Thursday, June 28, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I found this very interesting article on colors used for marketing/branding, and what they mean. Authors, if you're looking to "brand" yourself at some point, complete with logo, check this out before deciding on colors.
Any surprise that my Seatbelt Suspense logo is black and red?
Friday, June 22, 2007
But I'm not bitter.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to answer my questions from yesterday. Some of your answers were really touching, and I so appreciate the encouragement.
Now for today--here's the guest post from Laura Domino, one of the "caption winners." Kind of ironic, what her post is about. Another real encouragement. When she wrote this, she had no idea of the post I had planned for yesterday.
You get plenty of letters from readers (mostly good letters, I’ll bet). I’ll try to keep this from being fan mail. I’m glad my humor won an opportunity to speak out what I’m sure many of us think about you: You are a funnel of God’s love.
As uniquely scary as your books are, they’re still Christian Fiction and show God’s love to anyone who picks up one of your books.
So in an effort to give back to a special author who gives to so many people, I decided to tell just a tiny bit of how God has blessed me through you. I’m sure others will speak up in the comments section to alert you to moments that were special to them.
1. Getting Into Character: I’ve read your non-fiction to get myself in position to write credible, emotional scenes. I didn’t get it all the first time through, so I read it again and studied the parts that were difficult for me. I enjoyed the workshop CDs you taught on how to write, but the book is a little closer to my desk than the CD player. I do refer back to it occasionally.
2. Your Blog: I’ve read it from the beginning and felt the love you have for your BGs. I’ve learned a lot from the various posts on craft and the publishing business and everything else. The dentist story is hilarious. Haven’t we all felt a little uneasy about going to the dentist? Your story opened our mouths not in practicing our “Ahh”, but in hearty laughter. And when we heard of your foot injury, I’m sure most of the BGs prayed for your comfort and quick healing.
3. Your Web Site: I’ve read your story about the Lyme disease healing – and spoke with DiAnn Mills about how the wheelchair got away from her and Kathleen at Mount Hermon while you were still fighting off Lyme. Aside from the funny picture I get in my mind at your description of the runaway wheelchair (was that in the blog?), I know that was a difficult time for you. Right now, many people are fighting off Lyme disease while they deal with questions from people like me who know (knew) nothing about the disease. Your web article and blog posts about your experience help to educate others and bring an awareness about it.
4. Kanner Lake series Scenes and Beans blog: I was especially thrilled to be a part of the series blog. I loved the idea of a character blog. Coming up with ideas to write about was challenging, but fun. I kept track of the characters as they had their say. Easy as it was to picture the whole gang in Java Joint, Bailey’s establishment, I knew they were characters. I pulled myself away from wondering what Bailey was doing when others were typing in their blog posts. So cool to include a novelist (S-man) in the story. So cool to have a real gift shop in the story. So cool that I got to be a part of the blog.
So let’s hear from the rest of the BGs now.
In love and unity,
PS. I didn’t even say anything about how much fun you are as the Emcee of the ACFW conference.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
This is one of those examine-your-belly-button posts. Not a real pretty exercise, but sometimes it's gotta be done.
I've been thinking about blogging lately, see. Forensics and Faith is almost two and a half years old. It takes a lot of work to blog every weekday. With my writing schedule growing ever crazier, I'm wondering whether to continue blogging as is, cut back some, or stop altogether. In some ways it would be hard to stop, because I'd miss the community. You BGs are great. Writing is a lonely profession--and there y'all are every day, willing to visit with me. All the same, I've got to line up my work time according to priorities. At this point, I don't know how Forensics and Faith fits into my priorities--partly because I'm not yet totally clear on the priorities themselves. What's the balance between, say, writing time, hard marketing time, and the type of communal networking you find in a blog? I don't know.
So would you please help me out and answer all of these questions that apply to you? If you want to answer anonymously, that's fine. I just need honest feedback. Perhaps everyone's answers will help you bloggers make some decisions about your own blogging.
1. Bloggers--how often do you post?2. Who are your blog readers? Mostly writers? Mostly readers? Mostly stay-at-home-moms? Etc.
3. Why do you blog?
4. If you are a writer, have you seen any clear signs of blogging leading to higher book sales?
5. Why do you read Forensics and Faith?
6. Has reading this blog ever led you to buy one of my books that you wouldn't have bought anyway?
7. Has reading this blog ever led you to tell others about my books, when you otherwise wouldn't have done so?
8. Has reading this blog made you more aware of my books in general? How?
9. Has reading this blog given you a sense of community? Helped you network? Helped you learn about writing? Or anything else?
10. Any question I should have asked and didn't--please fill it in and answer.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Do you know about ChapteraWeek?
By joining this free group, you will receive one email a week, containing an excerpt from the first chapter of a new release in Christian fiction. Information on how to buy the book is also included. All genres are covered. This is a great way to check out the latest books from your favorite authors--and maybe some authors who are new to you.
Go here to join.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Happy Monday. This is the guest post from Ed Horton, one of the caption winners from last week.
During the early morning hours on June 1, I typed in my registration to attend my first ACFW conference. I have benefited from attending other conferences over the years, but this will be my first “fiction-only” conference. The part that makes me more-than-a-bit nervous about these conferences is the editor and agent appointments. You see, these great opportunities have gone poorly for me in the past. At times, my speech has faltered and delivery of my pitch has been less than eloquent. And frankly, I’ve let myself be scared-senseless by some wonderful publishing professionals.
So, as of today I’m practicing to make my appointments this fall more memorable in a positive manner. Let me share a few ideas with you. Most of it’s just common sense, but let’s review it anyway.
Learn how to pronounce the editor’s name—both first and last. It’s embarrassing to bounce up to the editor, all smiles, and have them correct your pronunciation of the name they’ve known forever. In print, Lisa may seem like ‘Leesa,’ but actually be pronounced as ‘Līsa’ or ‘Lizza.’ If it’s a last name like ‘Gouphedenseison,’ well, good luck!
Let the editor or agent begin the conversation. If they’re on their cell phone or checking email, wait until they give you their attention. At one appointment, after I started speaking, the editor looked at his watch and told me I was a minute early so I waited semi-patiently as he continued reading his email.
Know your pitch. Write it out and practice it until you have it memorized and can say it smoothly. Don’t choke and ramble like I’ve done before. An editor’s eyes can glaze over quickly and noticeably (especially when they rollback in their head). Once you’ve lost their attention, it’s difficult to get it back.
Hook them quick! Dazzle them in the first sixty seconds. Editors and agents are accustomed to making judgment calls about proposals and manuscripts very quickly—within minutes or even nanoseconds. Make sure your proposal is right for their publishing house, and then give them the best hook you can. You’ll know when you’ve succeeded. Their eyes widen slightly and they lean forward to hear what you have to say. Then they may shoot rapid-fire questions at you. Be prepared to answer with wit and wisdom, and of course, the truth.
Expect the unexpected. During the space of one fifteen-minute appointment, an elderly man at a nearby table fell off his chair twice (no, it wasn’t from the excitement of landing a big contract). Distractions happen, which is another good reason to hook the editor or agent fast.
Hide your emotions. As tough as it may be, if you receive disappointing feedback, don’t burst into tears or let your face fall like an imploding building. Be gracious and follow up with a brief thank-you note.
Don’t give up! Whatever you do, if an appointment doesn’t go well, don’t cancel the remaining ones. Learn from each meeting and keep trying.
Hoping to see you all at the ACFW conference!
-- Ed Horton
TODAY--Bailey Truit: Almost a Year
Posted by ~ Brandilyn Collins at 5:00 AM
Friday, June 15, 2007
Any man going on this mission wasn't coming back.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The June 4 issue of Publishers Weekly includes an article on the latest craze of anti-religious books--and they're sitting pretty on the bestseller list. I've been watching the PW "religion" list for quite awhile now. You're likely to see Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion sitting right next to one by Joyce Meyer or Don Piper/Cecil Murphy's Ninety MInutes in Heaven.
Three books in a row by atheists are making this list: Dawkins', Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, and Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great. The March 12 list had Dawkins at #1, Harris at #2, Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore at #3, and The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren at #4. Jonathan Karp, editor-in-chief of Twelve, publisher of Hitchens' book, says these books stem from "a manifestation of the anger that people are feeling towrd piety in the culture, fears about Islamic extremism and frustration with the way religion is continuously injected into our political life." Hitchens has appeared on The Daily Show with John Stewart, CNN's Lou Dobbs and Anderson Cooper, and Charlie Rose. He's also been publicly debating with religious leaders about his beliefs. Another publisher--Da Capo--has already signed Hitchens up for The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer. The book will include writings from Darwin, Einstein, Twain, Russell, Jefferson, Paine and Marx, among other. It will release this fall.
Just as many Christian publishers responded to The DaVinci Code novel with rebuttals of the beliefs it espoused, so they are responding to these new nonfiction titles. (For example--The Dawkins Delusion? published by InterVarsity Press.)
At the recent Book Expo America convention a group of atheist authors, including Hitchens, were on a panel sponsored by PW on "Atheism: The Rise of a New Subcategory in Religion."
I find the situation disheartening but not surprising. God is using popular culture today--books, movies, music--to reach many people. And whatever God uses, Satan will do all the more to twist the medium for his own gain. It is particularly sad, however, to see names like Dawkins and Hitchens at the top of the "religion" bestseller list.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
ACFW is "The Premier Fiction Conference" because it's only about fiction. Editors and agents know that to find the best undiscovered new talent in Christian fiction, they need to come to the ACFW Conference. Christian novelists of all skill levels know that for the best teaching in fiction, and all-around comraderie with other novelists, they need to come.
This year the main morning sessions center around genres. Do you write suspense, women's fiction, historicals, etc.? There's a session for you. Plus, Randy Ingermanson is leading a session on marketing. We'll have main sessions in the morning, workshops in the afternoon, even late-night chats--all centered around writing Christian fiction. This year James Scott Bell will be the keynote. He'll be great. He's funny, wise, and a wonderful author. (Next year the keynote will be Angela Hunt--worth mentioning a year in advance.)
And of course there are meetings and meals with agents and editors. In fact, there's enough on-the-surface, up-front stuff that your head will spin. Just the hanging out with other novelists is worth its weight in gold. (And we do know how to hang out at ACFW.)
But let me tell you the most important part. Underneath all this is what God does in people's lives behind the scenes. The God-stories from attendees are what make the ACFW Conference great. If there's one thing I've seen, it's how present God is at each ACFW annual gathering. God knows this conference. I'm convinced He's always the most excited to come. I have seen Him meet people's needs every year. They may have come to the conference primarily to learn about writing, but God turned the time into a major spiritual victory.
The God stories have started already this year. I know of a woman on a very fixed income who signed up to go to the conference, but then found herself a little short on money to pay for it. You see, she'd obeyed God's call and given away $20,000 she hadn't expected to give. She never asked God for anything back. But within one week after giving away that money, she received in the mail three separate checks representing money she didn't know she had. (An insurance company, giving a rebate?) Those checks added up to almost exactly her price to attend the conference, air fare included.
In the second (or was it the third?) year of the conference, Robin Lee Hatcher served as keynote speaker. At the end of her first talk, she invited people to come down to the front if they wanted others to pray with them about dedicating their writing to God. Prayer counselors stood ready--and wow, were they needed! Many people came down for prayer.
I was one of those prayer counselors. There were so many people that we couldn't take a long time with each person. It was a rather quick blessing for everyone who'd lined up for prayer. I approached a young woman I did not know, expecting to pray with her about her writing. God had other plans. The minute I walked up to her, my hand came up and pressed hard against her chest. The words that blurted from my mouth were, "Oh, Lord, heal her heart!"
The young woman gave me a look I'll never forget. At the time I figured she thought I was nuts. (How many strangers walk up to you and put their hand on your chest?) I thought I was nuts.
The next day she approached me. Turns out she was so shocked by that prayer, she couldn't even talk about it to me that night. But this gal had been carrying around some terrible baggage from her childhood. She went up front expecting to talk to God about her writing. But God knew what she really needed. She needed healing from that pain. And no doubt through that healing, God could then better use her as a writer. God met this young woman at her point of need--by spewing the words out of the mouth of a pray-er who had no idea what they meant.
Two years ago I saw numerous physical, emotional and spiritual healings at the conference. Same with last year. Sometimes the answers to prayer aren't obvious until later. And sometimes they are about writing. Two years ago in the prayer room I was praying with someone who asked, "Just please pray for me whatever God tells you." God said something which seemed to me quite strange. He told her that she should "write her heritage." This made no sense to me because the only writing I'd ever seen from her was a suspense manuscript. However, before the conference she'd begun thinking that maybe she should take a chick-lit-type manuscript of hers and change the characters to Asian--her cultural heritage. She'd asked God to show her what to do. He answered that prayer in that session. Within a year, maybe a little longer, this gal had signed a three-book contract for an Asian series with a major publisher.
I could write post after post of similar stories about God meeting people at the ACFW Conference in amazing and often unexpected ways. Some of these folks prayed to Him by themselves in the corner of the dedicated prayer room. Or a friend prayed with them. Or they heard a word from a speaker that was just for them--a straight message from God.
A lot of the blog posts on the conference this month will talk about the teaching, the networking, the does and don'ts of attending a conference. How great the faculty and attendees are. How warm and friendly and caring everyone is. All this is true. But underneath, above, before, and behind all of this--God. He is the MVP at the ACFW Conference every year. And it shows.
This week on blog tour: As I Have Loved You, by Nikki Arana
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Man, choosing one winner for the photo captions was hard! I spent a long time trying to decide, and still couldn't come up with just one. (There were a lot of entries.) I used my own laugh-o-meter--which ones made me laugh out loud, and the longest. (Completely subjective, of course.) I really liked some of the pairs that cleverly tied the two pictures together and reflected things I've talked about on this blog.
Here are my three favorite pairs--in no particular order:
Don't move! There's a spider on the tip of your tongue.
Thess a waa on a ti uff m' tun -ga? -- Jenny
"THAT'S the size of the screw they put in your ankle?"
"And there's more to come in October! AAAHH!" --Jason
Guess what I bought you?
NO, not another snowmobile!!!!!!!! --Ed J. Horton
Here are two individual captions that really made me laugh because they fit the pictures so well. This first is for Photo 1:
Surgery in a hospital? You don't need no stinking hospital. I'll fix your foot right here, right now. Mwuhahaha!Hahahahaha! --Domino
And this one for Photo 2. Of all individual captions, I laughed the longest at this one.
Brandilyn, little known for her impressions, demonstrates the iguana. - M.C. Pearson
Winners--let me know if you want to take me up on a guest post.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Happy Monday. I am brain dead.
For the last two weeks I've been working on the Amber Morn rewrite. Yes, just 10 days after turning the book's first draft in, I received my macro edit letter. Other than taking one day off for surgery, I've been working night and day--every day--for the last two weeks to finish the rewrite. I needed to email it off Sunday night.
Thus ends (at least for now) my writing of adult series. My next adult novels are going to be stand-alones. I noticed I've been leaning toward this even in writing the Kanner Lake series. KL is definitely a series of four books--same town, same characters. Yet each of the Kanner Lake novels has a different feel to it. You'll see that Crimson Eve is quite different from Coral Moon. And Amber Morn is different from the rest.
The four books can be read as stand-alones, as can all my series novels. But most readers don't tend to do that. If they pick up a "Book 3" they're not likely to buy it unless they've read books 1 and 2. So the sales of each book in a series can get harder to make. (This is why Zondervan and I always heavily market the first book in each series.) At any rate, in writing stand-alones, I won't face that issue.
I worked like a banshee all weekend (yes, I did manage to get to church)--but I took the time to read each comment from Friday. Many of them gave me a good laugh. Today I'll take on the difficult task of figuring out which one to crown as the winner. I'll let you know tomorrow.
For one day, I would love to rest, but I cannot. I'm late starting my next project.
Wow. Guess what? It's June.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
The latest issue of Christian Retailing includes an interesting article on the Rethink 2007 ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Management Conference and Annual Meeting that took place at the end of April. Representatives of over thirty companies met to discuss such issues as business reorganizations and Internet marketing.
Michael Linder, VP and chief marketing officer for Dickinson Press, presented data from his company's publishing study conducted in 2006. According to the study, inspirational book readers bought an average of 8.2 titles during the year, 66% from B&N, 58% at discount stores, and 55% at local bookstores, including Christian outlets.
I found the most interesting information to be the data about marketing and book covers. (I'm assuming this includes fiction and nonfiction.) The study identified different types of readers, ranging from "inclusives"--who value things such as "community and expansion"-- to "loyalists"--who value "tradition, routine and predictability." The former category rated at 32% of respondents, while the latter was at 22%. Linder showed a selection of Christian book covers, noting that they tended to speak to the loyalists more than the inclusives because they often featured individual figures rather than showing diversity of community. He suggested that publishers rethink their designs.
In another session some of the Internet marketing efforts of publishers were critiqued by leading Internet marketing consultants Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. These men warned that many online marketing efforts were ineffective, saying that the sale rates were the same for direct marketing, which is a historical (and lousy) 2-4%. They further said that most Web site visitors leave a site after three clicks. "Marketing has been redefined," Jeffrey Eisenberg said, with consumers not trusting what they consider to be sales pitches.
Well, drat. Book covers ain't workin', Internet sales ain't workin', and too few people shop at Christian bookstores. I'm off to take two aspirin and lie down.
This week on blog tour: These Boots Weren't Made For Walking, by Melody Carlson.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
In the last few days in my Bible reading I've read the book of Job. Amazing, isn't it--how many times you can read the Bible and always find something new?
Job laments all that has happened to him--and hurls the WHY questions at God. I didn't deserve this! Why did you do this to me? What's the point of living a righteous life if you're going to treat me this way?... (My paraphrase.) Then in Chapter 19, verse 23, he cries:
Oh, that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Of course--they were. In fact, I think this is the crux of the book of Job. The WHY of all the disaster that befell the man. Indeed, it wasn't about him at all. It was, first, to teach his three pious friends a few things. Then, through the Book of Job, to teach the millions of Christians around the world and through all generations that God is sovereign and that some of our questions--especially the difficult WHY ones--won't be answered this side of heaven.
Yet God does reply to Job. Hey, where were you when I hung the moon and flung the stars and switched on the sun? Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who are YOU to question me and the worth of righteousness? Who are YOU to demand answers from ME...? (My paraphrase again.)
Sufficiently cowed, Job says:
I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees Thee.
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.
Here's the thing that amazes me. God in His mercy did reply to Job. But He didn't answer Job's questions. And He so easily could have. In His long reply, God could have added--By the way, Job, your wish to have this all written down? It's gonna happen. In fact, that's the VERY reason all this happened to you.
God never said that. He withheld the reason. The reason Job so desperately wanted--because of his finite, human mind--was not nearly as important to God as reminding Job of Who He Is.
The next time I look back on some event in my life and think, "God, what in the world was THAT all about?" I will remember his reply--and lack of an answer--to Job.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
As of Friday I'm minus one two-inch screw through my tibia and fibula. Yeehaw.
Except that I hate surgery. Just glad this one's over. (Final one to take out plate and screws in October.) First I don't like not being able to eat or drink after midnight. Especially drink. I'm a water person. The surgery was scheduled at 12. Of course the doc was running late, and I kept getting thirstier. I think he was out surfing. All that water, and I get nothin'. I finally got in to the first room sometime after 1:00.
The nurse starts asking me questions. I fall into a rhythm, staring at the floor, my head wagging with each answer.
"Had a stroke?"
"Smoke, drink, medications?"
"No, no, no."
"Any accidents resulting in broken bones lately?"
I cut a look up at her. "You're kidding, right?"
Nope, she's not. She's just following her list of questions. Apparently she has no idea who I am or why I'm there.
"Any recent surgeries?"
No, I was born with the screw you're about to take out of my leg.
I have to explain.
Questions over, I get dressed in a lovely gown. I ask for one with bling, but they don't have any. KEO (knock 'em out) doc and Bone Doc finally appear. They're only a couple hours late.
I swallow hard. This is really gonna happen. "Hey, you guys--long lunch?"
Bone Doc nods. "Yeah. It was great." He surveys me. "So. What are we doing for you today?"
Okay, now I'm really nervous.
"You're taking a screw outta my leg."
"Right." Like he knew that. So why'd he ask? "Which leg?"
Maybe we ought to just call this whole thing off. He's acting like he's never seen me before. Rationally, I understand. Too many docs have operated on the wrong side of a body. It's a law suit thing. They want to be extra sure. They want me to sign a paper saying what they're doing for me--exactly where. Still, when you're about to be put under by these guys--you just wish they'd act a little more informed.
Nurse takes out a pen and writes on my left leg. I don't see what she writes until later that night. It's profound.
I'm wheeled into the operating room. Thing's big and packed with equipment. They tell me to move from my comfortable bed to the operating one. It's narrow. It's hard. I complain. They strap me in.
"How in the world you get a wide person on this thing?"
"You'd be amazed what we can do."
KEO takes my left hand. "Okay, this is going to sting a little."
It does. And does again. And again. And again. He can't find my vein. I make faces at the ceiling.
"Oh, hey, doc. Forgot to tell you 'bout the 10-ounce, medium rare steak I had for breakfast."
He ignores me.
The IV's finally in. My adrenaline pumps. My legs start to shake. Drat. I hate this part.
This is when I start quoting Psalm 91:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, "My rock and my fortress,
The God in whom I trust..."
They put a mask over my mouth and nose. No more quoting. "Okay, breathe deep."
Yeah, yeah, I'm breathin', I'm breathin'.
"All right, just a little initial medication now. Might make you feel a little sleepy."
Yeah, right, just a 'little medication.' I've heard that one bef--
I wake up.
Takes awhile before I can open my eyes. I'm in a recovery room, curtains all around. My legs are shaking to beat the band--I mean smacking against the table like a regular grand mal seizure. Most annoying. It's the anesthesia. Does it to me every time.
A nurse comes. Helps me get dressed. "Nice bra," she says. "Where'd you get it?"
What, I just fell into a Victoria's Secret commercial? I look around for the hidden cameras.
I'm wheeled out to the car. Hubby drives me home.
So here I am. One screw loose--actually totally gone. Back in the boot for a week. Good news is, I don't have to go to physical therapy for a few days. Take that, PT.
Speaking of my physical therapist. The one who puts me through so much misery because it's "good for me." So can she take a little stress herself?
I gave her one of my books. Whatdya think she did?
Read the last page first.
Read Part 13