Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Four Myths Non-Writers Believe, by Iola Goulton

I’ve always been a reader. A bookworm, if you like. And like many readers, I also wanted to be a writer. Specifically, a novelist. I won two school writing competitions in high school and even went on a creative writing camp, but the endless essays of high school and university didn’t leave much time for personal reading or writing.

I started reading for pleasure again when I got a job, but not writing: I already spent enough hours a day in front of a computer, writing client reports and our company newsletter. I had one colleague whose wife was writing a novel. I asked how it was progressing: he said she was still in the research phase, which was going to take her a year. I asked a few more times but stopped asking when I got a look that said she wasn’t making much progress (or not making as much as her husband thought she ought to be making).

I had another colleague who announced one day that he’d finished his novel. I asked when it was going to be published. Yes, I really thought it was that easy.

When I started researching the craft of writing and the business of publishing, I soon realised that many of my assumptions were incorrect. In particular, there were four myths I believed about writing:

  • Anyone can write a novel.

  • Writing is a good way to earn some extra cash.

  • Getting a novel published is easy.

  • Writers write. The publisher does the rest.

Are you laughing yet? Or do some of my na├»ve ideas sound eerily familiar? I’ve since discovered my ideas were misguided. But I’ve also discovered there is an element of truth in some of them.

Anyone can write a novel.

This is both wrong and right. Anyone can type 80,000 words and call it a novel. Slapping a cover on it and uploading to Amazon isn’t hard (it can’t be, given the quality of some of the novels on Amazon).

But writing a good novel is hard, and not just ‘anyone’ can do it. It takes patience, perseverance, and practice. And most people don’t make it.

Writing is an easy way to earn some extra cash.

If you’re prepared to make money writing scam recipe books (using recipes copied from dodgy websites) or scam self-help books (using advice copied from wacko websites) or other scam books (using information copied from Wikipedia), then yes, writing can be an easy way to earn extra cash. Even better, hire someone on Fiverr to ghostwrite (or ghostcopy) the book for you.

But is that writing? It’s certainly not the writing dream so many people have. In reality, pursuing a career as a writer, especially a novelist, is going to cost you a lot of money before you earn anything from it. And most writers also have a day job to pay the bills.

Getting a novel published is easy. 

Check out your local bookstore. Check out the publishers of those novels. Getting your novel published by one of those publishers isn’t easy. It’s a long way from easy.

But the advent of vanity publishers and self-publishing make it easy to publish a novel. Any vanity press will take your money, tell you you’ve written the next great American (or Australian or British or Canadian or New Zealand) novel, and for another $10,000 they’ll be able to put your novel in front of influential Hollywood producers (and take a first-class holiday in some swanky resort).

But self-publishing platforms such as Amazon, DrafttoDigital, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords do provide newbie authors with a way of getting their novels published and printed and on sale. And it’s not difficult. But authors soon find that writing and publishing was the easy part . . .

Writers write. The publisher does the rest.

This is the final myth, and is one that continues to drive new authors to traditional publishers. They don’t want to be involved in the publishing or the marketing. They want to write. Period. The problem with this myth is that all authors, no matter how they are published, all authors have to do more than write.

Even traditional publishers expect authors to contribute to their marketing efforts. At the very least, these will include a website (which the author pays for), social media profiles and regular updates (which the author undertakes herself, or pays someone else to manage), and attendance at certain industry events and conferences (which the author pays for). These efforts may or may not sell books.

Self-published authors have sole responsibility for marketing — there is no one else. They can just write, but then it’s likely no one will buy their books.

Myth or Truth?

Yes, there is an element of truth in each of these four myths. But more myth than truth. Oh, well. Back to the writing . .  .

Writers, what myths have you heard that you now know aren’t true?

Readers, what do you believe about writers that might not be true?

IOLA GOULTON lives with her husband, two teenagers and cat in the sunny Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, between Hobbiton and the Kiwifruit Capital of the World. She holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting and freelance editing, is active in her local church and plays in a brass band.

Iola is a reader, reviewer and freelance editor who is currently writing her first novel, contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist, and her first non-fiction book, which aims to help first-time authors navigate the changing world of Christian publishing.

Connect with Iola at www.iolagoulton.com (a work in progress she’s trying not to be overwhelmed by!) and www.christianreads.blogspot.com.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sharing Your Work

I wonder if there is a line.
You know that line where you have the opportunity to share something, and you over-share? Or under-share?  And then you wonder if anyone thinks you're absolutely crazy because you just shared?

How do you share your writing work?

When someone asks you, 'What are you working on?', do you shrug your shoulders, look down at the ground and mumble, 'Oh, just another middle-grade fiction...takes place in New York... so how's your dad doing?'
Or do you tell them, 'Well, I'm working on another novel, and it's not quite like the last two, it's completely different, but it's still the same genre, and this time the character is just a little bit older, and he lives in New York with his dad, but his dad died, see, and he has to figure out how to take out the bad guys by himself, and it all takes place during the early 2000, because then it wouldn't really work...' and they turn away.

When you're invited to teach a little lesson on how to write a mystery, and you decide to share a few pages of your book with the class, do you read really quickly? Do you skip over sentences and words because you think you might bore them? Do you shrug your shoulders and say, 'sorry' a lot because you think that they can write better than you? Do you interrupt yourself constantly and explain why you wrote that sentence, what you were feeling, what you ate during that page-writing session and how it reminded you that you had to pay your taxes etc?

How does one find that line, to carefully walk upon, and not fall off?

Some writers are boring with their constant Facebook statuses and their twitter accounts, bragging about their writing, putting about 50 words with hashtags in front of them, trying to tease the reader but are just annoying.
 Some writers are mean with their elusive Facebook statuses and their twitter accounts, not saying a single word, or just saying a single word, trying to tease the reader but are annoying because they make you wait and wonder impatiently what they are talking about.
 Some writers are perfectly witty with their laughable Facebook statuses and their twitter accounts, showing gif's of puppies running into glass doors and babies falling asleep, trying to tease the reader, but just make the reader fall in love with them.

How do we know if we have fallen off that line?

I have no idea.

I guess it all boils down to the question of, are we being humble?  Are we being kind? Are we being encouraging of other writers? Are we keeping our mouths shut about writers we don't care for? Are we able to honestly have joy, not envy in our hearts when a writer has success, and we don't?  Are we able to close our eyes at night and realize that we are doing our best, our honest-to-goodness best?

Are you?

Jenn Kelly is a farmer who is supposed to be writing.  This is a photo of her vegetable garden because she is so busy she can't think straight, let alone post these thoughts first thing in the morning when she was supposed to. Regardless of all of that, she thinks you're very lovely and you should be writing more and she believes in you. But much more importantly, GOD believes in you.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Coming Up This Week


Jenn Kelly 


Sara Goff


Ufuoma Daniella Ojo 


Angela Couch: After "The End" - Writing the Blurb

Friday Devotion

Ray Hawkins


Contest News

Lisa Harris' novel Vendetta, The Nikki Boyd Files Book 1 (Revell) is a 2016 Christy Award Finalist and on the Inspy's Shortlist in the Suspense category. Congratulations Lisa!

2016 Word Awards finalists ~ sponsored by The Word Guild of Canada: 

Valerie Comer's novel Dandelions for Dinner (Independent) in the Contemporary category.
Sandra Orchard's novel Desperate Measures (Revell) in the Suspense category.
Janet Sketchley's novel Without Proof (Independent) in the Suspense category.

Congratulations Valerie, Sandra, and Janet!

2016 ACFW Genesis Semi-finalists:

David Rawlings in the Contemporary category. 
Iola Goulton in the Novella category. 
Jebraun Clifford in the Young Adult category.

Congratulations David, Iola, and Jebraun!


New Releases

Ray Hawkins' devotion book in the 31 Day Devotional Meditations series, The Warrior Lord's Sword, releases independently in May 2016.


Upcoming Releases

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in the US, Missing, Book 2 in The Nikki Boyd Files series, will be a June 2016 release from Revell.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Secrets of Sunbeams, Book 1 in the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in July 2016.

Book 2 in Sandra Orchard’s Serena Jones Mysteries series set in St. Louis, USA, Another Day, Another Dali, will be an October 2016 release from Revell Publishing.

Kara Isaac's contemporary romantic comedy set in England, Can't Help Falling, will be an October 2016 release from Howard Books.

Patricia Beal's debut contemporary women’s fiction set in Germany and in the United States, A Season to Dance, will be a May 2017 release from Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bubbles and Rock - a devotion for you, if you are finding life tough

When things get tough, do you ever eyeball yourself firmly in the mirror and give yourself a pep talk? I know I do. I try to make sure nobody is watching, but even that doesn't always work out.
I’ve come to realize though, that my motivational eyeballings – even the very best ones, are a little bit like wrapping myself in a bubble. For a while I can float along, feeling cushioned from the bite of an anorexic bank account, safely tucked away from bickering kids and in firm denial of my hungry petrol tank.
There’s just one problem with a self-motivated-pep-talk-bubble. It just takes one sharp object, one tiny prick and it pops. I can tell you from experience that when you’re floating in a bubble that bursts, there’s only one way to go and it ain’t up. You feel the teeth of your bank account when you can’t buy the bottle your kid needs for school to make your Mom’s day pressy, when you have to say no to your teenager’s social life because you can’t afford the petrol for the extra trip.
It doesn’t take a sledgehammer to pop a bubble.
Yet somehow, when God speaks, there are no bubbles involved. His Words come with a standard issue of solid rock under your feet and the guts to face life unflinching. No matter what. One word from Him, and I’m on solid ground, light years away from the quicksand of doubt.
From now on when I eyeball myself in the mirror, I'll be saying one thing and one thing only... 
Listen to Jesus, girl. He's got you!
Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from AmazonSmashwords.

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Visiting my Writing World (and eBook giveaway)

by Marion Ueckermann

In two weeks, I’ll be heading for the airport to catch a Qatar flight to Doha, and then on to Edinburgh, Scotland. I can’t wait for this overseas trip for many reasons. I’ll be seeing my brother, Lenny, and sister-in-law, Hanlie, who immigrated in September last year. Hubby’s coming with which is great because we both need a good holiday after an exhausting year—plus, I think my brother needs some male company for the 17 days we’re there because my sister is also going with us to Scotland, as are her two crazy daughters (no, they’re not literally crazy, but it is definitely going to be a barrel of laughs from beginning to end with them around). I’ve booked the seats in front of them on the plane for Noel and I, and have warned them that if they misbehave, I’ll recline my seat as far back as I can the entire way. Jokes aside, I can’t wait to show my sister and nieces the land of our ancestors. I’ve been to Scotland twice and loved it.

My brother lives in Falkirk now, about an hour from Edinburgh (one of my favorite cities), and an hour from Glasgow. Below are pics of The Kelpies close to his home. Aren’t they magnificent works of art?

Care to join me for a minute and take a look at what I’ll be experiencing and seeing? Click here. I promise, it’ll be a minute well spent.

This brings me to the second reason for my excitement for this trip. Have a look at the photo below to see what’s waiting for me at my brother’s house. Because postage is cheaper and safer to Europe than to South Africa, I’ve sent my book shipments there. I’m certainly glad my hubby, sister and nieces are there to help me lug the 26kg of my books back home. I’ve already claimed 5kg baggage from each of them (think I deserve some recompense for booking the tickets and sorting out the visas, don’t you?)

And here’s just one more good reason why I can’t wait for this trip. Glasgow Grace, my third Passport to Romance novella published by Pelican Book Group, releases on July 22nd, and I cannot wait to visit the places I researched and wrote into this story. Places like The Clyde Auditorium, also known as The Armadillo—a concert and public event venue in Glasgow (remind you of another opera house down under?); Buchanan Mall; Anderston Quay; and all the bridges that cross the River Clyde—Bell’s Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and Clyde Arc or The Squinty Bridge. Here are two photies of Lenny and Hanlie’s recent trip to Glasgow. Doesn’t it look like such an interesting city?

I found two photos of The Armadillo on Wikimedia Commons to share with you (no guesses why it got that nickname).

I cannot wait to get to Scotland and see all the above. We're also spending four days beside Loch Ness...I wonder what Scottish stories my mind will conjure up during this time. 

To get you as excited as I am, here’s the cover and blurb for Glasgow Grace. As soon as this novella releases next month, I’ll give away a free eCopy to one lucky reader who leaves a comment on this blog. 

Opera singer, Skye Hunter, returns to the land of her birth as leading lady in Phantom of the Opera. This is her first trip back to bonnie Scotland since her mother whisked her away to Australia after Skye’s father died sixteen years ago.

When Skye decides to have dinner at McGuire’s, she’s not going there only for Mary McGuire’s shepherd’s pie. Her first and only love, Callum McGuire, still plays his guitar and sings at the family-owned tavern. 

Callum has never stopped loving Skye. Desperate to know if she’s changed under her mother’s influence, he keeps his real profession hidden. Would she want him if he was still a singer in a pub? But when Skye’s worst nightmare comes true, Callum reveals his secret to save the woman he loves.

Can Skye and Callum rekindle what they lost, or will her mother threaten their future together once again?

MARION UECKERMANN's passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. She now lives in South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Six Reasons Why I Write Mysteries

People often ask why I write mysteries. And when they do, I sometimes suspect what they’re really asking is, “Why don’t you write something more important?”

I believe mysteries are important, though. And here’s why I write them.

  1. Right always wins. No matter how bad the crime, the bad guy eventually gets caught—at least in my mysteries.
  2. Mysteries make me wonder—not just about means, motive and opportunity, but about life, and values, and relationships, and suffering, and faith, and God’s sovereignty, and man’s selfishness, and greed, and arrogance, and…need I go on?
  3. The tragedy comes suddenly. Characters don’t have time to brace themselves. Their reactions are raw. The evidence of their faith—or lack of faith–is real.
  4. God’s truth is powerful when it’s embedded in story.
  5. Mysteries are what I enjoy reading.
  6. God wired my brain to think in questions.

Do you write mysteries? Or read them?

Why are they important to you?

Jayne E. Self writes quirky mysteries set in Nova Scotia, Canada.
You can visit her on Facebook or at jayneself.com 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Our Better Selves

For the past week and a half the news in Canada has been dominated by the wild fire in Fort McMurray.  Fort Mac is a fabled city in our country, it is the capital of the oil sands development.  The place that shows as a huge scar on the earth from space.  
The place that powers a large segment of our economy.  The place that produces 8% of the greenhouse gas of our nation.  The place that provides high-paid employment for Canadians from all regions of the country.  Love it or hate it, Fort McMurray matters to Canada.

   On Tues. May 3, 2016 a wildfire shifted direction, the wind whipped up and the entire city of Fort McMurray came under threat.  Within hours an evacuation order went out.  88,000 residents fled their homes.  Some went north to the oil camps.  Those who could went south toward Edmonton.  There is only one road in and out of the city.  It was a nightmare scenario.  Yet in the midst of it all came the good news stories.
   A good Samaritan drove his ATV up and down the shoulder of the packed highway offering free gas to those who had run out.
 Another generous soul walked the line of cars handing out coffee, muffins and water.  With only a few hours notice, the tiny town of Lac La Biche, pop. 2500 took in over 10,000 evacuees, providing showers, food, clothing, toiletries and a place to sleep.
 Firefighters, police and paramedics went beyond the call of duty to see that everyone was safe.  They even went door to door when they could rescuing pets.  Pet rescue groups set up shelters, provided food and helped reunite hundreds of pets with distraught owners.  Airlines waived their rules and let dogs and cats ride in the cabin as thousands of residents were air lifted to larger centres.

    People from across the country united in sending aid to their stricken fellow-citizens.  The Canadian red cross has collected an unprecedented $86 million dollars in ten days, donations from ordinary citizens, sports teams, institutions, service clubs, and corporations.  One heart warming story concerns a five year old boy who set up a lemonade stand at the mall.  He collected $2500.00, all of it for Fort Mac.  Even Syrian refugees, in this country for only a few weeks themselves, pitched in, giving what they could, wanting to help.  The good news stories go on and on.  In the midst of disaster
people across the country showed compassion, generosity, hospitality, kindness, patience.  In fact, you could make a list of the fruits of the Spirit and find a story to go with each one.  No doubt, when the smoke clears, we'll go back to complaining about this government decision or that one, sniping that one region, or one interest group got unfair advantage, but I hope that our collective sense of ourselves lingers and, as a nation, we exhibit more kindness and understanding with each other.

   It strikes me that our personal growth follows the same pattern as this national disaster.  When we are at our most desperate, we call out to God and He hears us.  For a little while, broken, needy, despairing, we put our trust in God.  Our faith is strengthened.  For a little while we "know" that Jesus loves us.  Then, life gets back on track, we become self-absorbed again, we believe we've rescued ourselves.  God becomes a benign Being we mostly ignore.  
    I heard a story once of a clergyman late for a meeting in a big city.  He couldn't find a parking place and the clock was ticking.  In desperation he prayed.  "Please God, give me a parking space and I'll double my weekly offering."  Immediately a car pulled away from the curb.  The clergyman shouted "Never mind, God.  I found one."
    I don't wish disaster on anyone, personally or collectively.  I'm one who wishes to avoid tears and rain.  I much prefer joy and sunshine.  Yet I know that hardship calls forth our better selves.  It seems we don't grow, physically, emotionally or in faith, without pain.  There is a reason God gave us all the emotions, not just the happy ones.

   As I pray for the people of Fort McMurray, I give thanks for the courage and perseverance of the fire fighters, the police, and
paramedics.  I give thanks for the kindness of strangers.  I give thanks that no lives were lost to the fire, although two people died in a car crash during the evacuation.  Like Elijah, I ask God to send the rain. I ask for courage, strength and hope for all those displaced by the fire.  
    And I pray that we remember our better selves when the crisis is passed.