Author Tamela Hancock Murray

It May Not Be As Bad As You Think

In the early morning hours, in a hotel, I was preparing to be on faculty at an important conference when I discovered that an elf had snuck into my makeup bag and stolen my Lancôme foundation. For those who don’t wear cosmetics, foundation is a substance that takes your skin from “ready to read a book in the privacy of your home” to “ready to appear before important people” within moments. Because of the elf, I had the moments but not the foundation. I rarely wear foundation, so I wasn’t surprised that the elf made off with it. I always pack tubes of red lipstick in various conveyances, however, so they are too numerous and substantial for the elf to carry them all away.

Horrified, I realized I could not recover from this theft in time to appear flawless by conference time. There was no store open at that hour, not even one that carried the most inferior foundation. For a split second, I wondered if I could text the director, “I’m sorry, but an elf stole my foundation so I can’t appear today,” and go home. No. No, I did not text her that.

Instead, I summoned courage and applied the rest of my “face” before heading out for the event. Here is what did NOT happen as a result of my lack of foundation:

  • The director did not say, “No foundation, no conference!” before slamming the door in my unadorned face.
  • The attendees did not say, “We cannot concentrate on anything you are saying about publishing because you are not wearing foundation.”
  • No writer said, “I will not submit my work to any agent who appears at a conference without foundation.”
  • The Conference Directors of America did not send me a notice saying, “Because you dared to appear at a conference without foundation, you are taken off every conference faculty invitation list until further notice.”

Imps, elves, leprechauns, sprites, and hobgoblins love to steal essential objects, such as foundation, keys, coins, and jewelry. They love to play with computers, cars, manuscript documents, spreadsheets, and appliances, to name a few. But if you press on, you may discover their activities don’t result in as much tragedy as you might think.

Your turn:

Tell us about a time when a hobgoblin, imp, elf, sprite, or leprechaun made mischief with you. What happened?

Leave a Comment

Writing a Timeless Author Bio

Hafwen Hostess surveys the conference classroom. She estimates about 100 conferees are there for Ava Agent’s class. At the stroke of one, Hafwen reads her introduction of Ava, which Hafwen pulled off the Internet just before leaving for the airport for the conference: A graduate of Liberty Baptist College, award-winning …

Read More

Responding to Criticism

When someone tells me she’s not sure she wants me to read her manuscript, I know she’s not ready for publication. Such sentiment shows a lack of confidence and a fear of both rejection and criticism. Even though readers usually treat writers with respect, a critical word can puncture the heart.

Imagine the wounds delivered on Internet sites such as Amazon from readers who lack that respect. A major complaint I hear from distraught authors is that people download free Christian novels and then post hostile reviews. A cursory bit of research reveals some say they felt duped because they didn’t realize they were downloading a Christian novel. It is likely they just grabbed it because it was free and did not look at other reviews or the book’s description. These readers aren’t victims of duplicity, they were, at the very least, lazy and then blamed others when the book wasn’t to their taste. Unfortunately the temptation is for the author to strike back with a serrated reply.

Read More

Back to Basics

I live in an area with strict stay-at-home orders because of the pandemic. Over the past weeks, I’ve learned much. Last year I was touched by a CBS news segment about a girl who grants the wishes of nursing home patients. They don’t want the status symbols younger people can …

Read More

Finding Comparables for Nonfiction

Last week I discussed finding comparables for fiction, resulting in many requests that I address nonfiction proposals. I appreciate the input! Of course, look for current books addressing your topic. But what if you think a little further and look at the audience? There will be some overlap, but these are …

Read More

He Said. She Said.

A blog reader recently left an excellent comment on an earlier post:

Tamela, fiction workshop presenters taught me that the best word for “said” is “said”–that others only tend to slow down the reader’s eye. I’d appreciate a discussion on this.

While I don’t know the workshop presenters in question, what I can guess they meant is to avoid substituting creative verbs for “said” as a tag. For example:

“Cyrus, tell that joke about the tortoise and the hare,” the cowboy chuckled.

“This caviar is not up to my standards,” the dowager sniffed.

These tags aren’t without merit, because they do help convey the emotions and actions of the characters. In fact, they could even be expanded into effective action tags. At the least, simple punctuation would keep these characters from performing the improbable task of sniffing and chuckling words:

“Cyrus, tell that joke about the tortoise and the hare.” The cowboy chuckled.

“This caviar is not up to my standards.” The dowager sniffed.

So why would fiction workshop presenters tell writers to use the word “said” as a tag? I would say that there is a time and place to use a simple tag. In a fast-paced scene, a simple tag will keep the action flowing. For example:

“Get the gun,” Bruce said.

“What?”

“I said, get the gun.”

“Why?”

“Don’t ask questions,” Bruce said. “Just do as I say. Now.”

In a case such as this, complicated action tags could slow down the rhythm and urgency of the scene, distracting the reader rather than adding to the story. The “said” tag is used infrequently to help the reader keep track of the conversation.

Read More

Three Questions About Agents

In meeting with writers on the cusp of their careers or flush with new success, we find that three big questions come to the forefront. Today, Tamela shares her answers:

How do I find a literary agent?

1)      First and foremost, visit the Agency web sites to see which ones are actively seeking the type of work you write.

2)      Talk to your agented friends to learn about their agents. Referrals are a big part of our business.

3)      If time and finances allow, attend a conference or meeting where your preferred agent will be appearing and meet the agent.

Read More

Ann’s Wise Advice

My daughter Ann works with analysts who are always being asked for materials to present to high-level executives. Often her conversations sound like this: Coworker: “I don’t have any idea what they want.” Ann: “Create something, show it to them, and let them tell you how to change it.” This …

Read More