Especially for Writers

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Looking for Me?

If you’re looking for me today, head over to the ACFW blog where I talk about how not to write a series. I discuss some of the challenges I’m facing with the Circle Bar Ranch series-that-wasn’t-supposed-to-be-a-series. Yet another opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

While you’re at it, slip over to the More to Life blog—especially if you feel like you’re in a fog. My post, “He Will Not Leave You,” is likely to give you some hope and encouragement.

Be sure to leave comments for me. I always love reading what you have to say.

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Especially for Writers

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Lions Among the Lambs

Lion Among the Lambs, book two of Cecilia Pulliam’s Christian Supernatural series called Lions and Lambs, is a good one. Through supernatural means, Susannah Daniels, the main character, is able to discover when bad things are going to happen to women and children. She and her husband Val are able to save many of them.

But one cult in particular, headed by a scary dude named Ba’al, is the source of many of Susannah’s terrifying visions. Everyone is afraid of him—Abigail, his Tarot card reader, Brian, the man running from him. Ba’al goes “through followers like a sickle through wheat, sometimes without any apparent reason.” Watching Brian run from the cult, observing his extreme paranoia, helps us as the reader understand how bad the bad guy is.

That’s where Cecilia excelled in her writing. Her bad guys are terrifying, yet she never shows them in action. She illustrates how horrible they are by how others react to them.

Brian and Abigail are also scary critters. Abigail has plans for Brian that aren’t in his best interest. But Brian is a psychotic killer, and while he’s afraid of Ba’al, he figures he has Abigail in the palm of his hand. So when he realizes Abigail is conspiring against him, he responds with a “bring it on” attitude. Yes, come ahead, Ms. Abigail. We’ll see who will play the cat and who will play the mouse.

This is the mark of excellent writing. We readers don’t have to have things spelled out for us to get the idea: all the bad guys have done and plan to do terrifying things, but Cecilia doesn’t have to show them for us to feel that sense of fear.

Good job, Ceci!


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Ebook Cards


I got my cards in—too late for the festivals, but in great time for the rest of the events I have coming up this year. Now, whenever someone asks if my book is available in a digital version, I can hand them the card. “Yes, You can get it here.”

Instant sale instead of the hope of one.

As is evident from the image (somewhat blurry–sorry about that), Texas Association of Authors made my cards for me. The individual cards through TAA are more expensive than what DropCard offers, but with DropCard, I’d have to buy 100. So, instead of paying $450 for 100 cards, I paid $30 for 30 cards.

I’m testing them out right now and seeing advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage, of course, and the reason to have them to begin with, is so that I don’t lose sales to customers who want the digital version of my books, but then don’t follow through to order them. I’m looking forward to the day when I can whip one from my purse and present it to someone I’ve been talking to about my books.

Another advantage is that they serve as an inexpensive giveaway, so I can use them either as an income-generating product or as a promotional item.

The disadvantage of buying them through TAA instead of doing them myself is that the TAA logo and content is on front instead of my cover image. I bought stickers to put on the back so the customer will remember what book to buy. But, as I said, I can’t whip out $450 right now for 100 cards to design as I’d like, especially when I can’t be sure how well they’ll sell.

Disadvantage #2 is how easy they are to steal. I lost two at a conference recently despite the fact I’d put the price on the containers holding the cards. I’ve come up with several ideas of how to display them, but none are theft-proof and each idea adds more cost to the product. Since avid readers know the price of an ebook and already know how much they’re willing to spend on an unknown author, I can’t afford to add too much cost to my product without eroding my return on the investment.

So, the jury is still out. I have three more major events this year, not to mention tons of opportunities that crop up through personal contact with others, so we’ll see how well they’ll sell. I’ll keep you posted.


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Especially for Writers

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

August 2017 Christian Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Imperfect Lies by Elizabeth Noyes — When another woman emerges from the past to claim Mallory Cameron’s happily ever after, she cuts her losses and sets out to find a headline-worthy story to launch her journalism career. She embarks on a whirlwind journey that takes her across the United States, to the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, on to sunny Mexico, and deep into the dangerous parts of Africa where terror reigns. James Evers turned his back on a life of power and privilege to carve a place in the world for himself. Now that he’s finally discovered his niche as a small-town sheriff and found the woman he wants in his future, a past indiscretion struts in on high heels and sends his newfound love fleeing headlong into peril. His mission: neutralize old enemies, defuse new threats, resolve past mistakes, settle family disputes, and—most importantly—find and rescue his woman from terrorists before the unthinkable happens. (Action/Adventure from Write Integrity Press)

Contemporary Romance:

The Bachelor’s Unexpected Family by Lisa Carter — Young widow Kristina Montgomery moves to Kiptohanock, Virginia, hoping it will give her and her teenage son, Gray, a fresh start. She longs for the peace and quiet only a small town can provide. But her plans are thwarted by her new neighbor, Canyon Collier, a former Coast Guard pilot and a crop duster. Gray is instantly drawn to the pilot and his teenage niece, Jade—and Kristina’s not far behind. She and Canyon are soon bonding over parenting their charges and their spark becomes undeniable. Could it be that the spirited pilot is just what Kristina needs to teach her heart to soar again? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy — Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia, has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, Amanda’s heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high-school Valentine’s Day date. Camden may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller –It’s been ten years since Leah Fisher’s mother died in a buggy accident. But when Leah’s father shows interest in Naomi Yoder, Leah isn’t ready for a new mother. Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or will she allow love to slip through her fingers, destroying Samuel Fisher and Naomi Yoder’s happiness at the same time? (Contemporary from S & G Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli — An antique ring reunites a Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the man who saved her. Together they unearth the two-hundred-year- old history of a woman who suffered tremendous loss in the Boston Massacre, a woman torn between the love of two men – one a patriot, one a Redcoat. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Fresh Faith by Elise Phillips — Joy Abbott had been trying to start her life over for years — and failing. Then a letter summoned her to Texas and everything changed. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)


Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson — In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter embarks on a two-month adventure to a quaint village in England’s magical Lake District. With a new camera and an eye for capturing the beauty others miss, she can’t wait to explore the heathery fells and mystical waters. Adrian Kemp, a handsome and enigmatic local, makes the sightseeing even more beguiling. When Adrian shows Jenny his late father’s abandoned dream, a deserted island amusement park, she glimpses a kindred spirit in this reckless, haunted young man. Yet as she opens her heart to Adrian, the two stumble into a mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder. As long-held secrets come to light, it’s left to Jenny and Adrian to put the past to rest and restore a lost dream. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Titus: The Aristocrat by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — Titus intends to become a famous lawyer in the Roman Empire. Instead, he is sent by Paul to arbitrate between arch enemies in wild Corinth, wilder Crete, and wildest Dalmatia. In each place he suffers. But, long before that, he suffers from guilt over the death of his mother when he was eleven years old. How does Titus survive it all? (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

Historical Romance:


To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander — With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first. (Historical Romance from Zondervan)

The Second Chance Brides Collection by Lauralee Bliss, Angela Breidenbach, Ramona K. Cecil, Pamela Griffin, Grace Hitchcock, Pam Hillman, Laura V. Hilton, Tiffany Amber Stockton, and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women who each believe their chance for lifelong love has passed them by. From the girls who lost their beaus to war, to the wallflowers overshadowed by others, and the widows deeply hurt by their loss, the desire to love and be loved spans American history from 1777 to 1944. Experience the sweet pull of romance on each life and the blossom of faith that leads them to brighter futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman — Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady. The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage. Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

Romantic Suspense:

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason — When a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan’s life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after she has an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone. In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Plain Retribution by Dana R. Lynn — Ten years ago while on rumspringa, Rebecca Miller and her friends were kidnapped and held captive…and now, living in the English world, she’s nearly abducted again. One by one her friends who once helped send their abductor to jail are targeted, and she is next…unless police officer Miles Olsen can stop a killer. Deaf since birth, the only person on the force that Rebecca can communicate with is Miles, and he needs this case to redeem himself of past mistakes. When the relentless killer tracks them deep into the heart of Amish country, protecting Rebecca must be Miles’s sole focus. Because a mistake this time will cost something worth more to him than his job—the woman he’s falling for. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cold Blooded by Anne Patrick — Detective Gwen Jamison has the highest closure rate in her division, but a string of armed robberies is about to take over her life. Not only will her job be on the line, but the troubling case also wreaks havoc on her personal life. Lieutenant Ian McKean knew he would have his hands full when he took over leadership of the detectives unit. He wasn’t prepared for the headstrong Detective Jamison, though, who quickly becomes a thorn in his side. If they can stop butting heads long enough they might realize they are more alike than either imagined. (Romantic Suspense from Anne Patrick)

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The Importance of the Copy Edit

A friend is doing a massive favor for me and the other authors of a collection we’ve already released. She’s doing the copy edit we should’ve done to begin with.

Even though I had already edited the bulk of the stories included in the collection, our friend is finding a gazillion mistakes. She says she hates going in and editing after someone else has edited because she’s afraid she’ll offend the other editor.

Far from the truth. Actually, it shores up my contention that manuscripts need at least two edits prior to release.

I’m primarily a content editor. My friend is a copy editor. The things that I pay most attention to pertain to the craft of writing; the things she pays most attention to pertain to the mechanics of writing. The mistakes she’s finding in our novellas pertain to the mechanics—things I tend to overlook as the first-round editor.

When it comes to sentence construction and punctuation, I tend to be more intuitive. I punctuate as I want the sentence read, because after all, that’s basically the function of punctuation. Periods draw the reader to a full stop; commas provide a pause; semicolons offer a pause between two complete sentences—but are unnecessary, in my opinion, if the sentences are short; and dashes insert parentheticals much more casually than parentheses for the purpose of fiction. My sentence structure tends to be written as I hear it in my head, regardless of whether it follows the rules.

Does this mean the rules are not important? Nope. Whenever my friend corrects my work, I realize that, for the most part, she’s right.

Although I’m not the “comma momma” that she is, I do know there are rules to punctuation, and I know how to find them. She’s just better with them than I am. Considerably better, which is why she’s the newest addition to my team. She catches me when I’ve hyphenated words that are supposed to be either two separate words or are actually one word (I’m learning to look up things more often now). She also catches sentence construction that is off and needs to be rearranged. She is exceptional at what she does.

Still, after she has edited one of my pieces, I go through and determine the revisions based on a simple concept: Does her correction coincide with the way I want my sentence to be read? The majority of the time, the answer is yes. On the rare occasions the answer is no, I have to decide whether her way reads better and/or provides more clarity. Sometimes I rewrite the sentence; sometimes I overrule her. I’m the author. I have that right. Sentence construction is part of what illustrates my voice.

I have certain peculiarities in my writing, techniques I use periodically to indicate how I want something to be read, that she’s forever marking and I’m forever ignoring. It has more to do with the pace and rhythm of the work or the character’s illustrated personality than it does with the correctness of the sentence construction.

But that doesn’t give me carte blanche to ignore my editor. For one thing, my techniques are not to be used frequently throughout a piece or they’d lose their effectiveness and become a distraction. The second point is this: We are to write to our smartest reader, and that reader would not appreciate a piece in which the mechanics of writing are constantly ignored as if the novel were written by a first-grader.

The American population has slipped considerably from the use of proper grammar. If you don’t believe me, just ask whomever is closest to you to determine the usage differences of “who” and “whom.” But though we’re more casual, we still have rules of writing. As is true with everything we write, we authors are blind to our own mistakes—including those a copy editor could catch. Even if we know the rules, we sometimes don’t see when we’ve missed them.

Editing is the most expensive part of indie publishing, but it’s vital. If you’re a serious writer, you already know this. You plan ahead and save for it, or you suck it up and pay the bill outright. You can also make payment arrangements with your editor.

Or you can do as I did and network with professionals you can exchange favors with or at least earn discounts from. Best place to do that is in professional writers organizations. Each genre has its own group. Seek it out and spend the time and money necessary to join and participate. Gain friends and team members. It’ll save tons in the long run, not to mention all the other benefits inherent in belonging to a professional organization.

Free advice: However you arrange to pay for it, don’t limit yourself to one edit.

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Especially for Writers

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook

Have you decided to go indie? How seriously are you taking the business side of your business? Do you need help and guidance?

Well, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook is for you.

I wish I’d waited one more month to buy it, then I could’ve gotten the updated version too. But the one I have has provided me with some vital tips and information, resulting in a few changes in the way I do things.

In the first chapter, Helen Sedwick covers the fundamentals of setting up a business, from owning your own domain name and ISBNs to determining whether to incorporate or remain a sole proprietorship.

Using the information found in this chapter alone:

  • I learned how to check the availability of my imprint name, Canopy Books

Unfortunately, I discovered it’s already registered to someone in New York and is being used by someone else in Washington. Thanks to Pegg Thomas talking me down from a major freak-out (since the name is on the bulk of my books in Amazon and IngramSpark), my imprint is now Canopy Books of Texas.

  • I realized I needed an Employer Identification Number

You may not need one, I don’t know. But as an author who participates in novella collections, I have to fill out a W-9 for whoever is serving as “publisher” for the collection. This IRS form requires either my Social Security Number or an EIN. I give this to the “publisher” to keep her from paying taxes on more than her share of the collection’s royalties. As an editor, my clients require one because they can deduct my services (now called Canopy Editing Services) from their income taxes. For both of these reasons, I prefer to send out an EIN instead of risking my SSN.

  • I decided to file a dba

I haven’t set up the paperwork for this yet because I still need to research it and see how much of a headache it’s going to be to change things for state tax purposes, but filing  a “doing business as” (a.k.a. Fictitious Business Name) statement is in my near future. Basically, I’m creating Canopy Books of Texas Enterprises, which includes my imprint, Canopy Books of Texas, my editing business, Canopy Editing Services, and my “bookstore,” Canopy Bookstore of Texas. (The store is set up under our blue canopy only during festivals and book events.)

“But I don’t want to do all this,” you say. “I just want to write.” Okey dokey, let’s look at what else Helen Sedwick discusses in the book:

  • the difference between hiring self-publishing service companies or going completely independent, using print-on-demand services, and the contractual things to watch for in each.
  • contracting with freelancers and knowing what freelance services are tax deductible
  • taxes pertaining to the business in general
  • protecting your rights and how to avoid stepping on someone else’s rights: Copyright laws vs Creative Commons vs Public Domain.
  • DCMA, SPAM, and COPPA: navigating the “alphabet soup” of the internet
  • how to avoid marketing service scams

All this and much more, including links to some great resources.

Indie authors need to remember they are in a business now. Among the things they need to do early in their careers: join a professional writers organization, develop a network of freelancers to help with every aspect of book development and marketing, and study Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. Keep it handy.


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