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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Author Interview ~ Brandt Dodson

Brandt Dodson comes from a long line of police officers, spanning several generations.He was employed with the Indianapolis office of the FBI and served eight years as a United States Naval Reserve officer. He is a podiatrist and an elder in his church, a past President of the Indiana Podiatric Medical Association, and a recipient of the association’s highest honor, “The Theodore H. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Tell us about your upcoming novels.

I recently signed a three book contract with Harvest House Publishers for a series of mystery novels which feature hardboiled PI Colton Parker. The first of these is:
Original Sin and is due out in March of ‘06.

The second is: Seventy Times Seven and is due out in August. The third will tentatively be titled: The Root of Evil and is due out in January of ‘07. The novels are set in Indianapolis and I draw heavily on my family’s background in law enforcement, spanning several decades.

Why a mystery?

I wrote what I like to read. I think that is sound advice for anyone.
Christianity and mystery novels have gone hand-in-hand for a long time. Mystery novelist Dorothy Sayers was a renowned theologian, and of course we have the mystery novels of G.K. Chesterton, Andrew Greeley and Ralph McInerny among others.

The mystery is a morality play. Good versus evil. And who better to establish the moral parameters of life, than the God who created it?

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

At the time Harvest House offered a contract, I had been writing off and on for close to twelve years. Like any writer, I spent most of that time collecting rejection slips. But as time passed, the rejections became less caustic and would often include an encouraging hand written note. Those were the dark days, so any encouragement went a long way in keeping the fires burning. But encouraging or not, they were still rejections.

After I wrote Original Sin I met my editor, Nick Harrison, at the Write To Publish conference in Wheaton, Illinois. Nick was a last minute replacement for another editor who was unable to attend.
One evening, during a critique session that Nick was facilitating, I had a chance to read part of Original Sin and Nick liked it. He asked if I could send the manuscript to him. A few weeks later, he told me he liked the book and wanted to take it before the Publisher’s Committee, who has the final say on what is published.

It was a few months before we heard anything, making it one of the longest periods in my life. When I did hear, Nick told me that the committee was tabling it with the intention of “taking another look” in a few months. He suggested that I write another in the series, to convince them that I was committed to the books.

I wrote the second novel (“Seventy Times Seven”) and sent that to him. Nick liked the second one as well, so both books went back to the committee.

The evening that I heard about the contract offer, I was walking across the campus of Wheaton College while attending the Write To Publish conference again, when my wife called. She told me that I had received an email from Nick and I asked her to read it. When she told me that Nick’s message said that I was being offered a three book contract, I could tell from her voice that she was as excited as I was.

It was surreal. Here I was, standing within a few feet of where I had stood the last time I had talked to Nick, almost a year to the day, receiving the best news anyone can receive who wants to write. And except for my wife, I had no one to tell! It was late evening and everyone had already gone home.

Going back to my room was out of the question, so I celebrated in the only way I could think of at the time. I went to McDonald’s, got a cheeseburger Happy Meal, and ate in my car.

Do you still experience self-doubts about your work?

Some. I’d be concerned if I didn’t.

Writing is a growing process. Each book, chapter, story, etc., should be more ambitious than the one before it. We should always be working toward pushing the envelope, and acquiring new skills while strengthening the old ones. That process is inevitably going to lead to some level of self-doubt. Do I have the skill for this? Can I pull this off?
The key, is to not let the doubt’s paralyze you.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

“Write, write, write.” There really is no other way to grow.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

“You need an agent.” You don’t.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have save you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I wish someone had told me of the value of a good writer’s conference. The benefits are incalculable. There’s no better way to learn new skills, meet editors and build relationships with other writers.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

Psalm 37:5 “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

This verse is good advice. Commit everything to the Lord - with faith - and He will do the rest.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I haven’t had any major set backs. I suspect that if I am blessed to be able to do this for the rest of my life, I will probably run into snags somewhere along the line, but none so far.

What are a few of your favorite books?

I’d have to begin with Psalms. I can’t think of any book that has been written to date, that speaks so clearly to so many, on the basic fundamentals of life. David experienced it all, every height and every depth. His praise is our praise. His pain is our pain. And he can write to the human condition - and our need for God - like no one else has.

In terms of fiction, “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiel Hammet, most anything by Raymond Chandler, Robert Crais, Robert Parker, Ross MacDonald, Mickey Spillane, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz and Jerry Jenkins (pre and post “Left Behind”).

In terms of non-fiction I‘m an eclectic reader. I tend to read biographies, history and science. There’s a new book by Ron Powers on the life of Mark Twain, that has been calling my name.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

Dorothy. She lets nothing deter her in reaching for her goal.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

“Original Sin”. The book went through several revisions to become what it is, and I tried very hard to capture the tone of the PI genre while updating it for the current century. The human heart may be the same now as it has always been, but I don’t think “dame” is going to sit well with a lot of readers.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I will sometimes hear more established writers complaining about some aspect of writing or publishing, and that tends to grate on me a bit. Writing is a privilege. You don’t have to do it. If you don’t like it, do something else.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I’m still working full-time at another occupation, so my writing day usually begins at around eight in the evening and continues until ten or eleven. I don’t write with an outline, so I look forward to seeing where the story will take me.

Weekends are prime time. I usually try to write six or eight hours on those days whenever possible.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

David wrote the psalms in a way that relates to everyone - thousands of years later. There is virtually no one, who hasn’t felt his anguish or fear at one time or another. Even among those who do not follow Christ, many find comfort in the psalms.

If I could write a book like that, one in which every reader could find a part of themselves, my writing life would be fulfilled.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I don’t think anyone who writes could say “no” to your question.
I would like to continue the Colton Parker series that I’ve started for as long as readers express an interest, but I would also like to write some stand alone books which, by their nature, would be more complex in structure. Novels that would ring true to every reader.

President Kennedy once said; “We all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortal.” He might have added, “and we are all in need of Christ.”
I want to write a novel that takes those human needs that we all share, and ties their fulfillment into Jesus Christ.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Oh sure. Lots of times. And I did, lots of times. Though never for very long.

After so many rejections, you tend to wonder, “am I doing the right thing, here?”

I finally had to ask God to either deliver me from this desire to write, or open the door. I said this, while dropping a manuscript in the mail.
If it was rejected, I was done with writing. It’d be time to take up origami.
But if it was published, I promised God I would write for Him as long as he gave me the capacity to do so.

Six days later, the manuscript was accepted for publication.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being an author?

So far, I haven’t found anything that I truly dislike about writing. Rejection comes with the territory, so anyone who writes needs to be ready for that.
I still struggle with grammar, but it is a tool of the trade and has to be mastered.

I truly love the writing process itself. I enjoy having the creative outlet and being able to work with my editor, during the editing process, on our common goal of making the book as good as it can be.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I’m doing quite a bit. My view has always been that it is the publisher who will get the book in the stores, and I will get it out.

I’m in my initial efforts of promoting “Original Sin” and I’m having a lot of fun. The folks at Harvest House have been great to work with and I’m learning a lot.

I’ve already arranged some signings and I’m trying to approach them in as “scientific” a manner as I can. Since I write mysteries, my initial signings will be at CBA stores and the Independent Mystery Bookseller’s Association stores. The two groups together, account for most of my market and are very helpful - sometimes even hand-selling books they believe in.

I make it a point to support the CBA stores anyway that I can. I make personal contact with every CBA owner/manager and let them know that I appreciate the fact that they are stocking my books.

Radio and print media interviews are helpful also. I try to be as helpful to them as possible by being on time, answering their questions and then letting them know how much I truly appreciate the opportunity that they have given me.

I talk to virtually everyone I know when promoting the book, and I try to build a large core of “first readers”. I have an annual “cook-out” for all of them, to let them know how valuable they are and how much I appreciate them. Of course, a signed copy of the book with an acknowledgment of their help, isn’t a bad idea either.

I also agree to talks and readings at the libraries in my area whenever I can arrange them.

Of course, a website is essential today and should mirror the image or message you want to project.

You should also have no fear of asking for help. Talking to marketing majors at local universities, sales reps you may know, or your publisher’s marketing department are all beneficial.

I think the best advice I’ve heard is to be creative. There is no one technique that will move your books off the shelves. It requires a sustained effort.

Parting thoughts?

I love writing. For me, it is fulfillment.
If anyone reading this interview, finds themselves wanting to write and feeling the call of God to do so, I would say “be persistent”.

Writing is a craft. Learn the craft. Then commit your writing to God.

Monday, January 30, 2006

This week...

The winner of Joan Hochstetler's two book giveaway (Daughter of Liberty and Native Son) is...Heather Smith! Ciongratulations Heather.

This week on Novel Journey~ interviews with Brandt Dolson, F.P. Lione, and Kristin Billerbeck!

Author Interview ~ Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is a multi-published author living in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband, Tony, a youth pastor. They have three ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel also served the writing community as the Past President of American Christian Fiction Writers. Visit her blog and web site at

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

My first chick lit comes out in August 2006 from Steeple Hill Café, Georgia On Her Mind. It’s a fun story about Macy Moore, a quick witted career girl who’s life takes an unexpected turn, or two.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I started writing fiction in the mid ‘90s, but didn’t serious pursue publication until 2000. My first published book was a Heartsong Presents. I got “the call” in late 2002 from my co-author, Lynn Coleman while sitting in Chili’s having lunch with my friend, Allison Wilson. I was excited, naturally, but also hit with the realization I had to write it.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Sure. I don’t know any authors who don’t, but I’m learning not to focus on my doubts and insecurities, and focus on God’s grace and goodness. My weaknesses don’t intimidate Him. He chooses to use me, anyway.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Read, read, read. Also, to keep writing the first draft without editing. My first novel took two years because I kept rewriting and editing. Now, I can complete an 85k word novel in 4 months because I write it first, then fix it.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

I don’t think I’ve heard bad writing advice.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I understood I needed others to help me, but I wish I’d networked earlier, and gone to conferences. Some mistakes I made early on could’ve been eliminated by attending workshops for beginners.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

“The things impossible with me are possible with God.” Luke 18:27

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

No set backs at the moment.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

I love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

I think I’d be the Tin Man. Heart is really important to me, and having a tender one toward God and others is important to me.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

Writing is hard work, and I’m proud of all the Lord has graced me to produce, but I’m really proud of Georgia On Her Mind. It’s a fun, fast-paced story and I think women will identify with Macy’s struggles.

I’ve also written a few small pieces on Peter and Mary of Bethany, and how they might have felt after Jesus was crucified. I like these short, short stories because it brings the characters we read about daily to life and stir my own heart toward the Lord. How would I have felt seeing Jesus stumbling down the street with the Cross on his bleeding back.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Not really. There are good things and difficult things about this business, about any business. I learn to live within the boundaries.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

Typical day is to get up around 6:30 and go to morning prayer at my church. By 9:30, I’m home and taking care of emails or home-front details. I try to start writing by 11:00 a.m. I end the writing day at 5:00 so I can go to the gym, or to church related functions, depending on the night. If there is time, I write in the evening for an hour or so. Occasionally, I write or edit on Saturdays, but I keep the weekends free so I can refresh my creative pallet and be with my husband.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I would love to have Brandilyn Collin’s ability to ponder a scene and figure out a unique, creative way of showing the action.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

My dream is to keep telling the best stories I can and to be honest, I’d really like to be on Oprah.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Yes. I’d sent a proposal to my agent and she, being the astute, wonderful woman she is, didn’t like it. She emailed a long list of reasons and told me to get back to work. While I’m not afraid of hard work, I’d spent a long time developing that proposal and thought maybe I just didn’t have what it took to really make it. But, after reviewing all my options, I knew I didn’t want to do anything but write. So, I rolled up my sleeves, came up with a new proposal and well… my agent sold that one a few months later.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part is telling stories, creating characters and fictional worlds. My least favorite part is research and the hard days at the beginning of a new story when I’m trying to meet the characters.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I’m new to marketing, so I don’t have much experience yet, but the best thing any author can do is have a web site with a blog or blog link. Keeps readers stopping by often.

Parting words?

Thank you for this opportunity!!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

2 Book Giveaway Today!

Read either or both reviews of J.M. Hochstetler's, Daughter of Liberty and/or Native Son and leave a comment, and you will be entered to win BOTH novels! (If you leave a comment under each review, your name will be entered twice.)

Winner to be announced early next week.

Hochstetler's, Native Son~ reviewed

J. M. Hochstetler
ISBN 0-310-25257-1
293 Pages

Reviewed by Erin Valentine

Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton defied overwhelming odds against their love, struggling to hold on to each other against the backdrop of a revolution. Before they can rest and enjoy their time together, however, General Washington has requests of them. Jonathan is sent into Indian Territory to secure the loyalty of the Natives for the American forces, a task he is uniquely suited for based on childhood ties to the Shawnee. Elizabeth is asked to stay behind and continue her work as a spy, gaining the intelligence from British loyalists that the General needs. Both of the lovers confront great dangers, yet hold on to the faith and hope that they will be together once more.

As with Daughter of Liberty, I am once again struck by the ability of Hochstetler to paint honest, even-handed portraits of people at war. She uses the keen eye of a historian to develop truthful relationships and concerns. This novel goes beyond the fighting in the colonies and travels into the lands of the Iroquois, Seneca, and Shawnee Indians, illustrating the author's obvious comprehension of a community both noble and brutal.

Soon after the novel begins, Jonathan and Elizabeth find themselves wrenched apart by the continuing needs of their countrymen. Deft moves between these two characters and their respective adventures build a suspenseful and portentous mood.

Native Son spends more time on Jonathan and his plight than in the previous novel, exploring his inner turmoil after being captured by Mohawk Indians, who plan to collect the substantial reward on his head from the British. As Jonathan lives and interacts with the different Indian tribes, his previous ties to the natives are strengthened. In addition to being torn between his love for Elizabeth and his loyalty to the American cause, his capture creates another quandary for Jonathan as he tries to balance his allegiances for the newly forming nation and the embattled Indians. His faith in God's plan for his life is what keeps him alive, trusting that He will guide him in the best way possible.

Elizabeth once again faces great danger, and although she doesn't participate in battle as she did in Daughter of Liberty, there are some very tense moments as she travels between her home in Boston and General Washington's headquarters. Her espionage duties are made more difficult by the suspicions of the British officers that Elizabeth might have participated in the daring escape of a captured American officer. She has to work doubly hard in this novel to win their trust.

A word of warning to those of you who read the last few pages of a novel before you finish...don't do it! And if you must (I should know, because I did), don't give up on this book. Despite my concern that Native Son was not going to do end as I would prefer, I still read it and found it to be an engaging, gripping novel.

Hochstetler's, Daughter of Liberty~reviewed

Joan Hochstetler
ISBN 0-310-25256-3
368 Pages

Reviewed by Erin Valentine

Elizabeth Howard is a beautiful, strong-willed, and devoted patriot. Thanks to family ties with the British, she is uniquely able to spy for the Sons of Liberty. As a courier known only as Oriole, Elizabeth places her life in danger time and time again as she seeks information on munitions and troop movements. It is her heart, however, that is endangered when she meets Jonathan Carleton, a captain in the Seventeenth Light Dragoons and a respected member of the British Regulars. Will Carleton discover that the spy he seeks is, in fact, the woman he loves? Will Elizabeth be able to guard her heart as well as her secrets?

J.M. Hochstetler reminds me of my best history teachers; she delivers detailed, impressive information about the Revolutionary War in such an entertaining package that only when I finished the novel did I realize how much information I had absorbed.

Like Mel Gibson's film The Patriot, Hochstetler's presentation of the tensions and events leading to the war are gritty and realistic - no sanitized, textbook version here, folks. Characters on all sides of the issues are presented as complex human beings, torn amongst ties to their families, their land, and their king.

The novel's protagonist, Elizabeth, uses her charm and intelligence to spy on British officers, and despite the obvious acknowledgement that she is proud of her efforts and committed to the cause for freedom, she is deeply aware that the people on whom she spies are friends, many of them former neighbors who have known Elizabeth her entire life.

When Jonathan Carleton is billeted in her family's Boston town home, Elizabeth finds it increasingly difficult to deny her attraction for the man. They are equally matched in wit, character, and good looks, and she must finally acknowledge that he is the one man she could love. Of course, there is a little matter of his being the one who is assigned to discover and capture Oriole, the role Elizabeth created and assumes as she spies.

God's plan for our lives and how we follow it is an important theme in this book. Elizabeth is impetuous, taking chances that could leave herself and others in peril, but she loves the thrill of the chase. When one particular decision nearly ends with her capture and places Jonathan's life in jeopardy, she must finally accept the need to seek God's will in her life.

Daughter of Liberty is an exciting, well-crafted read. I thoroughly enjoyed the dance between Jonathan and Elizabeth as they fall in love, and I was fascinated by the historical information. The action moves quickly most of the time, slowing down a little during battle scenes, but never enough to lose my attention. I can recommend this particular effort to anyone, especially fans of Revolutionary history, who will find it remarkable.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Interview with Publicist Rebeca Seitz

First off, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.

No problem! I can talk about publicity all day long. Thanks for the opportunity!

You’re a writer as well as publicist, is that right? What do you write?

I began my career in the CBA world as a writer. I wrote for newspapers, magazines, and anthologies while working on a southern novel in my spare time.

The phenomenal author Eva Marie Everson took me under her wing and showed me the ropes in the industry. With her guidance, I got my first real bite from a publisher for my novel. Trouble was – Eva seemed way more excited about the possibility of my novel being published than I was.

That was my big clue that perhaps I was supposed to do something else in the publishing industry. I put writing to the side and started learning about the other job paths I could take in publishing.

How did you get started in publicity?

It seems the people around me were much smarter about my future than I. My high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Pam Harris, told me I had the gift of writing. She encouraged me to major in communications when I went off to college, so I declared that major alongside my true love at the time – political science. (I wanted to be a U.S. Senator.)

When I began attending college, Drs. Jerald Ogg and Robert Nanney opened my eyes to the possibilities of a career in communications and encouraged me to concentrate my studies in the area of publicity. Years later, the guidance provided by these people would prove helpful when I went to work at WestBow Press, the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. I applied for the publicist position at WestBow not long after having the epiphany that writing a novel wasn’t my particular calling at the time. My background in publicity, coupled with my absolute love of fiction, provided the perfect preparation to be WestBow’s publicist.

Would you like to tell us a little about your company, Glass Road?

Again, God placed people in my life to steer me down the path He had for me. I was very happily serving as the publicist of WestBow Press, loving the team I was working with and the authors I represented. Four months into my marriage, my husband and I discovered we were expecting. I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace I had set for myself in the office and still be a mom.

Some women are remarkably adept at handling the workplace and motherhood. I’m not one of them. I knew I would need to change my schedule so that I could be at home with the baby and continue to be a publicist. After months of searching and praying, Jennifer Willingham – then VP of Marketing and Publicity at Thomas Nelson and my boss – asked me if I had considered forming my own firm.

I scoffed at the idea. Leaving my beloved authors and team at WestBow hadn’t occurred to me.

After a few more weeks with no solution for being able to spend time at home with my new son, Jennifer again brought up the idea. I took it to my father-in-law, an amazing man who proved his acumen in the business world as a Vice President for Northern Trust Bank and someone who has always been very honest with me regarding his opinions.

I asked if he thought I would be suited to running my own business and he didn’t hesitate. He cheered me on from the sidelines and still calls me every couple of weeks to find out what exciting new things we have going on at the firm. He loves it when we get clients on Good Morning America or we have Oprah taking a look at our books.

I opened the doors of Glass Road on May 1, 2005. By that Fall, we had clients from nearly all the major publishing houses. It just exploded. I had no idea there was such a demand for a firm that specializes solely in publicity for novelists. Once again, God knew my future and put people in place to point me in the right direction.

What’s the difference between marketing and publicity?

There is an easy way to tell if an initiative is marketing or publicity-driven. If you have to pay for the placement, it’s marketing. If you don’t, it’s publicity. For example, purchasing advertisements in a magazine is the responsibility of marketing directors. Getting reporters to write features about authors and trends in the marketplace is the responsibility of publicists. When the two areas work together, huge effects can occur.

Do you find publishing companies are doing most of the publicity work or are authors taking on the bulk of their own campaigns these days?

It’s different at different publishing houses. I think authors are becoming more savvy regarding the opportunities open to them. They’re learning the importance of publicity and marketing and are asking their publishers how they can partner with them to achieve greater results. We’ve contracted directly with authors, with publishing houses, and a combination thereof.

What can an author do to make your job easier?

Route all ideas through us. I love it when authors have ideas for publicity or relationships with media that they’d like to use to garner publicity. However, it reflects poorly on everyone involved when the primary publicist isn’t aware of contacts the author has made and goes to the same location.

Also, we truly appreciate it when authors are clear about their expectations on the front end. If you’re expecting to get your book considered by Oprah, then say that in the beginning so that we can talk about the realistic expectations of that happening.

What would be a dream campaign for you?

A blank check and twelve months lead time with an unknown author who wants to be a bestseller and has a well-written book.

How difficult is it to get good publicity?

More difficult than one would think, I’d bet. As with any profession, there are good and bad publicists out there. Just as authors research their agents and publishing houses, they should research publicity firms. Ask where the firm has achieved hits, what authors it has represented, and what it would do if given your campaign. A good firm will be able to point to its relationships and results to bolster its claim of credibility. Also, be certain to ask what books the firm has represented that are like yours. If you write novels and the firm only represents nonfiction or just dabbles in fiction, then recognize that you might need to look elsewhere.

Is it true that there is no such thing as bad publicity?

That depends on what result you would like your publicity to produce. If your goal is to achieve name-recognition, then there is no such thing as bad publicity. If your goal is to create a specific persona and achieve book sales, then bad publicity is anything that counteracts that persona or negatively affects book sales.

What seems to be the most effective media for novelists to get word about their books out to the public?

Print and internet. Broadcast outlets – radio and television – still remain rather closed to novelists, though we are making inroads.

I've heard of authors spending their advance on publicity. Is this something more first-time authors should consider?

If the author’s choice is to buy food or publicity, by all means head to the grocery store. If, however, the author is in a financial position to invest in his/her writing career, then I would encourage the author to invest that money in a publicity firm.

Our firm can even work with authors on a retainer basis. For a monthly fee, we cover all of the author’s publicity needs so long as the contract is in place. This is a good scenario for authors who plan to release multiple books in a year since the retainer fee is less than the cost of two campaigns and having the same firm handle all of the authors’ interests ensures continuity from book to book. I would also suggest that the author approach his/her publishing house to discuss a possible sharing of the publicity firm’s fee.

How much marketing/publicity should an author with an upcoming novel be prepared to do for herself?

Be prepared to do it all – and be pleasantly surprised when a bit of the burden is lifted by your publishing house.

How can an author gauge if what they’re doing publicity wise is working?

If the author is achieving regional hits, then the author can ask his or her publisher if sales are increasing in that particular area. Higher sales numbers would indicate that the publicity hits are driving customers into stores to purchase the book.

What is a typical day like for you?

Warning – this could scare some people. I get up sometime between 6 and 8 depending on how often my child was awake through the night. After a quick shower, I’m at my desk with South Beach Bar and caffeine in hand, checking email, calling media, and developing press materials.

If it’s Friday, I’m also reading all the publications that came in the mail through the week and preparing activity reports for clients. I take a break about three hours into it to walk around, hug my kiddo, and check in with my husband. Then it’s back to the office to communicate with publishers and authors, return phone calls, and research media outlets. I usually finish up sometime around 7 or 8pm.

I spend an hour or so with the hubby, help bathe the kiddo and put him to bed, then read novels for a couple of hours. I read every book our firm represents and many that are getting publicity hits, so there’s always a book on my bedside table. This routine is typical for every day but Sunday – we have a strict No Work Policy on Sunday.

How expensive is it for an author to hire a publicist?

Depends on the firm you hire. Expect to pay a few thousand, at least, for a comprehensive campaign. Some firms also require the client to pay expenses to a point. We don’t – the one fee covers it all – but it’s important to know that some do and that doesn’t mean they’re not legitimate firms. It’s a standard practice in the business. Also keep in mind you can ask your publisher to partner with you in hiring a firm.

What are some basic things a novelist can do to help publicize their own work?

If you do not have a publicist working your book then do the following – if you do have a publicist, he/she will probably handle these things for you. Make a list of all the media within a 50 mile radius of your home. Also list any alumni publications from schools you have attended, organization newsletters of which you’ve been a member, and church contact information for your current church and previous churches.

Ask your publisher for advance copies or actual copies of your book to send to this list. Work with your publisher to create a press release for your book and, perhaps, a canned interview with you. Include both of these, along with an introductory letter, to each of the entities on your list. Also consider doing a debut event in your hometown to highlight your book’s release.

How soon after an author hands in their manuscript to their publisher should they be planning their publicity campaign?

The day you hand it in, start thinking about publicity. Ideal publicity campaigns begin 6-8 months prior to the book’s publication.

Do you see any hot trends that novelists should be tapping to help get their work noticed?

Novelists writing from a Christian worldview are the trend right now. The Christian fiction industry topped $2 billion in sales last year – a statistic that media reps do not take lightly. I highly recommend that Christian novelists recognize their growing status in the market and capitalize on it by making their local media aware.

What’s something you wish more authors knew about your business?

I wish novelists understood that getting publicity for their books isn’t the same as getting publicity for nonfiction books. The two require completely different mindsets. Fiction publicity revolves around entertainment – which creates a much different media database than nonfiction publicity, which centers around breaking news.

Parting words?

Thanks for the opportunity to chat about publicity. When I discovered this passion of mine, an entirely new world opened up to me. I’m like a kid in a candy store most days. Finding new ways to get the word out about great novels and making new people aware of the great fiction being written by God-driven hands gives me a high like no other. Anytime I get to talk about it is a thrill!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Author Interview ~ Bill Myers Part II

Bill Myers ( is a bestselling author and an award-winning screenwriter and director. His numerous books include Soul Tracker, The Wager, The Face of God, Eli, Blood of Heaven, Threshold, Fire of Heaven, The Bloodstone Chronicles, and When the Last Leaf Falls. His books and videos have sold over 7.5 million copies.

Gina Holmes: How do you find balance with being a family man, teacher, director, writing children’s books and adult novels?

Bill Myers: I use it to my advantage. I think if I only wrote straight adult stuff, I’d get burned out. It also stops me from taking myself too seriously. My recreation is teaching scripture in sort of an interactive thing with teens and college kids. That keeps me on my toes thinking differently.

Just when I’m about dead tired writing a suspense story, I get to pick up and write kids comedy. That’s an entirely different part of my brain and it’s refreshing. I’m still tired but it becomes more of a goofy-silly tired.

I take breaks, but not really, because those breaks are simply changing what I’m working on.

Gina: How many books do you write a year?

Bill: One adult and probably three kid’s books. One of my more successful series is The Incredible Worlds of Wally Mcdoogle. He’s sort of a seventh grade Woody Allen. I time it to write those types of books during the holidays. Because it’s play to write kids comedy. It’s hard work too but fun.

Gina: I’ve read as you were growing up you didn’t like to read. Do you like to read now?

Bill: Mmm. Next question please. I’m not a big fan of reading. I will read because I’m trying to grow in the craft. I don’t understand why I’d want to read about something when I can go out and do it. I’m sure there’s also some ADHD floating around in there.

Gina: What are you working on right now?

Bill: The book that I’m finishing up now is probably not a good idea to talk about. It’s high-concept, which is easy to get “borrowed”. I remember I had this really great idea called Blood of Heaven, and I went all over town pitching it. Then six months later, I discovered Michael Crichton was working on this thing called, Jurassic Park. I hold the high-concept stuff closer to my vest now.

I’m actually finishing that up today. Yey! I’m still doing the Wally Mcdoogle books and doing a comedy picture series. I’m just starting that.

Gina: There’s a lot of talk lately about branding. Publishers are wanting writers to brand themselves--stick to writing the same type of book. But you write across the board, children’s stories to suspense.

Bill: I’ve had adult fans write me and say, my gracious, are you the same Bill Myers my kids are reading? I think they think there are two Bill Myers. If I had the time, I’d write domestic comedy. That would have to happen under a penname.

Gina: You do feel the branding is a legitimate practice?

Bill: Yeah. I wish it wasn’t, but I think it’s necessary. There are ways to get around it. There will be somebody in a couple of years who will write domestic comedies. It won’t be with my name, but everyone who knows me will know I’m doing it.

Gina: Do you have a dream for your writing, other than writing the domestic comedy?

Bill: I don’t have dreams for my writing future. My passion is to draw people closer to Christ. I don’t care how that’s done. It could be writing, directing or operating the drill press, (thought I’d prefer the other two).

I have a business plan, but my great hopes are to bring people to Jesus. It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy or coasting. All my writer friends are so passionate about writing but it doesn’t interest me much. What interests me is the effect the writing has upon the people. I’m grateful that I’m doing it, but it’s not my passion.

Gina: Any advice for aspiring novelists.

Bill: The usual--read as much as you can. Write everyday. You only get better. Thank God you only get better. Really seek the Lord, make sure that’s what you’re wired to do. When you’re doing what you’re wired to do, that’s where the greatest satisfaction comes in.

You know I thought I was wired to be a dentist, but apparently I missed that one. I really encourage everyone to keep their ear cocked toward Heaven. It could be that the Lord has something for them that they’re not even aware of.

The Presence
Bill Myers

Supernatural Suspense
ISBN: 0310242363

From the Back Cover:

The first subjects exposed to The Presence went insane. Now, a far more terrifying experiment is about to begin. . . A diverse group of unusual characters are airlifted to a remote mountain lodge. Here they hope to participate in a séance connecting them to the spirit world.

David Kauffman and his teenage son have joined them to debunk a world-class psychic and expose her as a hoax. But not even David is prepared for what greets them. Still shaken by his daughter’s death and his visits to heaven and hell, he’s swept into a fantastic journey where the supernatural souls of people are exposed, and unseen thoughts become unimaginable reality.

As the power of The Presence increases, the group must overcome their innermost passions or be destroyed by them. All this as they struggle to break free of their captor—the head of the experiment and murderer of David’s daughter. Bestselling novelist Bill Myers weaves a supernatural thriller that will keep you turning pages late into the night—and thinking about it days after you’ve finished.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Author Interview ~ Bill Myers

Bill Myers ( is a bestselling author and an award-winning screenwriter and director. His numerous books include Soul Tracker, The Wager, The Face of God, Eli, Blood of Heaven, Threshold, Fire of Heaven, The Bloodstone Chronicles, and When the Last Leaf Falls. His books and videos have sold over 7.5 million copies.

Interview via telephone 2006:

Gina Holmes: Tell me about your road to publication.

Bill Myers: I’m afraid my story isn’t very inspirational. I got my first movie script assignment by a TV producer who came up to me and asked if I’d write for his series. That’s not real encouraging for those who are trying to break in.

What’s even more discouraging, some people got some misinformation. They’d heard there was a famous Christian TV writer in Hollywood and if they could just convince me to take time from my busy schedule and write a book for them, they’d really be excited about that.

Gina: Did you think, hey, how different can script writing be from novel writing? I can do that.

Bill: No, to this day I’m still not sure I know how to write. It was just another act of obedience. That and needing to eat. Back then we were pretty much living off macaroni and cheese. In both cases it was a series of accidents.

The TV shows I was writing were terrible. The worst writing I’d ever seen on TV. Apparently the book publishers didn’t bother to check that part out.

I started off writing Bible studies. Which for me was just a natural extension of loving to teach. I wrote a couple of those and discovered nobody was particularly interested in reading those and somebody came to me and asked if they could turn one of my scripts into a book. That involved going to Russia to research when the iron curtain was up. I thought that’ll be interesting. Why don’t I give that a shot?

And it just goes on and on like that. A series of accidents. McGee and Me was probably the big footprint for me. It was the same thing there. They said, you wrote the scripts, do you know anybody who could write the books.

I said, "Hey, I’m hungry."They let me do it.

Gina: How would you classify your adult novels?

Bill: I think the publishers are marketing me as supernatural suspense. I could have just as well write comedy, but they’ve got to have a place to put you. So there I am.

Gina: A lot of writers would love to have your ability to infuse serious fiction with humor like you do. Is there a secret to doing that?

Bill: I think so. It comes with loving the fallibility of humans. All of my humor comes out of character. When I’m designing a character I make sure I design them to have endearing quirks that we all have and pretend we don’t have. Then I have something to play with. It comes by designing the characters.

Gina: Why write supernatural suspense?

Bill: I don’t know. The publisher wants me write it.

Gina: So, if the publisher asked you to write a romance, you would?

Bill: Actually, my favorite book of mine is When the Last Leaf Falls, which is out of print. That’s sort of a love story about a father and his rebellious teenage daughter.

From a ministry point of view, what drives me is if I could reach more people by operating a drill press, then that’s what I’d do. I’d quit writing tomorrow.

It really is a passion to draw people to Christ. As far as writing supernatural, you can deal with God issues pretty quickly in that genre.

Why me? When I was a film maker, I did a lot of documentary work around the world. And a lot of mission films. I saw a ton of supernatural out there.

Tyndale House asked me to write a series called Forbidden Doors. She asked me if I would write a Christian horror series and I said, no, I’m too busy with my Christian pornography series. She says, okay Mr. Smart Alec, you go and look at what’s out there for kids to read and you come back and see if you can be so glib.

About eighty percent of the bookshelves were devoted to supernatural. I said, okay, I’ll write those but only if you let me turn them into a teaching series. So with those 12 books, one dealt with reincarnation, one with UFOs--sort of demystified all this stuff.

As a result of that, I did everything from researching at Duke paranormal psychology lab, to interviewing the Son of Sam serial killer, just to get the information right.

As a result of that, and a couple of supernatural situations of our own, we kind of became knowledgeable in the supernatural realm.

The Pat Robertson’s, Jerry Falwells and James Kennedy’s would have me on their shows to talk about the supernatural. It’s kind of a boring topic because our trump card is always the same, our authority in Jesus Christ. For better or worse,
I’ve become a reluctant authority on that.

Gina: You said you’ve experienced supernatural occurrences yourself?

Bill: We were involved in a deliverance with a top L.A. psychic when I was in my early twenties. I was volunteering for a lay pastor in a church and we got this call from this psychic who got my phone number in a dream. I knew nothing except what the Bible talked about. I went over there and tried to help him and soon found out we were involved in something that was right out of The Exorcist. The good news was that I’d never seen The Exorcist.

Gina: You performed an exorcist?

Bill: Myself and another man...Back to the research I was doing. Going to Duke paranormal psychology lab and have the experiments go flat-line when we’d come into the room would be exciting. At one point they’d tease me about having negative psychic energy.

Gina: Hmmm.

Bill: Exactly. That was due to a lot of prayer.

Gina: Do you find in the genre you write, that people are afraid to read it?

Bill: Not every genre is for everyone. As far as publishers go, I’ve only come up against one publisher who was reluctant to deal with this type of subject.

Gina: Why do you think that was?

Bill: Well, in the wrong hands, this subject manner can be twisted to glorify darkness. But, that’s true in every genre. You can write a romance that turns Christian values on its head and glorifies that which you stand against.

I try to go to scriptures and do the same thing with violence, language and everything else.

Scripture uses swearing, but it puts it like this, Peter said an oath. Hey, that works for me. Half a book took place on death row in one of my stories. The boys there did not say, “Well, golly!” But you don’t miss the swearing because you find ways of getting around it. Or the violence. You can talk about it, if you glorify it, there’s that fine line you risk crossing. You need to abhor it the way you write it.

Gina: What are you working on now?

Bill: The new series is Soul Tracker. It takes the brain twelve minutes to die. They record the brain waves of about 1300 volunteers who are dying and are able to recreate the first twelve minute of death in a virtual reality computer. So, you can experience the first twelve minutes of death. You can go to Heaven. You can go to Hell or anywhere in between.

And this guy’s daughter committed suicide--he’s desperate to know where she is. So he enters the chamber...

Gina: How much plotting do you do when you begin a book?

Bill: I think my training comes from TV and film. I pretty much know everything before I start. I spend about six months researching. A lot of times my stuff has science in it.

I just finished a book where they are subjected to the presence of God. Sort of a haunted house, but one that is haunted by God and the guys running the experiment want to know what would happen if these people are exposed to God. They’re able to record the presence and pump it in to the people.

I had to a lot of research on that on brains. Physiology and all that sort of junk.

Face of God I think I read seventy books to get the Islam correct.

Gina: Is the research fun for you?

Bill: Oh, the research is the best part. Fire of Heaven I got to go to each of the seven churches in Revelation at the publisher’s expense. So, I research first, which for me is the most fun, and I’m usually writing a kids book during that period. I’ll write during the day and research at night. Then I outline for about four weeks. By then I’m pretty happy with the structure. I work from that very detailed outline for the next several months.

In writing suspense it’s not that literary writing where you get to go down rabbit trails, because you cannot afford to in this genre.

If I was writing a different type of book, I’d probably write seat of the pants and have that type of fun, but not when you’re dealing with suspense.

Gina: What’s a typical day for you like?

Bill: Once I get the kids off to school and the wife off to work, I hang out for about an hour with the Lord. We live in Southern California and there’s an orchard out back and I’ll hang out there praying, reading, and jotting down notes. I teach a couple of Bible studies during the week. A lot of times that’s where my ideas come from.

I’ll rewrite what I thought was genius the day before but which is really garbage and I don’t know until I reread it. I rewrite for two hours. I take a break. I write two hours fresh. I then rewrite what I wrote. So, I write in three-two hour sessions.

That’ll usually come out to be about four pages a day.

Gina: How do you find balance with being a family man, teacher, director, writing children’s books and adult novels?

To Be Continued Tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tomorrow Bill Myers!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a special two part interview with best-selling author, Bill Myers.

Friday we'll chat with Glass Road publicist, Rebeca Seitz on the aspect of promoting our work!

Debra White Smith's, Amanda ~ reviewed

By Debra White Smith
ISBN: 978-0-7368-0875-7
320 Pages

Reviewed by Erin Valentine:

Description: Amanda Priebe, the title character, is still feeling the rush from a successful matchmaking effort when she decides to match Haley, her best friend and secretary, with someone “more appropriate” than Roger, the dairy farmer about whom her friend is apparently pretty serious. Nate Knighton, Amanda’s dear friend and brother-in-law, opposes her plans, but stays away from her efforts – primarily because he’s afraid he may be falling in love with Amanda. Complications arise when wealthy and handsome Franklyn West shows interest in Amanda, and Mason Eldridge, the man she intends for Haley, doesn’t follow the game plan. For her part, Amanda knows exactly what she wants, or does she? Will everyone end up with his or her one true love, or will Amanda’s best-laid plans go awry?

This is the fifth offering in Debra White Smith’s Austen Series. Fans of Austen will find that Ms. Smith does a masterful job of preserving Austen’s characters in contemporary settings. The re-telling of classic novels can be a dicey enterprise; people often feel protective of their favorite characters; social norms and conventions have changed, and conflicts that seemed fresh and innovative before feel dated and archaic now. Not so with the books in the Austen series. Smith retains the wit and charm of the Austen novels, but makes necessary revisions to intrigue a modern readership. Besides, Austen dealt with the vagaries of a human soul, creating keen psychological examinations of people both likeable and not. The human character is unchanging; therefore, our peculiarities are interesting in whatever time period they are revealed.

Amanda is a beautiful, intelligent young woman from a privileged background. As such, she has rarely been denied anything she wanted, and when the novel begins, she wants to match her friend Haley with Mason Eldridge, the music director of their church. There is something a bit disturbing in the character’s egotism, her certainty that she knows what is best for others whether they like it or not. The author, however, allows us to view Amanda’s better qualities, her generosity, fun spirit, keen wit, and empathy for others, and that is what makes her a multidimensional character, one we enjoy getting to know despite her flaws.

The miscommunication between Amanda and her intended victims is great fun, and so is the suspense that develops when the reader can’t be quite sure that Amanda will acknowledge what her heart has known all along. Readers who want romance will love this book, especially those who avoid books they fear might be “preachy” in the Christian market. Although the faith of Amanda, Nate and the others is present, it is inherent in who they are - the way they live their lives and the decisions they make. Their Christian worldview replaces any lengthy text on theology that might otherwise be present.

With Amanda, Smith aptly illustrates that “The course of true love never did run smooth,” but the twisted path these characters follow to romance is an intriguing one, and I feel certain that others will enjoy the trip as much as I did.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Author Interview~ Cindy Thomson

Cindy Thomson is a freelance writer living in the Columbus, Ohio, area with her husband and three sons. She is a former kindergarten and preschool teacher and writes on variety of subjects including family history, baseball, American history, and Irish history.

Her first novel, Brigid of Ireland, will be released in March 2006 by Monarch Books. Ms. Thomson has co-authored a full-length biography on baseball Hall of Fame member Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, published in 2006 by the University of Nebraska Press. Her work has appeared in anthologies, and she has written several feature articles for Family History Magazine, Family Chronicle, History Magazine, Christian Networks Journal, War Cry Magazine, Everton's Genealogical Helper, and publications of the Society for American Baseball Research.

She can be found on the Web at

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Brigid of Ireland, A Historical Novel, Monarch Books, March 2006. (distributed in the US by Kregel.)
This is my first published novel.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I wrote my first novel (still unpublished) based on my family history research. I started it in 2000 and that was my first serious plunge into writing for publication. During that process I attended several writers conferences and received many critiques from generous people.

In 2003 I signed with an agent and then went on to write another novel (also still unpublished.) I began publishing several articles, but still no fiction. Then one day while attending a local Irish festival, I picked up a book on saints and started reading about St. Brigid. She is a patron saint of Ireland. Of course St. Patrick is the best known Irish saint, but there are others with fascinating legends during a time when Christianity was in its infancy.

While pitching my novels at a conference, I pulled out a short story I had written on Brigid. The story received a lot of attention, and I wrote a proposal for a short story collection. It went to committee and was turned down. My agent thought it might be better received as a novel, so I worked on it and again it went to committee. Again it was turned down.

That's when I made the "mistake" that turned into a book contract. I asked my agent about a publisher in the UK. I told him they had published a similar book. He wrote a very strong letter in support of my project, and then I realized that publisher had not published the book I thought they had, and in fact, they published little if any fiction. I was so embarrassed. But, it was God's plan. The editor replied that they were interested. Two months later I had a contract.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Yes. I wonder if I can ever do this again. If my book bombs, no one will buy another one.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Don't worry about what you can't control. Write the best book you can.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

Write what you know. It actually may be good advice for some, but if you take it too seriously, it can stifle your writing. I like research. For me a better rule would be: write what you have a passion for—what you want to know.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I queried agents way too early. I wish I had been more patient, but then it's hard to know what you don't know you're supposed to know—strange as it sounds!

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

"You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvelous things I am doing ..." Exodus 10:2 NIV

That verse speaks about passing on the stories of old so that people will see who God is and always has been.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?
There have been some family problems that made it impossible for me to write for a time. I asked my prayer partners to pray for me, and that made such a difference. The struggles that I went through and those I watched others go through actually made my stories stronger and more realistic.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Such a hard question. My answer will likely be different every time I'm asked this.
I just finished Ann Tatlock's, All The Way Home. I was so impressed with both her research, and her technique: a Christian book that was not preachy.

I liked Sue Monk Kidd's, Secret Life of Bees for its beautiful descriptions of the characters' longings for acceptance and love.

A couple of other favorites: Francine Rivers', The Last Sin Eater, Lynn Austin's, Hidden Places, and Tricia Goyer's, From Dust and Ashes.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

I'd like to be Toto because that dog was so smart! But I identify with Dorothy, although I can't sing like her! I feel like I'm on a journey, a publishing journey. I have a few friends supporting me along the way, and some scary obstacles at times. But unlike Dorothy, I know I'll find my way home.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

Well, of course I'm delighted that my first book will be published, but this question made me immediately think of the Roaring Lambs award I received in 2003 from the Amy Foundation. The Amy Foundation encourages people to get pieces published in secular publications that promote Christian values and quote Scripture. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch concerning the question of whether or not God answers prayers.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

You bet. It's wait time. I tell people that God made me a writer simply because he wanted to teach me patience. I understand that editors are busy. I really appreciate those who acknowledge receiving a submission (one that has been assigned.) That keeps me happy for a while.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I wish I had such a thing, but until my children (two of whom are over 18) move out, I probably won't have a typical day. But mostly I get up around 7:00, read and answer e-mail, eat breakfast, do devotions, ride my exercise bike while reading a novel, shower, then read more e-mail and work on one project or another.

At various times during the day I have to help my children with something. I am sometimes working when my husband comes home and he makes dinner. If we don't have a church activity in the evening, I sometimes write more after dinner. Unless, of course, it's baseball season. Then I'm in front of the TV with my laptop, and I work and read e-mail between innings.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

Another question that I could answer differently on any given day. Today I'll say Stephen Lawhead's superb research skills.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I would love to have a large readership of non Christians who were inspired by my stories in addition to Christians.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Of course. But it didn't last long. Rejections tend to do that to you sometimes. You think, "Why even bother?" But then you wake up the next day and start all over again.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

I love making up stories. I suppose my favorite thing, besides working in slippers, is finding out someone enjoyed something I wrote.
Least favorite: low pay and finding out someone violated your copyright.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I am still learning. My advice is ask questions. My editor is very open to ideas. You never know unless you ask.

Parting words?

Thanks for the interview and for your blog, Gina. It's very interesting to read about other writers. Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my writing life.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

S'up Saturday

James Scott Bell's Fiction/Non-fiction book winners:

Glimpses of Paradise: Janet
Plot & Structure: Sandra

(Despite the heart rendering stories, these two ladies names were picked from a hat.)

Next Week on Novel Journey:
Interviews with Cindy Thompson and Publicist, Rebeca Seitz and a special two-part interview with Bill Myers!

Hurry to enter the Genesis contest. The deadline's approaching!

Eligibility – The 2006 ACFW Genesis contest is open to ACFW members unpublished in fiction in the last seven years (no published print or electronic works of 20,000 words or more). Authors of library bound fiction dissertations are eligible. Contracted authors are not eligible. Self-published authors *are* eligible, however they may not enter a manuscript previously in print. Previous Noble Theme category *winning* entries are not eligible. Manuscripts under consideration by a publishing house are not eligible. This only applies to full manuscripts requested and submitted, not proposals. Genesis entries may be submitted to other contests.

Entries must be postmarked by February 14, 2006.

Prizes – Highest scoring entry overall, GRAND PRIZE WINNER, receives $500. Top five (5) scoring entries overall, TOP FIVE FINALISTS, go to the Warner Faith editorial board for consideration. CATEGORY WINNERS, first place entries in each category, receive $50 off their 2007 ACFW National Conference registration fee and 1st choice for editor/agent appointments at the 2007 ACFW National Conference. CATEGORY WINNERS, TOP FIVE FINALISTS, and the GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be announced at the ACFW 2006 Conference.

To learn more about the Genesis contest or joining ACFW go to:

Ted Dekker's, Showdown~ reviewed

ShowdownTed Dekker
Hardcover 375 pages
WestBow Press
ISBN: 159554005

Reviewed by Cheryl Russell:

Paradise, Colorado, is an isolated mountain town where nothing much ever happens, until Marsuvees Black strolls into town. He claims to bear a message of grace and hope, straight from God. The townspeople are captivated by Black, his smooth words and apparent miracles. Only Johnny, who met Black when he first walked into town, questions Black's motives. But no one will listen to the boy with the limp.

In the mountains above Paradise, hidden from the world, is a monastery, built by former tenured Harvard professor David Abraham. He and a few other monks have spent years teaching a group of orphans the difference between good and evil, while keeping them isolated from the evils of society—Project Showdown. But now, the day David has expected and dreaded has come. Billy, one of the students, has challenged the monks' teachings. The path he takes threatens not only the future of the monastery, but the people in Paradise.

Samuel Abraham, David's son, and Johnny have a plan to save Paradise. But when that plan goes awry, there is only one way to stop the madness and that cost may be more than either boy can bear.

Showdown is a fast-paced novel with twists and turns that keep you a tad off kilter the entire book-typical Ted Dekker. Showdown is also a graphic novel about free will, choice, and the consequences of those choices. But the violence in the book is what powers Showdown's messages of grace and hope. Light isn't appreciated until it illuminates the darkness. This is a book I highly recommend.

Friday, January 20, 2006

James Scott Bell's Fiction/Non-Fiction 2 Book Givaway!

To enter to win an autographed copy of either Glimpses of Paradise or Plot & Structure, leave a comment, telling which book you want to win. Names will be drawn and announced on S'up Saturday morning. I wish this were someone else's blog so I could win Glimpses of Paradise. Boo hoo! I'm currently reading Plot & Structure and it's a wonderful how to book. Good luck!

Glimpses of Paradise
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (April, 2005)
ISBN: 0764226487

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

James Scott Bell has done it again. Glimpses of
Paradise brilliantly portrays the coming of age of two young people as they
struggle with parental expectancies and their own dreams. Doyle Lawrence finds
himself on the battlefields of France in WWI fighting evil, while his childhood
friend Zee Miller chases her dream to Hollywood to become a movie actress.

Ever the masterful story-teller, Mr. Bell brings the era of the early
twenties alive before your eyes and makes you care about his characters. With
unexpected twists in the plot and characters that aren't stereotyped, Bell has
given us a page-turner. One of the best reads of the year!

Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish

How does plot influence story structure? What's the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that's gone off course? With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, you'll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot Filled with plot examples from popular novels, comprehensive checklists, and practical hands-on guidance, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure gives you the skills you need to approach plot and structure like an experienced pro.