Friday, May 6, 2016

6 Traits of a Writer

Remember: good artists copy, great ones steal. Go ahead. Steal this and use it wherever you like.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Christy Award Finalists

Looking for a new read? The 2016 Christy Award finalists were announced this week so you know these are some awesome titles . . .

▪ The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (WaterBrook Press)
▪ As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon Press)
▪ The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House Publishers)

▪ Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
▪ Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
▪ The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck (Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

▪ Anna’s Healing by Vannetta Chapman (Harvest House Publishers)
▪ Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
▪ Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt (Howard Books)

▪ The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale House Publishers)
▪ Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
▪ A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

▪ The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert (Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
▪ Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale House Publishers)
▪ The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (WaterBrook Press)

HISTORICAL ROMANCE (Four finalists due to a tie in scoring)
▪ Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
▪ The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
▪ Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (WaterBrook Press)
▪ To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander (Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

▪ The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing)
▪ Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
▪ Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

▪ The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
▪ A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)
▪ Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin (Enclave Publishing)

▪ The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale House Publishers)
▪ Rebel by R.J. Anderson (Enclave Publishing)
▪ To Get to You by Joanne Bischof (Independently Published)

Finding Your Voice

post by Michelle Griep
"Developing a personal style signals growth and maturity — a strong grasp of the fundamentals, 
a confidence in your ability, and a desire to advance in your craft by saying what you want to say, 
on your terms.
~ Matt McCue

What makes a writer unique is his voice. No, not some raspy, chain-smoking kind of gravelly tone. I'm talking the way an author puts words together. How a writer lets sentences flow exactly as he thinks them. 

In essence: being yourself.

The elusive thing about voice, though, is that you can't learn it. You already have it. The trick is in letting it loose. But there area few things you can do to help your voice be heard loud and clear . . . 

Let 'er rip.
You do not have to follow all the writing "rules" that you've learned. In fact, if you do, you'll be so stymied by the fear of breaking those rules that the only voice a reader will hear is a timid mouse squeak. So pry your fingers off the fear button. Go ahead. Here's your permission.

Be yourself.
Do you use slang a lot when you speak? Then use it in your writing. Do you talk like a 'hood rat about to bust a sweet deal? Use that tone. Are you a prim and proper grammar nazi whilst partaking of a discussion? Then dot your i's and cross your t's in your manuscript. The point is that you should write like you talk.

I know. This sounds like a stupid made-up way to gain your voice. How the heck can reading other author's voices help you? Believe it or not, it can. When you see how other writers craft their work, fearless, blunt, rhythmic, it frees you to pen words in your own creative way. Peer pressure works. Just sayin'.

The more you write, the more you'll feel comfortable slapping words on a page, the more likely your voice will roam free from your head to your fingertips.

Above all, just be natural. Getting freaked out about voice is a sure way to muzzle it. If you immerse yourself in the story, your voice can't help but to come out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Do You Need a Professional Edit Before You Submit a Manuscript?

post by Michelle Griep
A newbie writer contacted me the other day asking if I thought he needed a professional edit on his manuscript before sending it in to an agent or publisher. I've got several editor buddies, so seems like I'd say, "You betcha," without even blinking. Umm, not so much. There are several factors you should consider.

3 Factors to Consider Before Hiring an Editor

The Time Factor
How much elbow grease do you want to put into this? Editing and re-editing takes time, and first manuscripts are notorious for being time bandits. If you want a quick and easy edit, pay for it. But if you're willing to take the time to find and work with critique buddies and swap critiques, this can be a win-win situation.

The Money Factor
Editing is expensive. Do you have the cash to cough up for a professional edit? I'm not talking a cheapy read-through by an "editor" off of Craig's List. If you decide you do have the bankroll to fund this effort, check the editor's credentials and read reviews. But if your budget is limited, then just do your best, swap critiques, and go for it. If it's purchased, the publisher will do an extensive edit anyway.

The Proficiency Factor
How good of a grasp do you have on grammar? Is your dialogue formatted properly? Is spellcheck your only hope of readable copy? If you lack in any of these areas, then yes, you should probably get a pro to whip your copy into shape. But (and I've always got a big but) if you're going to be a writer, perhaps you ought to master these skills sooner rather than later.

All these things being said, if you're planning on self-publishing you MUST pay for a professional edit. There's no way around it.

And if you want a few recommendations for a few fantastic editors that I'd trust with my manuscripts . . .

Elizabeth Ludwig

Jeff Gerke

Monday, May 2, 2016

How Age Affects Reading

Post by Michelle Griep
Because you are all above average readers and highly intellectual, you probably can guess the answer to this . . .

Does age affect reading?

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Yes, we have a winner. Age does affect reading, but how? Here are a few interesting statistics:

  • Women over 45 years old are 15% more likely to finish a book than the average reader.
  • Readers under the age of 35 are 10% less likely than the average to finish a book.
  • Older readers buy a significant number of young adult titles.
  • The age group that reads the most (averaging 13 titles a year) is tied between the 30-49s and the 50-64s.
  • Younger readers (ages 16-29) most often read to research topics of interest. Older readers (30+) read for pleasure.
  • Younger readers read their eBooks on a cell phone. E-readers are the device of choice for those older.
  • The library is used by younger readers more frequently instead of older readers.
Which one of these statistics surprised you the most? Personally, though I'm one of those who loves YA, I thought that perhaps I was an anomaly. Guess not.

Does that mean I can take off my freak badge now?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Killing Eeyore

post by Michelle Griep
Editors don't owe you a request for a proposal.

Nor does the publisher owe you a big, fat advance.

Bloggers are not required to host you on their site.

There's no obligation for reviewers to read your book and post a 5-star review.

And most of all, readers are NOT in your debt.

But I've met plenty of writers who think otherwise. These are the Eeyore's of the writerly world. Poor me. No one wants my book. I can't get anyone to interview me or help me market. It's just not fair.

To which I reply, "Suck it up, mopey pants, and get over yourself."

Go ahead and call me hard-hearted, if you must, but here's the deal . . . take some responsibility for your lack of success. How?

  • If you get a tough critique, glean and implement the comments to polish your manuscript.
  • If you get rejected by an agent or editor, ask why. Then work to change those aspects of your writing.
  • If one-star reviews plague your Amazon page, read them to find common threads that you can change in future books.

The point is that the writing field is pretty level. It takes blood and guts to win the game -- not lots of complaining. Work hard. Write your best and learn to write even better. Do that and you'll find you won't have any time left to mope.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Need a Recharge?

post by Michelle Griep
Yeah, I know I recently posted about writerly time management, but doggone it, every now and then you just gotta take a break. And have I found some fun sites for you while you're on that break . . .

This is an interactive, multiplayer musical experience. All you do is enter a screen name and the computer matches you up with 3 or 4 other people out there who are wasting their time, I mean, recharging. You play music with them with just the click of your mouse. This one is super addicting, so beware.

A Soft Murmur
Looking for some ambient noise but it's too early in the season for crickets or you're too lazy to go to a coffee shop? This is the place for you. Pick your soothing background noise and let it calm your nerves or inspire your muse while you write. Or nap. Your pick.

Shut Up and Take My Money
Need a quirky gift for someone? Need to treat yourself? Just want to gawk at some freakishly awesome items for sale? Yeah. Click on this one.

I Side With
I purposely do not talk politics on this blog. I figure I offend enough people just by being me without the added abrasiveness of political opinion. However, in this particularly heated season of elections, here's one site you might want to check out. It asks you a series of questions on a variety of issues. You answer yes or no and how important the issue is to you. Then voila. It matches you with the candidate you share the most views with. Yeah, I know you might think who that is already, but I also know you might be surprised. I was.

Geo Guesser
I admit it. I'm geographically challenged. This site confirmed it. It shows you a picture from Google Earth and you simply guess where in the world it is.

There you have it. Go out there and have a good time. Don't forget a helmet.

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