dellosso!

Three things. One, never give up. The road will be long and hard and seem endless. It will test your faith, your patience, and your resolve, but it’s doable. 100% of published writers didn’t give up. That’s the truth.

Two, find someone to champion your book, be it agent or editor. To go from manuscript to published novel, every work needs a champion. He or she is out there, you just have to keep looking.

Three, all that being said, remember your writing is a gift from God, even the desire to write is God-given, it’s part of that whole likeness of God thing, our drive to create. Remember for Whom it is you’re writing and that ultimately He’s in charge of your future in writing. Be willing to submit yourself to His will and write what and how He wants you to. Doing that, you can never go wrong.

--Mike Dellosso, author of The Hunted. Visit Mike online at his website.

Oh, and Happy Veteran's Day, check out today's post over at It's Real Life. One more reason why I love celebrating this holiday!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Social Marketing...

The cool thing about social marketing is that sometimes you get to actually socially interact. At the Books & Such Retreat I got to meet two fellow Bookies: Dawn Meehan and Shelia Wray Gregoire! They are even cooler in person than on-line ... and that's saying a lot because they're amazing on-line!

The second cool thing is the because you're "friends" with people on-line, it's easy to become real friends. In both cases, I walked up to both women and launched into a conversation about what been happening with them. And I knew what was happening because of Facebook and Twitter.

So here's too good friends who turn into great friends because of this crazy thing call Internet and social media!

Pssst. Check them out:



Friday, November 7, 2008

Be Encouraged!

Are you discouraged today?

Is your to-do list long enough to wrap around the state of Montana five times?

Do you feel slightly depressed that the year is coming to a close and there is so much you hoped to accomplish, only have last year's resolutions still clinging to your mind (just as that extra five pounds is clinging to your thighs)?

Hang in there. And know that God has a plan for you today. You are not behind. In fact, you are right on schedule. His schedule.

God has everything timed to the minute ... no, wait, to the second. Just think how minutely planned things had to work out for baby Moses to be found within the bullrushes. Or for David to show up in order the slay Goliath. Your day--this moment--is not an accident.I'm encouraging you has God has encouraged my heart this morning. I have 2 1/2 books due next month, and according to my flesh, I am SO behind.

But this morning my spirit sings because the creator of the universe--THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE--has planned this moment in history for me. This day is planned for my good and my growth.

And for yours.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

10 Blog Traffic Tips

I know many of you out there are bloggers too...these are GREAT!

By Yaro Starak

In every bloggers life comes a special day - the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else's blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader - you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that's about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called "traction", which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major "pillar" articles. A pillar article is a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good "how-to" lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn't news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don't have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be serious about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need a easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that's the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you’ve done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people's blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commenter and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger's article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry - it's sort of like your blog telling someone else’s blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important - it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will likely come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival often enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at blogcarnival.com.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it's so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it's worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn’t bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it's worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have - your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your "Resource Box". You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I've listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won’t stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

I hope you enjoyed my list of traffic tips. Everything listed above are techniques I've put into place myself for my blogs and have worked for me, however it's certainly not a comprehensive list. There are many more things you can do. Finding readers is all about testing to see what works best for you and your audience and I have no doubt if you put your mind to it you will find a balance that works for you.
Yaro Starak, a professional blogger wrote this article. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Advice for Novelists (Part 51)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

Today we hear once again from an editor's perspective in our Advice for Novelists series. I don't know about you, but I sit up and take notice when editors take the time to give advice. And Andrea Doering graciously responded today to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"Novelists are told by many people, "write what you know." Somehow that translates to "write about your life." Which may stop you from moving forward, because what we live is usually not as interesting to us as the lives of others, or what we read.But this is good advice, to write what you know.

But take it down to the minutiae in your novel. What is that little trick your sister always did with her wrist when she was worried? What is your mother's signature goodbye to people she loves? And maybe you know, as a parent, that fear for your children far outweighs any fear for yourself. These are the things that enrich the novel, and enrich your reader's experience--and they are yours to tell.

--Andrea Doering, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Revell Books, an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Friday, October 31, 2008

How do I get stuff done?

Many people ask how I motivate myself to write ... and to get stuff done:

1. I set priorities. "What are the three top things I need to get done today?"

2. I do the hardest thing first. It gets it out of my mind and makes the rest of the day better.

3. I set impossible goals and then tell someone about them. For example, this week I told my wonderful agent I'd have three chapters written for a new proposal. This was in the middle of traveling to our Books & Such Retreat. I told a few other people too. I worked before I left. I worked on my flights. I worked in Starbucks at the airport yesterday for five hours! And I sent the rough drafts last night.

4. I offer myself small rewards throughout the day. For example, "If you write 500 words you can check your email." Sometimes I pour myself a BIG cup of coffee and tell myself, "I can't get up to use the restroom until I have 400 words written."

5. After a BIG project I reward my family. After finishing one book I bought Wii Fit. For another Dance Praise. I'm already picking out board games I want to get after my next deadline. I reward my family with fun for the days I have to say, "Not today ..."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

...And the 15 Things the Media HATES!

Yesterday I posted Rick's Frishman's Fifteen Things the Media Loves so here is some sage advice on what NOT to do!

Fifteen Things the Media Hates
By Rick Frishman

Now that you know what to do in order to solicit a positive response--here's what to avoid:

1. Not Taking "No" for an Answer

Persistence is an admirable trait, but there comes a point when you must accept defeat. Most people won't build relationships with insistent callers who phone 500 times after they're told "No." When someone says "No," accept it. Walk away before you destroy a potentially valuable connection.

2. Long Press Releases

One killer page is all you need. If the media wants more, they'll ask for it. Come up with a great headline, state the major points in a strong first paragraph, and bullet everything you want to stress. Include secondary information in a background or follow-up release.

3. Lying, Misrepresentation, and Hype

Don't be dishonest or unreasonable. The truth will always emerge, and when stories aren't based on facts, the media usually ends up holding the bag. Most people, especially those in the medi a, won't forget who got them burned and will not give you the chance to do it again. Media pros know a good story when they see one and they can cut through the hype.

4. Pitches That Don't Fit

Know exactly what the specific contact wants. Don't approach reporters or producers with stories that fall outside their areas of interest. Pitching a story to the wrong outlet shows that you haven't done your research. It wastes everyone's time.

5. Small Talk

Get right to the point--be clear and brief. Don't confuse chitchat with courtesy. Assume that the people you contact are busy and don't have time for small talk. Needless chatting borders on rudeness, it holds people hostage and keeps them from attending to business. It's thinly veiled manipulation that rarely works.

6. Links That Don't Work

Little is more frustrating than to click on a link that doesn't work. When people go to your site or blog, they don't have time to waste on dead links. If they can't easily access the information they want, they will probably exit your site and move on to something else.

7. Overkill

Media kits that weigh as much as your cocker spaniel are a turnoff. Less is more. When in doubt, leave it out. Most recipients resent bulging kits, consider them wasteful, and won't read them. The last thing they want is more stuff. If you must send tomes, bound them securely because it's maddening to watch papers falling out and scattering in every direction when an envelope is opened.

8. Cold Calls

Unsolicited phone calls are intrusions--verbal spam. They interrupt busy people while they're working. E-mail first to warn them that you plan on calling. Similarly, don't send unrequested attachments--they won't be opened--and unsolicited videotapes won't be watched. Unless you receive express permission, never call the media at home!

9. Bribes

Avoid offering free tickets to events and other bribes. Many media outlets prohibit gifts altogether, some bar presents over a fixed dollar amount (often $25) and others require gifts to be shared or donated to charity. Generally, the media wants good stories, not free T-shirts or coffee mugs.

10. Name-dropping

Nobody likes name-droppers. Name-dropping often indicates that a story is weak. In most cases, if connections to celebrated names are tenuous at best, they seldom change the story's value. While name-dropping may work with friends, it will hurt you with media professionals.

11. Lack of Appeal

Your discovery of a foolproof method of pickling pimentos may be the biggest thing in your life, but it's probably of little or no interest to the rest of the world. If you want your story covered by the media, it must have audience appeal.

12. Unnecessary Confirmation Calls

Unrequested calls made simply to check on whether faxes or packages have arrived draw mixed responses at best. Some media pros see them as helpful reminders for keeping track of items on their plates. Others resent them as pestering. Your best bet is to send a quick e-mail, rather than call, to check on the delivery of faxes and packages.

13. Gimmicks

If you use a gimmick, it better be sensational and the reason you're using it must be clear. That said, the vast majority falls flat. Never assume that the media will get the point you're trying to make. Most media people prefer conventional approaches. A reporter for a big-city newspaper told us that a woman who appeared outside his office clad in a bikini and blowing a trumpet provided a good laugh, but she didn't get the publicity she wanted because she never mentioned why she was there.

14. Not Following Up on Requests

Everybody hates people who send press releases, call, or fax, but then don't follow up with additional information when it is requested. If you say, or even imply, that you're going to do something, do it and do it promptly. Otherwise, you will be considered unreliable and unprofessional. If you don't respond promptly it may be too late. You can't expect folks to wait for you.

15. Recycling Ideas

Don't repeatedly send the same idea no matter how cleverly you repackage it. Writers, producers, and bloggers recognize and resent old dogs dolled up in new duds. "A lump of coal is still a lump of coal and no matter how you package it, it's not a diamond," a producer once explained.


Stay on the media's good side. When you're aware of what the media loves and what it hates, it will give you a great shot at staying in the media's good graces. Feed the media what it wants because the more the media likes you, the more publicity it can generate for your product or service.

Reprinted from "Rick Frishman's Author 101 Newsletter"
Subscribe at http://www.author101.com and receive Rick's "Million Dollar Rolodex"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And while we're on the subject of marketing...

Fifteen Things the Media Loves
By Rick Frishman

"Reporters are like alligators. You don't have to love them, you don't necessarily have to like them. But you do have to feed them."

1. News

Above all else, the media wants newsworthy items. The first thing they ask is, "Will our audience care about this?" News is what affects people's lives, what they discuss at the dinner table and around the water cooler. For the media, news is not just about delivering information; it's about entertaining first and educating or selling second. So, provide your information in an entertaining fashion.

2. The Big Three: Sex, Money, and Health

Stories that involve sex, money, or health attract attention. The media believes that the public is obsessed with sex, money, and health, and if you link your story to one or more of them, it will increase its media appeal.

3. Brevity

Save everyone time and effort by sending short, concise messages, preferably by e-mail. Cut to the ch ase--be direct and without subterfuge. State what you're pitching and how it will help the intended audience. Long missives often go unread.


Faxes can be unreliable. Some newsrooms, stations, and offices have only one fax machine, or one per floor, and it may be operated by an intern or a clerk. In large organizations, faxes are often undelivered or delivered to the wrong person. If you send a fax, follow up with an e-mail to be sure it is received.

4. Targeted Pitches

Every story isn't for every outlet. Research the audience you wish to reach and identify which outlets best target that audience. Before making your pitch, study each media outlet: read its articles, watch and listen to its programs, and visit its Web sites. Customize your pitch to stress how it will benefit each outlet's specific audience. Send business stories to business reporters, not to lifestyle reporters, unless the story has a lifestyle angle.

5. Relationships

Media people like to deal with people who build relationships rather than merely try to sell a story. Although individual stories are important, people in the media know that careers are built by forging strong relationships. To the media, professionals build relationships and they prefer to work with professionals in their network rather than one-shot wonders.

6. Preparation

Do your homework. The media likes to work with people who have their acts together and can deliver what is needed. Focus on making the media's job easier. Know your subject inside and out and have written materials completed and on hand to send upon request. With products, send three copies of the product to the media. Being prepared shows commitment and that you're a dedicated professional.

7. Broad Appeal

The story behind your product or service should be able to reach a wide variety of individuals. You want something that makes audiences say, "I know someone who could use that." The media looks for stories that people will identify with. Search for broad themes that deliver some punch.

8. Tie-ins

The media wants stories that feed into larger items such as breaking news or trends. It looks for topics that will spawn families of stories. For example, during mining disasters they go for stories about safety, corporate greed, the closeness and tradition of mining communities, handling grief, treating trauma, technical and scientific advances, and the environment.

9. Experience

Reporters, editors, and bloggers like to see how others have covered your story; send articles that others have written about you or your product or service. Producers and podcasters want to know how you came off on camera or radio; give them a list of shows you've appeared on and offer to supply tapes for their review.

10. Visualization

The media loves stories that they can picture. In your written materials, use visual terms to create images and tell stories that illustrate your main points. The better the media can visualize your story, the better it can visualize its audience visualizing your story.

11. Celebrity Connections

Explain how your product or service is linked to well-known personalities. The public craves information about celebrities and products related to them get plenty of ink.

12. Prompt Response

Since the media works tight deadlines, time is always of the essence. Respond promptly to requests. Send requested material by the fastest route: hand delivery or overnight express. Delays can cause postponements or cancellations. You're always in a race with the clock.

13. Courtesy

Be respectful to everyone you come in contact with, especially those who answer the phones. Before speaking with media contacts, learn the proper pronunciation of their names. Butchering a media contact's name will get you off to a rocky start; it will put you in a hole before you begin.

14. Visual Aids

A picture is worth 10,000 words. Send charts, graphs, photographs, illustrations, and other graphic aids that reporters can stick under their editors' noses to show why your story merits telling.

15. Send Warnings

Before sending unsolicited material, you should notify your media contacts that it is coming with a quick call or e-mail. If they tell you not to send it, respect their wishes.


Reprinted from "Rick Frishman's Author 101 Newsletter"
Subscribe at http://www.author101.com and receive Rick's "Million Dollar Rolodex"

Reprinted from "Rick Frishman's Author 101 Newsletter"Subscribe at http://www.author101.com/ and receive Rick's "Million Dollar Rolodex"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No Time For Envy in Marketing

written by Karen Whiting

Sometimes we seem to be in a never-ending circle to market so we can write.

We write from a calling and passion and then must market so sales justify getting more contracts to write. If sales are low we try marketing harder and watch what others do to boost their sales.

Oops! Once we watch sales of others we can easily start to be jealous of those numbers. That can get us caught up in the ‘keeping up with the latest and greatest ways to promote’ and move us from passion for writing to stresses of selling.

Let’s talk about balancing marketing without envy and keeping up the passion of writing. Jealousy makes it a vicious circle.

John and Peter sometimes struggled with checking out each other and competing for the attention and favor of Jesus. Paul appeared more focused on his mission. Let’s look at each for insights into our own attitudes and reactions.

John in Mark 10:35-41 John and his brother asked to sit at Christ’s side and Christ rebuked them. He showed a competitive edge there. This vying for favor made the other disciples, including Peter, feel indignant and Jesus calmed them with words about putting service and humility above pride. He stated that He [Jesus] had come to serve and not be served. He worked at redirecting their focus outward.

At the resurrection in the gospel he wrote we see a little more. In John 20:1-8 John calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved (and Peter was there too). The writers at that time did not normally call themselves by name, but this choice may not have made Peter happy. He describes how he got to the tomb first (he ran faster than Peter) and he saw and believed with no mention of whether Peter believed or not. Peter is not without fault. In John 21:21-22 after the discourse on “Peter, do you love me?” and “Feed my sheep.” Jesus describes Peter’s tough future. Then Peter asks what will happen to John. He wanted to know John's fate and what Jesus planned for him. Jesus responded, “What is that to you? YOU follow ME.” He pleaded with Peter to keep his focus on his task of following Jesus and off his neighbor.

Paul defended his calling as an apostle but considered himself so wretched due to his past persecution of Jesus (he realized from Christ’s own words that when he persecuted Christians he persecuted Jesus in 1Corinthians 15:9) that he kept his focus on following Christ. Paul continued to work as a tentmaker and didn’t expect people to cater to his needs (Acts 18:1,3). He so avoided competition that he declared relief that he baptized so few people (1 Corinthians 1:12-17; 3:3-6) and identified his calling as preaching and not baptizing.

We need to examine our motives for writing. Let’s check out a few:
Is it for money (we do need to eat and have a roof over our heads). If so, we may need other ways to supplement the income besides a particular book or two (articles, speaking, business writing, editing).

Is it for fame (alas only 2% of writers ever get this and even then only within the circles of the readers of that genre).

Is it because I want to help people avoid pain I’ve had? Then focus on reaching that reader and know the measure of success is not in great sales but in the responses of readers you have helped.

Do I simply love to write/tell a story? Then make sure you give yourself writing time and even in marketing use ways that let you tell a story (blogging and even media appearances can be opportunities to share stories).

We need to keep our eyes on what we can do and not the success of others.
Post your mission and what God has called you to do and read that each day.

Keep letters/emails from people who have been touched by your writing and reread those notes.

Remember that we build the audience little by little so don’t despise the small victories.

Do rejoice when others succeed
They are part of our network and we understand their struggles.

Each success is a time to be happy that God’s message has touched someone’s life.

Each success shows us that God opens doors and makes it easier for us to follow.

Market with passion and not envy

Market because you believe in your book

Market because you want to reach people with hope offered in your book

Market to your audience, even if it is a small one

Persist at marketing
Not for fame, power, or money, but because of the great commission, the calling of Christ to touch lives of others

Because anything worth doing is worth doing well

Be fruitful with love, peace, patience, etc and weed out the envy, strife, and bitterness

I pray that the Lord will bless your marketing efforts one-hundedfold!

Karen's website