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CONTENT

To help the author develop and create the best book possible. Material that has both commercial appeal and long-term value.

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To help the author determine the next best step in their writing career. Giving counsel regarding the subtleties of the marketplace as well as the realities of the publishing community.

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Recent Posts

The Elephant’s Goin’ Down!

by Karen Ball

You remember the old adage:

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time!

As I’ve reviewed my calendar this week, I’ve realized that’s what I’ve got on the screen in front of me. An elephant.

Maybe two.

And they’re reaaaaallly big.

SO many things to get done before I board a plane early Wednesday morning and wing my way to Dallas for the ACFW conference. As if that elephant wasn’t big enough, there’s the one sitting there, reminding me that I won’t be able to work on anything on my list while I’m gone. As I take it all in, one thought fills my mind:

AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

It would be so easy to just shut off the computer and go hide someplace. Like a nice, quiet closet. Where there’s no phone calls.

Or emails.

Or texts.

I know I’m not alone. Seems that most everyone’s calendars and schedules have grown to elephant proportions lately. I hear from more and more authors and editors how the days go by in a flash, but the To Do list just seems to keep growing, like Kudzu on steroids. A friend just told me on the phone last week: “I’m working all these hours, but I never seem to get anything done!”

So what’s a time-challenged writer to do when it seems there are more to-dos than days? And your writing time keeps getting consumed by obligations and duties? Take it a bite at a time.

Get your to-do list and choose ONE item to tackle. Then do nothing but that. For 10 minutes.

Yup, just ten minutes. But it has to be 10 uninterrupted minutes. Focus on nothing but that item. No emails. No answering the phone. (Trust me: they will call back or leave a message.) No getting distracted by the to-do list and second guessing your item choice. No getting up for a glass of water, to check the mail, to pet the dog, or change the hamster cage, or any of the gazillion things calling for your attention.

NADA.

Use those 10 minutes with determined focus. You can do it!

At the end of the 10 minutes, take stock. How much have you gotten done? Enough to move to the next item? If so, go for it. If not, then give yourself 10 more minutes.

Sounds crazy, but you’d be amazed how much you can accomplish in 10 focused minutes. For example, one of the items on my overloaded to-do list was this blog. Which I started 7.5 minutes ago.

And now I have 2.5 minutes to add to the next bite. And you know what? That makes me happy.

So when your elephant gets too big for your plate, give it a try. Tackle him, one 10-minute bite at a time. You’ll be as amazed as I’ve been at the results.

No doubt about it.

The elephant’s goin’ down.

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Yes, This Post Is About You

Almost every time we post a story or give a “don’t do this” example, we receive emails and phone calls. “Were you talking about me?”

Why, yes. Yes we were.

Actually, something you did may have reminded us about something someone else did, which reminded us about something else that happened years ago. I’ve been an agent for well over a decade, so I’ve seen lots of situations happen more than once. So I might be inspired to write about an event because the fact it’s happened more than once shows that addressing it will help a lot of people. Maybe even you.

If it makes you feel better, realize it’s a two-way street. People also write about agents. I may read a post and wonder if I’m the particular agent who offended someone. Maybe. Maybe not. But I can learn from reading posts about how I can be a better agent.

Think about your stories. Aren’t many of your characters composites of people you know? What would happen if you had to field phone calls from offended friends and relatives every time a character misbehaved in your book? How would you address an angry phone call from your sister-in-law? Or the dismay of a cousin? I suggest first, thank her for being one of your readers.

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To Conference We Shall Go!


The American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference (acfw.com) is just around the corner (Sept. 18-23 in Dallas, TX), and I’m seeing increasing buzz online about all the fun attendees are going to have. It’s true, too. Writers’ conferences are a lot of fun, especially those focused on the Christian market. In fact, I’ve equated them to church camp because the feel is very much the same. It’s a delight to be with folks you haven’t seen face-to-face for months, even years. And there’s just no joy to compare with being surrounded by folks who love words and writing and reading as much as you do. So it’s little wonder that people are excited. Heck, I’m excited. I’m looking forward to copious amounts of hugs and laughter and coffee shared with those of like mind and heart.

And yet, for all the great fellowship and teaching we’ll find at ACFW and other writer’s conferences, allow me to give two cautions.

First, be strategic. If you wanted to, you could do things from dawn to…well, dawn! Between workshops and teaching tracks, general sessions and panels, spotlight sessions and late-night events, author and editor meetings, brainstorming and marketing sessions…you can find something to fill every moment of every day. I know that’s the temptation, especially considering that conferences aren’t cheap. After all, you want to get your money’s worth, right? As true as that is, you also need to make sure you’re not overdoing it. (Consider reading some of the related posts linked at the bottom of the page.)

Writers’ conferences are among the most exhausting thing I do, and I’m an off-the-scale extrovert! For most of you folks, who tend to tip the chart at introvert with a capital I, writers’ conferences can pretty much do you in. Not only can you end up physically exhausted, but your emotions can run the gamut as well. Hopes rise and fall, dreams come true and crash and burn, and egos are inflated, bruised, and decimated.

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News You Can Use – Sept. 11, 2012

Never Forget – September 11th

Publishers Forcing a New Genre – Books for 14-35 year olds? Mature themes but packaged younger. Thoughts?

How Much Time is Wasted at Work? – This page and infographic should make everyone pause for a moment. The average worker checks their email 36 times an hour…. Astounding. I would have thought it was more. J

Hats Off to Amazon – Read this article! Mike Shatzkin, as usual, writes an insightful article on the strategies of Amazon and the implications of the Department of Justice settlement among other things.

How Bestseller Lists Work…and Introducing the Amazon Monthly 100 – Timothy Ferris takes a stab at unveiling the mystery. You may have seen this in an earlier post.

Sue Grafton Apologizes to Self-Published Authors for Calling Them Lazy – Important to admit when one is wrong and accept the consequences. I would never call any writer lazy…except in your case…yes, you know who I’m talking to… <grin>

Don’t Use Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail for Business Emails – If you are guilty of this, think about a change. I don’t think it is horrible for a writer to do this. But at least change how you are seen by the recipient of your email. It isn’t your email address that shows, it is the identity chosen when you set up the account. I once had an author send me an email but didn’t realize her kids had set up the account. So the e-mail showed in my inbox as coming from “mom.” Or another sent me a note from her account called “hot gramma.” Not very professional.

Mundane Routines Produce Creative Magic – An article length apologetic for working in your bathrobe.

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