The Care and Feeding of … WORDS!


“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
Pearl Strachan

“By words the mind is winged.”

“The turn of a sentence has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught that we know, the fate of many a kingdom.”
Jeremy Bentham

Amazing, isn’t it? Something so small as words can have such huge impact.

The right word in any circumstance can bring peace, comfort, laughter, tears. It can elicit emotion, stir action, deliver forgiveness, change lives. For generations, words have moved and motivated. Writers, steeped in the wonder of words, have poured their hearts out on stark paper, only to have those pages come to life in ways they never imagined, and to have their words live on in the hearts and minds of readers long after they’ve been read.

At least, that’s what we hope for. Pray for. LONG for.

A writer’s group I’m part of was just talking about this. The yearning, deep within our hearts and souls, to write something that matters. That will change lives. That will stand the test of time. For us, the writing is novels. Stories that transcend genre or time. That transport.

That matter.

Odd thing is, when you’re writing to a deadline, it’s hard to do that. Because too often you get focused on just that: the deadline. So what becomes foremost in our minds? Daily word count. Getting the story down. Getting Done. Finish it off. Hand it in. Don’t be late! AAAHHHHHH!

Talk about creativity killers.

But how do you take time to craft a story when you have to pay bills? How do you let the story germinate when you have to keep books on the shelves to hold your readers? Hey, I’m an editor and agent as well as a writer. That’s the publishing Trifecta!  I know how important it is to keep your books in readers’ hands, to not make them wait too long between novels. To not let them forget why they love your books over others’.

But I also want the best my writers and clients have to offer. Just as I want to give my best to my own readers. And my best doesn’t happen when I’m stressed or guilt-ridden or rushed.

All of this has been rolling around in my head and heart of late. As it often does. It’s something that comes back and nudges at me on a far-too-regular basis. Until it finally coalesced (isn’t that a great word?) into one simple bit of guidance: Rest.

Rest in Him–in the One who breathed the story deep into your soul. Who equipped you to fulfill the task He’s given of creating a story that will move, inspire, and challenge. Don’t push, don’t fret, don’t–and I can see Steve and Tamela and editors all cringing here, but I’m gonna say it anyway—DO NOT let the tyranny of the deadline destroy creativity and passion. Do what’s reasonable, to the best of your passion and ability, and leave the rest to Him.

Rest in what you know–the story, the characters, the truths you need to portray. The fact that your readers have told you, over and over, that they love what you write. So that deep-seeded insecurity that you can’t do it again, can’t come up with a story that will engage, can just take a hike. You’re doing this because you love it, and because your readers love what you do. Forget the critics and reviewers. Focus on what you know really matters: the story and those for whom you tell it.

Rest in the story–Yes, get it down as best you can. But then? Set it aside. Give yourself the gift of time away from it. At least a few weeks. Even better, a month or more. Get completely away from it, maybe even from writing. Take a break. Go for a walk. Focus on something entirely different. You can be sure, if you do this, that when you come back to it, you’ll read with new eyes. Eyes that see the weak spots, to be sure. Eyes that can better discern how to fix what isn’t working. And eyes that will widen as you discover those periodic gems, where you sit back, wonder washing over you, as you realize Almighty fingers rested over your own as you wrote. Because none of us on our own can write a line, a scene, a TRUTH as powerful as you’ve just found on the page.

Rest. Be at peace.

—And let creativity flourish.






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News You Can Use

A $30 iPad…for kids? – take a look at the new anaPad. Have to admire the entrepreneur, even when the idea seems a little odd.

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Andrew Wylie in the Wall Street Journal Magazine – See what this uberagent has to say about the future of publishing. Especially note his thoughts on the global market.

Would James Joyce have used an iPad? – An interesting look at a “classic” writer and what tools he might have used today.

Top Ten Misused English Words – A great list. Any words you would add? (Calvary vs. Cavalry…)

Take a gander at this fascinating infographic comparing Walmart and Amazon.

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Letting Go of Your Babies

One of the worst mistakes writers can make is being too possessive of their words. They fight for each adjective, adverb, and conversation tag.

My early writing suffered from too many words. I once wrote an artist didn’t “really” understand the difficulties of making a living in his profession. The editor kindly cut all instances of “really,” “just,” “so,” “very,” and other weak words experienced editors call “weasel” words.

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Print: A Thing of the Past?

by Karen Ball

Remember the musical Oklahoma? Gordon MacRae singing to, of all people, Rod Steiger: “Poor Jud is daid, poor Jud Fry is daid…”

Well, the way folks have been talking lately, I’m waiting for the new musical, “Digital World,” where a Gordon MacRae-esque editor will stand next to a book and sing out, “Poor print is daid, poor print books is daid, they’re lookin’ oh, so tattered and passé…”

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News You Can Use

by Steve Laube

Thirty Three Twitter Feeds to Follow – The folks at Poets & Writers put together a helpful list of publishing and writing oriented twitter feeds to follow.

Kindle Spam Clogging Amazon – What a mess. Fake compiled books are being uploaded on the Kindle digital platform and sold to unsuspecting people. Another argument for Curation.

Google Books Creates Affiliate Program – Click this to apply to become a sales affiliate for Google Books. Similar to the Amazon program. At least it gives you an alternative if your state has been shut out by Amazon’s war with State Departments of Revenue.

Turn Off Your Phone – Donald Miller seeks out the secret to productivity. Simple but effective.

How Many of Your Facebook Friends do You Know? – Tech Crunch summarizes a Pew Research Study. They claim, “Facebook users have about 229 Friends, with about 22% of their total Friends list being comprised of people they know from high school, 12% extended family, 10% coworkers, 9% college friends, 8% immediate family, 7% people from extracurricular groups and 2% being neighbors.” I guess I’m not normal.

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The Fear of Rejection

Randy Ingermanson recently interviewed author Mary DeMuth in his “Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine” and the topic of rejection surfaced. I thought it was very insightful and, with permission, am posting their conversation.


My friend Mary DeMuth recently published an e-book with the title The 11 Secrets of Getting Published.

Given that the price is only $2.99, I assumed the book would be about 50 pages with a few simple tips on breaking into publishing.

When Mary sent me a copy, I was astounded to find that it ran to 229 pages of solid information on breaking in. Developing your craft. Learning discipline.

Learning to accept critiques. Writing a query and a proposal. And tons more. Mary packed this book.

The chapter that hit home for me was titled, “Overcome Fear and Rejection.” You’d think I’d be good at that after 23 years of this writing game, but I still hate rejection and I still battle posting their conversation.

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The Myth of the Unearned Advance

by Steve Laube

A common myth permeating the industry is that a book is not profitable if the author’s advance does not earn out. I would like to attempt to dispel this myth.

First let’s define the term “Advance.” When a book contract is created between a publisher and an author, the author is usually paid an advance. This is like getting an advance against your allowance when you were a kid. It isn’t an amount that is in addition to any future earnings from the sale of the book. Instead, like that allowance, it is money paid in advance against all future royalties, and it must therefore be covered by royalty revenue (i.e. earned out) before any new royalty earnings are paid.

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As I’ve started the work of being an agent and building a client list, I’ve had a number of folks in different venues ask me what I’m interested in representing. So thought I’d address that here.

First and foremost, you need to know that I’m looking for books that share God’s truth. I want to work with authors whose books will change lives. Who bring the depth and wealth of their own spiritual journeys to whatever they are writing. I long for books, whether fiction or nonfiction, that are filled with authenticity, vulnerability, and powerful truth.

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Happy to be Here!


I am thrilled to be a part of The Steve Laube Agency and to post my first blog entry. I have been asked lots of questions about my new venture. I’ll answer a few here.

Will you continue to represent Christian romance novels?

Yes, I will! Steve was familiar with my client list when I joined the agency and we both believe Christian fiction is a vital part of publishing.

I am passionate about Christian romance novels. The talent of my clients, the dedication of the editors, and the support of the publishers make this endeavor worthy and God-honoring.

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