Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas

This is one of my favorite Christmas pictures. One of the last we had with mom before she passed on. She was very much on my mind this time of year. We miss her.

Christmas always brings a mixture of memories and feelings for me. A number of years ago some of us were watching a Statler Brothers Christmas program and the question was posed to them as to what the best and worst Christmas was that they had ever experienced.

Someone said that was unrealistic because who would know the answer to that question?

I did know the answer.

My worst Christmas was when I lost my only sibling, my brother Trent at Christmas time only a few months after my father had passed on. I had to fight my way home that year on highways that were closed because of snow. When the highway patrol flagged me down and said I couldn't go I asked if they were making me stop? They said they couldn't do that but I told them there was no way I was going to let mom be alone on her first Christmas without dad. I made it but it was tough, then to get the news about Trent on top of that? Wasn't much Christmas cheer that year.

The best one? Just as easy. I got the chance to sit in a candlelight Christmas Eve service at the First Baptist Church in Orange, Texas, and watch both of my kids get get baptized. I can still smell the pine garlands in the windows heated by the candles and giving off a smell I still associate with Christmas. The congregation was all holding candles as well and the tears in my eyes made pinpoints of all of those delicate lights to give the scene a magical appearance. That was many, many years ago and I can still call it to mind as if it only happened yesterday.

Perhaps everyone has a best and worst, I do know that sometimes it can be a difficult time of year. If you have a 'worst' I really hope you had a faith base where the comforter was there for you to see you through it as mother and I had. And I know you had a 'best' and in all honesty I hope you've had so many that it is hard to decide which one.

As for this year? I hope you have a happy and joyous celebration of the birth of our Lord.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Did the big storm help or hurt writers?

Most of the country has been impacted at one time or another by the major cold front that has blanketed the US over the past few days. It could have impacted writers in a variety of ways. My top ten list for how it could have affected writers either in a good or a bad way:

1. It could have given writers unexpected writing time as they hunkered down to wait it out particularly if they could not get in to work

2. Conversely, it could have destroyed any chance of writing that was planned by trapping a writer home with kids, kids unable to get outside and burn off pent up energy.

3. Unexpected time at home could have caused an editor to take a look at your submission if they had access to it there. That could be good or bad depending on whether they rejected it or not.

4. If it wasn't rejected, the chances of getting a positive response (already made difficult by the ability to get decision people together during the holiday season) was made even more difficult. But at least you're out of the inbox and marked for consideration.

5. It may have kept a writer from getting to a critique group meeting when they needed the input on their WIP.

6. The power going off may have forced a writer to fall back on a Big Chief tablet and number two pencil - or may have turned off all video games and TV leaving kids unplugged  (see item 2)

7. Could writers have had more writing time if they hadn't gotten so caught up in the coverage of the storm on TV and social media?

8. Then there is the client who thought it was a negative that she didn't get the snow because she loves it! Who knew getting missed by the storm could be a bad thing?

9. Writers lured away from writing by outdoor ice activity and movies on the tube with family. Not to mention added storm related chores.

10. The weather can seep in and give you the blahs making it difficult to string 2-3 sentences together, but sometimes a fire in the fireplace or even a scented candle can chase away the blahs and set the mood for some writing time.

What am I missing? Do you have something to add where you were impacted, for better or for worse?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How much faith content?

Interesting question, and one that I proposed to my clients. I wanted each of them to rate the amount of faith content in each individual work on a scale from one to ten.

One told me their book was overtly Christian but she was unsure what that meant in a ranking on such a scale. To me the words overtly Christian puts a book in the upper half. The way I look at the scale, a ranking of “one” is little or no faith. A “five” means moderate faith content, and a “ten” means really in-your-face faith content. Those points are more-or-less black and white. For most of us we are deciding where we fall in between one and five, more toward one or toward the other or between five and ten, more toward one or the other. I believe taking the time to actually evaluate this is an important understanding for a Christian author to come to.

It is also helpful me in knowing how to represent their work. It’s no secret that Christian publishers are interested in faith content. Many mainstream publishers don’t want such content at all. Then there are publishers who fall at various points along the scale.

It is possible to have enough faith content that we rule out a number of the mainstream publishers but not enough content to interest the Christian publishers. That’s sort of a “no man’s land” in between. It doesn’t mean there is no place for a particular project, but it does mean that we have reduced the number of possibilities to a large degree.

I am looking at submissions constantly, have a large number of projects that I represent, and when you add in my senior memory it means every time I start to work on a project I have to spend a little time reminding myself what it is so I don’t confuse it with anything else. I don’t have to read the whole thing to accomplish that, just enough to be sure I’m thinking of the right manuscript. But if I have to decide how much faith content a particular work contains, that takes a lot of reading. I can save myself a huge amount of work by establishing that rating at some point and marking the work with it.

My clients seem to be learning a lot about themselves and about each other as they are going through this process and going through it on my client online group.