Laughter Lifts the Heart
Several years into it, and this blog still refuses to be categorized. It's eclectic and includes everything from writing posts to snippets from my ordinary life.
Welcome to this crazy place. You're bound to find something you like.
"Now, may the Lord of peace give you peace always, in every way."
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Coffee with Linda Newsletter!
Writing in ObedienceLearn about the genre of Christian Fiction!
Available on Amazon!
31 Devotions for Writers31 authors, 31 devotions, exclusively for Christian writers.
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Public Speaking for Newbies
Tips to hide your knocking knees when speaking to a crowd!
Available on Kindle!
I had the entire weekend to myself. MSB and his brothers went off to the farm for the last hunt of the season, and I intended two solid days of writing on my WIP, Riding Herd. Two days! Can you imagine how close I’d be to finishing the novel, if Hallmark didn’t exist? Or if some channel somewhere hadn’t shown Tommy Lee Jones in Man of the House? Or UP showing The 5th Quarter?
Yes, I blame them–and the fact MSB didn’t take the remote control with him. I’m the victim here, I tell ya.
Not buying it? Smart.
Three of the movies in their ad above played this weekend, plus another not in the picture, Perfect on Paper, plus Saturday’s debut Away & Back (terrific movie, by the way. If you didn’t see it, catch it next time it’s on). Actually, I could mark the weekend up to research. I don’t read romance, but I do love light-hearted romance movies like the ones Hallmark offers. Since a secret goal is to have one of my novels nabbed by the premier “date night” channel, I have to know what appeals to them.
Long time ago a friend wrote a post for AuthorCulture about how to get more writing time: get busy. Not “get busy writing,” but get busy living. A tight, hectic schedule works better for the writer than having all the time in the world, especially when her passion is writing. If it’s a hobby, something she’d like to do “someday,” then that someday will never come. She will always be too busy. She will always have excuses.
Having too much time is just as bad, because there’s always tomorrow, always “later.” I faced that this weekend. Instead of a long writing spree, I had a staycay–watched movies, worked on my latch hook rug, snacked so much even my pjs were tight last night. In the end, I wrote the same amount I write daily during the three hours designated to my WIP. If I were truly busy, I wouldn’t even have those three hours. Makes me wonder if I couldn’t double my count if I took on a few more projects during the day.
So for the two-day weekend, Hallmark won. Hallmark 2, Author zip.
I love my dentist. He’s a great guy, a fellow Aggie, and a huge fan of Aggie baseball, just like me. I love his assistant. She’s an author, too, and we chat like old friends whenever we’re together. I even love my new hygienist, although I just met her this week, and our discussion didn’t really expand further than the shape my teeth are in (pretty good, thank you very much, although I can expect trouble with my old fillings in the future).
What I don’t love is dentistry. I hate having my mouth open that long without words coming out or food going in. I hate having other people’s fingers in my mouth. Not a fan of metal objects poking around. Hate clamping down on the X-ray duber. Hate choking on my spit. And I totally despise having my lips stretched like Play-Doh all over my face.
While I love visiting with everyone from the dental professionals to the office managers (next time, let’s do lunch!), what I love most about the dentist’s office is leaving it.
Usually, all I ask of the hygienist is to check for cavities and scrape off the tartar. I bypass the flossing (I can do that myself) and the polishing (I get the same polished feel with my electric toothbrush), so I can get out as quickly as possible.
However, yesterday, my new hygienist taught me why I should get my teeth polished: the gritty material used for the process scrapes off filmy residue. Brushing and flossing do a great job of cleaning the teeth, but there’s always a thin veneer of–whatever, I forgot–clinging to the enamel. She said it’s like looking at your windshield and thinking it’s clean until you run your finger over it.
What to do? Load up your toothbrush with the gritty stuff and polish, polish, polish.
I entitled this post “Writing Lessons from a Dental Hygienist.” Can you see where I’m going with it?
When you’ve finished writing your novel, you need to brush it with Crest and floss it with a waxed string. That’s the first edit, which checks all the big stuff–POV, characterization, description, story arc, character arc, dialogue, theme, plot, and on and on and on. What needs changing? What needs tweaking? What needs ripping out? What needs to be included? Is it clear? Is it gripping?
Finally, go through it one more time with the gritty stuff. Do your sentences flow easily? Does your thought process follow a logical procession? Have you chosen the strongest possible words? Have you word-painted a picture for your reader to see?
Line by line. There is no electrical device to speed up the process. Fortunately, though, by this time much of it will have been caught and corrected during the first edit. But now’s the time to polish off that final veneer of not-quite-rightness.
Then rise from the chair and stroll in the sunshine.
Again, this is the edited version. You know the drill! BTW: If you have any or know any news for January/February, be sure to let me know! (Click on the image for more information):
Due out Valentine’s day, but available now for pre-order!
Another in the Mysteries in Malawi Pre-teen Series
GoodReads giveaway from 1/14-1/31.
(Another in the “Bible Study for Busy People” series by Margaret Weston)
Discounts and Giveaways:
Love Inspired authors Jessica Keller and Belle Calhoun teamed up for quite a giveaway. You really need to see this for yourself. Check out Jessica’s blog, Jessica Keller. These giveaways close on January 27!
Yvonne’s is a Goodreads giveaway, good till the end of the month.
Delia’s is a short story, available for free only on the Pelican Book Group site.
99c Kindle Special!
Young Christian mom, Heather Bixler, is holding an online Bible study at the end of the month:
What’s included: One comprehensive content/copy edit round (incorporating the sample Genesis score sheet) of the 16 pages you’re submitting to the ACFW contest, followed by a proofread after author corrects first round edits. Check out her FB business page (the pinned post).
Hope you found something of interest. If not, maybe next time!
This coming of age story is chock full of symbolism, but the central theme is that faith in anything other than God is in vain. But Billy doesn’t sugar-coat the Almighty. He tells us God has sharp edges.
In the Heart of the Dark Wood is a hard read. Even though Billy guides his readers through the thoughts and emotions of his characters, he doesn’t allow us to sit back and relax. He wants our minds and senses fully engaged.
Mary Granderson, Allie’s mother and Marshall’s wife, was killed in The Storm described in When Mockingbirds Sing, but her body was never found. All that they buried was one of her pink shoes–not enough evidence to prove to Allie her mother was never coming back.
Before she died, Mary gave Allie a plastic compass to wear around her wrist. The needle never moved, until one traumatic event occurred. Then it led Allie into the woods.
Twelve-year-old Allie didn’t go alone. She brought her friend and classmate, Zach Barnett, with her. Zach knew how to survive in the wilderness because he frequently went with his father, and his dad had taught him everything about surviving. But by the end of the first day, the woods swallowed them, and they couldn’t find their way out.
Not that Allie wanted to go home. She was on a singular mission to find her mama. Zach shouldered the responsibility of keeping her safe. Sam, the Beagle pup, used his nose to guide them both.
The three went into the dark woods chock full of mission and courage. Five days later, they came out . . .
I read an “inkwell” article in Writer’s Digest recently that took me a bit by surprise. This article, “Sizing Up Small Presses” was published last February (I’m a bit behind in my reading), and encouraged authors to consider publishing through a smaller press as an alternative to either self-publishing or landing the emblem of one of the bigwigs.
According to the article, “authors earn their money primarily through royalties–roughly 10 percent on print sales and up to 25 percent per digital purchase.”
I’ve been with three small presses now, and my experience is a bit different–particularly on print sales. With the exception of one of the publishers (who pays quite a bit less than 10% on print sales), I usually earn considerably more in print sales and a tad bit more on digital sales. If I ever decide to go with a small press again, this percentage will be the first thing I look at.
Next, the article mentioned the advance: “$1000-2000 is a common range,” or the advance is non-existent. I’ve never earned an advance anywhere near that high. Usually, the advance paid is just enough to qualify the publisher with certain organizations, like ACFW, so the authors would qualify to enter contests, like the Carol Award.
Even though my experience doesn’t match up with what Robert Lee Brewer quoted in his article, it’s interesting to see something that would indicate a standard in the industry.
There are non-monetary things to consider when looking at small presses, too, not the least of which is the status of the press. Is it truly small, or is it an upstart? If you’re looking at an upstart company and are willing to give them a try–after you’ve thoroughly investigated them (and any other small publisher) on Preditors and Editors and every other way available–be sure you can get the rights back to your book should the company go out of business. Even if the company doesn’t go out of business, how long will your book be under contract? What is the expected print run? After they release it, will you be able to keep your cover art?
How many books has the company published? Do you like the covers? Are you familiar with any of the authors? Where are the books distributed? What are the price ranges? (40% of a 99c ebook doesn’t provide much of a royalty.)
Read through the opening pages of some of the company’s books on Amazon. Do you like the format? Do they seem well-edited? Should you hire a professional freelance editor before you submit to them? That’s your name on the title page–you want your work to be polished.
What is the company’s marketing plan? These days, authors bear most of the burden of marketing regardless of the publisher size, but even small companies have a support system.
The good thing about being with a small publisher is that someone objective validated your work. Someone said, “Yes, this book is good enough for us to risk our resources on.” Even though self-publishing is becoming far more acceptable than it once was, it is still a great boost and career-starter to be able to announce that you’ve been traditionally published.
But it definitely isn’t a way to get rich quick. Well, publishing in general won’t change your financial status overnight, until you happen to have that one story that defies all odds. Most of us don’t.
What are your goals? Why do you want to be published? If my burning desire is simply to get my stories out there, I wouldn’t bother with a publisher at all. I’ve already proven that I can earn back the money I’ve invested to get my book out there.
I’ve been traditionally published three times and self-published twice. Personally, I like the objective validation that comes with being traditionally published. But I don’t know that I’ll bother with a small house again (well, depending on which one it is). I like having control over my work. If a major company isn’t willing to invest in my works, I may continue to self-publish until I can produce what the biggies are looking for.
But isn’t it great? Regardless of the publication path you choose, it’s wonderful to know that so many routes are available. It’s a writer’s dream world!
I promised in my article, “Merry Christmas to Me” that I’d post pictures of my best-ever Christmas present. Well–here ya go, my 14′ x 34′ cabin!
I love this cabin. It’s a shell right now, so I’m like a kid with a dollhouse, planning how we’re going to finish it out and decorate it. We’ll have a few years to work on it before we live there while our house is being built on the farm, and I’m looking forward to each stage. What I’m really looking forward to is showing y’all what it looks like in the spring. It’s such a beautiful area. Can’t wait to see it surrounded by green again!