Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter & E-Devotionals

I have made a concerted effort this week to focus on the events commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus.

When we focus, we remember that this weekend is why we as Christian writers do what we do. Jesus dying on the cross,in our place, is the reason we live and breathe and write. We hope through our work, whether we say the name God or Jesus, our Christian love shines through to others.

I also observed something this week about the electronic media we have been discussing on this blog. My church sent out a daily email devotional to all who wanted to participate. By opening the email you could read the devotional and hit a link to the Scripture reference and read it while at your computer. I did this, and I might get use to it, but at this point I think I would rather print it out and read the devotional in a place away from the computer and read the Scripture reference out of my Bible. Times are changing, but I am grateful for the many opportunities to communicate with others.

A Blessed Easter to you.

How about you? Do you prefer reading devotionals by email, or would you rather use a book and Bible away from the hum of your computer?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Free E-Books or Not?

     I want to welcome some new subscribers from my last two book giveaways. 


     As most of you regulars know, I have been sharing about taking the plunge and buying a Kindle Fire HD and entering the world of electronic reading. I continue to enjoy it, although I did read a “hard copy paper book” last week.  Although, I haven’t learned all that my Kindle Fire can do, I did install my email and have found it extremely helpful monitoring my personal email at my day job (only at breaks) and other times when I am away from my house.
     But, as I coasted around the blogosphere this week I noticed some discussion about free e-books. Many publishers offer these at certain times for new and also older titles. There has been talk that this might be ending. I guess I won’t be surprised, things can’t be free forever.   

     Also, it was mentioned that many of the books we download onto our devices, free or not, we may never read, just like the books on our shelves. Which I guess is okay, but I would imagine many authors hope those “free” books will lead to reviews that will inspire more sales.

I will admit I did feel like a hoarder for a while, but then the files are not taking up space in my house.

So, what do you think about the ending of “free e-books”? Or if you have further information that may help clarify the situation, please share. What percentage of the books you have downloaded, have you read? 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Love Finds You in Lake Geneva Giveaway


     I am giving away another book this week. I usually don’t have contests two weeks in a row, but I didn’t want a book giveaway going into Easter weekend.

    I am happy to recommend to you a book in the Love Finds You™  series by Summerside Press (an imprint of Guideposts). This series includes over 50 titles.

    Please leave a comment to be entered into the drawing before midnight, Central Time, Thursday, March 21.


Love Finds You in Lake Geneva Wisconsin
by Pamela S. Meyers

     I usually don't read romances, unless they are historical. And I’m so glad I read this one. It is set in 1933 in the resort town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Meg Alden, a native of the city by the lake, has her heart set on being a newspaper reporter, but it is 1933 and most newspaper editors see a woman's job as writing for the society page.

     But, Meg won’t give up on her dream and then to add to her distractions is the new reporter on the paper, Jack Wallace, whose job she coveted. Their story has many twists and turns which leave you wondering will these two ever get together?

     The descriptions of the beautiful town of Lake Geneva and especially of the building of the Rivera are worth the read to anyone who is familiar with the area or you just want to remember or learn about an earlier era. Pamela has definitely done her research.
     I won’t give away any more of the story.

     Leave a comment to be entered. Leaving an email will be helpful to me. No international entries. Contest ends midnight, Thursday, March 21. Winner will be announced on this blog.

Pamela S. Meyers grew up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where she learned to swim in the shadow of the Riviera, attempted figure-eights on the lake's frozen waters in winter, and basked on its sunny beach as a teen. Pamela's tagline, "Take a Sentimental Journey," aptly describes her stories, which she sets in small towns mostly in her native Wisconsin. She is the author of two published novels and busy working on her third. She has also published articles in dozens of magazines and contributed to a nonfiction compilation. She can be found at

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but I was under no obligation to read the book or post a positive review. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jeff Gerke on Writing & The First 50 Pages

I welcome Jeff Gerke to my blog. He is a novelist, publishing industry veteran and founder of Marcher Lord Press, a publisher of Christian fantasy and Christian science fiction. Jeff will be teaching the fiction continuing class at the Write-to-Publish Conference, June 5 - 8 on the campus of Wheaton College in Illinois. He is also the author of fiction and nonfiction titles, including The First 50  Pages, published by Writer's Digest Books.

What is important about the first 50 pages of a novel?

The first 50 pages determine whether or not your reader will keep reading. It is the rare reader (as in, your mom) who will keep reading even if she is not engaged early on.

In the first 50 pages, you also have to introduce your hero and main characters. You have to establish the context of the story. You must reveal the genre and milieu and story world. You have to set up the tone of the book. You’ll also be presenting the stakes, introducing the antagonist, establishing the hero’s desires, starting the main character’s inner journey, and getting a ticking time-bomb to ticking down. You’re basically setting up the rest of the book to work well. You’re building the foundation and creating the context from which the story will arise.

And you want to do all these without boring your reader, losing your reader, dumping backstory on your reader, misleading your reader, insulting your reader’s intelligence, or tipping your hand to the reader.

Finally, the first 50 pages of a novel are what agents and editors will use to determine if your book is worth publishing. In a real sense, your first 50 pages are the sales tool that will hopefully lead to a publishing contract.

What is the best advice you would give to unpublished novelists?

Be encouraged! If you are passionate about your story, there is now—because of the publishing revolution we’re in—an outlet for that novel. It may not be the traditional path you’ve heard about, but no longer can the publishing power bloc say that the story you’re passionate about isn’t “right” and therefore can’t be published.

Discover how you learn, and then learn as much as you can about writing fiction well. If you learn best through books, read lots of books. I have written some that might help you, actually. If you learn best by doing, then be sure you’re writing, and look into critique groups or critique partners for some feedback. If you learn best by hearing or seeing someone teach, then go to writers conferences or avail yourself of online training resources like The Fiction Academy.

You’re the only person who is going to push you to improve, but you owe it to yourself and your readers to make that effort. It’s possible now to get published (or to self-publish) even if you haven’t put in the hard work to raise your fiction craftsmanship, but the cream will eventually rise to the top—and the rest will sink. So find out how you best learn, and learn all you can.

Give a short preview of your class, “The First 50 Pages,” which you will teach at Write-to-Publish.

It wouldn’t be possible to cover my entire Writer's Digest book The First 50 Pages in the time we have at the conference, so I’m going to choose the sub-topics I think will make the most impact on novelists as they contemplate the opening pages of their novels.

There’s no formula for writing a novel, so don’t look for “Do X by page 10 and have your first Y by page 27” type stuff, though I will give some suggestions. Nor is the way I’ll be teaching this material the only way to write a great opening to a novel. But the tools and emphases I provide will result in a flexible system for creating books that hook the reader, get the novel going correctly, and set the book up to succeed.

Tell us a little about the publishing company you founded, Marcher Lord Press.

Many novelists, myself included, got into writing because they said, “No one is writing the kinds of novels I want to read, so I guess I’d better do it myself.” That’s also how I decided to form my own publishing house: “No one is publishing the sort of fiction I want to read, so I guess I’d better do so myself.”

I spent over a decade inside the Christian publishing industry trying to promote Christian speculative fiction (fantasy and science fiction, etc.) and not having much success. When I left my last post, I had seen how publishing worked and had a theory for why Christian spec fiction didn’t sell well in Christian bookstores. Better, I had the inklings of an idea for what the ultimate publishing company that could reach those fans would look like.

So over the next couple of years, I refined the business model, prayed a lot, and eventually launched the company, in October 2008. Now, with several Christy Awards and ACFW Carol Awards under our belts, plus numerous positive reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, we’re going strong and loving being at the forefront of Christian speculative fiction publishing.

Will attendees at Write-to-Publish be able to meet with you if they write in the genre you publish?

Of course! Actually, I love talking to writers of any kind, so anyone can meet with me. But I do like to listen to Christian speculative novelists pitching their story ideas. They’re my kind of people!

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Did It

            I did it. I bought a Kindle Fire HD this week. In an earlier post, I mentioned I was thinking about buying one and prior to that I posted about being unsure if it was anything I would ever buy.

            But, after only a few days, I’m falling in love with it. I like the clarity and the options to change the font and the point size. One of my favorite features is the ability to change the background from a stark white to a sepia tone which is easier on the eyes.

            So, I’m into electronic reading. I would never have believed it. Of course, I also have internet and soon I’ll be setting up email.

             I’m almost ashamed to say how many books I have in my Kindle library, but I’m glad I don’t have them in my house as I have too many books already. But, can we really have too many books? Okay, I have close to 100 on my Kindle, but the majority were free.

            How many books do you have in your Kindle or electronic library?