What Does That Mean?

Some time ago, I was writing a story and used a variation of the sentence, “He wished he could be fly on the wall when they had that conversation.” This puzzled my critique partner, who didn’t know it meant. She had never heard the expression “fly on the wall” before and didn’t know it meant the character could be an unobtrusive observer. I decided to change the sentence for fear others wouldn’t understand, either.

I grew up in rural Virginia, and we had some unusual local expressions. Consider:

ugly as homemade soap

screaming bloody murder

grumpy as an old sitting hen

bleeding like a killing hog

slow as molasses on a December morning

Read More

Let Creativity Flow (Part Three)

We all know how elusive creative can be at times. You’ve shared some great ways to get those juices flowing. Here are a few more ideas.

Keep an Evidence Journal. Write down your God Stories. The times you saw God act. The times you felt His touch and presence. Do it with story or just key words. But get it down on paper. When God moves in your day, write it down. When someone speaks truth to your heart, write it down. When you struggle, write it down. Remember the children of Israel were told to write these truths on the doorposts that they might not forget all God had done for them. Then, when you’ve done that for awhile, go back and read what you wrote. It’s so easy to forget God’s faithfulness. What a blessing to have solid, firm evidence of His action, His presence in our lives, in our passion.

Read More

News You Can Use – Jan. 24, 2012

The Secrets Behind the Bestseller List – Ever wonder how those lists are compiled? The Sacramento Bee takes a stab at uncovering the secret.

3 Important Questions about Digital that No One is Asking – Nick Atkinson adds to the ongoing discussion in a sharp manner.

Do Book Bloggers Still Matter? – Beth Kephart asks whether this form of marketing has any influence any more.

10 Bits of Advice to Stop Giving Writers – Nick Mamatas presents a contrarian view of the kinds of things we are teaching at writers conferences and in our blogs. Agree or disagree?

Is Profanity Okay to Use as Part of Your Writing? – Relevant Magazine has this provocative take on profanity in music lyrics. My mom would have washed his mouth out with soap.

The New Logo of a Combined Zondervan and Thomas Nelson – Just Kidding! Robert Treskillard engages in some fun speculation and adds in his own graphic design talents.

Amazon is Gunning to Put Traditional Publishers Out of Business – An anonymous publisher spills his opinions to Sarah Lacy at PandoDaily.

Watch this quick video about the things that have all but disappeared because of technology:

Read More

The Bestseller Code

Take the Bestseller Code test. I dare you.

The web site www.thebestsellercode.com is fascinating. Through some mysterious algorithm it evaluates about 500 words of your novel and grades it on a scale of one to twenty (1 to 20).

Does it work? I gave it a try with a recent proposal from a bestselling client. I took the first page and a half and plugged it into the test. It scored 20.0. A Perfect Score!

Then I took the first page and a half from a recent unsolicited novel and plugged it into the test. It only scored 4.6…out of 20. I had to agree, that sample was awful.

Now is your chance for fun. Go to the site and get your score. Then come back here and tell us in the comments, if you are brave.

Read More

Your Brand is Not a Limitation

It is All About Expectations

What if you bought a recording from a music group expecting their usual collection of ballads, only to hear guitar anthems? Or what if you picked up a book with a pink cover that promised a love story but ended up reading a novel where hapless and nameless victims suffered gunshot wounds on every page? You’d be disappointed, right? I would be. You don’t want to disappoint readers, so branding has become a consistent topic.

Your Best Friend

Some writers find the concept of branding to be limiting. When they think of branding the TV show “Rawhide”  and Cattle comes to mind.  And despite the awesomeness of such a theme song, they want to keep their options open.

Read More

Let Creativity Flow (Part Two)

I love the ideas you all shared about finding and sparking creavity. It’s fascinating to see how we’re all wired different. My next few blogs will share some additional things you can do to refill the wells of creavity. Have fun!

1. Disconnect from technology. Okay, don’t hyperventilate. But think about it. We have to be the most connected, available, interruptable people ever! Give yourself a break–literally. Shut off the phone, the computer, and anything else with an on/off switch. Focus on the silence. And what God has to tell you in the midst of it.

2. Regain Perspective. Remember, it’s not about you. Sure, it feels like it is, but it’s really not. It’s about what God wants to accomplish. So step away from yourself. Got mountains close by? The ocean? Anything bigger than you? Look at it. Let the sight of something truly huge and majestic remind you of your place in the world. And then remember that the God who created ALL of that beauty and majesty, not only created you, but CHOSE you as his child. And breathed into you His Spirit. And His creativity.

3. Go the other direction. Study something smaller than you (on a physical plane, that is). To to a playground and watch the kids. Take closeup photos of flowers, insects, leaves…whatever is around you. Look at the intricate way they’re made.

Read More

News You Can Use – Jan. 17, 2012

Thank you for the overwhelming response to our survey last week. We had almost 100% confirmation that we should continue this feature. So you are stuck with it!

Publicity Calendar for 2012 – EVERY author should download this PDF and see if there is something they can capitalize on! This is a brilliant resource.

Write for Your Audience – An excellent article from a YA author on the challenge of writing for the market or writing for the acquisitions editor!

Publishers Should Publish Fewer Titles and Monetize Their Backlist – Mike Shatzkin, again, makes everyone think twice about the publishing industry.

The Writer’s Note Taking Tool for 2012 – I use this program every day. Indispensable.

Cell Phone Interrupts Symphony – I love this story. Hurray for the conductor!

Click through to view this great infographic on “Who is an Average Facebook User?”

Read More

Deadlines and Taxes

Two certainties in the life of a writer. Deadlines and Taxes.

You know what a deadlines is. It has the word “dead” in it for a reason. And intrinsic to the reality of taxes is that April 15th filing deadline.

But what about those taxes?

Many articles appear in early April about taxes when approaching the filing date. But I thought we should explore a couple items now so there won’t be any surprises come April.

First, the obligatory disclaimer. I am not a tax attorney or a tax accountant. I am merely discussing concepts and ideas which you may or may not use in your situation. And, as always, when it comes to your taxes, make sure to consult a professional.

Some of you may roll your eyes and say, “I already know this.” But remember there was a time when you did not. I get many “beginner” questions each year from debut authors who are discovering much of the business side of this industry for the first time.

Read More