Friday, April 29, 2016

DEVOTION: The decptiveness of Rebellion

An evil man seeks only rebellion; Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him. Proverbs 17:11 NKJV

Three-year old Jade knows how cute she is. She thinks that by flashing a cute smile she can get away with anything. For the first year of her life her mother, in an effort to raise her daughter to eat healthily, never gave her any processed sugar - no sweets, no chocolate or biscuits. Nothing. One day Jade and her mother, Miriam went over to visit Jade’s aunt Della. Della, although older than Miriam had no children, so even though she knew that Miriam forbade processed sugar, went overboard stocking her home with all the goodies that she thought a child would love to indulge in. She bought cup cakes and cookies and ice cream.

Not surprisingly, Miriam rejected everything that was offered to her child and pulled out a Ziploc baggie filled with cut up pieces of fruit.

As sisters are wont to do it wasn’t long before they got chatting away and didn’t notice for at least 10 minutes that little Jade was out of sight and rather quiet. They found her in the dining room clutching a half eaten chocolate chip cookie, with chocolate smears all over her face. Miriam was horrified, but before she could say anything, Jade instinctively looked at her aunty and gave her the most beatific smile and Della’s heart melted. Della apologised to her sister and reached for Jade, as she tried to placate Miriam. She told Miriam that nothing would happen just because her daughter had eaten a couple of cookies.

Hours later Della got a call from an irate Miriam telling her that her baby was climbing up the walls and for the first time had missed her strict bedtime. Della and Jade’s disregard of Miriam’s rules had a real, albeit small in the grand scheme of things, consequence.

Thousands of years ago Pharaoh was deceived by his own rebellion against God, believing, even in the face of plague after plague, that he could withstand God. One minute he was imploring Moses to petition God to remove a plague and the next he defiantly went back on his word to let the people of Israel go. In Exodus 10:28 he had the audacity to say “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more!” He truly believed that he, not God, was in control. The consequence of his rebellion was the death of the first born of all in his kingdom, and the death of Pharaoh himself and his entire army. His paid gravely for his rebellion.

Thank God for the blood of Jesus that brings salvation to all men and for grace, mercy and forgiveness. Even so Galatians 6: 7 tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” May our lives be hospitable to the Holy Spirit and may we be ever sensitive to His leading, recognising, hating and fleeing ever form of sin and rebellion, understanding the great price that Christ paid. May we never, by His grace, take His forgiveness for granted. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo is a Software Training Manager/Senior Technical Author. She lives in Potters Bar just outside London. She is editing her manuscript and working on a story set in Nigeria, and is trusting God for connections leading to publication.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Balance Issues

by Janice L. Dick
Canada

I experience occasional issues with balance, apparently due to the aura that accompanies silent migraines (so says the specialist, for lack of any other explanation). The problem sounds innocuous, but it can be debilitating.

There’s a balance issue with writing as well. I believe in using social media: I must be traceable. I must also be available to interact with readers and writers on the various sites I have chosen to use for promotional purposes.

However, my time is limited, and you know how quickly time can fly when you’re on social media. I must find a balance, a way of managing my time so I still have opportunity to write. 

How do I find a balance? I would suggest it’s different for each of us, but we need to put effort into managing our time. We need to analyze how effective the various sites are/have been for our writing careers. Perhaps we need to consolidate using programs like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, although that involves more learning time again. Time allotment for social media is a challenging dilemma, but one that needs to be managed.

As with vertigo, the problem with spending too much time on social media may be more serious than we think. Taking time to learn the sites and to manage them efficiently is necessary for balance in a writer’s life.

Right now I must return to the work of molding my current manuscript and into the requisite format for the digital world. Losing too much time on social media sites can be debilitating to my writing career. Because really, if I don’t have anything new to offer, I have nothing to promote. 

Blessings to you, my fellow writers, as you find the necessary balance in your writing careers.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Confessions of a Big Five Publisher Intern - a Guest Post by Sara Wildes


Hi! This is Patricia Beal. I'm happy to introduce my new writer friend Sara Wildes. We met after the publisher she works for rejected my debut novel early this year (I later sold it to Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). Enjoy this unique behind-the-scenes Sara wrote for us. She is young, about to get married, and an aspiring author herself.

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Becoming a Publishing Intern 


My entry into the publishing world began December 2015 during my last semester of school at Lipscomb University. My class was required to attend mock interviews with the intent to discover how we would do in a real job interview. I almost skipped the interviews, but my senior year motto pushed me forward: when the only thing better to do is sleep, you don't skip. So I breezed through the interviews without much thought and was glad when they were over, never to reenter my mind--until a couple weeks before graduation, I received an email from one of the interviewers. It was the lead editor from a major publishing company in Nashville, wanting to know if I'd be interested in interning starting the next month as an editor/marketer while one of their members would be out on maternity leave for five months. For a student about to graduate and already getting depressed about possibly getting stuck working as a fast-food cashier for the rest of her life, this offer was just what I needed to get launched into my first year as an official adult. 



The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 

My first day on the job, I was overwhelmed with the amount of books on shelves throughout the building. The perfect place for a reader. Even the front counter desk was made of stacked books! The first task I was given was to print out a manuscript and bind it. This task has gotten old three months later, but it was cool the first couple times to know I was holding a young book in its early stages of being created. Other exciting aspects of being here have included meeting authors, attending a sales conference, titling books, and gaining an insider's perspective on how publishing actually works. 

Within two weeks, my naive positive outlook on publishing was crushed upon attending my first acquisitions meeting. A dozen editors and marketers sat around the table to discuss three of our latest debut titles that hadn't been immediately declined. A couple days prior to the meeting, we had all been sent the book proposals followed by a survey for us to rate each 1 to 5. Believing them all to be interesting stories I'd like to read, I think I gave one a five and the other two a four. I felt embarrassed when the others' scores were revealed in the meeting. Several 2's. A couple 1's. The rest 3's. What was wrong with these people that they didn't want to immediately acquire these books?! 
It was called: social media. For acquisitions meetings, everyone reads the proposals then does research on the writers to discover how many followers they have, how many platforms, and determine the quality of social content/website/blog. Typically, Twitter and Facebook are the two important sites, along with either a website or a blog which serve as a central platform to point to the others (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It's up to the writer how many platforms they utilize--a couple good ones will impress, several good ones will really impress, while several bad ones will look bad. 

Do what you think suits your content best and will reach the audience you want to publish to (don't bother with Google+). If the writer has been published before, we also look to see if their books have at least 300 ratings each on Goodreads. Ultimately, if a writer hasn't marketed themselves well enough already, the team won't even consider acquiring their manuscript. Realizing this was what discouraged me about ever getting my own book published. Maybe being an author really was just a crazy dream. Until the day came when I thought, If other writers have become famous, who says I can't too? And so I decided to start taking action to become another great author. 

What I will do differently now as a writer 

All my life, I have wanted to have my own book published. My friends would say to just go get them published. What held me back? I didn't know how to just "go publish my book." I wrote my first complete book when I was twelve. Since then I have begun several others, completed two, and written half of two others. The first two are Christian Fiction, the others young adult fantasy, and future novels mystery/suspense. Since coming to a publishing company and seeing the process writers have to go through, I have begun serious edits on my favorite manuscript, started a blog, and begun building my social platforms to gain an audience (more details on this process can be found on my blog post Adventures in Social-Land). Both my blog and social media have allowed me to connect with a lot of great writers I never would have met otherwise. They have helped to both encourage as well as provide guidance in the areas I need it. Getting the numbers I need to impress a publisher will take a while, but they are increasing steadily. Now my next step to getting published (after finishing final edits on my manuscript) is to prepare a proposal to start sending out to agents. 

Advice for authors to sell more books 

Listen to your marketers. I can't speak for every publisher in the world, but here our marketers take care of the book sales. A few weeks ago, I mailed out boxes to booksellers with a couple copies of a new book, a few bookmarks, pens, personalized M&Ms, and a magnet (all the products were designed specifically for that book). To spread a book's popularity to readers, we also regularly give out digital versions of books on Net Galley as well as physical ARCs (advanced reader copies) to people who either blog book reviews or review books on places like Goodreads and Amazon. These sort of things are the reason a writer should strive for a contract with a publisher before attempting to self-publish. A publisher will take care of all your editing and marketing for you. They want you to succeed, because they are as dependent on your book's sales as you the writer would be. 

Advice for people hoping for a contract with major publisher 

Connections make a huge difference for people trying to get a contract with a major publisher. Even if a book proposal doesn't sound immediately enticing, it will still be voted on in a meeting, if it has been suggested by a respected author or agent (Not many proposals actually get voted on. We may receive five or ten a week, but only two or three will appear in the biweekly acquisitions meeting). Become friends with published authors and meet good agents at writing conferences. Also, don't try to self-publish if you want a major publisher. With the belief that a self-publisher will be hard to work with, the marketers here don't want to work with someone who will likely think they know how to do everything themselves. Marketers want a writer who will follow their direction without question and put in the time to upkeep their social platforms. 

Where will I go from here? 




Once this internship is over, I plan to continue marketing myself as a writer (on Facebook, blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads) to gain an audience for my books. Hopefully you'll see one of my books published within the next few years. For now, I'm working on my blog livinglitup.wordpress.com to educate and inspire other writers while searching for an agent to represent me. As far as my career is concerned, I'm not sure that an 8 to 5 indoor job is suited for me. I'm too much a free spirit to be indoors all day from sunrise to sunset. And I have too many dreams to pursue. Between writing, I'd love to open my own restaurant featuring a bookstore then pursue marine biology to become a dolphin trainer. If those don't work, I'll move to gardening. Honestly, my list doesn't end. I'm a writer and an adventurer. I don't believe in having to find one job and sticking with it forever. We get one short life to live. So I live through both my characters and through myself, seeking adventures and living life to the fullest.



Connect with Sara:

https://livinglitup.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Sarawildesauthor/
https://twitter.com/sara_wildes
https://www.instagram.com/sara_wildes_author/
https://www.pinterest.com/sbwildes/

Aspiring Writer. Blogger. Reader. Dreamer. Adventurer. Lover of hot chocolate, rainy days, and nature.



(Dream Big Image by Dan Elijah Fajardo - Dandingeroz Designs; Social Media Image by Shutterstock)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Not so Loveable - Character Development + giveaway

Axel ducked his head and rubbed a knuckle against his temple as a smile tugged at his mouth. “Truth is, Eliza, I wasn’t so sure about this whole arrangement, but after seeing you, I think I might be coming around. And not just because you’re as pretty as you are. When I saw you climbing down from that stage, it occurred to me the kind of courage it must have taken for a woman like you to travel all this way on your own. And I respect that. I don’t think marrying you is a decision I’m going to regret.” 
Elizabeth’s face warmed. Not from his praise, but from the fact that making him regret this marriage was foremost on her mind.
That is an excerpt from my newly released novella, Mail-Order Revenge



To give you a clearer picture of the characters, here is the back cover blurb:

Elizabeth Landvick knows of one man to blame for her family’s loss of fortune and her parents’ deaths. Now, she will stop at nothing to take her revenge and recover their wealth. Even travel across the country to marry the man’s son.  
With his on focus his sprawling Arizona ranch, Axel Forsberg has little time for wooing a woman, so when his father finds him a bride from the east, he trusts he won’t regret the convenience. Until horses go missing, barns burn to the ground, a range war begins…and he loses his heart. 

Starting out the story with a woman bent on making the hero's life miserable is fine and dandy until your readers fall in love with said hero and decide the heroine is a witch. After a while they can't read anymore because she makes them so mad.

While I love conflict, I must admit to having put down a few books because I could not understand the POV character and they were driving me mad. There are only so many times you can throw a book against a wall hoping to knock some sense into the main charactor before you don't pick it again...or have to take it in for repairs as in the case of an e-book. ;)

I had a similar problem when writing the Patriot and the Loyalist, (yep, this is a sneak peek at the cover!) the second book in my Hearts at War series (the first book is now available for preorder!) that will be releasing next year. For a time, a couple of my critique partners were ready to strangle the heroine--I mean, how heartless can a woman be? Especially when the Hero is trying so hard. Here are three things I learned from my beautiful British spy, and my vengeful bride...

1. Motivation: As I fed the reader backstory, I had to make sure it was clear what made the character the way they are. 
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where you found yourself almost rooting for the antagonist and feeling a little bad for him when hauled away to jail after you learned he'd lost his mom as a kid, and then his dog got ran over, and Santa never brought him anything, and his ice cream fell out of its cone...Pretty much just one tough break after another? Lay all that history out for the reader and show how it affected the character. 
But, please, no info dumps! ;)

2. Motivation: What outside sources are at play? Physical threats? Perceived threats? The basic human instinct of survival? Are there events and situations that corner the character until the only way they see out of the problem is over or through someone else? 
A person can sometimes get away with murder if they believe it is self defense.

And next...

(Brace yourself for this one as it may come as a surprise.)

3. MotivationWhat is currently happening with the character's emotions that compels them to act so heartless? Where is their heart really at? What do they feel in the moment as they light that match and let it drop into a stack of dry hay...oops, no spoilers!

So the tall and short of it seems to be motivation and letting the reader in on that motivation...sooner or later. The timing is really dependent on whether you want your audience to like the character or hate them. 

What are your thoughts as a reader, or writer, about characters who drive you mad with their decisions. Leave a comment for a chance at a free e-book copy of Mail-Order Revenge. Now available on Amazon!

Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW's 2015 Genesis Contest. Her childhood was spent listening to her father read chapters from his novels, and Angela decided young to follow his path. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her "hero" and three munchkins. 

Visit her at www.angelakcouch.com, or follow on Twitter or Facebook!


Monday, April 25, 2016

Best of the ICFW Archives ~ The Old Brooch

By Ruth Ann Dell



Some years ago my mother inherited the contents of a farmhouse in England. She found the antique brooch in the photo below in the old Devonshire house and, much to my delight, she gave it to me.

Abigail, my geocaching character whom I wrote about in a previous blog, informed me that she'd love to have the brooch. I don't know if other writers have this problem, but sometimes my characters can be very demanding! However, after some thought, I agreed to give it to her. I'd recently read a blog post by C.S. Lakin about using symbols and motifs in a book, and the brooch would be the perfect symbol for Abigail's quest to find God.

Read more at the following link:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Best of the ICFW Archives ~ The Old Brooch

Tuesday

Angela Couch

Wednesday

Patricia Beal 

Thursday

Janice Dick: Balance Issues

Friday Devotion

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo

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New Releases

Kara Isaac's contemporary romantic comedy set in New Zealand, Close To You, is an April 2016 release from Howard Books.

Christine Lindsay's historical romance set in the US, Sofi's Bridge, will be an April 2016 release from Pelican Book Group.

Marion Ueckermann's romance set in 1972 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Spring's Promise, Book 1 in the Heart of Ireland series, was a March 2016 independent release.

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Upcoming Releases

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

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.

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, April 22, 2016

DEVOTION: Blessed Reminder ~ by Kathi Macias


Your own eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD
which He did
(Deuteronomy 11:7, NASB).

I was 26 years old before I came to know the Lord personally. Prior to that I knew and, to some extent, believed the basic tenets of Christianity, including that Jesus “died for the sins of the world.” Unfortunately that didn’t impact me until I understood that He died for ME, for MY sins. That changed everything.

It’s amazing how me-centered we are, isn’t it? Even after we become believers and spend time growing spiritually, we still fight that tendency to think the universe revolves around us. And yet there are times that God wants us to personalize our faith; Deuteronomy 11 is a great example of that.

As a matter of fact, God spends a lot of time in Deuteronomy reminding and recounting His many amazing and merciful deeds on behalf of the Israelites. He wants them, as a nation of chosen people, to remember all that He has done for them so they won’t be drawn away by false gods or start thinking they accomplished anything by their own efforts.

But Deuteronomy 11:7 makes it personal: “Your own eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD which He did.” Yes, God is speaking to Israel as a nation, much as He speaks to the Church as a whole. But He also speaks to individuals, reminding us of what we have personally seen Him do for us. I am always blessed to read stories of what God has done for His people throughout the ages, but I am also blessed when I stop and remember all that He has done for me as an individual. My eyes truly have seen amazing things, times where God intervened on my behalf, and reflecting on those times encourages me when I face trials today.

Like the Israelites of old, we must not allow ourselves to be drawn away by false gods—and the world is full of them!—or be lulled by our egos into thinking we’ve accomplished anything on our own efforts. If we will make it a practice to meditate on God’s acts of love and kindness to us over the years, both personally and as a corporate Body of believers, we will certainly be more apt to cling to and trust Him for all that yet lies ahead.



Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. 


A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. 

She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA with her husband.