New Christian Literary Journal

sum

Got this in my email recently:

Hi, Linda. I got your contact information off the WOTS blog. If you’re not the right person to contact, please accept my apologies. 

First of all, bless you and your chapter for fostering what is sometimes an overlooked art form. As an editor and a Christian I’m sometimes dismayed at how little encouragement writers of faith get from the faith community. Like the visual and performing arts, writing can and should be a great ministry for the glory of God.

That’s why we recently started a new literary journal called Greater Sum. Greater Sum is a journal of prose and faith meant to help cultivate and encourage the (growing) community of Christian writers with specific emphasis on fiction and creative & narrative nonfiction. While there are outlets for Christian creative writing—especially poetry—there simply aren’t many active journals publishing Christian fiction & nonfiction. We want to fix that. Writers are a tremendous asset to the church, and story is one of the great art and teaching forms.

I’m a decade into a career as an editor, but most of my work has been direct with authors or for organizations. I get tremendous joy out of helping writers one-on-one and through the classes I teach at libraries, conferences, seminars, etc. But it’s time to do more with my experience in publishing and editing, and I’m excited to help foster contemporary Christian prose writers.

I hope you’ll pass on our information to your writing group if there are writers actively seeking publication, and I will happily answer any questions you or writers have. Our website is www.agreatersum.com. Thank you very much for your time.

Marcus Corder
Editor
Greater Sum: A Journal of Prose and Faith
www.agreatersum.com

This is the journal’s debut year, so they aren’t able to pay yet, but hey–writing creds are writing creds! They add up. Hope to read something you’ve written in their journal soon!

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Especially for Writers

457 459 491 380

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Little Things to Watch For

ProofreadIt’s the little things that slip by you while proofreading.  Reversed apostrophes, missing apostrophes, quotation marks in the wrong places or absent, commas and periods missing or misplaced, words that are words, but not the ones you intended.

Sometimes books get published with these errors, and the authors slap their foreheads when they find them dispersed throughout a novel they thought had been carefully edited. They’re easy to miss, and my personal belief is that the editors/proofreaders/beta readers get so involved in the story, they forget to look.

I noticed, from my own experience, I miss the little things primarily when I’m correcting the big ones. I’ll cut a line from dialogue and move it somewhere else, then overlook how it’s punctuated. Not being careful with track changes can also cause oversights. Sometimes, though, I’m simply blind. Just yesterday, I found a silly error in one of my manuscripts—“He was sent somewhere he didn’t want to go too.”

The problem with little errors like these is that you can’t simply “search and replace” to fix them. You can only be alert while you proofread.

One of my tricks, particularly for punctuation errors, is to print the manuscript and skim the pages. If I actually read them, I’ll get involved with other aspects of editing—changing this word for that one, moving this sentence here or this paragraph there, revamping entire scenes. But if I skim, deliberately searching for punctuation, or the lack of it, I’m more likely to find the errors. While I’m at it, I can look at the page as a whole—just hold it out in front of my face like I would a photograph—and see whether I’ve gone overboard with dashes and ellipses.

For some reason, reading the printed page is far different from reading the exact same thing on the screen. I’m able to catch errors I don’t see on the computer. But the computer offers something I can’t find by reading the print version: a way to search out my pet words.

“Just” is one of my pets, kept in check these days because of a sticking “j” key. It’s funny, if I want to make sure I haven’t used it too often, I simply check for the squiggly line under “ust.” But aside from “ust,” I have a list of words and phrases I know I rely too heavily upon, and I seek them out like Elmer Fudd on the hunt.

I know I can’t catch all my mistakes—all authors are blind to their own works—so I have some eagle-eyed beta readers, including a comma-mama or two. I’m not good with commas and often have to rely on Chicago Manual of Style when I’m editing for others. For myself, I have these wonderful mamas who know their stuff.

Before checking for these little things, finish your revisions so you can make sure you have the complete manuscript to hunt through. Go through your list of pet words and search them out. Run the manuscript through spell check to catch the quick and easy things. Then print.

With the printed version, hold up each page and watch for an overuse of dashes and ellipses, double check your paragraph indention, and be sure your chapter heads land on the same place on each page.

Then skim.

I usually move a pencil along each line as I skim, but all I’m looking for are periods/question marks, quotation marks, and apostrophes.

One tip about apostrophes used to indicate a missing letter: they should face the dropped letter.  This isn’t a problem when the letter is at the end of the word, but when it’s at the beginning, type it twice and delete the first.

And–a quick word about semicolons: in fiction, they’re used primarily to join together two complete sentences. If you have a semicolon between a sentence and a clause or between two clauses, you’re misusing it. Take Elmer’s shotgun and blast it off the page.

Even though these proofreading tips help, you’ll never catch everything. And if your readers get caught up in the story, they won’t either. Consider that a compliment when you open your fresh new book and see errors that slipped through the editing/proofreading/beta-reading process.

Posted in editing, Reading | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Conference Time!

OopsLast week, on the American Christian Fiction Writers blog, Cynthia Ruchti wrote of some of “dumbest things” she ever did at an ACFW conference. It was quite a list of not-funny-at-the-time snafus that made me giggle the entire time I read it.

She has been to far more conferences than I have, but I’ve had my own “oops” moments. Most of them I’ve shared on this site at one time or another, but here’s a quick recap:

  • took a new cell phone to one of the classes, thinking I’d set the tone to mute. I hadn’t. Either time. Finally had to turn the stupid thing off.
  • stuck my foot in my mouth with a major agent, did everything possible to avoid that agent for the next several conferences. And may still.
  • came late to an appointment because my shoe broke and I had to run through the hotel barefoot.
  • stuck my foot in my mouth with a well-known author. His response was priceless. Still get a lot of miles off that story.
  • had numerous gaffs with longtime cyberfriends–not recognizing them because they didn’t look like their avatars. I expect this to be an on-going challenge.
  • collapsed in front of a gazillion people just before the awards dinner opened.
  • forgot my pitch and tried to ad-lib my way through an agent meeting. Forgot my characters’ names.
  • stuck my foot in my mouth with yet another popular agent. At least she laughed.

Now you know why I tease about keeping my feet candy-coated. Frankly, I think I’d do far better at conferences if I left my voice at home. But the gaffs and goofs don’t erase all the great times. The friends, networks, opportunities, experiences–totally priceless.

So, I’m going to the ACFW Conference in Nashville. You coming?

 

Posted in Misc., Personal | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Especially for Writers

415

421

427

483

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

New Prize Drawing for Newsletter Subscribers

teamCalled “One for the Road,” this little statuette stands 8 1/2″ tall and 7″ wide at the base, and it’s just perfect for my western genre Romance and Women’s Fiction novels.

And the good news is that one of my newsletter readers will win it in a drawing to be held October 7!

All you have to do is:

  1.  Subscribe to my “Coffee with Linda!” newsletter (if you have already signed up, you’re good to go).
  2. Read the book.
  3. Leave a review on Amazon. I hope you love the novel, but if you don’t, that’s okay. Be honest in your review, and if you have constructive criticism, feel free to include it.
  4. Send a copy of your review to me at linda.yezak@lwyezak.com

(Number 4 is necessary in case you choose not to use your name on the review. Helps to know who you are so I can enter you!)

Sorry, but there are restrictions: family and my “Cowgirls of the Ride” team aren’t eligible for the giveaway; and, due to the cost of shipping, the giveaway is restricted to US readers.

I’ll enter the reviewers’ names into a randomizer program and announce the winner October 7. I hope to see your name on the list!

Don’t know how to leave a review?

Someone — who is considerably younger than me — teased me about giving step-by-step instructions for leaving reviews on Amazon. Isn’t that insulting their intelligence? Don’t most people already know how to do it? 

Answer to both is no. We who live on the internet already know, but not everyone is cybertech savvy. Believe me, I didn’t know how to do it at first, and there are some distribution sites where I still am not sure how. Some of my blog  followers have never left a review of any novel they’ve read because (1) the idea of writing one is intimidating, (2) they don’t know how, and (3) they don’t think it’s important.

So, in answer to #1, just say if you liked the novel, sorta liked it, or hated it and why. The word “review” isn’t quite right. It’s not really a review, it’s the readers opinion of the book. Some people leave reviews that read like book reports, and that’s great. But I love those who write their reactions to the book from their hearts.

Here’s how you can leave a review on Amazon.

  1. Go to Amazon and type The Final Ride into the search bar (or use my link: http://dld.bz/TheFinalRide )
  2. Scroll down to the reviews, and find the words “Write a customer review” after the last one. Poke the button.
  3. Follow the on-screen directions and give it a star rating, then leave a comment of what you think of the novel.
  4. You can preview your comment before you publish it and edit it if you’d like.
  5. Let it go live, and know you’ve done me a tremendous favor!

And in answer the thought that readers don’t feel reviews are important, I can’t stress how important they are. This explains it better than I can:

397

Posted in Misc., Personal, Promotion/Publicity/Marketing, The Final Ride | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Writing Goals to Strive For

446

Remember this from a few weeks ago? I love it, not just for the idea it presents, but also for the way it presents that idea. It’s new, different, and original, and I wish I’d been clever enough to write it.

Here’s another one:

481

Again, new, different, original.

This description of a library grabs the reader’s imagination and presents a truth uniquely stated.

Notice the contrast between the words “decaying,” “disintegrating,” “forgotten,” and the concept of it all smelling like a “dessert,” “sweet, “figs,” “vanilla.” Glue, of course. And cleverness. Isn’t that something? By association, cleverness is a dessert snack.

Actually, for me, it is. When I hear or read something cleverly written, I tend to want to say it aloud, to taste it and see how it delights my tongue. Once I’ve done that, it never seems to leave me.

Just like one of my favorite similes from suspense queen Lisa Gardner’s Survivors Club. I’ve never forgotten it.

The husband of one of the club members, a woman who had been brutally attacked while he was away “working” one night, tried to soothe her with her favorite flowers and meals.

Here’s what Lisa wrote:

Guilt, she decided, smelled like roses and chicken piccata.

Can you beat that?

I try to. Every time I come across an emotion that I want to milk for all its worth, I try to do something like that. I try to beat Lisa’s best simile with something of my own that is clever and unique and calorie-laden like a sweet dessert.

Most of what goes into a novel is basic writing—you’re imparting information about the plot, characters, setting, action. But sometimes while you write, you have to slow your reader down to make her feel–fear, love, hate, frustration, irony, loneliness, betrayal–so many other emotions common to everyone. Yet, though they’re common to everyone, everyone feels as if they alone are experiencing them. They need someone to put into words the depth and intensity of whatever it is they’re feeling. They’ll read your words, then reread them and think, “Yes. That’s it exactly.” And they’ll seem less alone because they know that you, at least, know their hearts precisely.

Notice that not one example I’ve provide is spot-on. The first doesn’t say, “I want to write about the beauty of September.” The second doesn’t say, “The library smelled old and musty.” Lisa didn’t write, “Her husband felt guilty.” The examples are Master’s Level “Show, Don’t Tell.” This isn’t SDT 101, it’s word artistry at its finest. It’s something to continuously strive for.

Yet, lest we become paralyzed by the challenge or lost in the striving, we need to keep this in mind, also:

456

 

 

Posted in write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Especially for Writers

428 436

474 473 480

 

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Eye Health for Close-Work Workers

Yesterday, I couldn’t get my eyes to focus. I was trying to read something on the computer screen and none of the three lenses on my trifocals would make the print clear for me. If I brought the laptop a few inches from my nose or used the commands to make the print larger, I could see okay, but that didn’t explain why I was having trouble when just the day before my eyes were fine.

Even as a writer — someone who’s supposed to have the ability to express emotions — I don’t think I can explain the depths of my fear. My mother has Macular Degeneration, a condition that ruins all but the peripheral vision (and sometimes even that), and I’ve often wondered what I’d do in the same situation. She was an artist at one time, painting detailed work at close proximity for hours on end. Did that cause her MD? I don’t know, but if detailed work at close proximity for hours on end does cause eye problems — and I believe it does — then I need to pay closer attention to my eyes.

I don’t think I’m much different from a lot of you who read my blog. We spend a lot of time in front of a computer or Kindle screen. I have manuscripts I’m editing, critiquing, reviewing, endorsing, writing — almost my entire life and career are centered around this screen, and when it’s not, I’m reading or cross-stitching another baby quilt. Sometimes I glance outside and am strangely stunned by the depth of three dimensional life.

Yesterday’s scare reminds me that I’m supposed to take care of myself despite the demands on my time. I’m supposed to type with my wrists elevated to prevent CTS, to give myself a break and move around periodically so my blood circulates and my muscles don’t atrophy, and to rest my eyes often to keep scares like that from happening again.

ocuviteOne of the things I’m adding to my list of ought-tos is a supplement for my eyes. MSB was having trouble with his eyes at one point, and his doctor recommended Ocuvite. Of course, he takes the one for folks over 50, but it’s available over the counter for adults of any age.

Soon after I posted my plea for prayers on Facebook yesterday, I remembered he had these (God reminded me?–could be!) and took one. Within 30 minutes, my sight seemed to be restored to normal. Is this a miracle drug? I doubt it. Is it the reason my eyes behaved? I don’t know, since this has happened only once, but I know it didn’t hurt anything.

systaneWhile I’m on the subject of eye health, let me also mention Systane Eye Drops. This is the brand Mom’s doctor recommends for her and it has worked wonders on her dry eyes (hasn’t helped the MD, but it doesn’t claim to). Systane has a line of products of different strengths, from simple drops to the “restorative formula” lubricants. Some feel like you’re plopping healing water into your eyes and others feel like a light gel that coats and protects them. If your eyes are dry and scratchy, this stuff is like magic. If it doesn’t work, then you’d better go to a doctor and get something prescription strength.

You can find both Ocuvite and Systane anywhere over-the-counter drugs are sold.

One word about the Ocuvite, though. It says to take it with a full glass of water at breakfast. Take that seriously. Don’t swallow this pill on an empty stomach, or you’ll be swapping one problem for another. Learn from my mistake.

 

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Writing Again

469Remember this mug from last Friday? I want it. It serves a dual purpose–it would announce to whomever may care that I’m writing again and, if I’m not writing again, it would serve as a constant reminder that I’m supposed to be.

I finally arrived at the “writing again” stage. Months ago, I finished Skydiving to Love, a novella to be released in a collection with other authors (Pamela S. Meyers, Jessica Ferguson, and Angela Breidenbach) called The Bucket List Dare, and I haven’t written anything more substantial than a blog post since.

I thought, after trying Katie’s Outlining Your Novel workbook, that I would outline again. I was excited about my experiment based on her instruction at first — and I still highly recommend it — but I still land squarely in the “hybrid” hole. I can’t shake doing things the way I’ve always done them. My way works for me.

Here’s a list of things I already knew about Ride to the Altar by last year, when I wrote its cover copy to put in the back of The Final Ride as a tease (and also to let my readers know that The Final Ride isn’t final):

  • Some of my readers wanted me to solve the mystery of who killed Talon’s first fiance, Janet.
  • Others of my readers wanted to see Talon and Patricia’s wedding.
  • I’ve left hints in the past two books in this series that Patricia and her mother don’t get along.
  • I left hints in the last book that a minor character is going to pass away.
  • There’s a condition called “weak calf syndrome,” in which a calf is so weak when it’s born that it can’t stand long enough to get nourishment–some aren’t strong enough to suck. I found out about this on the RFD channel a couple of years ago and tucked notes away just in case I could ever use the information.

These are the things I’ve had to come up with:

  • Who, among all the characters already introduced in the two previous books, killed Janet?
  • Why don’t Patricia and her mother get along?
  • How will the death of the minor character and “weak calf syndrome” fit into the new story?

I’ve been mulling all this over and trying to flesh it out for a year. I knew I’d be introducing a new character — Patricia’s mother (yet another Yankee) — but I also knew that I’ve played the fish-out-of-water theme to death. I have to come up with something different. And I have to come up with an excellent reason she didn’t want Patricia to marry Talon. Have to decide how Patricia reacts to the reason, how she reacts to her mother, how she grows/changes due to her relationship with her mother.

Not long ago, when Mom was in getting her eyes tested, I got hit with a barrage of ideas, which is always the case when I’m away from home and the only thing I have to write on is a little 4″ x 5″ notebook with only three pages remaining. Believe me, I made the most of those three pages.

Everything gelled after that. I know what’s going to happen and where and when and why and how and who all it’s going to affect and how it’ll affect them and why. It’s all in my head. It took me over a year to get it there, but it’s there now. Months and months of scrabbling around in my mind for the answers to the “journalistic” questions. Doesn’t mean I won’t chase rabbits, but at least I know my story well enough not to follow those little furry butts too far away from the plot.

That’s the process I went through when writing Give the Lady a Ride and The Final Ride. It’s the same process I started for The Cat Lady’s Secretbut as some tragedies hit our family while I was writing it, I tended to chase too many rabbits down some pretty dark holes. The results don’t match the intentions, but it’s still a great book.

Then there’s The Simulacrum — in a league of its own. Brad outlined it, I wrote it. Doesn’t count.

The “hybrid” part of all this comes while I’m writing. In my head, I know what’s going to happen in my novel, but getting everything down on paper is a different animal entirely. As I write, I come up with ideas about the next scene, the one after, and so on, and I stop writing long enough to do a quick outline of them, including character reactions, etc. Sometimes my characters do and say things that take me by surprise, so — if I want to use that little surprise — I have to “interview” them to figure out where it came from. Everything has to be accounted for, so if a character does something that’s contrary to their established personality, I have to figure out why and how to make it fit based on information I’ve already provided about that character. So, yes, I do character bios, but primarily as I go along, not before I know who they are.

So there you go: my “method,” if you want to call it that. And finally, part 1 of my method — the part about getting an idea fleshed out enough to actually start writing — is complete.

Now, I can proudly say I’m writing another novel!

Posted in write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments