I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ten Tips for Aspiring Authors

A quick google search will turn up all sorts of tips for how to get published. Here are ten tips that were either shared with me or that I learned along the way.
  1. Join a writing group, like American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, or another group tailored to your particular genre. The resources are innumerable. Joining groups allowed me to learn the industry, improve my craft, attend national conferences, and perhaps most important, make friends!
  2. Join a Critique Group. Peer groups are priceless, and critique relationships are essential. I don't know a single author who doesn't have a peer critique partner (or several!) if not a group.
  3. Be Teachable. Learn from others with more experience, and study areas where you know you need to grow. There are several ways to do this: attending workshops on craft or aspects of the writing business; reading blog posts, articles, and books on writing; and allowing your work to receive constructive criticism. That leads to my next point...
  4. Enter Contests. When I started writing, I had no idea what strangers thought of my writing. The best way I knew to get unbiased feedback was to enter writing contests for unpublished romance writers. The first results I received were not great, I'll be honest with you. But I kept at it. Then in 2008, I was shocked to be a finalist in the Faith Hope & Love Touched by Love Contest. Just as valuable as that final? The feedback I received. I entered more contests, and sometimes the criticism was painful--but most of the time, I felt the judge was right and I learned from it. I also learned what I was doing right. That sort of info is gold.
  5. Develop a thicker skin. Some of the constructive criticism doesn't always feel "constructive." It can feel rotten. Most judges are experienced with judging all kinds of stories fairly, honestly, and as objectively as possible, but...sometimes the feedback feels personal. Or is delivered tersely or downright cruelly (I've heard stories!). As one fellow writer told me, we have to learn how to separate the meat from the bones. Take what you can from all feedback and discard the rest. It's your story.
  6. Keep Writing. This sounds like a no-brainer, but we need to write daily (or almost daily) for several reasons: we can't sell a book if we never finish one. Also, daily writing helps us improve our craft and get into a routine.
  7. Do your research on your targeted publisher(s). Unless you're planning to self-publish, consider who you're writing for, not just in terms of audience but also in terms of editors/publishers. Most traditional and indie publishers have guidelines for what they will and will not receive, in what format, at what word count, etc. Write to the guidelines. 
  8. Keep reading! Read the genre you're writing. Read books outside of your genre, too! Iron sharpens iron, and reading published authors improves our writing.
  9. Have a presence on social media. True, this has nothing to do with writing, but in our day and age, an online presence is mandatory. Agents and editors often wish to look up a prospective author to see how they interact with readers, whether or not they're professional in their conduct, etc. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blogging, you name it--you don't have to do them all, but find a few that work for you and stick to those!
  10. Keep Going! Start and finish stories...plural intended! Most authors I know did not publish their first novel...at least not at first. Their second, third, or thirteenth novels are what sold them. Yes, thirteenth. Persistence is key. So is the ability to set the dream of one story aside and start on a new one. And a new one after that. Nothing is ever wasted, so don't mourn when something doesn't get published. You don't know what God has in store for it. Want proof? It happened to me, with The Reluctant Guardian.
What about you? What would you add to this list?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

ACFW New Releases for July, 2018

Contemporary Romance:

A Widow’s Hope by Vannetta Chapman — After tragedy claimed her husband’s life and her son’s ability to walk, Hannah King doesn’t want a new man. She has her family, a home and mounting debts. Scarred Amish bachelor Jacob Schrock offers Hannah the job she desperately needs. But while Hannah helps Jacob resolve his accounting issues, can she and her little boy also heal his wounded heart? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Firestorm by Laura V. Hilton — Bridget Behr can’t shake the guilt that it was her fault her family moved—and is too afraid to trust anyone, especially the flirtatious, overly-friendly Amish man who lives next door. Just as Bridget is finally settling into friendship, a new life, and maybe even love, a devastating forest fire ravages the county, destroying both land and the Behrs’ dreams. Now Bridget and her family must decide: will they leave behind the ashes and start anew in another Amish community? Or will they dare to fight for the future they’d hoped for in Mackinac County? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)
General Contemporary:

Ride to the Altar by Linda W. Yezak — Cattle are dying on the Circle Bar, putting the Texas ranch in financial jeopardy. Newly engaged Patricia Talbert and Talon Carlson must root out the cause before they can concentrate on wedding plans—which involves Patricia’s traveling to New York to patch things up with her domineering mother. While she is away, Talon discovers that the attacks on the ranch are connected to the murder of his first fiancĂ©e over eight years ago. Before they can move forward together, each have to resolve the past. Will they be able to start their new life with a clean slate? (General Contemporary from Canopy Books of Texas)
General Historical:
My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Dodging bullets takes a simple missing person case to a new level as Jonah Cahill, a Pinkerton agent, and Madeline Latour, an investigative reporter, form a tentative truce in Galveston, Texas, 1880. Are they on to a much bigger story when their best witness is suddenly kidnapped? (General Historical from Barbour Publishing)
Historical Mystery:

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright — Two women, separated by a hundred years, must uncover the secrets within the borders of their own town before it’s too late and they lose their future–or their very souls. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])
Historical Romance:

This Freedom Journey by Misty M. Beller — Adrien Lockman left France to finally live life on his own terms, but when he discovers a half-starved and half-frozen woman in the treacherous Canadian mountains, the truth soon becomes clear—the only way they’ll survive is together. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Widow’s Plight by Mary Davis — After moving to a new town and joining a quilting circle, a single mother steps out of the shadows of abuse and into the sunshine. But will a secret clouding her past cost her the man she loves? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart — Orphaned during an early 19th century cholera epidemic and helped by a slave to find a new home, Adria Starr must now stand up for his freedom—and maybe find her own in the process. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano — A young heiress is suddenly the poorest wealthy woman in all of England when her father dies without telling anyone where he put his money. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Ludwig — A mysterious key hidden in the depths of an ancient lighthouse unlocks family secrets hidden for generations. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)
Guarded Prognosis by Richard L. Mabry — At first Dr. Caden Taggart feared for his freedom, then for his ability to cope, and eventually he feared for his life. (Medical Mystery, Independently Published)
Romantic Suspense:
Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll — When Adelaide Fountaine, the general manager of a hotel in New Orleans, finds the body of a guest who was stabbed with a kitchen knife, her childhood friend Detective Beau Savoie is shocked to discover a connection between his friend–the woman he’s quietly loved for years—and the murdered guest. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . because he’s keeping secrets of his own. Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose? (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)
Camp Hope by Sara L. Foust — Facing dehydration, starvation, and a convoluted kidnapper, will Amy succeed in recovering her precious foster daughter or get lost in a vast wilderness forever? (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey — Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to join an elite team of terrorist hunters. Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he’s back, asking her help to stop America’s newest terrorist threat—an attack that would shake the country to its core. Together they must navigate secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster. Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next mark? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])
Young Adult:
Launch by Jason C. Joyner — Teens with special abilities are invited to an exclusive conference where tech billionaire Simon Mazor is looking for those who can help him influence the world. (Young Adult from Little Lamb Books)