Monthly Archives: October 2012

Are You Willing To Wait?

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I hate waiting.

Waiting is not in my nature. In our instant society, I want everything now.

I have been sick for the past two weeks and I have been crying out to God asking him what is wrong with me. All I have received in return is silence. My mind races to find an explanation for my illness, so I don’t have to wait on God for His answer. Yet I know that God’s timing is perfect and He will reveal Himself in His time.

Instead of waiting, I prepare and plan and work outside of God will for my life. While God says wait, I say “Go!”

This transfers to every aspect of my life, including my writing. Instead of waiting on God to reveal His next writing project, I make plans and prepare my own writing agenda. God may call you to practice certain disciplines in order to hone your craft as a writer. Here are some things God might be calling you to practice before you embark on your next writing project:

Submission– Dr. Bill Randall says “The supreme issue of submission is the willingness to trust and obey God when it would seem easier not to…this unreserved submission necessitates a firm belief that God is good, and all that He does and requires is good.” *

Surrender– Sometimes it takes a laying down of our will in order to take up God’s will for our lives. What is stopping you from taking a sober look at the gifts and talents God has entrusted you with to bring glory to His kingdom?

Solitude- This is a discipline I don’t practice nearly enough. If you don’t have a quiet space in your home, consider retreating to a secluded place away from your normal surroundings. It helps to throw off the distractions of life and focus on God’s voice.

Being willing to wait on God may reap tremendous benefits to your writing dreams and goals.

 

 

Randall, Bill. Making Space for God and his Kingdom. p. 154.

Interview with Eddie Jones

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I have been published on a website called Christian devotions.us. The founder, Eddie Jones, has just released a new book with Zonderkidz. He asked for people to use their blogging platform to help promote his book and I volunteered. He is a publisher with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He answers a couple of questions that aspiring children’s writers might find interesting.

Eddie Jones is the author of eleven books and over 100 articles. He also serves as Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Christian Writers’ Conference, and his YA novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult Fiction. He is also a writing instructor and cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. His He Said, She Said devotional column appears on ChristianDevotions.US. His humorous romantic suspense, Bahama Breeze remains a “blessed seller.” When he’s not writing or teaching at writers’ conferences, Eddie can be found surfing in Costa Rica or some other tropical locale.

Tell us about your upcoming release, Dead Man’s Hand, with Zondervan.

First, it’s a fun, fast read aimed for middle school boys, but we’re also getting nice reviews on Goodreads from teachers and mothers. But my aim is to give boys a book they can enjoy, one taps into today’s fascination with the occult. This is the first book in the Caden Chronicles series and each story involves one element of the supernatural. Book one explores the concept of ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls when we die.

Zonderkids is a Christian publisher, so the paranormal aspect is surprising.

I added the paranormal aspect because I want parents and youth to struggle with eternal questions. We’ve created such a culture of blood-letting through books and movies involving vampires, zombies and survival contests, that the reality of death doesn’t carry the sting it once did. In high school my youngest son lost several friends to driving accidents. When another friend recently died, we asked how he felt and he replied, “I’m numb to it.” I fear that’s what we’re doing with our youth: desensitizing them to the horrors of death. In Dead Man’s Hand, Nick and his family discuss spirits and ghosts and the afterlife because I think it’s important for teens to wrestle with these questions before they’re tossed from a car and found dead on a slab of wet pavement.

You’ve spent the last few years dedicating yourself to helping others get published. Tell us a little about your publishing company and what motivated you to take on such a huge endeavor.

We started the publishing arm to publish devotional compilations for Christian Devotions Ministries. We wanted to give some of our devotional writers their own byline in print. Part of mission is to launch new careers for first time authors. We wanted to create a publishing house where writers who were happy selling from 2,000, to 5,000 copies of their devotional book. There is a big jump from unpublished author to “three-book contract” author and we wanted to serve as a stepping-stone for those writers.

My problem is I hate telling people no, especially when they have a solid project. When it comes time to reject a manuscript, it pains me because I’ve been and continue to be on the other end of rejection. I will delay saying no as long as I can in order to rework the e-mail. I try to give authors good advice for how they can improve their writing. The problem is, if I’m too nice, then they keep coming back and asking to resubmit the same project. My advice to those authors is, improve your writing and send me something new.

We currently have forty authors under contract, have published over thirty books and distribute around four thousand dollars a month in royalty checks. We pay our authors monthly, not quarterly, because we want them to feel like writing is a real job. In fact, I teach a class on how, if an author will write five books a year, they can make over twenty-five thousand dollars. And these are large books. Most are under thirty thousand words. The goal is to have five books that sell 125 copies, (print and ebook combined). a month.
I get jazzed when one of our books launches or sells well. I know what it would feels like to see your book growing legs and garnering positive reviews so I get excited for our authors. Sometimes I think that’s how God feels when we’re doing the thing He’s called us to do. When we’re in our zone, doing the thing we love, we feel His joy. That’s what is great about working for God: sometimes you get paid for playing. J

But the only reason I’m able to publish books and write full time is because four years ago I told God I’d work for Him full time. I figure if I was working for God I’d never be out of work. I may not make a lot of money, but he says there’s plenty of work and not enough labors so to me, that meant job security. I took a blank sheet of paper and signed it one day during my devotions and said, ‘Okay, God, I’ll do whatever it is you ask me to do, because I’m tired of working for other people. I want to work for You.’ Making up stories for boys, writing devotions, creating humorous romantic novels for adults, I get to do all this plus make dreams come true for other authors all because I agreed to work for God full time.

 

You’re passionate about getting boys interested in books. Why do you feel it’s so important to get boys reading fiction at an early age?

I fear we’re on the verge of losing the male reader. I don’t mean men and boys won’t learn to read: they will. But the percentage male who read for leisure continues to shrink and this could be devastating for our country. We can’t lose half our population and expect America to compete on a global level. Reading forces the mind to create. With video the scene and characters are received passively by the brain. There is very little interaction; it’s all virtual stimulation, which is different from creation. When you read, you add your furniture to the scene, dress the characters, add elements not mentioned by the author. This is why readers so often complain, “the movie was nothing like the book.” It’s not, because the book is your book. The author crafted the outline of the set but each reader brings their emotions and expectations to that book, changing it forever.

In general, boys would rather get their information and entertainment visually. This is one reason books have such a tough time competing for male readers. It can take weeks to read a book, even one as short as Dead Man’s Hand. Meantime, that same story can be shown as a movie in under two hours. So in one sense the allure of visual gratification is robbing future generations of our ability to solve problems. I believe Americans only posses one true gift, creativity, and it’s a gift from God. Other nations build things cheaper and with fewer flaws. They work longer hours for less pay. But the thing that has always set America apart is our Yankee ingenuity. We have always been able to solve our way out of problems. That comes directly from our ability to create solutions to problems we didn’t anticipate. If we lose male readers and fail to develop that creative connections necessary for the brain to conceive of alternatives, then we will lose our position as the world’s leader.

What advice would you offer to parents to get their children interested in reading at a young age?

Watch for clues. If your child shows any interest in reading, reward the activity with trips to book fairs. I remember in grade school how excited I got when we were allowed to order books. All we had to do was check a box, (or so I thought), and wham! A few weeks later boxes of books showed up and the teacher began dealing them to the students. I didn’t learn until later my parents had mailed the school money for those books. I still have most of them.

But not all children like reading and you can create an anti-reading environment if you push too hard. An alternative for boys are comic books, graphic novels, or simply cartoon books. I read a lot of Charlie Brown cartoon books and still remember the plot: Lucy has the football. Charlie wants to kick the ball. Lucy promises she will hold the ball in place but at the last moment… We know this story because it’s repeated, not in a novel, but in a cartoon.

Okay, we’re going to be really nosey now, you’ve been married a long time. Tells us a little about your family, how you and your wife met and your family.

I met my wife at a stoplight in West Palm Beach, Florida. She was in the backseat of the car behind us. The driver honked and I crawled out the passenger window, a brown Pinto. The door didn’t work so it looked like I was a NASCAR driver getting out on pit road. The car behind us was full of girls from Meredith College. They asked where I went to college and I told them I went to Meredith, too. “It’s a girl’s school, you dork,” one of them said. I told them I was taking Old Testament that semester, can’t remember the professor’s name, now, and one of the girls yelled, “Hey! You’re in my class!” I explained when been surfing all day and didn’t have a place to stay and needed to hose off and asked if we could borrow their showers. They led us back to their hotel, my buddy and I washed off and left. Driving home a week later we came upon the same car in the slow lane of I-95. The girls were afraid we’d fall asleep driving home, my buddy couldn’t drive at night, so they agreed to put one girl in the car to keep us company. She’d get in, tell her life story and at the end of the hour, another would get in the car. Our last passenger was this cute girl wearing a funny Gilligan hat. She never said a word, not for the whole hour. We put her out, the girls drove off and I finally got home, exhausted. The next week I invited that shy girl to a Warren Zevon concert. Four years later, I married her.

You’ve freelanced writing newspaper columns for the last few decades on boating. Do you have an interesting boating story you can share?

All my boating stories are interesting. I collected the columns into two books, Hard Aground and Hard Aground… Again. The column began in the late eighties when an editor read a couple of essays I’d written about trying sail a boat with my wife. He seemed genuinely amused someone of my limited boating experience would think a woman of my wife’s refined nature would enjoy peeing in a bucket in the cockpit of small sailboat. He informed me that I had correctly spelled the minimum number of words to meet his editorial standards and since someone on the staff had mistakenly sold one ad too many for the next issue, the publication was in need of some copy to balance out that page. I didn’t know this at the time. I thought he was genuinely impressed with my writing abilities. I’ve been told I still suffer from this delusion.”

The editor told me the column needed a catchy name. I purchased a few sailing publications and knew all boating columnist were subject matter experts. The only thing I was an expert on was running off the boat ramp, running aground on clearly marked shoals and running into the dock. I decided I would become an expert on making the best of tough times. When you run aground in a boat – in life – you have two choices. You can cuss and complain or you can grab a good book, kick back and wait for the tide to float you off. It’s all a matter of perspective and pennies and I’m cheap so I usually wait for the tide.

Tell us about your ministry, Christian Devotions. How it got started, what you all are up to these days and what your plans are for the future.

Cindy Sproles and I started the ministry years ago to help authors publish their devotions. We’d go to writers’ conferences and on the last day find all these writers in tears because no one wanted their work. I had a web business and knew how to build web sites so I put up a home page and invited contributing writers. We figured we could at least give new writers a byline, even if it was only on the web. Cindy had been writing devotions every day for two years, partly because of something Alton Gansky said at a Blue Ridge Conference and partly as a commitment to God. The odd thing was, Cindy I didn’t know each other at that first conference but we both wrote down Al’s words. It was like God spoke to each of us separately to work together. Weeks after that conference I was under my willow tree doing my devotion when I heard God whisper: ChristianDevotions.com. I meant to register the domain but by the time I got to my upstairs office, I forgot. A few weeks later God spoke again. Once more, I forgot. Few more weeks past and this time I wrote it down in my journal and marched upstairs only to find that ChristianDevotions.com was taken. I registered ChristianDevotions.US, instead. The dot com domain is worth over ten thousand dollars, now. Procrastination has a price.

For months Cindy and I were the only writers on the site, then slowly God grew the readership. Now we have thousands of readers, a ton of subscribers who get the devotions daily in their email and Kindle subscribers who receive the daily devotion on their Kindle eReader (99 cents a month). We have a teen’s ministry, iBeGat.com, kid’s web site, DevoKids.com and last year we purchased InspireAFire.com. That’s our mission-oriented web site. We have a radio ministry, prayer team, finances ministry and of course the book publishing. We didn’t set out with a marketing plan to do what we’re doing. We simply responded to a need in the marketplace, walked the mountain with God and asked how we could help. Find a need and fill it.

What’s one thing you wish I wouldn’t ask you and pretend I asked you that question.

How I became a writer. I started my sophomore year of high school when he told my English teacher I wanted to write for Cat Talk, Millbrook High School’s newspaper. Mrs. Hough said, “Eddie, you can’t spell and you’re a terrible grammarian.” But I wrote a couple of articles, and she seemed to like the way I could put words together, so I won a spot on staff. My senior year Mrs. Pollard begged not to major in English. In fact, she was shocked I would even consider going to college because I’d never be accepted. She was right. NC State rejected my application. A few days later I made an appointment with the admissions office. The day of my interview I wore a pair of red and white checkered polyester pants my mom made me, white shirt and a red tie. State admitted me into Industrial Arts, which I thought would be pretty cool since I though Industrial Arts meant I’d get to paint buildings. I flunked English 101 twice before passing with a D. I graduated from N.C. State four years later with a degree in English/Journalism and four years of writing experience for the Technician. I’m still a lousy proof-editor but I learned long ago storytelling trumps grammar.

You’re writing for children right now with Zondervan. Besides the upcoming Cadence Chronicles Series, what are your dreams for your writing future?

Each day I walk around my yard reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This is my conversational time with God. Part of that prayer time is me putting on the armor of God. When I’m about halfway fitted out I say, “Lord place across my chest your breastplate of righteousness that my thought may be pure, honorable and good and my dreams secure: my dreams of sailing around the Caribbean, writing a best selling novel and surfing reef breaks.” Beyond that I don’t have any grand writing goals.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write devotions, don’t focus on the praise, book sales and reviews. Forget about trying to find an agent and editor. Once you’re successful, they’ll find you. Explore the wounds in your life and minister to others through your writing. If God allowed you to be hurt, you can speak to that with authority. The rest of us, cannot. Ask yourself where your passions lie. I love surfing. If I could do anything, be anywhere, I’d be in a hut on a beach surfing a point break alone. I love playing and hate work. This is reflected in the types of books I write. I love pulling for the underdog, this comes out in the ministry God gave me. Only you can write the stories God dropped in your lap and if you do not, they will die.

Where can we find out more about you?

Please come find me on www.Eddiejones.org

 

Even Though Writing Is a Lonely Experience… It Doesn’t Mean It has to be Done alone!

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This is a guest post from my friend Dawn Whitmore. Enjoy!

www.facebook.com/dawnwhitmorespeaks

Even Though Writing Is a Lonely Experience… It Doesn’t Mean It has to be Done alone!

Writing used to be known as a lonely profession. However, with the technology age we are living in, this is not so anymore. Our new problem, we have too many distractions to steal the focus from our writing. My hope each day is to have a healthy balance between social media and my writing. Some days, balance is achieved and on others it is not…lately it seems the balance between the two has been more on the “not” end of the spectrum.

I know time management is important. Blogs each week tell me how to be a better writer, make daily to-do lists, write a specific time each day, and guest post. These are all great ideas but until I start consistently doing them; they are only ideas. There is a part of me that wants the ideas to become habit. Good habits produce improved writing.

Jeff Goins’ frequently speaks, “Writing is hard work.” No, I am not afraid of hard work. I have been working hard for a good part of my life. Yet, this hard work is where most of us get tripped up. I propose this is where the Internet can be of great assistance.

I have used the Internet to make a commitment to two online groups. One is an accountability group. We determine focus points each month and then follow-up with each other…accountability. My other HUGE step this year was in accepting the leadership role in a critique group.

This critique group requires me to have a “tough skin” because I have given these ladies permission to be honest with my writing. Flattery will not help me be a strong writer. These ladies question my work. However, they also tell me what I am doing correctly too.

In a world full of various communication portals available to us, it is imperative for this writer to connect. Being an introverted personality, it is easy for me to be satisfied being Sweetie and me in our apartment. Yet, I can’t grow as a writer if I am not connecting. How do you connect?

Should You Be Writing?

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Here is a guest post from my friend Tammy Karasek. We are “tickled pink” to have you, Tammy!

If you know of anyone who is looking for a place to submit guest posts, please post a comment at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

You can find Tammy seeing humor and laughter in every aspect of life and then telling all about it on her blog: http://tickledpinktammy.com.  Tammy’s rough childhood as a lonely, only-child who received much criticism from family is the driving force of her passion to always encourage others and make them smile.  She is a Christian who resides in Ohio with her husband of 31+ years, Larry.  They have a grown daughter, Kristen.   You can also connect with Tammy on her Facebook page, twitter @tickledpinktam or e-mail: t.karasek@yahoo.com

Yes, I Should Be Writing!
            Have you ever found yourself with looming writing deadlines and nary a page completed on a page?  Whether those deadlines are self imposed or deadlines set by someone expecting your writing piece, they seem to nag and agitate you until you can get that piece done.
            Why?  Why can’t I sit down and get started?  Why can’t I think about what I want to say when I am actually AT a typewriter rather than in my car in super busy traffic?  Why?  I’ll tell you why!  Because the writing I feel called to do is writing I feel the Lord wants me to do–which means that satan isn’t going to be too happy with that and will put major distractions in my path every chance he gets. Unfortunately, he often succeeds.
            So, what is a poor writer girl to do!  No, seriously – I am asking you!
            Here are some of the ways I am beginning to figure this part out.  I stress beginning!
            1) I am learning that I need to have one calendar that I write all my writing pieces down and on what day they are due.  I use post it notes to add any pertinent information I have on the piece such as:  topic, where to send it, thoughts I’ve had and guidelines for the piece.
            2) I am learning to always look ahead a couple of weeks to see what’s on the horizon.  Not only for the pieces I’m writing, but also what is life bringing  me that is actually scheduled.  Of course, we all need those margins of time built into each day for the “other” parts of life that COULD happen!
            3) I am learning that I must always carry a small tablet that is easy to write in at the red light!  I leave it on the seat so I can grab it. (We have a new law here in Ohio that we cannot use phones while driving—not that I don’t mind not getting rear-ended by a texter!)  I’ve actually had to stop in the middle of the grocery store and write something down for a piece I was working on!
            4) I am learning that I need to set aside time everyday to just open up Word and type what’s in my brain for that time. Sometimes it’s just garbledy-gook, but then again, it can often bring something else to mind that I can go and add to another piece!
            5) I am learning that having a cute kitchen timer is valuable for setting a time limit for surfing Facebook, Pinterest or other blogs.  Sigh…..  There are so many good sites for all of that out there that you could sit for hours upon hours perusing.  Yet we know that just is procrastination for what we need to be doing.
            6) I am learning that it is very valuable to find yourself a small group of writer friends that you can write your goals out in black and white, give that list to them and ask them to hold you accountable.  And then they do!
As you notice, I state I am learning! I have not mastered any of these six items above, but I am getting closer and closer to having a routine that works for me.  I do like reading what works for other writers and I often give them a try for myself.  Some things work for me and others just don’t.  I encourage you to seek what will get you into that funky writing groove that is uniquely yours.
But remember – if you come up with snazzy new ideas – you just have to share with the rest of us!
Write on, ladies!

Don’t Take That Tone With Me!

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Words can encourage, heal and inspire, but they can also destroy, belittle and dishonor the listener. When I was growing up, I listened and obeyed my parents. But on occasion, I used my words to fight with my mother. If she thought I was sassing her, she would say “Don’t you take that tone with me!” I knew when she used those words, my words struck a nerve. I knew I could either soften my tone, or spend the night in my room.

Written words have a different effect. Because they are written, a certain way of stringing words together can communicate (or miscommunicate) something completely different than the author’s intentions.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 How does this relate to us writers? Does this mean we can only say encouraging things, or is there a way that we can encourage but challenge the reader at the same time?

Here are a few tips to keep Ephesians 4:29 in mind:

1) Check your tone- Writing is a difficult form of communication because it is hard to figure out a writer’s tone. For example, ” Come with me” could mean a playful suggestion, or a rigid call to obedience. Without the benefit of facial expression, voice , inflection and context,  a writer’s words can often be misinterpreted.

2) Words such as “light”, “check,” and “shop” carry multiple meanings. Be sure to use the right ones when you are communicating. All can be used both as verbs and nouns and have multiple uses.

3) Believe it or not, the word “you” can change a tone of writing as well. “You”can mean a collective body of people, a call to action, or an invitation to engage the reader in a conversation. Using this word too often can turn the reader off, especially if the rest of the content deals with a touchy subject.

Proof readng and editing are essential to keep your tone in check. Use these tools often to ensure you are building readers p and not tearing them down.

How to Format Submissions

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Thank you Kim, for your words of wisdom on my blog. I hope you as a reader are as blessed to glean the wisdom of Kimberly Rae as I am to share it with you.

Kimberly Rae has lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. She has been published over 200 times, and her novels on international human trafficking and missions (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon Bestsellers (Kindle version). Find out more at http://www.stolenwoman.org, or read about Kimberly’s real-life adventures at http://www.stolenwoman.blogspot.com!

Amazon Bestselling Author
Facebook Group: Sick&Tired

 

Some basic tips on formatting for the next time you create a submission:

1. Nowadays, you only put one space between sentences, not two.

2. Format submissions as professionally as possible–DON’T put fancy font or other things to make your work stand out. You want to stand out for your words, not your creative accents, and adding extras makes you appear amateurish. (One of the first things I submitted, I drew flowers and vines all over the manila envelope, thinking I’d look impressive for my creativity–bad idea!)

 

3. If you don’t know the submission guidelines, a safe way to format is Times New Roman font, size 12, double spaced with NO spaces between paragraphs. Indent the first line of each paragraph.

4. Put your name and address at the top of the document on the left side. Word count on the right.

5. You can insert page numbers at the bottom of the page. If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can do this by clicking the “insert” button at the top of the page, then click “page number” and several options will appear.

6. Many publishers like to have headers as well. You can insert a header on the top left side that had your name and the title, such as: Kimberly Rae/SICK AND TIRED.

7. Different publishers have different requirements. If they do, follow them to the letter.

It’s nice to think that only our writing should count, but having the right formatting may make the difference between your piece being read or not. Your writing cannot get accepted if it doesn’t get read, so it’s worth it to take the time to format it professionally!