Archive | A Writer’s Way of Seeing

Why I Need a [Good] Agent…and So Do You

Most writers I meet at conferences or who send me proposals or queries are unagented. Right now, so am I. I’ve had two very good ones in the past and I’m sure I’ll find another one in the future (hopefully soon). I’m sure some writers wonder why I need an agent. After all, doesn’t an agent just find the right publisher for your project and then simply help negotiate the contract? Why would an editor who already knows the publishing houses and their editors, and understands the basics of a contract need an agent? That question reveals a lack of understanding about what a good agent does. Yes, he or she helps find the right publisher for your proposal and also negotiates a favorable contract. But there’s more involved than just those two basic tasks. I’d like to dwell on three of the often overlooked talents of a good agent. […]

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On “Self-Promotion”

Recently one of my Facebook friends who is also a Christian and a writer lamented the “self-promotion” involved in becoming successful. He received a lot of sympathetic comments from other writers who feel the same way. Frankly, I feel that way too. How then can we who hope to hit the bestseller list reconcile our distaste for “self-promotion” with the knowledge that we must indeed get the word out to accomplish our lofty goal? I think the key is to remember that we really shouldn’t be “self-promoting.” I use quotation marks because I think that’s a misnomer when we think about it. “Self-promotion” assumes we personally are to be the object of our buyers’ desires. But I assume those of us who are writing from our faith are doing so because we have something to deliver to readers that we believe is from God. If, for instance, your message is […]

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Take Charge!

As we’re in the final weeks of 2014 I want to offer my yearly exhortation for 2015. We’re all getting older and time’s a’ wasting, folks. If we want to succeed as writers, we need to take charge of our writing career. In fact, that will be my rally cry for you in 2015: “Take charge of your writing career!” Here are seven suggestions on how to do that. Stay prayed up. Presumably by now you’ve confirmed in your own mind that God has called you to be a writer. Part of that calling is, of course, to write. But for a Christian, that’s only half the calling. The other half is to be writing the things that are within God’s calling of you as a writer. Mostly, we find out those thing through prayer. Expectant prayer. Ask God specifically to guide you in your writing pursuits. Make that a […]

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Questions from Roxanne Henke

Today I continue answering some questions you’ve asked. Roxanne Henke, a wonderful author I’ve had the pleasure of editing, asked three good questions. 1. How can a writer stay motivated when discouraged?   Rejection is always hard. You pour your best efforts into your manuscript and hope for a positive response and instead you get a dull rejection letter or e-mail, often MONTHS after you submitted it. Here’s what I suggest.  First, just know that virtually all writers have faced rejection. You can’t take it personally. Second, if you know that God has called you to write, you must take your confidence from that calling and not allow rejection to rob you of your destiny as a writer. Third, always have more than one project out to an editor.  If one comes back rejected, you can still have hope for the others that are still under consideration.  Finally, remember that you’re […]

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The Tale of an Editor (So Far)

When I recently asked for some topics to blog about, Shan Dittemore asked: “Have you ever blogged about why you got into publishing? I’m curious.” No, I haven’t. Let me give you a recounting of how I became a writer and editor. Some of you who have attended my workshops know the story, so bear with me if you’ve heard this. I’m probably going into more detail than necessary, but so be it. Although I can’t pinpoint the origin of my love of books, I suspect it started with a gift I received on my eighth birthday.  Yes, it was a Hardy Boy book; The Melted Coins to be exact.  For the next several years I wasn’t a voracious reader, but I probably read more often than many of my peers. I continued with the Hardy Boys and, of course, what Baby Boomer boy didn’t eagerly devour the latest Mad Magazine? After […]

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An Interview with Marci Seither

A few days ago I asked my Facebook friends for blogging suggestions. This interview with Marci Seither is one of the results of that post.  Some of the other excellent suggestions may be covered in upcoming blogs. I met Marci several years ago at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference when she performed her marvelous Ethel Merman impression for me. Since then, I’ve watched Marci return year after year, always learning her craft and now, experiencing great success. She has written countless articles for local newspapers and since becoming Guideposts Story winner in 2010 has sold over a dozen articles to GP. In April Beacon Hill Press released Marci’s book Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight.  Beacon Hill is a fine traditional publisher based in Kansas City, MO.  In April, she released her historical novel for children The Adventures of Pearley Monroe as a self-published book.  Marci is […]

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Brooding Part 2

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”  Agatha Christie   A few years ago I blogged on the importance of brooding.  Today I want to revisit that topic. Most well-written books—fiction or non-fiction—don’t happen on the spur of the moment. Instant inspiration is rare and if the result is worth saving, it’s even rarer.  Even Dame Agatha had to brood her new novels over a sink of dirty dishes. Most serious writers not only brood over their work before beginning, but brood about a great many other things only understandable to other writers.  As Malcolm Cowley rightly said, “The writer is a person who talks to himself, or better, talks in himself.” To me, this talking in one’s self is a form of brooding.  Brooding is necessary to good writing. During the course of a day, a writer may interpret virtually every event as fodder […]

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Write Your Novel From the Middle (A Review)

Attention fiction writers: I just read a terrific new book by my friend James Scott Bell and I want you to know about it. The title is Write Your Novel from the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers, and Everyone in Between. Briefly, Jim’s observation is that in the middle of every good novel there is a pivotal “look in the mirror” moment that the main character must have. Jim documents this through books we’ve read and films we’ve seen. This midpoint in the story, Jim claims, isn’t a scene; it’s a “magic moment”—a moment within a scene.  “Find [this magic moment] in your novel,” Jim says, “and everything will radiate from it.” This magic moment is pivotal because it’s when the character really begins his or her transformation. And, yes, great novels do necessarily involve the transformation of the protagonist.  Once you know how your character will transform […]

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Stop Being Creative!

Yes, stop it with the creativity….for a while anyway. Being creative doesn’t get you published. Many very creative people never make a go of their writing career.   Why?  Because they’re so busy being creative, they’re not taking the time to plan their career.   And many mediocre writers succeed because they’ve stopped being creative long enough to plan to succeed. I’m going to put on my drill sergeant’s hat now (reluctantly of course) and have you take a little test. How many of the following statements are true of you? 1. You have more than half a dozen unfinished writing projects somewhere on your computer. 2. You resent the intrusion of having to write a book proposal, rather than just work on the book itself. 3. You write when you can with no specified writing time, often missing two or three (or more) days at a time. 4. You are a […]

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Pantsers, Plotters…and Flashers

I’ve previously mentioned pantsers and plotters as two commonly known ways of writing a novel. Plotters are those who outline their novel ahead of time and pretty much stick to the outline (with some bunny trails and replotting allowed). Pantsers are those who write by the seat of their pants, abhorring the idea of knowing what comes next in their story. Like the reader, they want to be surprised at what happens when they turn the page. Today, I’d like to propose a third option. That third option is what I’ll call the flashers. (Don’t worry…I’m not going there). I bring this up because I’m somewhat of a flasher myself. A flasher is one who, after a reasonable time of brooding over his novel (read my blog on brooding here), begins to see flashes of his novel, not necessarily in chronological (or any) order. As an example, for some time […]

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