July 19, 2018

Pitching a pitch By Eunice Matchett

Books, books, and more books. The brain food for introverts. Companions to loners. To write one, the temporary goal of almost every grade six student. And that included me.

My high marks in grade school language convinced me I could spin a fair tale, and over years I continued to spasmodically practice my gift.  But, as every writer knows, writing isn’t that easy. Except for the basics, most of what I learned in high school English I needed to relearn. Like adjectives. In my day, the more you used, the better. Now, I consider them verbal dysentery.  

Over the years, I continued to learn, and my stories improved. I poked my head out of my introvert shell and submitted some stories to magazines and Sunday school papers. Many were accepted, and they even paid me to publish them. I was on cloud nine, but my real dream was novels.

I rolled up my sleeves and went to work on a historical story. Research became my second name, but I loved it and learned so much. Several years later, with help from a small online crit group my baby was born. I searched my Writers Market for a publishing house only to find out it wasn’t the way to go. I needed to attend a writers conference and pitch my story to an editor or an agent.

On the suggestion of a good crit partner, I attended the ACFW conference. While I pitched my story my knees vibrated to a tune only they knew. My heart became a drum at a rock concert and my head turned into a balloon in the process of being blown up. My ‘one sheet’ stuck to my glistening fingers as I attempted to hand it to the editor. I don’t recall what the editor or I said but two hours later, as I looked at a sodden business card clinging to my still perspiring hands I realized she’d asked for a proposal.

 I came home and went to work on a proposal, but life doesn't always beat to our tune. Within a month I was a widow. My desire to write went on an extended holiday. The horror of my editor experience magnified. Just thinking about it, sends my heart into panic mode.

As time passed, I started to write again, completing three more novels, but they won’t be pitched at a writer’ conference. I’m not sure I could physically survive another editor experience. On the upside, my historical baby is being published through Kindle, and this time I’m more comfortable with the process and I don’t feel like I’m about to induce a cardiac arrest.

July 18, 2018

The Key of Release - Gloria Guest

There are some stories that have to be told before you can tell any other stories at all.

This seems to be the case with my ‘first book.’ The one that stays with me awake or asleep, some of the words written in short story form, some on various files on my computer or in journals and the rest still in my heart, waiting to be released.

Release. That is what I seem to be waiting for and needing. The parts written were all written during moments when I knew that they could no longer just remain a part of me; and so I wrote them down and sometimes even risked a critique or sharing them with other writers or friends. Still, even if I got a good review, I knew that they were only a part of a whole and so have never sought publication for any ‘part’ of my story.

My story begins I suppose way back before I can even remember and ends……well there is no ending either in my mind, dreams or heart. Perhaps that is the release I wait for. Am I waiting for closure that will most likely never come? Or even less likely, a happy ending? How do I adequately pen hope into such a story? Giving hope to others is the main reason that I want to write it. 

My story is my memoir;  a telling that I first thought was going to be about my sister (and it does in many ways revolve around her).  But I’ve since discovered, as the words have slowly wound their way out of my heart onto paper, that it is really about me; my experiences and point of view of the home I grew up in, my scattered memories that came piece by piece together in my adult years like a puzzle.

Until it finally does come together I find it hard to write other things. I have written a great many newspaper articles in the past but that was a completely different and easier genre for me to write in. But God has since closed that door and in spite of my pounding on it and testing its immoveable door handle it seems to be remaining in a locked position.

What to do? I took some classes on writing and when it was fitting I squeezed in bits of my memoir for the sake of the critique. The editorial comments were both helpful in wanting to read more and challenging in wanting me to go even closer and deeper into the subject matter. Those are the words that are still in my heart; waiting for a release.

Where to go from here? I’m not sure. I am striving to write a few other pieces even though the story that really needs to be told still sits and waits. I am considering a sort of motivational type book; a compilation of my many newspaper columns. Both good and productive things that would perhaps get me flowing more and ultimately help with my memoir. Or are they simply a diversion so I can let the story that has to be told hide far back on the dusty shelf of forgetfulness?

I do know that I’ve been in limbo far too long and so diversion or not I will try to move forward with those two projects while I seek for the key of release to unlock the rest of my story.

*I was dreading this post but have actually found it cathartic and helpful to my inner musings as to just what that key is. Thanks for listening. J

July 17, 2018

The Wounded Trilogy by Lynn Dove

The Wounded Trilogy by Lynn Dove
I have always loved the children’s book, “The Little Engine That Could”.  I loved the pluck and spunk of that little engine with the “I think I can, I think I can” attitude.  I love underdog stories!  I love the idea that despite all odds and being the smallest and definitely not the strongest, this little engine succeeded when all the other bigger engines failed because he believed in his heart he could do it!

What’s that got to do with me, you say?  Well, in 2009, I published my first book, "Shoot the Wounded", a young adult contemporary Christian fiction that has spawned two other books, "Heal the Wounded" and "Love the Wounded" (The Wounded Trilogy).  The books delve deep into the real world of teenagers trying to live out their faith in the midst of upset and struggle.  The books have garnered much praise and attention for their sensitivity towards social issues such as teen pregnancy, gossip, bullying and cancer and the books continue to fair well on some of Amazon's best-selling lists.  They have won awards and 5 star reviews, and teenagers and parents alike are buying and reading the books in numbers I never imagined.

But the books were almost never written…

I wrote Shoot the Wounded over twenty years ago.  It started out as a short story, something I just plucked away at for a weekend writing, but one hundred pages later I realized it was not a “short” story any more.  I would add a bit more to the manuscript every now and then, but I really had no real intention of going any further with it.

Then life happened...

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and it was a two year battle where everything I was doing before my diagnosis basically went “on hold” until I was healthy again.  I was just starting to grow back all my hair that I had lost after chemo, when God called me to seminary and also to be the Minister to Children at my home church in Cochrane.  My oldest daughter got married.  Life was full and busy.  I graduated from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary with my Master of Religious Education degree in 2007 and one day as I was cleaning out all the “old” files on my computer I came across the untitled Shoot the Wounded manuscript.  It was just collecting computer “dust” and I almost hit the delete button…

My husband, Charles stopped me.  “Why don’t you finish that story and do something with it?” he said.

That led me on the writing and publishing journey that culminated in Love the Wounded, the third book in the young adult series. 

There were many ups and downs, with seemingly endless hills to climb on that particular writing journey.  There were many times I felt just like the Little Engine that Could…but with the help of God and MANY mentors, and supporters, I puffed my way up those hills with an “I think I can” attitude.  On those days when my thoughts were: “I DON’T think I can anymore”, and I felt weak and worn out from the effort, all those encouragers God had placed in my path helped push me up and over those mountains!

I am so grateful that God continues to use the message in my books to encourage students who are victims of bullying.  My books, written from a Christian world-view perspective, are reaching out to teens and adults who need to know that they are not alone; God is always there for them.  My writing has become a ministry and I am humbled God would use me and my books to spread His message of Hope to so many. 
While promoting my books, I began writing my blog, "Journey Thoughts" which has gone on to win a Canadian Christian Writing Award in 2011 and has to date over 11 million hits!  I would never have even thought to write that blog had it not been for publishing my first book. 

I don’t know where this “track” I’m on will continue to take me but with God and all my encouragers helping me along, I’m pretty sure it will be a great ride!
*(adapted from a previous article entitled "The Little Engine That Could" I wrote in 2013).

Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes.  A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner.  Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com 

July 16, 2018

There’s No Expiration Date on My First Book by Nina Faye Morey

While my novel’s first draft flowed nimbly onto the paper from the nib of my pen, my second is stumbling unsteadily across my keyboard. But I’m not going to let myself get bent out of shape on account of this snail’s pace. The way I look at it, there’s no expiration date on my first book.

The slow progress of my novel is mainly due to getting sidetracked by an offer that seemed just too good to refuse. I honestly did try to decline it a couple of times to stay focused on my novel. But when the offer reappeared for possibly the third and final time, I decided God must have had a hand in it.

For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out and who will turn it back?
~ Isaiah 14:27 NRSV

You see, I’d always dreamed of writing for and editing a magazine. The writing side had already become a reality, but I’d begun to think the editing side was destined to remain in the dream category. Unless I founded a magazine of my own. Believe me, that thought—temptation—has occurred to me more than once in my lifetime. So, long story short, I accepted the offer to be the editor of InScribe’s FellowScript magazine.

Even though it’s a quarterly publication, working as FellowScript’s editor eats up a substantial portion of my time. So that means I’m often forced to let my novel rest undisturbed in my desk drawer for extended periods. But I view this editing opportunity as another one of those life experiences that will only serve to enrich my writing in the long run.

Frequently, I see those lists of bright, young, up-and-coming authors, who are celebrated as “the ones to watch.” But just because I’m getting a few grey hairs doesn’t mean I’m past my “best before” date. I like to think I’m still in the “prime of life,” and it’s not too late for me to achieve success as an author. Besides, just think of all the life experiences I’m accumulating along the way to write about. Despite having already passed me on the path to publication, those bright, young prodigies are still far behind me on the road of life.

I would hardly be alone in writing and publishing my first book rather late in life. Several successful authors have proven it’s still possible to find the path to publication in later years. These “late bloomers” have had their first book published after age 40, 50, or even 60. After all, “late” is a comparative term. Late as opposed to . . . ? Besides, I don’t believe creativity has an expiry date either.

I can think of several “mature” authors who’ve inspired me over the years. When I was a youngster, one of my favourite books was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. She wrote this beloved children’s classic in her last decade of life, and it wasn’t published until she was 57. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote and published her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, when she was 65. Like me, she’d written for some periodicals in her fifties, but her novel writing didn’t really get off the ground until her retirement years. One author who certainly proved it’s never too late is Millard Kaufman, who published his first novel, Bowel of Cherries at age 90.

As you can see, there’s no time limit on achieving your writerly dreams. So write, write, write; edit, revise, and repeat; and stop worrying about still not having made your way through the door of that publishing house. Just relax, take your time, enjoy the ride, and never give up on your dream.

Photo Credits: Best Before Date - Nina Faye Morey; All Other Photos - Pixabay

July 15, 2018

Firsts - Tracy Krauss

You may have already heard the story of writing my first novel - a sixteen year labour of love that took me on a journey of hard knocks and rejection for another decade before PLAY IT AGAIN found a publishing home. It taught me a lot about perseverance - among other things.

My first published book, AND THE BEAT GOES ON, also had its share of rejection before finally landing a contract in 2009. I have since received the rights back and republished it under a new title - CONSPIRACY OF BONES. (Too many Sonny and Cher references!)

I wrote a post here called 'A Pivotal Point In Time' about the first play I ever wrote back when I was just a child in Grade Four and how my class ended up performing the play for the entire school. It truly was an important milestone for me as a playwright and gave me confidence, I think, in later years.

With more than twenty published books and plays and over thirty years of writing experience, there are a lot of 'firsts' that I could talk about. There is something special about the 'first' of anything - first love, first loss, first kiss... the list goes on. It's why shop owners and entrepreneurs often frame the first dollar and hang it in their establishment - not because it actually has more value than the rest, but because there is something symbolically important about the 'first'.

It is a concept that has been brought to light for me this past while as I have been researching and writing a new devotional book based on the Hebrew calendar. Throughout scripture God set aside the first of many things - people, cattle, crops, and even days, instructing His people about how to honour Him with their 'first fruits'.

Nehemiah 10:35-37a 
And in order that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the Lord annually, and bring to the house of our God the first-born of our sons and of our cattle, and of the first-born of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God. (NASB)

There is something powerful about dedicating the first, be it our children, material goods, or in this case, our writing. As I pondered this principle, I decided to pray over and dedicate my 'first' books. I decided to give away all the leftover copies of the original version of AND THE BEAT GOES ON to a creation science museum since the book delves into intelligent design and creationism vs. evolution. I also made both of the two books mentioned above free in one form or another as a way to give back to God and to readers.

As new books or plays come out I pray and try to think of ways to honour God with the first of each edition - perhaps giving a copy to my church library, public library or other people I think would benefit and appreciate it. I've given about 500 copies of my little prayer book THIRTY DAYS OF TARGETED PRAYER away, most recently to a denominational conference in Vancouver. It's the 'first' prayer book I made and I hope to make more someday on various topics. I don't say this to brag or somehow make myself look overly generous. I do want to make money with my writing, especially now that I will be taking it on full time after retiring from teaching public school. But God's principles don't always make sense from a worldly view. I am beginning to understand the power of obedience, and dedicating our 'firsts' is part of that. It's why I am so excited about finding ways to honour God in this way.

As we continue to hear the stories about our writing 'firsts' may I challenge you to also think of how you can give back to God in this regard?

Tracy Krauss continues to write from her home in northern BC. Visit her website for more: tracykrauss.com   'fiction on the edge without crossing the line -