Monday, February 25, 2013

Peace in the middle of it all

Music is huge for me. (In case you can't tell from the picture.)

In some shape or form it's been part of my life for pretty much ever. Between clarinet lessons, school and local choirs, church youth and adult worship teams, worship classes, choirs and the worship team at Bible college all the way up to the ministry I have right now--leading worship with my husband at our local church:

Music can rev you up. It can calm you, refocus your perspective and say what you would never have the words to describe...or for some of us, the ability with writing in order to express.

Fiction does that too. 

When I'm in a certain mood--one that tends to re-occur on a monthly basis on some kind of twisted vicious cycle that started with Eve in the garden....uh, I digress--but I'll hunker down during those times and re-read certain authors. Usually ones where people go homicidal, or shout at each other, have varying kinds of emotional dramas. I figure it's like putting on a sad, or classic movie and crying for an hour...only my way uses up less tissues.

Non-fiction has the power to refocus me, also. Books like, 'God as He longs for you to see Him' and 'My Utmost for His Highest' never fail to leave me meditating on some aspect of God's person and His heart toward me. 
As believers, the Word of God and prayer are a source of peace in the middle of times that can be confusing, frustrating and downright scary. Every minute of every day. I don't even need battery power on my Nook, all I have to do is stop.

So I guess that's my advice to you today, since it's Monday and you just got slapped with all those things you spent the weekend trying to forget. Or maybe you're trying to escape today, from what happened over the weekend...whatever it is, just STOP.

And maybe listen to this:

Lisa Phillips sold her first book to Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense back in October 2012. You can find her on twitter @lisaphillipsbks and at

Friday, February 22, 2013

Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

© Kathy Ide, 2012

~ Self-Publishing ~

There are both benefits and disadvantages to self-publishing.

1.  You make more money per book. (Commercial publishers usually pay about 10% of the selling price to the author. With subsidy publishing, you can make 50% or more on each book sold.)
2.  You have more control over the final manuscript.
3.  You don’t have to convince an acquisitions editor plus two or three publishing committees to accept your book.
4.  You can get the book published in 3 to 6 months instead of 2 or 3 years.

1.  You have to bear the up-front costs.
2.  You don’t get the same level of editing/proofing as with a royalty house.
3.  Most magazine editors won’t review self-published books.
4.  Few bookstores will stock self-published books.
5.  You’re totally responsible for marketing and distribution. (Some houses offers these services—for a fee—but that’s never as effective as what you can do as the author.)
6.  The time you spend marketing will eat away at your time to do other things—like write, or take care of your family.

Before you self-publish ask yourself the following questions:

1. How many royalty publishers have looked at your manuscript? What was their reaction? If they said the writing was good but there’s something they didn’t like about it, consider following their suggestions. If you need to improve your writing skills, take a course or read some books or hire a professional editor. (Check out if you want some referrals to professional, established Christian editors.) If the publisher doesn’t think there’s a big enough market for the book, consider the possibility that they might be right. They’re the professionals in the industry after all.

2. Have you only approached the big publishing houses? Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide lists lots of smaller houses. They may pay smaller royalties and have a more limited showing in the marketplace, but they’re still standard publishers that won’t make you pay to get your book printed.

For more details on self-publishing options, check out Kathy's website,, under Helping Writers/Getting Published. For assistance in editing and/or proofreading your manuscript for a subsidy publisher, or for assistance with self-publishing (including typesetting, file conversion, cover design, and printing), e-mail Kathy at or go to

*Article used by permission.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Self-Publishing Options

~ Self-Publishing Options ~
© Kathy Ide, 2012

There are many options when it comes to self-publishing a book. Which one you choose depends on your goals, needs, and available funds.

Vanity Press (a.k.a. book producer or book manufacturer). Prints and binds a book at the author’s sole expense. Costs include the publisher’s profit and overhead, so vanity publishing is usually quite expensive. Vanity publishers don’t screen for quality. They provide no editing, marketing, warehousing, or promotional services.

Subsidy Publisher. The publisher takes payment from the author to cover part or all of the costs of printing and binding a book, often offering additional services such as editing, cover design, distribution, warehousing, and some marketing at added cost. The completed books are the property of the publisher and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold. Income to the writer comes in the form of a royalty.

Print-on-demand (POD). Books are printed when they’re ordered, so the publisher doesn’t keep copies anywhere. POD publishers don’t usually screen submissions (except perhaps to exclude pornography or hate literature), so anyone who’s willing to pay will be published. Some POD publishers offer editing, proofreading, or book marketing as add-ons to the basic publishing package—at an additional cost. Income to the author comes in the form of a royalty on sales. The publisher may have an exclusive claim on the book for a set period of time.  (Check the contract carefully.)

Self-publishing. The author undertakes the entire cost of publication and all marketing, distribution, storage, etc. Since the author can put every aspect of the process out for bid to different companies, rather than accepting a preset package of services, self-publishing can be more cost effective than vanity or subsidy publishing and can result in a higher-quality product. The completed books are the writer’s sole property, and the writer keeps 100 percent of sales proceeds.

Do-it-Yourself printing. Most copy shops—like Kinko’s—and many office supply stores—like Staples—offer book-binding services. Alternately, the author could purchase binders or report covers at an office supply store and fill them with three-hole-punched sheets of paper. If clear-front covers are used, the author can design an attractive cover page using either a color printer or specialty paper.

Electronic publishing. An e-book publisher (like can take a Word or WordPerfect file, design an electronic cover for it, format it to look like a book on screen, and convert it to Amazon’s ebook format (for Kindle), and/or EPUB (which can be read on any e-reader other than the Kindle). Some subsidy publishers offer both print and e-book options; others do only one or the other.

DIY electronic publishing. You can convert your Word or WordPerfect file to a PDF document (which can be read using Adobe Acrobat, so anyone with a computer could read it) and sell it on your website, blog, e-newsletter, etc.

Co-op publishing. The publisher and the author split the publishing costs. This often means that the publisher pays all the costs but the author is required to purchase a few thousand copies of the book.

If a publisher “congratulates” you on the acceptance of your manuscript but then asks you to pay part or all of the cost of getting it published, or requires that you purchase a minimum number of books, this is a subsidy publisher trying to look like a commercial publisher. If a subsidy publisher is a division of a commercial publishing house and claims that your book will be reviewed by the parent company, don’t take that statement at face value—ask for a list of titles that have gone that route and verify it with the authors. (Check out The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine for more things to look out for.)

Here are the subsidy and POD publishers I can personally recommend:
Abbott Press, a division of Writer’s Digest (
Ampelos Press (
Believers Press (
Bethany Press (
BookLocker (
CrossBooks, division of LifeWay (
Hit The Mark Publishing (
The Honor Network (
InspiringVoices, a service of Guideposts (
Lulu (
Strong Tower (
Vision Publishing (
Xulon Press (

In your search for a subsidy publisher, consider the following:
            1. In general, you get what you pay for. You can save a lot of money if you skip having your manuscript professionally edited and proofread, or if you typeset the manuscript and design the cover yourself. But the final result won’t be near as good as if you pay a professional to do those things.
            2. When checking out a subsidy publisher, find out all the costs. Does the quote include editing, proofreading, cover design, typesetting, marketing, distribution … or are those services “extra”?
            3. Make sure you retain the rights to your work. If your book becomes the exclusive property of the subsidy publisher, you won’t be able to contract with a commercial publisher if one’s interested … or switch subsidy publishers if you aren’t happy with the first one.
            4. What sales avenues will be available for your book? I used to recommend CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing division) until I realized that books (both print and electronic) that an author creates there can only be purchased from Amazon. And competitors won’t buy books from them.
            5. If you want to pay the subsidy publisher for a marketing package, find out what you’re really getting. Will they do anything that you can’t do as well or better on your own?
            6. Does the publisher require that you purchase a minimum number of copies? If so, do you realistically believe you can sell that many at a high enough price to recover your costs?
            7. Before you sign with a publisher, check Preditors & Editors ( to see if the company you’re considering has earned a positive or negative reputation.

For more details on self-publishing options, check out Kathy's website,, under Helping Writers/Getting Published. For assistance in editing and/or proofreading your manuscript for a subsidy publisher, or for assistance with self-publishing (including typesetting, file conversion, cover design, and printing), e-mail Kathy at or go to

*Article used by permission.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Idahope Conference with Brandilyn Collins

Idahope Annual Conference 2013 “Capturing the Edge”

Day: March 16, 2013
Time: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: Meridian First Baptist Church, 428 W. Pine Ave, Meridian ID Map
Cost includes both general sessions, your choice of breakout sessions, and soup & salad lunch. We’re sorry but we’re unable to accommodate special dietary requests or needs. You are welcome to bring a sack lunch or drive to one of the fast food locations near the church during the lunch break.
$75/person, until March 9.
March 10 — March 16 (at the door) $85/person
Ready to register? Click here
Our Keynote:
Brandilyn CollinsBrandilyn Collins website | twitter | facebook
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline: “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .”®
Brandilyn’s first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn’s awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice.

Other Speakers:
Robin Lee HatcherRobin Lee Hatcher website | twitter | facebook
Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher, author of more than 65 books, is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love.
WORKSHOP TITLE: “Creating Characters Who Breathe” 

Peter LeavellPeter Leavell website | twitter | facebook
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips.
WORKSHOP TITLE: “Research—The Key Literary Element”

Maryanna YoungMaryanna Young website | twitter | facebook | facebook
Maryanna Young founded Aloha Publishing with the goal of helping anyone who has a powerful idea have the opportunity to write and publish. She has created opportunities to work with clients and build friendships all over the world. As the vision keeper for authors, she loves helping them take their book ideas from vision to reality. Her passion outside of sports and publishing is to see young adults find and take action on their God given talent through friendship and mentoring.
WORKSHOP TITLE: “The Top Five Things Every Writer Needs to Know about Publishing an ebook. Taking the Mystery out of Publishing”

Ray EllisRay Ellis website | twitter | facebook
Ray Ellis has been writing for more than twenty years and has been a law enforcement officer and ordained pastor for just a little while longer. Ray is the author of the Nate Richards Police Mystery Series: a “Top 100″ for African-American Christian Fiction titles on Amazon.
WORKSHOP TITLE: Crime Scene Examination for the Writer

Jill WilliamsonJill Williamson website | blog | facebook
Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens, is a Jesus follower, a Whovian, and a recovering assistant fashion designer. She grew up in Alaska, but now lives in Oregon with her husband, two kids, and a whole lot of deer.
WORKSHOP TITLE: “Character and Storyworld Building”

Debra BurroughsDebra Burroughs website | twitter | facebook
A successful indie author, Debra Burroughs writes clean romantic suspense, full of fast-paced, page-turning mystery mixed with sweet, yet sensual romance.
WORKSHOP TITLE: Book Marketing in the Digital Age

Melissa Bent
This year we are very pleased to announce worship will be provided by Melissa Bent.
You can connect with her or listen to samples by clicking below.
website | twitter | facebook  | youtube

Ready to register? Click here
Conference Flyer (click to view a PDF):
2013 Idahope Conference

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Green-eyed ain't pretty.

Apparently, my two year old niece talks in sentences, don’t you know. While my son (who is 4 weeks older) talks mostly in single words. Though, they are important ones like, “truck” and “llama” and “purple”. My nephew eats broccoli, don’t you know. I buy those juice boxes with the serving of vegetables instead of groaning when he spits out the carrot and says, “yuck!”

To say I’m almost as emotionally attached to my books as I am to my kids wouldn't be too much of a stretch. The attachment is different, but can feel just as strong. I want everyone to recognize the genius of my creation, the life changing power in its pages. But why did she make the best sellers list? Her book makes me want to gag.

There’s a reason why jealousy is called the ‘green eyed monster’ – it ain't pretty. And yet it’s such an easy trap to fall into, because we know and love (usually) our own work. We know how much effort we put into each page. Surely if everyone just read it, they would be convinced it’s great, too. Right?

Publishing—however you go about it—pits your book against every other book in your genre, on the website, or on the bookshelf. Whether you like it or not, you’re in competition against other authors…competition for the reader’s time.

However you feel about other writers and their work, however unfair and unjust it is that someone’s book does better than yours, someone gets a contract when you didn’t, or when no one seems to realize how hard you’ve worked, you need to realize that every writer feels this way from time to time. Every writer sees someone else as better, or their book as better and they get discouraged. Or they see a rubbish book get recognition for whatever messed up reason and they get mad. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career. Unless you’re completely satisfied, one hundred percent of the time, you’re going to feel this way at some point.

Being discouraged, disappointed, angry, frustrated … these are all signs of helplessness. You cannot change this situation, but it’s changing you.

Don’t let it.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and GET BACK TO WORK.

Write more. Write BETTER. That’s the best way you can fight back, utilizing what you CAN control to tell the world all those stories vying for attention in your head. However it reaches the reader, it will touch hearts and change lives because God wants to do that with your work. If you’ll stop being sucked down into negativity and start typing….

Have you felt this way at some point, or had a particular experience you’d like to share? How did you deal with the green eyed monster in you?

Visit Lisa Phillips at ...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Pantser With An Outline

I love outlines. There, I admitted it. I love structure and format. The plan. I like to know where I’m going, what I’m going to do along the way and how long it will take to get there.  In the beginning, it was about having a safety net and knowing the story in my head was solid enough to carry sixty thousand words, or a hundred.

And I’m not ashamed to say I like it. I write each new chapter off “the outline”, an excel table I've printed out and scribbled all over. Before I start writing, I note how many words I have and calculate the word count of the start of the next chapter and the halfway point (so I know where to switch perspectives). I refer to both the outline and any notes I've made often to keep me typing along until I hit my word count. After all, naptime only lasts so long and then it’s off to school to do the Kindergarten pickup.

But am I missing something?

What qualities and/or conditions are most valuable to a writer? Spontaneity. Freedom. The opportunity for unstudied, impulsive roving through the backlands of his mind.
(Dwight V. Swain- Techniques of The Selling Writer)

Scaaaaarrrrryyyy…like a bad horror movie stabbing motion, the idea of “frolicking” seriously freaks me out. I like structure. I like to know where all my plot threads are…at all times.

So where do I fit this free flying, no-parachute, heart-in-throat plunge into the swirling vortex of my imagination?

Before the outline.

Back there in the research/planning phase where the novel is more like a grab-you idea and the characters are waiting for you to dig out that book on personality profiles so you can figure out who they are.
That’s my pantsing—flying by the seat of my…uh, you know. Impulsively dreaming, ‘what if she’s really dead already, like that movie?’ or ‘what if that character was a girl, not a boy?’ etc etc. Because when I get to the first draft, I want to be all left brain workaholic get it done and not drifting in a right brain fog that doesn't get you anywhere.
I’m not discounting an idea hitting you mid-sentence and sparking something that, in the end, will make your book better, brighter, grander. But maybe that’s what re-writes are for. Because if you follow your plan, the first draft will be solid—so long as the idea is fully developed—and in the editing stages can only get that much better.

But that’s just me.

What do you think? How do you juggle creativity and productivity in this line of work where you have to be all business while at the same time you’re digging artsy stuff out of your brain?

Lisa Phillips is a contributing blogger for Fliterary. You can find her on Twitter @lisaphillipsbks and at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Free for Kindle through 02/13 -- Living Joyfully Free by Lisa Buffaloe

Visit Amazon to order a copy of Living Joyfully Free (Finding freedom, hope, and joy in the journey) , by Lisa Buffaloe

Living joyfully free is falling back into God’s arms and releasing your worries, problems, concerns, and fears. Living joyfully free doesn’t mean you won’t have trouble or problems; it is allowing God to take full control—trusting and believing He has your best interest at heart.

This isn’t a regular devotion book. Each page is a stepping stone, a place to pause and ponder, a field to run through, a mountain to climb, a river to dive into God’s Living water. A picnic on the Bread of Life with The Bread of Life. Time along a garden pathway in the sun to be Son-kissed by God’s Son.

God invites you to live joyfully free. Explore how you can start today.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Crafting Your 100 word pitch by Lisa Phillips

Monday, editor Emily Rodmell shared about Harlequin's Love Inspired's new opportunity to pitch your story to them.
I participated in the speed date pitch for Love Inspired Suspense last year. Not only was it fun getting to talk with everyone in the chat room and encouraging each other, congratulating those who got a great response....I was one of the ones who got a request for a full manuscript!

So today, I thought I'd share my method of crafting a 100 word pitch that reveals not only all the elements of your story, but also your voice. Let's face it, a hundred words isn't that many, especially when you're trying to look exciting and professional and make your story sound amazing.

The first thing I did, was this:

Now I'm gonna break down for you what I discovered and what that meant when crafting my pitch. Here it is:

Sabine Fraternau, CIA agent, is on the hunt for her brother’s killer. When the Delta Force soldier she loves barges in, the mission goes from bad…to busted. Doug “MacArthur” Richardson is all military, a man of faith with no room in his life for love.
When Sabine is accused of betraying her country, Doug is the only one who believes the woman he’s falling for is innocent. But after her ex-husband’s betrayal, Sabine doesn't believe in happily ever after. Together they have to find the killer and prove Sabine’s innocence, before the nightmare of her past comes back…to kill her. 

My maths teacher (they don't call it 'math' in England) from high school used to say, "break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks."

Sabine Fraternau, CIA agent, is on the hunt for her brother’s killer.
The main character, her job and her GOAL. 

When the Delta Force soldier she loves barges in, the mission goes from bad…to busted.
Conflict in the form of romantic interest, which fits the Love Inspired Suspense line (know who you're pitching to and what they want). Also, a little bit of voice in the, " busted" that says my story doesn't take itself to seriously - which is very 'me'. *chuckles*

Doug “MacArthur” Richardson is all military, a man of faith with no room in his life for love.
The other main character, the 'love interest'. His job, his GOAL (same) and his obstacle in what will become their journey to happily ever after.

When Sabine is accused of betraying her country, Doug is the only one who believes the woman he’s falling for is innocent.
Plot, the suspense and the romance all tangled up and complicated with some high stakes.

But after her ex-husband’s betrayal, Sabine doesn't believe in happily ever after.
The obstacle to their happily ever after that's specific to HER.

Together they have to find the killer and prove Sabine’s innocence, before the nightmare of her past comes back…to kill her.
More stakes. A little of how the situation is going to be resolved.

So you can see that it is possible to present a HUGE amount of information in only 100 words. And let me tell you, I re-wrote this about a million times (ask my sister!). Let it shine, but don't get obsessed with it. If you have time, walk away and then come back with fresh eyes. 

Check that it has these elements in the 5 (ish) sentences:
1. Main character #1 - who is this person in a nutshell? If their job isn't relevant don't put it in. But what do they WANT?
2. Main character #2 - do the same. What is their goal?
3. What is going to keep them from this goal? Let your editor know this book has CONFLICT that won't easily be resolved. Lines like Love Inspired Suspense need conflict in the plot and conflict in the relationship. Make sure it's there.
4 and 5: How is the situation going to be resolved? How will the characters work it out? Does faith play in? What about the Antagonist (if there is one)? What's he up to? 
And, what the hey, add in some more conflict :-)

The manuscript itself is the most important thing. But you can achieve SO MUCH with a short pitch. Give it everything you've got! 

And let me know how you get on, yeah?

Lisa Phillips pretty much lives on Twitter @lisaphillipsbks. She's the secretary and worship leader for Idahope, her local ACFW chapter. If you want to know more, check out
Her first novel, The Ultimate Betrayal is COMING SOON.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Great Adverbectomy by Lisa Buffaloe

When I first began writing, I wrote completely without guidance, operating my keyboard without training wheels. After several manuscript rejections, I found much-needed help through a critique group. My first writing mentor addressed a problem. Since I had enough adverbs in my first paragraph to give an editor a heart attack, they were removed. Gasp. Wheeze. Whimper. I loved my adverbs. They were astonishingly, beguilingly, charmingly, alluringly wonderful.

After recovering from shock, I went home and held a small service in their honor. Lovingly, longingly, I took one final look at my Word document before starting my search. Weepingly, I sought for any word ending in the dreaded, tell-tale “ly” and my pages lit up like a Christmas tree. Adverbs were everywhere! No longer did they look as innocent. Goodness they had infiltrated a perfectly, decently written document and created something abnormally, agonizingly, alarmingly irritating. 

My work headed to the verb gym for a total manuscript makeover. Wow, who knew training could create such a lean document. Yes, the great adverbectomy was a touch painful. And although at times I may gaze longingly at my adverb buddies, in reality my manuscripts are better without them.  

In the same way, there are things in our lives that we think are okay, but in reality hinder our growth as Christians. Or perhaps there are things that cause us to stumble and sin. God provides the manual – His Holy Word – to guide us along our path. We don’t get to pick and choose what we think works best; we need to remember God is the creator and He has the final word on how best to live our lives. 

Talk to God and ask Him to show you anything that might be holding you back. And even if it’s a touch painful to remove, God wants to make sure you are the best you. 

Heavenly Father show me anything in my life that is holding me back from being the best me You want me to be.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Our Guest, Editor Emily Rodmell and her exciting news!

(Left to right: Emily Rodmell, Elizabeth Mazer and Shana Smith)

So tell us your exciting news! 

The editors of the three Love Inspired lines (Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical) are looking for new writers for the lines. And we’re hosting a speed dating pitch session where you can tell us your idea in under 100 words and get instant feedback. The pitch is called Happily Editor After and will take place on May 8 at 1 p.m. in the chat rooms. It’s a chance to skip the slush pile and pick the editor that you think will love your manuscript based on our online profiles. Last year we did a similar pitch, and offered contracts to 9 new authors as a result.

What does this mean for new authors?
It’s an opportunity to get your idea in front of an editor and get instant feedback that possibly could lead to a book contract.  If you sign up now, you have three months to start a story that will wow us. Or you can pitch a story that you already have. We’re especially eager to see romantic suspense books.

Describe Love Inspired books in a nutshell: 
Love Inspired books are sweet romance novels (and romantic suspense and historical) that offer sweeping love stories. We want heroines readers can relate to and heroes that they dream of. Love Inspired Suspense is a fast-paced inspirational line where the hero and heroine fall in love while facing danger and intrigue. Love Inspired Historical is a historical romance line. We’d love to see stories from any time period up to World War 1.

All of the Love Inspired lines should be geared toward women of faith. But we prefer that the faith element be intrinsic to the story rather than didactic. While some authors choose to have a conversion story or high level of faith element, it’s not required. The characters can simply be living Christian lives.

What, in particular, are you and the other editors looking for?
Since Love Inspired Suspense, our romantic suspense line, is expanding from 4 books a month to 6, our greatest wish is for awesome, high intensity romantic suspense stories. We also would love to see your contemporary romance novels and historical as well. For individual editor wishes, check out our online profiles:

Where can we sign up? 

Thank you so much, Emily, for stopping by. I'm so excited for this pitch since I was one of the 9 new authors contracted after last year's pitch! I'm slightly partial to these fantastic opportunities for new authors. :-)

If you want, you can check out my personal story of pitching to Emily and my call back experience, here. And the 100 words that made Emily request my full manuscript, here.