Monday, January 25, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Mystery, darkness, evil forces and death follow Mariutza from the shelter of Louisana's swamps into the dizzying brightness of the city lights. Mari must seek out the one person whom she believes can overcome the evil and solve the mysteries surrounding her grandfather's death before she becomes the next victim.
Powers is the followup to John B. Olson's Shade. The first book introduced the mysterious people, "The Standing" who battle against evil forces determined to destroy them. Powers continues that story, introducing new characters and mysteries which lead readers down a new dark path.
If you enjoy mystery and intrigue and authors like Peretti and Decker, you will love this new book by John Olson. If you recognize Olson's name from my book picks before -- you're very observant! I thoroughly enjoyed another two-book set written by Olson and Randy Ingermanson, Oxygen and The Fifth Man. You can read more about those books on this earlier blog post.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Do you ever argue with yourself about exactly what you should be reading? I do. I know should be reading something educational, something that will stretch me, something that will make me grow. But when I end up with a stack of those "should reads," I find myself longing to read something fun.
Eugenia Flora Cooper of the novel The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo suffers from the same malady and often finds herself hiding away under the covers to read her favorite wild west dime novels about a heroine named Mae Winslow, Woman of the West. Cooper, a pampered Eastern debutante, longs to experience a wild-west adventure like those about which she reads. She schemes her way to Denver, finding herself temporarily employed as the governess to a spoiled little girl and railroaded into a sham-wedding with the girl's father.
Just like Eugenia Cooper, hiding under the covers with her silly dime-story Westerns, I am sometimes embarassed by how much I enjoy light historical romances. But, sometimes you just need to kick back and remember why it is that you love reading in the first place. Reading doesn't always have to be a chore. A little entertainment and diversion can be beneficial to the soul. Y'Barbo's book is a rollicking ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is my first time reading one of Y'Barbo's books, but I plan to go in search for more... immediately!
Check out the book's trailer, it does a fantastic job of giving you the "feel" of the book.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
After spending the past few years reading books about the craft of writing, devouring writers' blogs and attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, I've picked up some great tips about navigating the road to getting your novel published. Keep in mind that I haven't published a novel (yet), so don't consider ME the expert. I'm just reporting some of the fine things I've learned.
Some important publishing wisdom can be explained by the famous Kenny Roger's classic, The Gambler. Keep in mind that my exposure to Kenny Rogers came as a kid watching the Muppet Show, so I use the term "classic" loosely. But like the song says, "If you're gonna learn to play the game, boy, you gotta' learn to play it right."
First off, remember that getting published is a gamble. There are many talented writers out there in the world competing for the honor of publication. Sure, trust in your talent, perfect your craft, write a great story -- but don't run out and quit your day job. And, like Kenny did in his famous song, learn to take advice from those who have gone before you. I highly recommend attending writing conferences. It's fun to rub elbows with real professionals in the field and there's no better way to learn than by listening to the experts. That's where I learned many of these concepts. Though don't expect industry professionals to sing any Kenny Rogers songs. Though, after hearing author James Scott Bell belt out "My brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man," I have to wonder a little.
Here's some more gambling wisdom that will hopefully help you play the game a little better.
You got to know when to hold 'em. Don't be in too much of a hurry to begin submitting your work. Study your craft, polish your manuscript, make professional contacts, do your research. Someone recently told me that it's better to get it right than get it rejected.
Know when to fold 'em. Sometimes scenes, chapters and entire books need to be laid to rest. Don't get so close to your writing that you think of it as "your baby." It's not. Know when it's time to use the delete key. And I remember Randy Ingermanson (a.k.a. the "Snowflake Guy), my mentor at Mount Hermon '09, teaching us that it's important to know when it's time to let a story go. Don't keep returning year after year with the SAME book. If you've given it your best and it's still not working, don't be afraid to put it away and try something new. Kenny put it this way, "Now every gambler knows that the secret to surviving, is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. 'Cuz every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser and the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep." Okay, I'm not sure what the last line has to do with it, but the rest of it applies!
Know when to walk away. I recently read a wonderful blog post by Christian author Patrica Hickman. She spoke about her early experiences in the publishing world. Many experts told her the type of story that she needed to write in order to get published and win readers. She finally learned that she needed to step away from the cookie-cutter advice and learn to write her "passion." Sometimes you need to walk away from all the advice and the "rules" and make a concious choice to write your heart. It's a bit of a gamble, sure... but that's what we're talking about here, right? Of course, I'm not suggesting to ignore every piece of advice -- otherwise you wouldn't be here reading this. Just don't let it quench your passion.
Know when to run. Some new writers are "taken in" by schemes that are not really designed to get you published, but to make money for others. If an agent tells you that they will represent you for a fee -- that's a scam. Agents make money when YOU make money, not before. Also, beware of publishers who offer to print your book for a fee. There are legitimate self-publishing outfits out there and then there are scams designed to prey on desperate, frustrated writers. If you decide to self-publish, do your research. Contact other writers who have self-published and find out the real costs. If someone is trying to make money off of you, don't walk -- RUN.
You never count your money when you're sitting at the table. I think this goes along with the whole counting your chickens before they are hatched wisdom. Yes, writers sometimes make money, but they rarely make a fortune unless their name is J.K. Rowling. Make sure that you are pursuing this dream because you have a passion and a calling for writing. Don't expect to become a household name or filthy rich.
There'll be time enough for counting -- when the dealing's done. Also, do not assume that because an editor or agent expressed interest in your work that you are now set for life. There are an incredible number of hoops to jump through and it's possible to trip at any point. Also, even if you do secure a lucrative advance (I can dream, right?) keep in mind that you will probably need to pour some of that money into self-marketing. Publishers are now expecting writers to carry much of the marketing load themselves.
Obviously, there's a lot more to getting published than these simple hints, but these fit nicely into the framework of the song. I strongly encourage you to do your research, learn from the best and follow your passion. But most of all, I hope that by reading these lines, you found "an ace that you can keep."
Monday, January 11, 2010
I just realized that my last post was from mid-December. Did anyone wonder why I'd dropped off the face of the earth? Well, mainly it was due to my kids being home for Christmas vacation. We kept ourselves busy with board games, Christmas movies and decorating gingerbread houses and the like. Somehow blogging just didn't fit into that schedule.
But my kids have been back in school for a few weeks... so what's going on? Well, I've got to admit, I'm having trouble putting together any interesting thoughts. I am chin-deep in edits on Shaken, so that's caused me to be a bit preoccupied. I could blog about that, but I've done that so frequently lately, that's I'm starting to feel like I'm whining.
So, since I can't come up with any cohesive thoughts, here are a few random ideas that my disorganized mind has been pondering this week.
1. I'm so glad God doesn't give up on editing ME. I am such a work in progress and I am thankful that He doesn't just throw up His hands and say, "Enough! I'm tired of dealing with you."
2. I started a new Beth Moore bible study today on the book of Revelation. I loved how she compared the symbology of Revelation to God using a flannelgraph to explain concepts that we just can't wrap our finite minds around. God using flannelgraph. That makes me smile.
3. If God, the creator, was an artist -- Jesus was the ultimate storyteller (Another idea from Beth Moore). He explained God's Kingdom using parables. How better to keep presenting God's message to our world than through fiction?
So, what have YOU been pondering this new year?