Busting The Writer Stereotype

 

When you think of an author which one of these photos fits the stereotype?

Here’s an interesting tidbit from my many years of attending writers’ conferences. Because I don’t fit the normal stereotype of an introverted shy writer, I talk to people. Complete strangers get my attention. I’ve discovered one interesting fact.

We are not cut from the same mold.

Not everyone who is a writer has been creating stories since they were able to pick up a crayon. Another myth busted.

During the course of these conversations with writers, I’ve discovered a few interesting categories.

  • The messengers.

They have one passion. It might be loving God, prayer, abuse, disabilities or a host of other topics. Everything they write focuses on that message. If it’s articles or books, the core theme remains the same. They felt called to share their heart through the written word.

  • The degreed.

These writers have BA, MA or PHDs. Not necessarily in writing or even English. Often they are retired. However, young college students or new graduates are part of this group. Writing for this group is either a new direction or a lifelong dream.

  • Lifelong learner.

Like me, we only have a high school diploma, but we educated ourselves over time and continued to learn what we don’t know about writing well.

  • Underachievers

This group were poor students in school, and English class was not their friend. A few admit to graduating in the bottom ten percent in college. Others only have a GED.

  • Accidental 

Illness or unemployement gave some wouldbe wrtiers time on their hands. So, they gave it a try.

  • Second language.

I’m always impressed when I meet writers who’ve mastered English and are able to articulate well on paper. Their determination to get it right is admirable.

This is not an exhaustive list.

No comparing

The point is there is no formula of what qualifies someone to take on writing as a career. Our differences give voice to our writing. Each individual journey has the same destination: publication. Whether it takes us a day or years to reach publication, it tastes as sweet.

Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others on the same journey. Because I never went to college, it’s easy to let tendrils of inferiority surround my self-esteem when in the presence of the degreed. Then I remind myself we’re two different breeds of wordsmiths, and I enjoy their company and our exchange of ideas.

The best place to look when you get a bit discouraged is your heart. It’s not about fitting into the perfect stereotypical mold. It’s not about degrees or loving English. It’s not even about being a shy introvert who loves being alone with words. Rather, it’s the call you feel on your heart. The need to put words on paper even if they aren’t very good. The passion to change lives. And the willingness to persevere.

I’m sure you’ve figured out the photos are all writer friends of mine. Not a stereotype among them.

Tell me about your writing journey. I’d love to hear about it.

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

 If you don’t want to miss a post of my continuing journey, please subscribe in the right hand column.

 

Conference Tip # 9 Dress For Success

Often people envision a writer as some shy soul who wears out-of-date clothes and blends in with the walls. At a conference be sure to project a different image. Dress for success is an old adage that still holds true. Don’t clone the look of your favorite author. Aim for conservative and comfortable.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on wardrobe, but you do need to leave your lounge pants, shorts and flip flops at home. (Flip flops might be Ok at a conference in Hawaii or Florida.) Choose clothes that reflect a serious attitude. You’re at the conference to meet people, get leads and promote your manuscripts. Dress so you are approachable.

Casual business defined.

Women’s business casual consists of dresses and skirts in conservative lengths. Slacks, not jeans; tops, not t-shirts; and avoid denim. If you want to pack light, think of mix and matching. Neutral shades with splashes of color. The same skirt or slacks can be paired with various tops. A jacket can be added to a short sleeve or sleeveless dress or blouse if the weather turns cool. Scarves always dress up a simple blouse and sensible shoes are a must. Jewelry is another way to dress up an outfit and give it a different look. And it may not need to be said but I will not assume—women be sure your cleavage is covered. The smile on your face and the words you share are the kind of attention you want to garner.

Men too should avoid jeans, shorts and too casual footwear. Trade in your T-shirts for polo shirts or dress shirts. Ties are nice for banquets and a jacket is always a great addition to a casual slack. Jackets are optional. A jacket over a polo or golf shirt can look sharp. Dress slacks or Dockers always look better than jeans. Casual Friday does not apply to conferences.

Make sure your hair is neat and your breath fresh. Altoids anyone?

You can still have your own style. Some friends I’ve meet at conferences wear cowboy hats, a loud jacket or fun ties. A conference I attended a few years ago had a woman dressing as a different Biblical character each day to promote her book of women of the Bible. Some conferences also have a costume ball or a gala. Be sure to have an appropriate outfit for those occasions.

Author John Turney in his signature cowboy hat.

Author John Turney in his signature cowboy hat.

There is always an exception to every rule. Check the dress code guidelines for your upcoming conference. Most conferences have them on their website. When in doubt dress your best.

What’s your favorite outfit for a writer’s conference?

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My Personal Pick of Books For Holiday Gift Giving

I love to read. What books have you read this year?

I love to read. What books have you read this year?

Over the last few years I have written almost 80 reviews. My goal is to reach 100 in 2015. Because I love to read and people often ask me for book recommendations I thought I’d share a list of some of the goodies I’ve read in past year.

Add some to your to-read-list or buy them for your favorite book worms.

I’ll divide them by genre and encourage you to check out my reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Some on this list are debut novels of exceptional quality. All of the authors have a wonderful grasp on the craft of writing and draw readers into their stories. This list reflects my love of reading and willingness to review books outside my own genre of historical.

Historical:

World War II settings:

With Music in Their Hearts by Carole Brown

Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice J Wisler

Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

Revolutionary War setting:

Fields of the Fatherless (YA book) by Elaine Cooper

1800s setting:

Kincaid Brides Trilogy by Mary McConeally

Trouble In Texas Series by Mary McConeally

Mystery:

The Cat Lady’s Secret (cozy) by Linda Yazak

Chapel Springs Revival (humorous) by Ane Mulligan

Murder on Edisto by C Hope Clark

The Simulacrum by Brad Seggie and Linda Yezak

Firewall (FBI Houston #1) by DiAnn Mills

Contemporary Fiction:

Breathing On Her Own by Rebecca Waters

Reservations For Two by Ann Patrick

Traveler’s Rest by Ann Tatlock

All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti

Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman

Lake Surrender by Carol Grace Stratton

Give The Lady A Ride by Linda Yezak

Fantasy:

Blood For Blood (Vampires, 1800s setting) by Ben Wolf

Innocent Blood; Equinox of Reckoning (Halloween setting with Celtic lore) by John Turney

Crossing Into The Mystic (The Crossing Trilogy #1) (Ghosts) by D L Koontz

Whiskey Sunrise (Crime Drama involving the supernatural) by John Turney

Devotionals:

Dare U To Open This (8-12 yrs. olds boys) by Carol McAdams Moore

Just Sayin’ (8-12 yrs. old girls) by Carol McAdams Moore

God, Me and Sweet Tea (women) By Rose Chandler Johnson

Hungry For God, Starving For Time (women) by Lori Hatcher

These are only a portion of the ones I read this year. Some authors I would recommend that may or may not have made this short list whose overall body of work are wonderful reads are C Hope Clark, DiAnn Mills, Brandilyn Collins, Virginia Smith, Gilbert Morris, Jerry B Jenkins, Carole Brown, Elaine Cooper, Mary Conneally, Cynthia Ruchti, and James Scott Bell.

What books have you read this year? Which ones would you recommend?

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Blood for Blood’s Creator-An Interview with Ben Wolf

Ben Wolf  is his own hero and villian.

Ben Wolf is his own hero and villian.

Today I welcome Ben Wolf, owner and founder of Splickety Publishing Group, to my blog. I met Ben Wolf at a writer’s conference a few years ago and have watched his career grow from there. After reading his debut novel Blood for Blood I wanted to invite him to take a seat in my very cluttered office to share a little about how he decided on his theme. For those of you who have not read my book review let me give you the one second recap: A vampire gets saved. Kind of weird yet intriguing at the same time. Hey, that kind of describes you, Ben. Let me clear off that chair over there and we can get started.

Tell my readers a little bit about yourself. The normal along with the weird.

Hi, Cindy. I’m both the hero and the villain in my own story, which makes for some interesting sword-fighting duels in my sleep. As you said, I’m the founder/owner/Executive Editor of Splickety Publishing Group, your source for the best flash fiction in the world. When I’m not working on Splickety stuff, people pay me small fortunes (emphasis on small) to freelance edit their writing, whether it’s nonfiction, fiction, or just about anything else.

I’m also the author of Blood for Blood, as you said in your delightful introduction. And yes, a vampire does get saved. The story focuses on what happens to him after that experience, specifically on how he tries to stop becoming a vampire and how other Christians treat him.

It’s obvious to anyone who meets you and follows you on Facebook that you write and love speculative fiction. How does this genre fit in the Christian market?

For readers who don’t know what spec fiction is, it’s anything weird: super heroes, vampires, aliens, fantasy, sci-fi, Steampunk, paranormal, supernatural and much, much more. As to its place in the Christian market…most of us are still trying to figure out exactly what that is. Right now the Christian market is dominated by romance and other inspirational genres (including historical). Suspense/thriller/crime/mystery stories are also up there, probably ahead of speculative fiction.

But that’s rapidly changing. Very, very rapidly. We’re poised to take over, and it’s going to be amazing. Within the next 10 years, I anticipate that you’ll see more and more Christian spec fiction (or just spec fic in general) on your bookshelves, and more on Amazon.com and other online retailers as well. The younger generation doesn’t go in for romance stories like previous generations have—they grew up with spec fic in pop culture, so that’s what they love. That’s what they write, that’s what they read, and that’s what they’ll be buying.

Blood for Blood Cover

Blood for Blood centers around a vampire. Why vampires?

Vampires, in their traditional form as set down primarily by Bram Stoker in Dracula, are diametrically opposed to everything that Christianity stands for. My friend Matt Sheehy, also an author, suggested to me that a vampire getting saved would be hilarious because of all the various vampire taboos he’d have to face as a result. I did a 10-part blog series on the particulars of what my main character Raven endures after he becomes a Christian and why vampires are vexed by Christian principles.

Beyond that, I wanted to explore the question of whether or not a vampire even could be saved. Traditionally, vampires don’t have souls. Therefore a vampire can’t be saved. However, we serve a God who is capable of doing the impossible. He raised Jesus, Lazarus, and others from the dead, and in Psalm 23 King David talks about God “restoring his soul,” so add a bit of fiction to it and hey, maybe this could actually work out.

An Italian evangelist was a surprise to me. Not your stereotypical minister. Talk a little bit about him and his goals.

Luco Zambini is the Italian evangelist in the story. He sort of takes Raven under his wing and tries to help him walk in his new faith. It’s unusual for an Italian in this time period to be non-Catholic, but not impossible, so Luco is an example of an exception. The fact that he’s Italian comes into play when Raven accidentally eats pasta sauce at Luco’s house that contains garlic.

Long story short, Luco’s intention is to prove to his congregation and his family that Raven is capable of genuine change because God is capable of inspiring that change. It’s his hope that Raven’s soul will be fully restored and that he’ll be able to walk in daylight again, just like normal humans do, and just like raven used to do when he was a human.

I found your theme compelling. This coming from a non-vampire reader. Psalms 23:5 is your focus scripture. The restoration of a soul is a wonderful thing. But taking it to the extreme of a soulless man was genius. Now that I’ve totally stroked your ego tell us what this verse means to you personally.

Thanks. My ego and I will sleep well tonight. For me, Psalm 23 (the entire chapter) was something my parents recited with me every night before bedtime when I was a kid. On some level, it must have stuck with me. The imagery of King David’s poetry is powerful and loaded with meaning beyond just the beautiful prose when you understand the context of some of the things he’s saying.

Suffice it to say that we all venture into that valley of the shadow of death at times, and we all need the Lord to guide us, me included. Psalm 23 is a great reminder of that.

This book is written with the new adult audience (young people in their 20s) in mind yet I haven’t seen that decade in a while and I enjoyed it. Pretend you’re speaking to a room full of people my age and share with us why we would find value in reading this story.

I’ve got two things to say to you on this matter: Blood for Blood may be geared for the “new adult” age range, but the principles of a good story are all there: a solid plot with believable characters, compelling conflict and tense interactions, and twists that you’ll never see coming. Tosca Lee, a New York Times bestselling author, said it best: “Action, humor, romance… Ben Wolf goes for the jugular and dares to ask: is anyone beyond the grace of God?”

As for reason number two, it is beneficial to know what folks of all ages are reading. If you’re not in that new adult range and you’re a YA reader, this book will still appeal to you. If you’re older than that new adult range, then you probably know some younger folks who would get a kick out of this book and other books like it. If you’re a parent or a grandparent to someone in the new adult or young adult range, then read this book to screen it for your loved ones, or just get it for them because it’s bound to be right up their alley.

It’s been great visiting with you and before you go can you share with my readers about Splickety’s magazines and how they can subscribe. Don’t forget to mention the anthology. And please feel free to promote yourself shamelessly.

Ben's Pic 2

Splickety always has some sort of deal going on, and right now so do I. Subscribing to Splickety’s magazines is as easy as visiting our website, clicking a few subscribe buttons, giving us your info, and then paying via PayPal. But there’s a better deal going on that isn’t currently on the website.

Right now, you can get a digital copy of my novel Blood for Blood AND a one-year digital subscription to Splickety’s magazines for $19.95 if you email me with the code B4B1995 at 1BenWolf@gmail.com. I’ll then provide instructions on where to mail the payment (or we can do PayPal) and we’ll make sure we get you signed up.

Normally the subscription alone costs $24.95, and Blood for Blood sells on Amazon for $4.99, so you’re saving about ten bucks with this deal. As Cindy said, our first-ever Splickety anthology is coming out soon as well, and that’ll be available for purchase soon after the new year rolls in.

If you’re looking for an editor, for consulting, or for a great public speaker, check out my website at www.benwolf.com, contact me, and we can talk about those things at your leisure.

I want to add how much I enjoy Splickety magazines. Great flash fiction coming to your email or mail box every month.  As Ben suggested check it out.

If you have any questions for Ben about his writing process, writerly things or vampires leave a comment.

To subscribe to my blog click the button on your right.

 

Blood For Blood A Surprisingly Satisfying Read

Blood for Blood CoverBlood for Blood the debut novel of Ben Wolf is not the sort of book I would normally read. But its unusual premise intrigued me. Psalms 23:3 He restoreth my soul is the theme verse for this new adult novel. (Adults in their 20s). This novel set in the 1800s isn’t focusing on any old body’s soul but a vampire. That part gave me pause I don’t read horror and never followed Twilight or any of the TV shows available today that feature vampires. But in the pages of Blood for Blood I found so many wonderful examples of the redemptive work of Christ. Reminders of how Christians judge the validity of someone’s salvation based on the level of sin in their former life.

Evangelist Zambini believes God can restore anyone’s soul and when he draws the soulless vampire Raven Worth toward the truth of God’s word interesting things happen. This author researched the folklore of vampirism and used his findings as a great foundation for the struggles of his protagonist. Those struggles parallel our very human Christian walk as Raven grows in faith and out of his vampire life.

There were surprise plot twists and the villain was not who I expected. Well-written and captivating. If you enjoy D L Koontz and Ted Dekker you will enjoy Blood for Blood. Even if you are an anti -horror reader like me you will find this story compelling and entertaining. If you are paying attention you’ll probably find a few choice nuggets of truth to meditate on as well.

Ben's Pic 2

Author Ben Wolf

Coming soon

Because this is so out of my wheelhouse when it comes to reading preference I wanted to pick the brain of this debut author regarding the creation of this story. Look for an indepth interview with Ben next week.

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