Loved it so much I had to share. It is now my desktop wallpaper, so I will remind myself every time I write. Hope you enjoy these reminders as much as I did! Connect with Edie through Twitter or Facebook.
Are you embarrassing yourself in
the publishing industry?
No? Hey, that’s awesome!
Hopefully you can look back on
this article three, five, or even ten years from now and give the same answer.
Chances are, though, you’ll peer back through time and get a bad case of the “boy-was-my-face-red”
heebie-jeebies…based on something you’ve done in the past, are doing now, or
will do in the future to undermine your credibility in the publishing industry.
None of us do those things on
purpose. If we knew we were creating
future humiliation for ourselves, we would do whatever it takes to avoid that
horrible moment in time.
So let’s think about it now and hopefully avoid a red-faced
future—especially when it comes to things we send into an editor’s hands, like
query letters, synopses and proposals.
What kinds of things might we be
doing that we will regret later?
the spellchecker. Yes, it’s easy to forget. No, it isn’t optional. Use it,
even if you have to tie a string around your finger or paint the F7 key bright
red (like your face will be if you misspell synopsis).
And don’t stop there. Spellcheck doesn’t
catch everything. Take time to not only spellcheck, but run a search (electronically
and/or manually) for often overlooked errors. For instance:
Homophones. Words like their, they’re and there; here and hear; to, too and two. Are you using them in the wrong places?
Apostrophesand their various uses. Know them before you use them. Editors
know the difference between it’s and its. You should too. Also, it’s tempting
to add an apostrophe with an ending “s” in a surname, but the Dawson family as
a group are the Dawsons, not the Dawson’s—unless you’re referring to the Dawsons’
dog/house/yard, etc. That apostrophe turns the name into a possessive.
There are other grammar and punctuation faux pas, but you get the picture. Double-check
The ever-changing rules. Back when I
learned to type, everyone used two spaces between sentences. But somewhere
along the line, the rules changed. Now we use just one. If you use two, you’re
causing your editor extra work, and exposing yourself as an amateur. Know the
rules, and abide by them. Passing it off with a lame excuse like, “I’ve done it
this way too long, and I just cannot break the habit,” doesn’t get it, my
friend. Just break the habit. Yes, you can.
Rules change all the time. It’s
important to keep abreast of the industry and informed of the current dos and don’ts.
2.Unprofessional communication. If you’re
going to work in a professional field, be a professional. That includes
everything from the way you answer your phone to the way you dress to your
If you have your
own domain name, make it something specific to you or the work you do—and be
careful of those double entendres. The old KISS rule still applies: Keep It
Simple, Sally. (OK, so I paraphrased a bit. I hate the word “stupid,” even when
it seems accurate.) If you can use your author name as a domain name, do it. If
it’s already taken, use a variation, or add something applicable.
mine is delialatham.net, since delialatham.com fell prey to a sniper several
years ago. If I had been insistent on using a dot.com, I could have come up
with other choices: dlatham, dylatham, dlathambooks, etc. I chose to settle for
a dot.net so I could use my first and last name, just as it shows up on the
covers of my books. What I chose not
to do is come up with something oh-so-cutesy, like: deliadoesitwrite.com,
The same applies
to your e-mail address. If you have a domain name, you probably have a mail
option. If so, use it, and keep it professional. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a
Gmail address: email@example.com.
Neither of those email addresses could be misinterpreted as anything offensive
Lose the pet
names, nicknames and sexually suggestive monikers. Your editor will appreciate
choosing a mail program, think about how it sounds. One of my former bosses, just
learning to get around a computer, asked me to set up an e-mail address for him.
He wanted a free mail program, but completely balked at using Hotmail. “Too
suggestive,” he said. “Doesn’t sound professional.” That could be considered
one man’s opinion, or…? Dare you risk it?
Play it safe. Do not send an editor a contact e-mail that sounds like an ad for
a 900 phone line. She might hesitate to reply to an e-mail addy like: sweetlilthang@...;
luvnkitty@...; yourbabybetty@...; puckerupper@... I know you hear
what I’m sayin’. :)
If you really
want to be respected in the publishing industry—or any other professional
field—behave in a professional manner. And that includes not only how you
present yourself physically, but also any kind of communication with publishers,
editors, agents or readers.
Dot your i’s
and cross your t’s. Mind your p’s and q’s. Learn the rules.
And use that
handy little spellchecker tool.
(c) July 2014
Disclaimer:If any of the sample e-mail addresses used
in this article are real, I don’t know of them, and certainly did not “choose”
them off a list. All were plucked out of my head, and I’m happy to leave them
there…out of my head. If I inadvertently used your existing e-mail handle, I apologize...if you're not a professional. If you are, you really should consider changing that cyber-name - at least for professional purposes. What you use for your friends and family can be whatever you'd like...I guess. :) Tweetables: Are you showing your unprofessional side to an editor or agent? Find out how easily it happens on Write Right! with @DeliaLatham.
Is your email address appropriately professional...or have you neglected to mind your p's and q's? On Write Right! with @DeliaLatham.
I came to the Christian writing world from the
children’s writing world where we had a term that could carry over, but hasn’t.
The term is “kid appeal.” Kid appeal defines the kind of writing that is so
delightful that it can’t be forgotten.
Now we don’t all write for kids, but I want to
suggest that there is such a thing as “kid appeal for adults.” It’s what set
authors Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts apart from other Harlequin authors
before they were hitting bestseller lists. I remember the first novels I read
Macomber had her heroine crying in the hero’s arms about how she
couldn’t bake cookies, and Roberts had her pregnant character always joking
about naming her unborn baby “Butch.” I was enchanted. They somehow charmed
readers into wanting to read more, like elementary schoolers hooked on Junie B.
Jones. Just ask Christian author Tracey Bateman. She learned to write in first
person for her Leave it to Claire series by reading Junie B.
There’s a lot we can learn from children’s
literature to make our own writing better. Here are the four ways I’ve
discovered to create kid appeal in my own writing.
1.) Playing with point-of-view.Rather
than talk about the character’s POV, let’s talk about the reader’s POV. Give
the reader a vested interest by showing them something the character doesn’t
know or give the character a secret the reader knows they have to find
out. For example, if you have multiple
points of view, you can have one character causing trouble the other character
doesn’t see coming. Then the reader knows something big is coming. And they
dialogue. We’ve all heard the saying, “Show, don’t tell.”
Well, dialogue is one of the best ways to do that. What are the things that you
want to show through dialogue?
Don’t tell your readers that the character is arrogant. Show it through
Do your characters like each other? Do they hate each other? Are they
indifferent with each other? Dialogue will reveal this better than anything
Why do they do the things they do? One character might assume they did it for
one reason and another character might assume they did it for another reason.
Eventually the truth will come out, and different characters could react to it
differently through dialogue.
If your characters don’t change, you don’t have a story. How can you show their
change through their words? Maybe they don’t come out and say sorry. Maybe they
just offer to help the next time around—through dialogue.
pacing race.Pace is how you keep your readers
turning pages. They have to keep reading to catch up. First of all, you want to
start late and get out early. Don’t show the characters on the way to an event.
Start the scene in the middle of the event and before the characters leave.
Second, don’t slow the prose with description. Keep description relevant to how
the character perceives their world and the choices they make. For example, it
doesn’t matter if the carpet is Oriental unless it reminds the character of
his/her grandma and makes them feel at home. Last, never let there be a dull
moment. Don’t sit your characters down for tea and crumpets to have a heart to
heart. Have them doing something active or doing something else that matters to
the story that will somehow interrupt the heart to heart.
4.) Making memorable moments.Make your story memorable with reoccurring little moments, larger than life
moments, moments of self-sacrifice, and moments that tie it all together. This
is where the magic happens. These moments need to be unexpected, but when the
reader thinks about it, it pulls the whole story together in a way that makes
more sense than ever. Like in the movie The Sixth Sense.
To sum it up, I’d say that if you want your
readers to have fun with the story, then you as the author need to have fun
with it, as well. Let your inner child out to play to create some kid appeal
About The Water Fight
I, Joey Michaels, am the Water Fight Professional.
Basically this means that customers pay me to soak other people. But my
super-competitive best friend is sucking all the fun out of summer. All because
I made a secret bet with him. Winning the bet wouldn't be so hard if I didn't
have the following three problems: 1) My dramatic mother who feels the need to
schedule every moment of summer 2) A surfer-dude mailman who can't keep
deliveries straight 3) The annoying neighbor girl who all my friends have a
crush on If I lose ... ugh, I can't even tell you what I'd have to do. I'd
rather lick a slug!
Angela Ruth Strong didn’t run businesses as a kid,
but in 7th grade she did start her own neighborhood newspaper. This childhood
interest led to studying journalism at the University of Oregon and having one
of her stories reach over half a million readers. To help other aspiring
authors, Angela founded IDAhope Writers in Boise, Idaho, where she currently
lives with her husband and three children (who always love a good water fight).
Find out more at www.angelaruthstrong.com.
My Mom broke her hip several months ago. She required surgery and extensive
physical therapy. The muscles on the side she injured were weak, and they gave
her exercises to strengthen them. As she got better, she began getting around without using her walker or
cane. Because the muscles were still not
strong, this caused her to lean to the
right when walking and created a "Leaning Tower of Pisa" effect. The therapist explained the necessity of using the cane when not using the
walker to help her stand straight. By not using anything, she was training her
muscles to continue the unsteady gait. This could lead to another devastating
fall. As writers, we can get into bad habits that will be hard to break. We're
often told we must learn the rules before deliberately breaking them for some
literary purpose. Why should we listen? 1. Story instability—Head
hopping keeps the reader off balance. They're forced to do a mental shift when
the author should be switching those gears for them. I can almost see them
tipping their heads to the side and saying, "Who's talking now?" 2. Story dysfunction—I
once read a book where the author introduced at least 20 characters on the
first page. They weren't doing anything in particular. I tried to get through
the first chapter, but finally gave up. A famous commercial once demanded,
"Where's the beef?" In this case, I said, "Where's the
story?" 3. Story demise—We
get one chance to make a good impression on publishing professionals and
readers. Blow that one chance, and it will take a lot to persuade them to pick
up our work again. No matter how much natural storytelling ability we have, it's worth the
effort to learn the craft. Just like bad habits in life, incorrect techniques
can be difficult to remedy once they're ingrained in our minds. Writers: Have you picked up any bad
writing habits along the way? How did you re-train your brain?
Readers: If a book doesn't grab your
attention on the first page, will you continue reading it?
Susan J. Reinhardt began writing fiction after an experience
in Gettysburg. Surrounded by history, she *heard* the voices of the forefathers
as fading echoes. Eight months later, Susan and her late husband were
discussing that event when he declared, "That's it! That's your book, and
it will be written in four months and be called Ghosts of the Past." The
first draft was written in four months and underwent a name change to Echoes of
the Past. Later, it became The Moses Conspiracy. A stepmom, daughter, and
follower of Jesus Christ—and most recently a widow—Susan enjoys reading,
couponing, gardening, family time, and searching for small treasures in antique
shops. Susan blogs at: http://susanjreinhardt.blogspot.com.
About The Moses Conspiracy:
In 2025, the Christian World is under attack!
Two seemingly unconnected events set in motion a diabolical
plan. Ellie and John Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening
investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.
After a terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. in the near
future, Ellie plans a trip with her young son, Peter, and they become
separated. At the same time back home, John witnesses a buggy accident with
Caught between strained family relations and ominous
warnings from a faceless enemy, the couple rely on God for wisdom and
The truth of the past tragedy is revealed. While they may
expose the culprits, will they survive the heartache it brings?
You know who you are. It’s time to step up and be counted. You follow the award-winning, best-selling writers whose success make you drool. Their books are read and reread, often with highlights. Their blogs are ingested like candy, and whenever they speak, you’re there. At conferences, you sign-up for one-on-one appointments and sit at their tables at mealtime. Their Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and whatever other social media is used capture our attention while we’re learning the craft.
That’s not a bad practice. In fact, emulating our favorite writers can establish professional habits, whether it be in
the writing process or in marketing and promotion. Modeling our careers after successful writers is commendable. But stalking a writer through harassment and unwanted attention shoots the follower straight out of the unprofessional canon. What exactly do I mean? Here are nine naughty ways to give you the status of a stalker. 1. Multiple requests for the writer to read your work. Free of course. 2. Numerous comments on social media.
3. Pushing a piece of toilet tissue from one stall to another with a note of devotion. (I had this happen during a writer’s conference. I avoided the writer for the remainder of the time.)
4. Repeated emails of your fan status and how you’d do anything for him/her.
5. Sending an abundance of gifts.
6. Shoving a manuscript in his/her face before the first sip of coffee at a writer’s conference. (I had this done. I wanted to bite the writer’s hand.)
7. Planting your rear outside of the writer’s residence. (A good reason for a professional writer to use a post office box.)
8. Waiting outside the hotel door of a writer at conference.
9. Writing that enlists plagiarism is a crime.
So what can a writer do to increase agent, editor, and professional recognition without being a nuisance? The following are nine ways to model your career after successful writers—the smart way.
1. Approach your writing as a business. To make a business prosper, an investment of time, education, and money is a necessity.
2. Invest designated hours to learn the craft and write.
3. Invest in how-to books, time to read and reread.
4. Invest in the novels from your genre and read them.
5. Invest in a writer’s conference that provides sound teaching and is well attended by agents, editors, and respected writers.
6. Involvement in a critique group, via online or face-to-face.
7. Involvement in a writer’s group, via online or face-to-face.
8. Social Media is a must in today’s world of publishing. Learn it. Do it. That means a quality website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, blog regularly and/or guest blog. Practice the philosophy that social media is not about you but what you can offer to others.
9. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters from those within the industry who have a proven track record: agents, editors, publicists, marketing and promotion specialists.
10. Understand there is no easy road to publication.
11. Willingness to provide instruction to other serious writers.
12. Wisdom to discern what guideline work for you.
Did you note there are more smart items than naughty ones? A professional writer embarks upon a journey on the road to publication. It may take six months, a year, two years or more to reach your publication goals, but you can do it with the habits of a successful writer and be able to help other aspiring writers too.
About DiAnn Mills:
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2014 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.
After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.
Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?
With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.
Matthew 11:28-30—Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
We’ve all done it—literally and figuratively.
That chocolate cake looks so good, and you’re so hungry…so you bite off a chunk big enough for two people. And once it’s in your mouth, you discover there’s no room to chew around it. Getting all that chocolate goodness down without choking becomes a challenge, and you have to make a decision—spit it out and start over, or find a way to swallow it. And somewhere along the way, all the pleasure you’d expected in savoring that cake is gone.
We do that in our lives sometimes too. Call it what you want: too many irons in the fire, overstuffing the turkey, over-filling your schedule.
Biting off more than you can chew...never a pretty sight.
What usually happens when we clog our calendars with more than any two people could comfortably handle is that our stress level soars and our production drops. Drastically. Or we actually do accomplish most of the things on our crowded agendas…but we do so far less capably than we should. Or…we do it all. Perfectly. By giving up sleep, private time, relaxation and even prayer time.
My advice? Don’t do it.
And that’s advice born of wisdom acquired the hard way…by falling on my face in all the accumulated stuff I’d overscheduled. I had to learn to say ‘no,’ and let me tell you, that little two-letter word is one of the hardest in the English language to spit out.
It’s also one of the easiest to forget, even when you think you’ve finally learned how to enunciate that one-syllable challenge. I still find myself saying yes all too often, and winding up drowning in my own promises. But I’m getting there, slowly but surely. Learning to turn down the review requests, and the critiques, and a thousand other things that I’d really love to do for everyone who asks. But I’ve finally come to the conclusion that, at some point, saying ‘yes’ might actually be a sin. OK, so I’m exaggerating—a little. But if we make promises we can find no earthly way to keep without having a nervous breakdown…or at the very least, missing a deadline of our own because we promised someone something...isn’t that just wrong?
Yes. It is, because it’s evidence of self-reliance. We’re not meant to rely on ourselves, but on God. When we forget that our strength lies in Him and start trying to do everything on our own, in our own strength, and beyond what God has called us to do…we’ve stepped into deep, dangerous, drowning depths.
I recently read an article by Elizabeth Ruth Skoglund. One simple statement caught my attention and held it: “As Christians we are called to balance, not imbalance, even in the area of our work for God—perhaps especially in our work for Him. God deserves not only enthusiasm and driving effort, but also the quality of a job done with care and balance.”
God’s Word encourages balance in every area of our lives. Yes, He wants us to help others, to encourage them, to give of ourselves in support of our sisters and brothers. But He does not want us to over-extend ourselves to the point of becoming sick, burned out and discouraged. That’s not God’s will for anyone.
Scripture advocates temperance, moderation, wisdom and balance in all areas of life. Those things are within God’s plan. Overextension and burnout are the results of behaviors in exact opposition of those mentioned.
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan had it right all along. “Just say no.” Of course, we all know she was talking about drugs, but many of our well-intentioned behaviors are every bit as damaging.
‘Yes’ is a lovely word, and I encourage its use whenever possible. We should help one another—that’s God’s way. We need each other. But if we’re broken, burned out, discouraged and over-extended, we’re no real help to anyone…and least of all, to ourselves.
When all is said and done, it comes down to doing what we already know is best. Schedule time wisely. Prioritize. Take care of ourselves so we can help others whenever possible.
Many authors struggle with the fact that marketing tends to
devour writing time. Deadlines loom, but at the same time there are books that
require promotion. Often the worlds of Facebook and Twitter closely resemble
black holes that suck writers in and refuse to release them. The question soon
arises: How does one maintain a fine balance between marketing and writing?
Here are a few easy solutions that I have found to be highly effective:
Rock Around the Block:
Schedule daily ‘clean-up’ marketing in short blocks of time.
By clean-up marketing, I refer to staying connected with readers who have
commented on posts, sent messages, etc. These require a fairly quick response
and should not be neglected. An example of blocking technique might be to use
three 15 minute session: one first thing in the morning, one mid-day, and a
third in the evening, when the day’s writing is complete. Set a timer and limit
yourself to fifteen minutes per block. Whatever is not completed during that time
should be put off until the next block.
Goal for it:
When the black holes beckon, setting a writing goal and
sticking to it works well. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. My goal is
usually five for five: I must write 500 words before I break for a five-minute
trek through the virtual world to see what’s going on. I set a timer and strictly
limit myself to five minutes. This technique works very well to help me tackle
and tie up my writing projects as deadlines loom; the promise of a trek through
a black hole motivates me to get those words down on paper.
Chunk it Out:
When dealing with the bulk of marketing, consider chunking
the work into a half-day once a month to schedule tweets and posts. I use
Hootesuite to work this in. Hootsuite is a free service and allows Twitter and
Facebook scheduling several months in advance. I have found that a half-day
provides plenty of time to plan and schedule a month’s worth of information for
both of these venues. Additional blocking times throughout the course of a
month may be used to work in last-minute posts as well as to retweet and/or respond
to the posts of others. As an aside, it is quite beneficial to have all tweets/posts
saved in a document with links already shrunk, which allows for quick cutting
Take a Deep Breath and WRITE:
The next time the virtual world threatens to snatch away
writing time, step back, take a deep breath, and then dive back in to WRITE. Remember
these simple tips to help stay focused and enjoy the journey. Happy Writing!
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.
Mary’s debut novel, Mended Heart, was nominated Best Inspirational Romance 2010, and was finalist for the Bookseller’s Best Award and her follow-up, Tender Mercies, was awarded an outstanding 4 ½ star rating from The Romantic Times Book Reviews and was also a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Buried Treasures, her third novel, was named Book of the Year by The Wordsmith Journal. Light the Fire, her fourth novel, took top honors for the 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award while her fifth, Wisdom Tree, continues to garner top ratings. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.