What A Year It’s Been…

2011 was a year for the books. In my household alone, we saw three job losses (two for my poor hubby, one for me), all due to lay-off, a new career launched, job searches (which are still going on), loss of a beloved pet, the addition of a newly beloved pet, health crises faced and survived…and the list goes on. Add to that the upheaval in the industry where I’ve worked for over 30 years, well, everywhere we turned this last year, it seemed something else was going wrong.

I don’t know what your 2011 has been, what challenges or joys you’ve experienced, but I know that many today, yours truly included, wonder where the next year will take us. Will there be total economic collapse in the US? Will we find ourselves in some kind of sci-fi life where we’re fighting for survival?

In the darkest moments, when fear gnawed at the edges of our lives, it was easy to feel as though God had, somehow, glanced away. That He’d blinked of an eternal eye, and in that moment the enemy surged.

Thank heaven feelings aren’t reality.

No matter what we face in our lives, this is TRUTH:

God is.

He is present. He is watching. He is in control. We may not understand what’s happening or why it’s happening, we may not be able to see, with our temporal eyes, how God is at work on our behalf, but none of that changes this immutable fact:

God is.

That truth has become the beacon that carries me safely over turbulent waters. It is the haven where I cease to struggle and agonize and I fall on my face before an all-powerful Creator. It is what sustains, uplifts, and empowers. It is, in a word, sufficient.

God is. I need not fear.

God is. I can rest in Him and His love for me.

God is. I can trust that His promises are true.

God is. When nothing else makes sense, when chaos has exploded around me, when I feel lost and abandoned…I hold to this anchor.

And there I find peace.

May this truth, and this peace, surround you in the coming year. And may 2012 be a year overflowing with God’s goodness not just for you and me, but for a weary world.

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News You Can Use – Dec. 27, 2011

Independent Bookstores are NOT Doomed – Farhad Manjoo rethinks his position after the reaction to his previous article about the demise of bookstores.

Dr. James Dobson to Write Fiction – You can hear the gnashing of teeth by full-time novelists who already face a crowded field.

Beware of E-Book Scams –  You have a new e-reader and you see a promising “how-to” book for only $1.99 so you buy it. Only to find that all it contains are articles from Wikipedia slapped into an eBook.

Christianity and the Future of the Book –  Alan Jacobs is so smart it makes my head hurt. Read this insightful article and see what you think. If you don’t have the patience, skip to the last three paragraphs.

Highlights of 2011 in Book Publishing – Using numbers to describe events this is a clever overview of the year.

Great Author Interview with Jared Wilson – If you have an hour and fifteen minutes, watch this conversation on the Desiring God site about Jared’s new book Gospel Wakefulness. (Yes, Jared is a client of our agency!) There is a convenient “contents” section that will give an overview of the topics discussed.

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Christmas Melodies

The good news for us in Virginia is that we rarely experience a white Christmas. Of course, for snow lovers, that is bad news. No sleigh rides for us.  Not even to a groovy beat. What I love is that winter is cold enough to call for a coat, but usually boots are more of a fashion statement than a necessity.

But here we have plenty of seasonal atmosphere, with an abundance of holly berry scents in candles and sprays, and Christmas music piped in to all the stores. I hope the writers of “Jingle Bell Rock”  and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”  retained their copyrights. Surely they must be billionaires by now.

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Before You Say “I Do”

Thirty-two years ago today I said those very words to my darling hubby, Don, in a candlelit service, surrounded by friends and family. Ours was a whirlwind courtship and marriage. From the time we met to the wedding was a total of 8 months—and we were apart for 3 of those months. Yes, we were young. And yes, in many ways, we were incredibly foolish. But now, 32 years later, I can tell you that though our journey has not been smooth or easy, it’s taught us more than I ever thought possible about love, about faith, about obedience, about grace. God has used two imperfect people to forge a strong, lasting bond, and He’s knit our hearts and spirits together as I once thought impossible.

As I thought about all this today, and about all it’s taken for us to not just survive as a couple but to thrive, it confirmed something I’ve heard and experienced: the author/agent relationship is very much like a marriage. There’s the wooing and courting, often on both parts. There’s trying to figure out how to win the heart of the desired. There’s that flush of excitement when you discover your interest is reciprocal. There’s the proposal, and the happy “I do.”

And then there’s the freakin’ hard work of the relationship.

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News You Can Use – Dec. 20, 2011

Don’t Support You Local Bookstore – An outrageous and inciting article from Farhad Manjoo, Slate‘s technology columnist. Great responses from Tim Redmond and Will Doig.

The Rise of the Cowboy Romance Novel – Time magazine article on secular cowboy romance novels.

Pirates are Stealing my Books! – Karen Ranney is justifiably angry. I am surprised her publisher is not doing more to help. Maybe the whole story is not yet being told.

The Self-Aggrandizing Self-Publishing Kings: Extreme Rhetoric, Inflammatory Language and Ulterior Motives – A great response to the constant negativity found on select blog regarding the publishing business.

Ignore Everything but the Writing – Wisdom from Carrie Ryan

Screenwriting 101 – Ever wondered how to write a screenplay? Here are the basics.

The Writing Process as a Board Game – A highly creative post by Margo Berendsen.

11 Frequently Asked Questions About Book Royalties, Advances and Money – Great post by  Chuck Sambuchino.

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Fun Fridays – Dec. 16, 2011

This fun video was put together by the Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat 5th Grade class in Quinhagak, Alaska. They spent 10 hours shooting the video over a weekend. Originally intended only for an audience of the 200 residents of Quinhagak village.

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What Role Do Influencers Play?

One of the services a traditional publisher provides is working with authors in regard to getting publicity about books through word of mouth. This piece of the publicity puzzle is more important for trade books than for mass market books because they fit into an established line and are less author-focused than trade books. Trade books rely more on author identity and brand recognition to be successful. This is why traditional publishers ask writers to provide lists of influencers for their books.

Who Might Be Influencers?

Often after you are contracted, the publisher will ask the author for a list of influencers. In return for spreading the word about your book, many publishers will provide a copy to the influencer free of charge. Already your agent has insisted that you include a list of potential endorsers in your proposal. Chances are good that not all of your potential endorsers were asked for formal endorsements, so begin with the remaining friends who already know you, like your writing, and support you in your career. When asked for a larger list, choose wisely.

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Threads in the Fabric (Part three)

Wednesday again! The days go by so fast this time of year! Well, my office Corgi, Mr. Kirby, and I are happy to welcome you inside once again.

Last week we visited the kitchen. Today, let’s meander into the main office, where, no surprise, you’ll see bookcase after bookcase, all overflowing. Oh, I try to decorate and straighten, but more and more I’m embracing the chaos. I’m persuaded true bibliophiles are seldom organized because there are always more books than shelves! And when you consider that I’ve been in publishing for more than 30 years, you KNOW I’ve got an abundance of books. And what a happy abundance that is!

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