Larry W Timm shares His Suspense Writing Journey

Suspense writer Larry W. Timm is my guest today. I always love learning what passion brought an author to write their story.  I’m sure you’ll be encouraged by Larry’s journey.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

The power of words has always fascinated me. However, it wasn’t until the last ten years that I finally decided to chase this dream. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, and that led to some life-changing friendships that fueled the fire. I started studying the craft and business of writing, joined a local writer’s group, finished a couple of novels, started a few more, pitched my two finished manuscripts, refused to let rejections crush me, then signed a contract for my first book to be published with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The road has been tough—with plenty of ups and downs. But, at the same time, it has been a thrill. I’m glad I’m on the journey!

What is your latest published project?

My debut suspense novel is called MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE. It’s about three women who are being stalked by a man who believes they are responsible for his teenage daughter’s death. He has convinced himself that had the women not confronted his daughter, Emily, outside of the abortion clinic and convinced her not to end her pregnancy, she would still be alive.

But they had spoken to Emily, and she had listened. Emily had made the decision to let her child live. Sadly, however, a few months later, a rare complication would cause Emily’s death in the delivery room.

Now, her father, sinking deeper and deeper into dark despair, vows he will bury the three women, just like he had to bury his beloved daughter. And he’s sure that after he buries them, they will eventually die…for Emily’s sake.

How did you research your book?

I drew from a variety of sources when working on a story. Like most writer’s, there are tidbits from personal experience that I used with the hopes of adding depth or believability to a scene. I also contacted people who answered my many questions. I also used the internet and the library, as well as various materials I have gathered over the years.

Basically, I do as much research as I think I need to do to make something believable enough that it doesn’t stop a reader from enjoying the story.

 What inspired you to write your book?

MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE grew out of an intense desire to write a story that highlighted the gifts that God gives to us, starting with the gift of Life. I wanted to use suspense as the fiction vehicle to both entertain and enlighten. My goal was to paint an engaging word picture of how Life is not only one of God’s greatest gifts, it is also one of the most fragile. I pray that readers will see that the sanctity of human Life is not only threatened before birth, but many times it is threatened afterwards by choices we make.

I was also inspired by my experiences serving with and around others who are on the frontline of the intense work of defending the lives of the unborn.

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When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

My fascination with storytelling goes back as far as I can remember. But a sense of “calling” began directing that fascination after I became a Christian in 1981. At first, I wrote non-fiction (devotional articles, ministry-related articles, etc.), but always wanted to also write novels.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would it be?

I love this question! I would probably go back to the evening of January 18, 1981. That was the evening I became a Christian. I would pull myself aside and say, “Don’t wait to start writing novels! Get started now!”

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

This is easy to answer! My wife, Kristal, (and our family) is my best support system as I stumble my way down the writer’s pathway. She has always believed in me, and made me feel like this was possible. And she’s been willing to sacrifice so I could go to conferences, writer’s groups, buy books, and spend money on various writing-related things. She’s awesome. She understands that writers are “different” and she puts up with me.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Suspense is my favorite, but I will read books from other genres. I suppose I prefer reading and writing suspense because it keeps me engaged in the story.

 Where is your favorite place to write?

Oddly enough, I don’t have a “favorite” place. Or, at least, I haven’t found one yet. The best places for me to write are places with a comfortable chair and room for me to pace. And if Dr. Pepper and snacks are allowed and available, that’s a bonus!

What are your goals for your writer’s journey ahead?

I hope to travel on both the fiction and the non-fiction roads. I have one more novel completed, and a few others started. I also have a series of 10-day devotionals finished, and more on the drawing board. And recently, a good friend and fellow-writer urged me to write a non-fiction book describing my family’s battle with my daughter’s cancer. I will do the best I can to pursue all of these things.

What could readers of this blog do to help tell others about your book?

Since “word-of-mouth” promotion is the most effective form of getting others engaged, I’d be grateful if those who read and participate in Jubilee Writer’s would post my website information on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media venues they use. My website address is www.booksbylarrywtimm.com

Additionally, if someone reads—and likes—the book, I would appreciate it they would take the extra time to rate the book on Amazon and Goodreads. Obviously all 4 and 5-star reviews are helpful…especially 5 stars (wink, wink, grin).

Your novel sounds intriguing. I enjoyed having you as my guest.

Thank you very much for giving me the privilege of talking about my book, MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE.

More about the author:

Larry W. Timm is a husband, father, preaching minister with the Morton Christian Church is Morton, Illinois, and a writer.

Website: www.booksbylarrywtimm.com (the website has links for those who want to buy the book, as well as a “Contact” form for those who want to send a message to Larry.

 

If you find help and encouragement from author interviews like this one, and the writing tips I share don’t forget to subscribe. You can get Jubilee Writer in your email twice a week.

 

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Sarah Lynn Phillips Shares Her Story

My guest today is Author Sarah Lynn Phillips. Another Jubilee Writer. Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story  is a memoir of hope and inspiration. Welcome Sarah.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I’m from the Buffalo, New York area, went to college in Tennessee, and married a teacher/educator from Michigan. Barry’s work led us to a school near Rochester, NY and a college in Northeast PA. God has given us three wonderful daughters and all these years later, two little grandsons. My husband unexpectedly passed away in May 2015. I’m still adjusting . . . grateful for God’s grace every single day.

Besides college papers, I didn’t write much until about sixteen years ago. At that time, I took a community poetry class and discovered I really enjoyed it. I soon found the courage to submit some of my work to small houses, and to my delight, had a few poems published. Little by little I crossed over into prose and found some success writing devotionals and articles. My mom introduced me to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, and I later joined a critique group.

Share about your memoir.

In September 2016, Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story was published by Straight Street Books/Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. This inspirational memoir shares “My Story,” “God’s Story,” and invites the reader to reflect on “Your Story.”

Here is a book summary as found on my blog:

Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story will draw you into the true story of one family’s journey of faith. It begins with a near-fatal car crash, resulting in trauma, uncertainty, and life-long limitations. Their experiences will lead you to sit at hushed bedsides, observe delicate operations, and feel the angst of life and death decisions. In the midst of multiple layers of pain and loss, you will witness quiet miracles, sure and certain lights that pierce through the darkness.

With portrayals of both present-day individuals and biblical characters, Sarah captures the essence of hope born through her struggle to trust and rely on God. Between the lines, you will also uncover your own journey of trust. A faithful and loving God desires to write your life story—no matter what happens.

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How do you research for your book?

Accurate research was very important to me, but writing memoir can be tricky. Especially since I didn’t remember some of what happened immediately after the crash and beyond. I not only found news articles about the accident but interviewed a young woman from the scene – whose best friend’s aunt “happened” to be a friend of mine. My journals from that time period were probably the most helpful resources. I also interviewed family members and pieced together their stories with my recollections. I read each section with my husband, going over the last chapter just days before he passed away. I checked with nurses, a medical doctor, and a certified counselor to be sure I communicated those parts of the story with integrity. Photos of the crash and our recovery are on my blog under PHOTOS.

 

I also included many references to the Bible and not only carefully consulted context and commentaries but went over and over each reference in order to represent the Scriptures well. I depended on beta readers to catch errors I couldn’t see.

 

What inspired you to write your book?

The themes in my articles and devotionals often began with real life events, leading to come-along-side encouragement and hope. This became my pattern (http://www.sarahlynnphillips.com/p/my-stories.html).

After our family suffered the trauma and repercussions of a fiery car crash in 2003 and after months of recovery and years of adjusting to our new normal, I wondered if perhaps our story could encourage others. God opened doors for me to submit short pieces about our experience. I never dreamed of writing a book until later, but I needed these years to better learn the craft of writing and publishing. More importantly, I needed time to fully process what had happened to us and then be able to write about God’s grace through our suffering in a personal and realistic way that would lift others up.

After speaking on the topic of “story,” I began to seriously consider sharing our story in book format. It took multiple attempts using a variety of genres, but finally in 2014, I chose an inspirational genre and took the next year to rewrite my previous work. In July 2015, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas offered me a contract. I didn’t need to think twice!

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

For me, it was a gradual process.  As a young student, I struggled to “write” until a high school English teacher assigned a character sketch every week. Because of her line-by-line patience, I did well in college—writing papers that helped me make the Dean’s List.

The poetry class and small “successes” along the way led me, step-by-step, to the decision to write our story in book form. Writing a book begins with an idea . . . a dream . . . then a few false starts . . . tenacity . . . hard work . . . re-writes . . . multiple edits . . . finally a book proposal . . . hopefully a contract . . . more hard work . . . more editing . . . and then the marketing. And lots of courage. I count it a privilege to share God’s work “with the world.”

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

The theme verse I chose for my book is Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (italics added).

My inspiration for writing comes from Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10: “Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.” These are my writing aspirations . . . so eloquently expressed.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Write with vulnerability. Avoid the extremes of sounding too plastic, preachy, or academic. It’s when you honestly write from your heart that you connect with your readers.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My writers’ group. There are six of us who meet regularly. Each brings a unique voice to the table. We take turns reading our work and critique page by page, line by line. We learn from each other, brainstorm ideas, and give suggestions. We go back and make our work better, so therefore read a fair share of re-writes. We give an encouraging word whenever we can and pray for each other. I have loved being part of this wonderful group of women, all believers in Christ whose goal is to glorify the Lord in all we write.

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I try to read a variety of genres to help me stay balanced and well-rounded, but if I just want to chill and relax I usually reach for historical fiction (many also published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office. My resources are close by. It’s set up in a way that works for me. And I have two windows to offer inspiration!

 Check out her Book Trailer: https://youtube.com/watch?v=FryrDFsS73Y

 

Author Bio: Sarah Lynn Phillips is a freelance writer from Northeast Pennsylvania and has authored numerous articles, devotionals, and poems for both online and print publications along with her book Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story. Her life story has many wonderful chapters, but it has also taken some unexpected turns, including her family’s near-death experience resulting from a car crash and the untimely death of her husband. Through her writing and speaking, Sarah uplifts and challenges her audiences with her vision of hope in the hard times. She has three daughters and two grandsons. Winner of the Bronze Award in the 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program for the Best Inspirational Category

Find Sarah at:

Her blog, Penned Without Ink at www.sarahlynnphillips.com.

Website: www.sarahlynnphillips.com  OR www.pennedwithoutink.com

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/sarahlynnphillips3

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/sarahlynnph/

Google+: www.google.com/+SarahPhillipspennedwithoutink

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15549995.Sarah_Lynn_Phillips

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahLynnPh

Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/sarahlynnphillips

TO ORDER (Paperback OR Kindle Formats): 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Penned-Without-Ink-Trusting-Write/dp/193849931X/

Publisher: http://shoplpc.com/product/penned-without-ink/

Have you ever thought about writing a memoir? Is there a memoir you’ve read that has inspired you? Share in the comments.

Behind the Scenes of Marriage: Make it or Break it

I’m so happy to have my favorite editor, Andrea Merrell, with me. I’ve invited her back to share about her new book, Marriage: Make It or Break It. Andrea, this is your first venture into a book about marriage.Andrea Merrell 2

Tell us about your passion for writing this marriage book.

After the release of Praying for the Prodigal, my daughter asked if I’d ever considered writing a book about marriage. The thought had never crossed my mind. She said because her dad and I have such a great relationship and over forty years of experience—with the good, the bad, and even the ugly—she felt I had a lot of wisdom to share with other couples. After promising to think about the idea (and especially pray about it), it became the only thing I could think about. There was almost a compulsion, an urgency to put my thoughts on paper.

What is the take-away you hope to impart to your readers?

I want my readers to realize that marriage is a God-ordained institution and one of God’s greatest gifts. A good marriage is a process, not an event. It takes commitment and a lot of work, but it’s so worth the effort. We have to put away our selfish desires and love each other the way God intended. My husband and I have learned many lessons the hard way, and we want to help couples avoid some of those rocky places. Two of the biggest keys to a solid, successful marriage are respect and open, honest communication. And there is no greater blessing than having your spouse as your best friend.

How much research did you do and what resource was the most helpful?

There were several resources that were helpful. One was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Every couple should invest in this book. I’ve done quite a bit of research (and even teaching) on the five basic temperaments. Two of my favorite books on the subject are Personality Plus by Florence Littauer and Personality Perspectives by Linda Gilden and Tama Westman. I also gained valuable insight from Men Are Like Waffles—Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences by Bill and Pam Farrel. This book explains the differences between men and woman better than any I’ve read. I also interviewed several mothers who are part of a blended family and researched other facts on the Internet.

Can this book be used in a group study?

Absolutely. The book is written in a casual, conversational tone with lots of practical information such as the different types of love, the five love languages, the four basic temperaments, choosing your battles, blended families, and avoiding what I call marital mischief. There are prayers and Scriptures to pray and questions in the back of the book that can be used in a group or for personal study.

Your title is intriguing. How did you decide on it?

I actually had a hard time with the title. All I could think of was Marriage, but I knew it needed a tagline or subtitle. About halfway through the process, I realized there are so many things that can make or break a relationship, so that’s how the title was born—Marriage: Make It or Break It. It’s really up to us.

Share with my readers a writing tip that has been your guide throughout your writing journey.

I’ve learned that the more transparent we are, the more impact our words can have. Pulling from painful experiences and being willing to expose both our strengths and weaknesses will resonate with our readers because they can relate. Everyone is looking for hope and a better way to do life. God doesn’t waste a single moment. If we’ve been through tough times and survived, we can share what we learned along the way to help someone else.

Author Bio

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

links to Andrea’s books

Amazon link for Marriage: Make It or Break Ithttp://amzn.to/2qxucJ7

Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscripthttp://amzn.to/1HlRLmy

Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigalhttp://amzn.to/1BFOhK9

Connect with Andrea

Twitter – https://www.Twitter.com/AndreaMerrell

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/andrea.s.merrell

Linkedin – http://linkd.in/1vSByxW

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/142LXjp

Google + — http://bit.ly/1Miy3dO

 Marriage cover

Here is the back cover blurb

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis.

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

Thank you for taking the time, Andrea. Definitely, a book worth checking out. It released June 25th. Click here to order.

 

If you enjoy these author interviews and other writerly things I share subscribe to Jubilee Writer so you don’t miss out.

Two Kinds of Fire at Christian Writer’s Conferences

Today I’m sharing another conference story. A male conference attendee. Male writer’s do attend conferences but they are in the minority. I hope you find Timothy Fountain’s story as inspiring as I did.

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Marlene Bagnull’s Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC) is inseparable from the publication of my first book, Raising a Child With Autism.

I attended the conference twice and liken the experiences to two kinds of fire: inspiring (Acts 2:3) and refining (Psalm 12:6).

The inspiring fire came via GPCWC’s guiding mission, “Write His (God’s) answer” (Habakkuk 2:2).  The conference encourages and challenges writers to identify their particular proclamation of Christ and the genre of writing by which to convey it.  All of the writers who lead workshops reinforce this approach.

As the parent of a child with autism, I was in touch with family caregivers’ need for Christ’s comfort, encouragement and hope.  This was the inspiration for my book.

Prayer and worship are organic to the conference, and it wraps up with a service in which the participants write down a commitment of what they are being led to write.  In this way I came away from the conference with more than an idea; I gained an inspired offering to God.

A second trip to the conference brought refining fire, burning away stuff that had more to do with my ego than with God’s purpose for the book.  There were stylistic critiques, of course, but larger than these were two refinements of my vision for the book as a whole.

First, because the conference afforded opportunities to talk with other Christian writers, I was able to express my worry that I couldn’t write the book because I was still in the middle of care giving.  “Maybe I should wait until my son is grown up and placed in residential care, so I can write from completed experience.”

The more seasoned writer’s response burned away that misconception.  “No, no, no,” was her reply, “you’re not writing as ‘the expert.’  You’re writing as a witness to the Lord who is helping you in the middle of this.”

The second refining blaze came when I met Eddie Jones and others from my eventual publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC).  The writing samples I provided them were in memoir form, a factually bland and emotionally overwrought telling of my experiences.  Eddie and his team challenged me to write something more creative, to seek a central metaphor on which to hang the message.

This sent me huffing off to rewrite. The result was sample chapters using amateur gardening misadventures with my wife as symbols of caring for our son with special needs.  I sent these in to LPC and was stunned to open my email one morning to find their offer to publish my book.

The coaching, connections and spiritual component at the conferences were the difference between another ego soaked memoir sitting in a rejection pile and a published book of reflections offering Christ’s care to family caregivers.

More about Timothy Fountain

Timothy Fountain grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California despite having no football skills. After a stint running a jackhammer and then three years in the Army, he abandoned thoughts of a legal career, attended a seminary in New York City, and devoted almost thirty years to Christian preaching. He and his wife, Melissa, and their two sons, one a lad with autism, moved to South Dakota in 2004. Tim continues a life of trial and error as a husband, dad, family care giver, preacher and writer.

Amazon Author Page  https://www.amazon.com/Timothy-Fountain/e/B01N1LVF17

Book link https://smile.amazon.com/Raising-Child-Autism-Timothy-Fountain/dp/1938499387/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477353199&sr=8-1&keywords=raising+a+child+with+autism

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Blog  https://caregivingstinks.wordpress.com/

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/tfountain1

Twitter @NPASDK

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/fountain0179

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3408348-tim-fountain

 

 

 

Rebecca Waters:Be Prepared Because God Has a Plan…and It Includes You

 

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Becky Waters

Rebecca Waters

Today I’m so pleases to have fellow-author Rebecca Waters sharing some wonderful insights with us.

The end of March marks the three-year anniversary of my first novel, Breathing on Her Own. A couple of life lessons have been reinforced for me since I made the decision to become a published author.

 

 

Lesson 1- God can see around the corners and has a plan for you.

As a child I enjoyed capturing my thoughts and ideas on paper. As an adult I used my writing skills to entertain my own children as well as students in my classroom. I followed God’s lead to pen both a master’s thesis and a doctoral dissertation at the University of Cincinnati. The door then opened for me to serve as the chair of the education department at a Christian university. The university needed someone with the background, credentials, and writing skills to put together a state approved and nationally accredited teacher education program.

I knew I was a writer. I didn’t think of myself as an author.

My husband and I made the decision to retire early following his quadruple bypass surgery. We gave ourselves one year to make plans to retire then we would pack up our belongings and head to Florida for the winter—Tom to golf and fish and me? I was clueless as to what I would do. I prayed about it.

In February, two months after we made that decision, I announced to my husband I would become a published author. Tom, the encourager, offered his full support. The notion was God’s, not mine. I got busy drafting a business plan for my writing and crafting a novel.

I signed up for two days at the Write-to-Publish conference in Illinois, where, by the way, I met Cindy Huff as we stood side-by-side signing up for appointments with agents and publishers. My last appointment of the conference was with Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. We met, I pitched my book, and two months later I received a contract for Breathing on Her Own. I finished writing it a few days before my “retirement” party.51Zlo60t2cL._AC_US218_

Breathing on Her Own was released the last week of March 2014. My husband died in a bicycle accident the last week of October 2014.

I trust God because He can see around the corners. He knew I needed this new direction in my life. He also knew my words could inspire readers. He had more confidence in what I could accomplish than I did. I cling to Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

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Lesson 2- Do all you can to prepare yourself for the work God has called you to do.

That February morning I was confident I was going to become a published author. I used spring break to research and draft the business plan for my new career in writing. I made a list of my strengths and weaknesses and set out to learn everything I could about the industry. I now work with writers to draft their own business and marketing plans.

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Part of my business plan was to attend a writing conference. I could only afford two days of the four-day conference but I made the most of it. I picked the brains of the presenters, agents, editors, and publishers. I gleaned information from every attendee I met. I knew nothing about blogs, building a platform, or even how to write a query letter. I wasn’t sure what God intended for me to write. I only knew I needed to be prepared and to walk through any door He opened.

Convinced that blogging should be added to my business plan, I researched the topic, read several blogs (making note of what I liked and didn’t), and signed up for a free webinar on blogging. I drafted several posts, signed up with a blog host and launched A Novel Creation the first week of January 2013 from Florida.

 

Preparing for the work God has called me to do has been fruitful. In addition to that first novel, I’ve published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Home Health Aide Digest, and The Lookout Magazine. I’ve taken my blog posts a step further penning the Writing to Publish series which includes three titles: Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101, and Writing with E’s. Money received from these handbooks for writers goes to The Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research fund set up by the CDC Foundation.writing with e's Edd 3

You may already have these truths permeating every thought and activity in your life. But for me, the journey has been a good reminder that God can see around the corners so I need to prepare myself for what He has in store next. He has a plan.

In honor of the Third Anniversary of Breathing On Her Own Rebecca is offering a free Kindle version to one lucky Commenter.

About Breathing On Her Own

Molly Tipton looks forward to a peaceful retirement, but her life suddenly spirals out of control when her oldest daughter is involved in a terrible accident. An icy road and a sharp turn leave one woman dead, another clinging to life.

While two families grieve, details emerge that reveal Molly’s daughter was driving under the influence. As she prepares her daughter for the prospect of a vehicular homicide lawsuit, Molly discovers her oldest child is not the only one injured and forced to deal with past mistakes. If it’s true that time heals all wounds, what are we to do with our scars?

Click here to order Breathing On Your Own.

click here to order Kindle version of Designing a Business Plan for Writers

Click here to order  an Kindle copy of Marketing You and Your Writing 101

Click here to order a Kindle copy of Writing to Publish Writing with E’s

Learn more! Visit Rebecca’s site & Read  her blog
Let’s connect! Follow her on Twitter & Like  her on Facebook
 Ask any questions you may have about marketing and the business of writing. Becky will be happy to answer them.

 

 

 

Rowena Kuo:Writing Epic Back Cover

rowenakuo2016Today I welcome Rowena Kuo to my blog. She is an Acquisitions Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I sat in on her Writing Epic Back Cover class at the Write to Publish Conference this past June. Her knowledge helped clarify so much for me. I have touched on the importance of awesome back cover content in a previous post. Writing back cover isn’t as easy as I once thought. It’s not my best work. And other authors admit they’d rather have a root canal. So to take some of the pain and mystery out of this daunting task I’ve called on Rowena to give us some helpful guidelines toward excellent back copy.

Ro, welcome. I am so honored to have you as a guest blogger.

Thank you, Cindy. I always enjoy visiting with you and look forward to any time I get to see you again.

The word length of the back cover copy is 100 to 300 words. Tell us how do we decide what goes into this small cache’ of words? What should we leave out? How can we discern the difference?

Every word on your back cover carries weight, so we should make each word count. The back cover should answer “who, what, where, when, and why,” with the book content being the “how.”  Introduce your main characters by name and their relationship to each other, what the story is about, the setting, the time period, and why your reader should invest in your story. When you introduce your main characters, first show what is the “normal” world before everything goes wrong. Introduce your “average citizen” before his “call to duty,” and whether or not he will answer that call to become a “superhero.”

Place your characters in a place and time setting, so that your readers can affiliate with your story. This is key to deciding the genre of your book. You should then say what that “call to duty” is, the “inciting incident” that destroys the “normal” world and forces your character into action. Every story must have conflict to be interesting. State what that conflict is. The “why” of your story should make your characters compelling, your story thought-provoking, and intrigue your reader enough to buy your book.

Leave out non-essential and complicated storylines. Don’t summarize what happens in the story. Sometimes becoming too detailed drags your back cover copy, and your reader will search for a different book. End your back cover copy with a question. That question should entice your reader and should be answered upon reading your book.

Once we decide what goes in how do we make the words epic?

Use words that drive your book to the top of searches. Go to Amazon and search for the best-selling books in your genre. Read the back cover copies, and online, these would be the description or blurb when you click on the book title.

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How do I find those top seller books in any given genre to examine the back cover?

  1. Go to Amazon.com
  2. On the Amazon search bar, the gray tab on the left drops down. Find Kindle Store.
  3. On the far left-hand vertical bar, find Kindle eBooks.
  4. Still, on that far left-hand vertical bar, there are several categories of books. Click on your genre. For example: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense. The number in the parenthesis next to the genre is how many titles are categorized in that particular genre. This number can change depending on new books coming out that fall into that category.
  5. Refine your search to the smallest sub-category. These are still on that left-hand bar. For example: Mystery–>Cozy (2878)
  6. Click on that first book. The books can change from moment to moment depending on book sales, so what I find at the top today, you may not find there tomorrow. The important thing to look at is the back cover copy or the description of those top 10 books. For each book, there will be rankings in 3 genres.
  7. Look at the words that “pop out” at you, common words that search engines will use to align your book with the titles at the top of your genre.

Certain words trigger search engines and lead readers to those books. Plant those words into your back cover copy. Depending upon the genre, these words will vary, but a little research on your part prior to writing your back cover copy can be the difference between your audience finding your book and your novel being dead last. For example, the keywords I see on the back cover for the #1 book in Romance and Women’s Fiction are: fatal, accident, discovered, secret, lies, disappears, suspicion, love, romantic, gripping, mystery, suspense.

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How important is back cover copy to potential readers?

Back cover copy is what your reader looks at to decide whether or not to invest time and money in your book. This copy is what search engines use to connect books to the right audience. It’s important to know your genre and all the possible genres where your book might fit. Knowing your genre(s) can help you write back cover copy that will attract the readers who would enjoy your story.

How important is the wording of back cover copy to Amazon and other online and storefront retailers?

Amazon and other retailers base success on sales, and sales drive where your book ranks. Amazon gets a cut of every sale, so having a back cover copy that translates into sales is key to how successful your book is going to be. Of course, the book itself must have an amazing story, but it is the back cover copy that influences readers to make that purchase.

How many tries does it take to get this right?

Writing back cover copy can be a trying task. It can be written and rewritten dozens of times before it would pass publisher approval. Don’t lose heart at this stage. It will be worth the effort no matter how many times it takes to revise your back cover copy.

Any final words for forlorn authors struggling to make their back cover shine?

I encourage you to read the back cover copies of the best-selling books in your genres. Write down words that pop out at you and draw you to that book. Investigate what drives a book to the top of the lists and make sure your book is comparable. Use active rather than passive verbs and descriptions that engage the imagination, curiosity, and heart of your readers. I’m still looking for the magic formula that will make our books crash the download servers, but I hope that I have given you a few pointers to at least ensure your back cover copy promises a fantastic read. If your book delivers the story your back cover promises, then you are well on your way to successful sales. See you at the top of the charts!

Rowena Kuo is an editor and executive producer for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Lighthouse Productions of the Carolinas. With over 15 years of ministering to children, youth groups, young adults, and now women and family groups, Rowena advocates for writers to build God-centered support systems consisting of people, perseverance, practice, and most of all, prayer. She has written for Christian Devotions, Written World Communications, and the 168 Write of Passage. When not working on words or films, she is a full-time mom with secret aspirations for spaceflight.

Rowena Kuo
Acquisitions Editor
Editorial Director
Fiction Division
Managing Editor, Brimstone Fiction
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
http://lighthousepublishingofthecarolinas.com/
Development Executive Producer
http://lpcmediagroup.com

Do you have a love or hate relationship with back cover copy?

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A Visit with Author Beth Ann Ziarnick and a Giveaway

I’ve been reading alot in January and it is reflected in my second author interview in so many weeks. I love to share author stories and I hope you love reading them.

Beth's head shot-2

Today I am welcoming Beth Ann Ziarnik to Writer’s Patchwork. We met at The Write-to-Publish Conference a few years ago where she won a publisher’s award at the banquet with her debut novel Her Deadly Inheritance. I’m so excited about its recent release. I enjoyed the story and the creative way you told it. Click to read my review.

Below is the a little taste of the story for those who have not read it yet.

First a runaway. Now running for her life. Won’t Jill Shepherd’s family be surprised when she returns to Grand Island, Michigan to end their scheme to have her declared legally dead? But when Jill exposes the mastermind behind her intended death, her family’s deception may kill any chance she has of remaining alive.

Clay Merrick may seem to be little more than a handy-man restoring homes, but when the former Special Forces operative tracks a brutal killer to Jill’s historic house under renovation, he has most of the evidence he needs to bring the killer to justice … until Jill gets in the way.

When the killer sets sights on Jill as the next victim, it’s not just Clay s mission on the line, but his heart.HerDeadlyInheritanceColor-2

Beth, I’m thrilled to have you visit with me today. Let me take your coat. Watch out, don’t trip over the pile of shoes near the front door. Come, join me in the kitchen for coffee and Danish.

Thank you for inviting me, Cindy. It’s great to be here. Oh, is that lemon-centered Danish? My favorite! How did you know? <G>

It’s such an honor to have you take time from your busy promoting schedule to share with my readers some of the background story to Her Deadly Inheritance.

My pleasure!

Let me start out Q & A with a question all my readers want to know. Where did the idea come for Her Deadly Inheritance?

The idea first germinated while I was reading yet another wonderful romantic suspense—even then my favorite genre. I wondered how the faith of Christian heroes and heroines might affect the choices necessary in the difficult circumstances of a romantic suspense. From there I took the basics—isolated and exotic location, frightening suspense, the falling in love of two unlikely people, etc.—and started praying and asking myself, “What if?” Jill and Clay and pieces of their story started to form. I wrote those short scenes and chucked them into a folder until I finally had enough to see a story emerging.

Tell me, how did you come to choose Upper Michigan for your setting?

I live in northeast Wisconsin and was looking for an island for my novel’s setting, one that was somewhat remote and exotic. Eureka! I found it in The Grand Island Story by Beatrice H. Castle. The location had everything I needed. My husband and I made two trips to Munising and Grand Island MI to research the setting. Forest ranger David Worel and a few other local people were kind enough to help. We loved the community and its old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. I just knew I had found the right place and time for Jill and Clay’s story.

Why renovating houses as the backdrop?

I needed a reason for Clay to be there and interact with Jill while they fell in love. I’m also an architecture addict and cheer on the restoration and upkeep of grand old historical homes of any era. So I borrowed Mark Twain’s Connecticut home, tweaked it a bit for my story’s purposes, and plopped it about half way up Grand Island’s east side over Trout Bay. I think that’s called literary license because the truth is: (1) There’s never been a house at that location, and (2) no one ever built a Victorian mansion on the island. You can go to the location on the Grand Island, but you will not find Jill’s house or any evidence of it. That element of the story is pure fiction on my part.

Besides visiting The Grand Island what other research did you do? I always like to know how other writer’s build their story world.

In addition to reading Mrs. Castle’s book and visiting the community to experience the story’s locale, I interviewed an officer at the sheriff’s department to find out how they might process a case such as the death of Jill’s mother and how quickly they could access the scene on the island. I also interviewed a couple of island residents about life on the island. I read everything I could about the history of the area and took pictures. I researched both Jill’s career as a genealogist and Clay’s as a restoration contractor, even interviewing a local restoration contractor. I made an online tour of Mark Twain’s house and collected articles and pictures so that I could better “walk” through the house as if I were there. Lots more because every aspect of a novel will have some research connected to it in order to make the story and its setting come alive.

Describe the personalities of your two main characters Jill Shephard and Clay Merrick. Did you model them after anyone in particular?

Though they are totally themselves, Jill has bits and pieces of me in her, and Clay has bits and pieces of my husband Jim in him. Jill’s tendency to be frightened yet bulldoze through her fear to a desired end is a little like me. So is her relationship with God. Clay’s steady purpose, his faithfulness, his muscles and love of family and playing ball are like Jim. As a matter of fact, the spectacular catch he fields in the ballgame scene is Jim’s. I saw my husband do that amazing thing! But truly, I had to write about Jill and Clay and observe them to come to know them. I never had anyone in mind as they developed.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I hope readers see that loving someone isn’t a walk in the park. It takes work and sacrifice but is so worth the effort. I also hope they will come to realize that if they obey God and give him enough time, he will make difficult situations come out for good in the right way and at the right time.

How long did it take from conception to publication?

Oh, boy! Her Deadly Inheritance was a long time in the making. The idea first occurred to me forty years ago. Romantic suspense wasn’t even on the Christian publishers radar screen back then, and I had a long way to go to learn the skills for writing fiction. I spent my early years being published in magazines and newspapers with articles and news stories. I also had twelve years of being just this side of wheelchair or bed-ridden with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. Not much happening then. But the dream and the story never went away. Then about six years ago, I decided to get serious. I focused entirely on the novel, working hard to acquire the needed skills, endlessly writing and rewriting and polishing. I started meeting editors and agents at conferences and sending out proposals. As close as I seemed to come to breaking through, nothing happened until the summer of 2013 when agent Jim Hart declared he loved my novel and wanted to represent me. Surely the Lord was at work! A year later, my novel won a big award during the Write-to-Publish banquet, and six months later, Rowena Kuo at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas offered a contract to publish my book. It took about a year to edit and polish a novel to bring it to its best. Meanwhile, other important preparations were in the works. But on January 2 this year, Her Deadly Inheritance released.

What have you learned along the way to publication that you can pass on to new writers?

  • No matter how tempting, don’t quit. Believe in yourself and the dream God put in your heart. Keep working at your craft, building your skills for storytelling.
  • Join a local Christian writers group—start one if you have to. I did. Join online writers groups, too. You will grow much faster as a novelist if you do. I love ACFW where I take monthly classes taught by professionals (free with the membership) and make friends who help me and whom I am blessed to help.
  • Go to Christian writers’ conferences seminars where you can learn more than you ever dreamed. Where you will make dear writer friends and meet editors, publishers, and agents. Again, where you will both help others and be helped.

I was very intrigued by the number of endorsements you have in the front of your book. Endorsements from noteworthy authors. Tell us how you managed to get them.

They all offered. These friends whom I’ve made down through years of going to conferences and seminars were almost more thrilled than I was when my dream came true. But they are also professionals whom I could count on to tell the truth.

Do you have any other projects in the works you would like to tell us about? Is there a sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance?

Jill and Clay’s story will continue for two more books, though each story can stand on its own. Yes, I’m putting them through two more horrendous suspense experiences that will threaten their lives and challenge their growing love to the breaking point. I am loving the writing of the second novel even more than the first, if that’s possible. <G> For this one, I borrowed the Pabst Mansion and it location in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Jill will meet her birth father face-to-face for the first time. But her long-time dream of a loving relationship with him turns into a Christmas nightmare she and Clay could never have foreseen.

Giveaway Hurrah!!

You mentioned you wanted to do a giveaway. So, readers, leave a comment to be put in the drawing. You have time to make a comment either here or on my Facebook page. Please share this blog with your friends so they can enter the contest too or pick up a copy at their favorite bookstore.

The winner will be contacted by me for email information to pass on to Beth. We will announce a winner on Friday.

More About Beth

A long-time fan of romantic suspense, Beth Ann Ziarnik offers her first novel with all the twists and turns, cliffhangers and romantic tension she and readers have come to love. She is a co-founder of Word & Pen Christian Writers in Northeast Wisconsin and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition to her 450 published pieces (several included in anthologies), she is the author of Love With Shoes On, her ten-year devotional column about love in action and based on 1 Corinthians 13.

Currently, you can find her online at:

www.bethziarnik.com

www.facebook.com/beth.ziarnik

www.facebook.com/authorBethAnnZiarnik

http://www.bethziarnik.wordpress.com

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