Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Daughter's wedding

I gave David Piearcy one of the most precious things I have when I gave away my daughter Teri at her wedding. She was absolutely beautiful and I was absolutely proud.

Walking her down the aisle

Saundra and I with the bride and groom flanked by Teri's daughter Mandy and son Jacob.

Saying their vows

Leaving in a flurry of bubbles

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My deadbeat Uncle

My Uncle Jack has a problem with obsessive spending. He owes everybody but he can’t stop. When the bank cuts him off he starts writing hot checks and when that gets too hard he goes down in his basement and starts printing money himself. There’s only one way to make him stop, we lock him up where he can’t do it any more.

My Uncle Sam has a problem too. Like Uncle Jack he too is writing checks he can’t cover and he also has a printing press so he can print his own money. As attractive as it sounds we can’t lock him up where he can’t do it any more because there is one difference; people cover his losses. And what the people don’t give him, he can borrow from the world.

But more and more the world is having trouble too and the time is about to come when they quit loaning Uncle Sam forty cents of every dollar he sends. And if he just keeps running those printing presses after that the money he prints will keep getting more and more diluted until it is worthless. We’ve all heard the stories about how Germany did this after WWII until it took a whole wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread.

There is just one thing left to do, the people have to give him more money. The problem is 8.6% of the people don’t have jobs so they are taking money from him, not giving it. No wait, there’s another 10% who have given up looking for work so they aren’t counted in those numbers and neither are the ones that are underemployed and also still getting money as well. That means at least one in five are not putting money in but are taking it out. Our response to the problem is illogical, we increase the credit limit to allow even more borrowing. What? Are you kidding me?

Every time our leaders make a speech it is about spending more money. Every time Congress gets in session they are talking about how to spend more money. Money we don’t have. Money we have to borrow. We don’t hear them saying it because we are distracted since they are not talking about spending money, they are talking about programs. A program is a good thing, right? We all want the things these programs offer, right? When I was a kid and walked into a candy store everything looked good too, but I didn’t have credit to borrow money and didn’t have a printing press so even though the candy was good I couldn’t have it. When did we forget that lesson?

Uncle Jack is under control, he’s locked up where he can’t spend money he doesn’t have. But what do we do about Uncle Sam, put it off until people quit lending him the money he needs to keep up his spending habits and the printing presses have run until money is worthless? Put it off until 30% or 40% of the people are taking money from the government instead of giving it? What will the money they are getting from the government be worth anyway?

We have to make my Uncle Sam quit spending money he doesn’t have, but how?

And when?

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Awkward Situation

It's a lot like getting a divorce.

Over the past few years I have seen some friendships break up over writers working on a book together. I can't say it is something I have enjoyed being involved in. There are a lot of reasons it can happen, but it does happen.

I don't mean to suggest that it ALWAYS happens, there are some terrific books written by teams of writers who work well together and who end up maybe even better friends for the experience. But then there are these other ones...

I saw a two book deal go down the tubes because the writers could no longer work together. I saw not just one but several cases of ladies who had been friends for many years no longer on speaking terms. In one case, the authors weren't communicating and everything was being passed through me. Not fun. I'm dealing right now with a lawyer presiding over another break-up. That's what brought this blog to mind.

In the cases I have been connected with it has always been ladies but I surely don't mean to infer that is always the case. I'm aware of a number of situations where it has happened with male writers as well.

What's the answer? I believe it lies in having a clear understanding up front and getting it down in writing in a letter of understanding or a collaboration agreement. I think this is a really good idea even if the people that are planning the project together are wonderful friends and think it could never happen to them.

In the document there should be agreement on who is taking the lead and what happens if they disagree on changes to be made to the manuscript. There should be agreement on how the copyright will be listed, on who is going to do what in the writing. It should address things like who will arbitrate disagreements, how each will get paid. It should address if they are actually forming a partnership or have a disclaimer that states that is not their intention. There should be a statement that the term of the agreement would coincide with the life of the work.

Who has the say on expenses? Can they be incurred without mutual agreement? In the event that one or more is unwilling or unable to continue or complete the work the others may complete the task and the authors agree to discuss and modify the understanding in regards to the new pro-ration of work. If an understanding cannot be reached there needs to be an agreement to submit to arbitration.

Finally, the legalese:

The terms and conditions of this agreement shall be binding and inure to the benefit of the executors, administrators and successors of each of us. Our respective signatures herein below shall constitute this to be a complete and binding agreement between us. This agreement may not be assigned by any party without prior written consent of the others, except that any party may assign his share of the gross proceeds hereunder to a third person, subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement.

These things can be handled so much better before things happen than after there is stress and hard feelings involved, and having it spelled out in advance can avoid some of the situations. That's my take on it anyway.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is age a factor in writing?

People come up to me at conferences, programs and workshops and say "Am I too (old/young) to start writing? That depends, do we have something to say? Are we willing to spend the time necessary to learn our craft? Some tell me they are XXX age and don't have time to spend years trying to get a writing career established. If that's the case, publish it yourself, give a few copies to your friends and relatives and you'll feel better.

But if we are serious about wanting to write and write well, people aren't born knowing how to do that. Someone who can cook a good hot dog is not qualified to open a restaurant, and someone who can tell a good story is not qualified to write it in a manner that deserves publication. Not without learning some skills. With age comes experiences that can fuel delightful stories but if it means we are set in our ways and not open to learning these skills and not open to revision, then yes, we can be too old to get started. 

Too young to get started? In a recent discussion in a big writing group I was struck by the number of writers who said they had started trying at a very young age and had remained determined. I first published in the Jr High newspaper and in a state-wide poetry anthology, so I can relate.

I had a great experience a couple of years back doing a workshop for the Groom Texas school district. There were kids from the fifth grade through high school. It was a delightful experience and they asked great questions and showed a lot of interest. Well, the older high school kids were far too "cool" to show open interest, but the rest did. The following year the writing group in this area, the Panhandle Professional Writers, sponsored a writing contest for young people. In blind competition where the judges knew nothing of the identity of the person submitting, the Groom kids practically swept the field. One teacher in the district is an active writer and I'm sure had a lot to do with that. I hope I had a little to do with it as well.

There are some writing opportunities specifically open to younger writers. A number of them are writing more than they realize with the advent of blogs, chat rooms and online opportunities such as Facebook and Twitter. You would think perhaps young people don't have the patience to develop skills and to endure the rejections that are an integral part of getting published, but I find just the opposite is true. Because of their age they expect more of this, and the ones that are committed expect to have to build experience and skills and calmly go about doing so.

I don't think age works against them, but it is true that lack of experience can. I recently had a book proposal from a teenager wanting to publish a book that contained deep philosophical insights. The writing wasn't too bad, but I'd never be able to convince an editor that someone of his age had the experience base to form all of these "deep philosophical insights."  We may be missing the boat, but I know what the odds are and need to spend my time where I've got a better shot.

Can we be too young or too old to get started? Yes, but do you see what they have in common? One has a wealth of experience but maybe is an age where undertaking a substantial learning effort to get the skills they need is more of an investment than they want to make. The opposite pole is young people who are used to learning but lack the life experiences that they need. This makes me believe it isn't about age at all, but about learning what they need to know to be successful and being willing to do it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What's your 'voice'?

How did you find your unique writing voice? Did you struggle to find it or did it come easily to you?

Let me put my writing hat on for a minute, the one in the picture, I don't get to wear it much these days. In my opinion if somebody is struggling to find "their writing voice" they're trying to force it. My writing voice is not the way I talk, my West Texas Drawl, it is who I am.

It's the sum total of my education, my upbringing, my faith, my family, my experiences and it comes through in the way I write, even when I am trying to craft dialogue where the character speaks far differently than how I would speak myself. Some of my characters would speak much as I do, others speak far differently, but always no matter what is going on in the dialogue there are ways I would phrase things and ways that I wouldn't. There are things I would allow in my writing and things I wouldn't. The way I craft sentences, the pacing of my writing, these are the things that make up voice, not the way I speak or make my characters speak. I think far too many writers mistake dialogue for "voice."

--How would you describe your unique writing voice? What is it that you do to make sure your writing "sounds like" you?

My writing style is simple, because that's what I am, a simple old cowboy. If I tried to write complicated literary fiction it wouldn't work because then I would be outside my voice. I write simple, fast-moving stories and even if I'm not trying to do so, my faith is still evident. As long as I stay true to my upbringing I don't have to worry about my voice, it'll be there.

--When reviewing submissions, what do you as an agent look for in others' writing? How do you identify a writer's voice?

I look for the same thing, is the writing natural? I don't try to identify a writer's voice and style but I can tell when it is contrived, when it is not natural. When it is forced it can seem pompous, the story doesn't seem to flow easily, it sounds like the writer is using words and phrasing they are not comfortable with. It feels very much as if they are trying to be something they aren't.

--What advice would you give to beginning/intermediate writers to help them find and develop their unique writing voice?

Don't over-think it. Tell your story, then look at what you've written and see if it sounds like you or if it sounds like you are trying to be someone else. Not the dialogue, we all try to be someone else in the dialogue and sound the way we feel that character should sound, but in the general tone and style of the writing. Does it feel natural, or does it feel like you are trying to write like somebody else? If someone were sitting there with you, is this the way you'd tell them a story?

That's voice.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Campfire Companion


Have a reader on your list that likes Christmas? Or likes westerns?

Or Both?

Fourteen of America's top western writers publishing today have contributed delightful Christmas stories to this collection, fourteen saddle-hardened writers who reached down to give a glimpse of  their sensitive side. Each story is a gift, and each a take on Christmas . . . a western Christmas.

Livia Reasoner (Livia J. Washburn) has been writing award-winning, critically acclaimed Western, mystery, romance, and historical novels for more than twenty-five years.

Troy D. Smith  has published eight books and more than fifty short stories and magazine articles and was a 2001 winner of the Spur Award, the western writer's equivalent of the academy award.

Frank Roderus is a well-published author of over 300 books, twice received the most prestigious award
a western writer can receive, the Spur Award.

Tim Champlin (pseudonym of John Michael Champlin) is the author of 30 historical novels over the past 30 years as well as 35 short stories and non-fiction articles.

Larry D. Sweazy won the WWA Spur award for Best Short Fiction in 2005, and was nominated for a Derringer award in 2007 and has published over 50 non-fiction articles and short stories. 

Robert Vaughan sold his first book when he was 19 years old, and, under his own name and several pseudonyms, he has sold more than 400 books, including approximately 200 Westerns. He has hit the NY Times, Publishers’ Weekly, and USA Today bestseller lists numerous times, and is the recipient of the
Spur Award (SURVIVAL, writing as K.C. McKenna).

Douglas Hirt won the Colorado Authors’ League Top Hand Award. His 1998 book, BRANDISH,
and 1999 DEADWOOD, were finalists for the SPUR award given by the Western Writers of America.He is short story writer, and the author of thirty-two novels and one book of nonfiction.

Dusty Richards is the author of a hundred western novels under his name and pseudonyms. He’s won two Spur Awards, one for a novel called “The Horse Creek Incident” and the other a short story on Amazon.com, “The Comanche Moon.” He also received the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center’s Wrangler award for his book, “The Sundown Chaser.”

Kerry Newcomb was born in Connecticut but had the good fortune to be raised in Texas. Newcomb is a New York Times bestselling author with over forty novels to his credit. He has been published in several countries.

Matthew P. Mayo’s short stories appear in a variety of anthologies, and have been finalists in both Western Writers of America Spur Awards and Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards.  He also contributes to several popular series of Western and adventure novels and has a number of non-fiction books.

Robert J. Randisi is the author of more than 540 books in the Western, Private Eye, Men’s Adventure, and Horror genres under a number of pen names. As J.R. Roberts he is the creator and author of the long
running series “The Gunsmith.” He also wrote and created the Tracker, Angel Eyes, Bounty Hunter, Mountain Jack Pike.

Rod Miller is author of Things a Cowboy Sees and Other Poems, published by Port Yonder Press. Other recent work includes a historical novel, The Assassination of Governor Boggs as besides poetry and
fiction, he writes nonfiction, magazine articles, book reviews, and essays.

James Reasoner has been a professional writer for more than thirty years. In that time, he has authored several hundred novels and short stories in numerous genres. Best known for his Westerns, historical novels, and war novels, he is also the author of two mystery novels that have achieved cult followings, TEXAS WIND and DUST DEVILS. Writing under his own name and various pseudonyms, his novels have garnered praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

They even allowed me to hang out with them in this collection:

Terry Burns writes Christian fiction with a western theme and  has over 40 books in print, including 10 novels. He has a two-book set from Port Yonder Press, included in The Sagebrush Collection. These contain the best of his short stories and a Young Adult book, Beyond the Smoke,  won the Will Rogers Medallion in 2009.

How long has it been since you read stories from such well know authors? Well, that's too long.

It is now available for order at http://tinyurl.com/campfire-companion

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's Thanksgiving!

Oh yeah, turkey and dressing, side dishes, deserts and good friends to share the meal, then there is the football game coming up and . . .

and . . .

what am I thinking? Thanksgiving is not about food and football.

The name says it all. Thanksgiving is about stopping to count our blessings and to give thanks to our creator for all He has given us, and I don't know about you but Saundra and I have been blessed far beyond what we have any right to expect.

The greatest blessing, that I'm afraid we Christians too often take for granted, is the gift of our salvation. We didn't earn that and there is nothing we could do to deserve it. It is an unthinkable gift from a loving father, one we don't stop to give thanks for often enough.

Then there is our health, we are indeed blessed there. Sure, at our age we have some small issues, but overall we have been blessed in that department our entire lives.

We're blessed with family, five kids, ten grandkids, one great-grandson and yet another great grandkid on the way. What a huge blessing, and they are all happy and healthy and we are immensely grateful.

We have a nice home that is paid for and fits our needs very well. We don't have a lot of money but our finances are stable and we have what we need. Oh sure, there are things that we want, we wouldn't be human if there weren't things we'd like to have, but I can't think of a thing that we REALLY NEED that we don't have.

We really miss mom, particularly on holidays, but we console ourselves knowing how wonderfully happy she is and who she is with. Today of all days I remember a statement she made to me once, "I've never been hurt, never been mistreated, never been hungry. I've walked with the Lord all my life and it has been a wonderful life." She said something like that just months before she passed on, and thinking back on it that would pretty much go for me as well. I've had some hard times, but overall have been blessed my entire life and like mom have walked with the Lord for all of it.

I'm going to cut me off a big slice of gratitude and completely cover it with praise gravy because that is going to be my main focus today, giving thanks. And maybe having a little dressing on the side.

What have YOU got to be thankful for?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Soldiers Serve with Heart" to present Wogbook's to Deploying Soldiers at DFW Airport in USO Event

Dinner and entertainment are provided while the soldiers receive orders of their deployment. “As a veteran it is heart warming to see the response of so many volunteers wanting to show their support of our Military families on a day when most are thinking about being home,” said Ryan Lynn, founder of Soldiers Serve With Heart. “Last year I actually ran into a soldier from my unit who was re-deploying, it was awesome to connect with him on this special day.”

In addition to dinner, gift bags will be provided to the Soldiers by Monster Energy Drinks, and Crossover Publications will provide copies of its latest release, WOGBOOK - The KJV400NT Edition books.

WOGBOOK, the Words of God in a book, (written by Terry's client Randall Mooney) provides a uniquely spiritual reading experience. By removing the verse numbers and reworking the structure into a more fluid flow of information and dialogue, we have created a New Testament book that can be read in only a few days. This structure allows one to read the book many times over and to find the inspiration and wisdom for life’s journey. Discover the Words of God in a refreshingly new way. This unique approach to reading the New Testament allows the reader to experience the whole story of Christ and the Christian life in a book format.

For more information about Soldiers Serve with Heart, WOGBOOK, and Crossover Publications, visit the site and link at www.crossoverpublications.com.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is Amazon putting coal in small publishers’ stockings for Christmas?

Some authors’ books which last week were listed as available (ship in 1-2 days) are now listed as 5-8 weeks or 6-9 weeks or some 1-2 weeks. There doesn’t seem to be any discernable logic about what is marked with what availability. It doesn’t take a genius to see what marking a book as ‘available in 5-8 weeks’ means at this time of the year. So, what’s the deal?

Many of these books marked with such a delivery time are available right now, and if an order is placed at Amazon, it will indeed ship right away, but how is the public to know that? And if someone is ordering a book as a Christmas present how would they have any faith that they would receive it in time with the delivery date marked like that?

Amazon is the big gorilla in book sales expected by some to sell over 80% of the books in the market. What’s the old story about “where does a 500 pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants to. Is that what’s going on here?

Actually, I can’t think of any reason Amazon would want people to think books they could be selling would not be in stock until after Christmas. Selling those books is what they do. Another small publisher told me when he saw that on some of his titles he quickly ordered a copy through them and it updated immediately. That’s the kind of thing that makes it look like a software glitch, not some kind of action they have taken.

As we get closer, you can expect me to talk about Christmas not being about gifts, but rather to remember whose birthday we celebrate. I very much believe that, and bristle every time someone tells me “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” But even if we put our priorities in the right place we do have to take care of business too.

Retailers make or break their year on Christmas sales and it is important to booksellers, publishers and authors as well. In today’s economy with money very tight we don’t need software problems throwing roadblocks in the way of making the most of the season. I’m told that they are working hard to correct the problem and I hope it gets resolved very soon.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is this a good time of the year to send proposals?

You know that I am often asked a question that I feel it would be good to answer to others as well. One of my clients just asked such a question. Is this time of the year a good time to send a proposal?

The answer is yes and no. 

The publishing industry pretty much goes dead between Thanksgiving and after the first of the year, at least for the larger houses. However, a lot of editors use that time to catch up on their reading. But they have a lot of trouble moving on something because they can't get the necessary meetings together to make acquisitions because of holiday scheduling. So they are reading but probably not buying? That's how it tends to work.

That means they are probably only responding to the ones they are going to pass on. It's a time for cleaning off their desk and narrowing it down to the ones they want to try and move on when everybody gets back to work. It's a good time to get something read, but we don't want them responding because a response would probably be negative.

That's what I mean by yes and no.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Books and Covers

 Having four authors with books coming out from one publisher within days of each other is not a normal function around here, but it's kinda cool. Oak / Tara Publishing is releasing "Thyme for Love" by Pamela S. Meyers on November 14th. "April Love has always dreamed of being a chef. But she didn't expect a former fiance' or murder to be part of the recipe for her new job." This is the first book in a three book series.

Lynda Lee Schab's "Mind Over Madi" is set to release November 15th from Oak / Tara. This is the first of the The Madi Series, Delightful. Witty. Entertaining. Real. Poignant.Light-hearted Women’s Fiction at Its Best.
Madi McCall admits her husband lacks a little in the romance department, but all in all, he’s been a good husband, a good father. Now, though, she suspects Rich is having an af  air with Fawn Witchburn, the mother of one of his fourth-grade students. To say Fawn shows of   her “assets” more than should be legally allowed in public is an understatement, and Madi’s insecurities kick into high gear. When, in a heated moment, she asks Rich to leave and he complies, Madi is forced to deal with her issues. Issues of love and trust she’s tried so hard to avoid. Issues that trail all the way back to her childhood and make her act like a total moron.

Suzanne Hartmann's "Peril" is set to release from Oak / Tara November 18th. This is the first of a three book series.

A top secret agent with enhanced strength must use her extraordinary abilities during several high-profile assignments from the White House to NASCAR tracks. When unwanted publicity threatens to expose her, she herself becomes a terrorist target, with danger surrounding her on all sides.
“Plenty of action and unexpected twists.”
Foreword by Jimmy Makar, General Manager of Joe Gibbs Racing
Also endorsed by the founder and director of Midwest Raceway Ministries.

Jonathan Wakefield's "Fatal Reality" is set to release from Oak / Tara November 18th. This is the book that best-selling author James Scott Bell said "Grabs you from the start and doesn't let go." Fatal Reality is an action-packed reality show in a book in a contest where only the winner will be allowed to live. When media celebrity Kyle Borders wins a spot on Extreme Mortality, the biggest reality show ever, he's determined to live out his faith before a worldwide audience.

In addition to the above titles, Randall Mooney's "WOGBOOK" releases on 11/11/11 at 11am from Crossover Publications. Randall feels that fewer teens are not reading the Bible much because they don't relate to the language. There are a lot of translations out there that deal with this but the WOGBOOK  (Word of God Book) is a New Testament that is true to the King James Bible but written not as a Bible but an easy to read book. None of the verses have been omitted and the author has made no effort to offer a private interpretation of the words or text. This is something truly unique and is intended to easily be read over and over again.

Max Elliott Anderson's "Terror at Wolf Lake" is releasing from Comfort Publications. Max is the author of 36 middle reader "books for boys" and has a very strong following. Eddy Thompson was known for one thing and one thing only. Eddy was a cheater. He cheated on anything, anytime, anywhere, until something happened up at Wolf Lake. It wasn't the brutal cold. It wasn't when he fell through the ice. It wasn't even when two scary men arrived at their remote cabin. What happened would change Eddy's life... forever.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Interesting New Development

Interesting new development indeed

I was at Lifeway Christian Store to get a song to sing Sunday and it was the first time we’ve used Lifeway’s new system to burn accompaniment tracks in house. Several thousand songs that you just look up and if they have it you can listen to it and then burn the track right there. 

Too cool. 

It immediately made me think that it won’t be long until books will be printed that way too. A number of larger stores can already do it. I was talking to the Mardel’s rep at ACFW and they are already putting the POD systems in their stores.

It’s a brave new world. Authors or artists still earn their royalties just like a print book and they can AFFORD TO SHELVE AUTHORS THAT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE ACQUIRED IN PRINT FORM because they didn’t have the name identification to merit the expenditure. I think that’s going to be a win-win. Even new authors can be shelved in stores they formerly did not have available to them. Not only that, but it means they will be able to keep our backlist available for sale.

Author who have backlist titles know how difficult it is, even with a new book out, to have places that will allow us to sell backlist titles while we are having a signing for the new one. Now they can go over and have the book run off and bring it right over to be signed. 

I know this capability is starting to be available but don’t know how quickly we will start seeing it, particularly outside of the major stores in the large cities. But it is interesting to think about, isn’t it?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Confession Time by Emily Reynolds

Re-posting with permission from the blog of the Wayside Press imprint of Written World Communications. http://waysidepress.blogspot.com/2011/10/confession-time-by-emily-reynolds.html

Emily C. Reynolds is not only an assistant to agent Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency, but she is also the recent winner of Novel Rocket's Launch Pad Contest for contemporary romance. (There, you must call her Mme Hendrickson.) I asked her to share her timeline for success as she continues her writing journey. I hope her words encourage you. You'll find Emily at home here. 

Occasionally, other voices will show up here. Perhaps even yours. If you have something you'd like to say about writing or editing, about the process or the wait or the frustration or the joy, leave a comment or send me an email and let's talk about it.

Normandie Fischer, Editor, Wayside Press

 An Insider's Look 

 It’s confession time.

For quite a while, I didn’t talk about being a writer, and not merely because writing is a solitary pursuit. First, I’m not published, and there are some who’d dismiss me as a poser. Second, it takes a long time to create a novel from start to finish. And once you do, the process has only begun. It goes something like this:

1) Write the Masterpiece. This takes a long time. For most people it takes at least a year --  if they’re good at it. For many, the process may take up to ten years.

2) Have the Masterpiece critiqued. I call this “unleashing the hounds.” This is where you straighten your spine and let several trusted critique partners have at your ‘baby’ because they’ll tell you the truth. They’ll go to work, pointing out all the plot holes and narrative slumps, the scene/sequel issues and character arcs, and—my personal weak area—issues with goals, motivations, and conflicts.

3) Rewrite the Masterpiece. Now, you have to go back and rewrite most of the story at least once and more likely several times. My first book was gutted and rewritten 7,359 times. I counted. But the writing's better, which keeps me from regretting the blood, sweat, and tears.

4) Pitch the finished Masterpiece. Hopefully, you’ve been scouting the industry for a while now and have a good idea of who might best fit your project. You've taken courses and read writing blogs and learned about different agents. You know which ones represent your genre and what each requires for a submission.
You write a synopsis (one page summary of your entire book). That alone can take several weeks. You poke and prod and tweak those first three chapters of your book until they SING, because they’re your one shot. That’s all an agent is going to look at to make his/her decision. If you’re blessed, the agent will love it and request the full manuscript.

5) Wait. You wait for so long you wonder if you really did hit ‘send’ on that email query. While you wait you start working on your next Masterpiece. Eventually the rejections come. You soldier on with book 2, trying not to let the rejections of your Masterpiece rattle you. Eventually, your query finds the right agent. Maybe the agent wants substantial edits. Now you have to rewrite some more. (see point 3) and resubmit.

6) Agent starts shopping the Masterpiece. This takes even longer. Months and months as the agent tries to prove to a publishing house editor that your project is just perfect for that house.

7) Wait some more. And work harder to learn everything you can about the craft of writing. You continue to go to conferences to make connections with industry professionals and talk to editors about your writing projects. You continue to write, you read everything you can in your genre (and outside your genre), and you wait.

And that’s where I am right now.

It requires more patience than I ever imagined. It requires being okay with the process and not merely with the end point, something I’m not very good at.

Here's an interesting thing I learned not too long ago: when the Israelites escaped Egypt and headed to the Red Sea they walked right up to it and then had to WAIT until God moved. I had never picked up on that part before. God didn’t part the waters as the people headed that way. They got to the edge of the Red Sea first, and took a good long gander at that vast expanse of oceanfront. With the Egyptians (interestingly enough a symbol of the world and our struggles against the flesh) coming right up behind the Israelites in a less-than-friendly manner, God made them wait right there on the brink. They couldn’t go forward and they couldn’t go back.

One might say, stuck.

God drove them to the threshold and made them wait. They had to exist in liminal space, the place between what was and what will be.

Like taking a step of faith . . . except without the step-taking part.

Waiting. Being. Resting in the knowledge that He’s got you right where He wants you.

“I’m going to show the courage not to retreat back to what was and I’m going to be patient not to jump into what I think ought to be, but I'm going to stand in liminal space. I am going to trust that as I stand on the threshold it is pregnant with the possibilities of God.” –David Jensen

It’s hard, standing on the edge and looking out over the possibilities, trying to be okay with the “spaces in between” that sometimes feel heavy enough to crush you. I’m trying to be at peace on the threshold, trying to stay at peace as I wait on the cusp of this writing adventure. Because I don’t have a clue about this wild ride God is taking me on.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My first movie premier

I was invited to the premier of a delightful Christian movie entitled Footprints. The premier was being held in the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the State of Texas in Mineola, Texas. It was being held there because the community theater group there gave actor/screenwriter/director and producer Jim Huggins his start in theater. It was quite a gala affair and Saundra and I enjoyed it tremendously.

So why me?  Why was I invited?

Actually Jim contacted me some time ago and said he had been told that I was the guy to take his screenplay and turn it into a novel to accompany the movie. I have done some of that before, but never when I had an actual movie to look at as I worked on it.

A shot of Saundra and I with the cast members that were present.

A shot of me with Jim Huggins who wrote the screenplay based on his own life. He produced and directed the movie. Usually a screen play is adapted from a book so maybe they try to make the movie follow the book as well as they can. In this case the movie came first and it was essential for the book to match up with it as much as possible. Since it was a fictionalization of real events that made it more important to be a close fit.

The book is now in the hands of several publishers who are strongly considering it. The movie is going into distribution now and a DVD version should be able to be ordered soon. It will make you run the gauntlet of emotions but is a powerful story of God's redemption as well as a story of how to think out of the box when it comes to being a witness for God. You can email info@newshepherdfilms.com to be put on a list to be notified when the DVD is available, and yes, maybe my hat got a little tight when there was a full screen credit at the end with my name and telling people to look for the book.