Where There Seems to be No Way

You’ve been writing, editing, writing and worrying that a door will open to get your prose into print. Every day that passes without Barnes and Noble making a place for your best seller on down their center isle lets a little more air out of your hope inspired bubble.

It doesn’t bother you at first. Or at least that’s what you tell everyone through your veil of courage. But then you begin to question. At first, you wonder what in the world they’re thinking for not having purchased your manuscript. Then you realize it’s you. Surely, you are the worst writer on the face of the planet.

It’s an emotional roller coaster that would make the thrill rides at Disney World look like kiddy rides.

You finally stand right in front of what appears to be a fifty foot high solid brick wall. The only good purpose it would serve now is something really hard to throw your computer against to ensure it will be completely destroyed.

It’s heartbreaking. Exhausting. Downright disillusioning!

But wait! You didn’t read “the end” did you? Nope. Know why? Because it’s not over! God works in ways you cannot see. There is a way even where there seems to be no way! He’s working things out.

So when there seems to be no way you’ll realize your dream of being a published author, take heart and remember these things:

You can’t see the ways God is working. But when you can’t see his hand working on your behalf, you know you can trust His heart.

All things really do work together for good. You can relax knowing it will all work out.

Living a rich, full career as a writer in a different way than you dreamed is NOT a consolation prize. Get over the fact that it didn’t turn out exactly the way you wanted it to.

There’s always a way. Always. Even when there seems to be no way, there is a way.

Don’t be derailed by worries and concerns about not moving forward. Hone your craft. Learn how to write successfully and then let God work in those ways you cannot see. He will make a way for you where there seems to be no way. Trust that. Trust Him. You’ll be happier and will be ready to walk through the door He opens.

So are you discouraged? Disillusioned? Feel stagnant? Share it here!

Feature Fiction Friday Presents: Denise Jones!

This year’s Frasier Contest has come to a close. The finalists and semi-finalists have been announced, and we are all eagerly awaiting the Pizza Party to find out who the winner is. In the mean time, lets meet one of the Judges that made it all possible: Denise Jones, with her new book Secrets Over Sweet Tea!

Q: Denise, can you give the MBT Audience a little blurb about your story?

A: Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well—a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.

Q: What is one piece of writing advice you could give to the MBT audience.

A: I hear people say often, “I’m too afraid to start.” I find this so interesting, because I feel the same way. Each day that I sit down to write I am afraid nothing will show up. The screen is blank. The cursor blinks. The fear settles in like a familiar friend pulling up a chair to share a Coke. It’s almost as if that fear is daring me to touch that keyboard. 

Starting is the hardest part. Each day. But I have learned something in writing. Following my divorce I honestly didn’t know if I would ever have another story to tell. When grief settles in there are moments it convinces you it isn’t going to leave. And each day I would avoid the computer too afraid of what “wasn’t” going to happen. And that was when I took that fear to The Lord. And He spoke something that has never left me. “If you show up, I’ll show up.” And do you know what? He has. Each day. 

Some days it may feel like the fear of the “what if’s” or “what won’t be’s” will suck the story right out of you. But I have learned, when we are doing what God has called us to do, our obedience brings about His reward. The reward of His presence. You show up. He’ll show up. It’s not technique in writing, or a profound tool to hone your craft. Because honestly, I’m not qualified for those types of lessons. But it is a truth that can create one more powerful story. And I am proof, that it is totally true. So, show up today. Let Him know that you’re there and you need Him. And then start. And then let the story He births be written. He’s always been really good at stories.

***
photo

Denise Hildreth Jones has had her booked hailed as “smart and witty” both reviewers and readers alike. Since her first novel “Savannah from Savannah” Denise has gone to write seven others as well as two non-fiction offerings including “Flying Solo: A Journey Back to Laughing, Loving and Living”, the journals of the year following the loss of her thirteen year marriage. Featured twice in Southern Living and chosen this year as the INSPY Winner in General Fiction with her novel “The First Gardener” Denise loves the gift of story. 

She also leads the ministry she founded called Reclaiming Hearts. After finding her heart sadly shut-down after the wake of her divorce, Denise went on a desperate journey to reclaim her heart. She now leads a ministry for men and women to help them rediscover the abundant life they were created for, through her Bible Studies and weekend retreats. Focusing on the truths written in “Reclaiming Your Heart: A Journey Back to Laughing, Loving and Living” and its companion novel, “Secrets Over Sweet Tea”.

She makes her home in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband Philly, her five bonus-kids and one shih-tzu. She loves good books, close friends, SEC football and Coca-Cola. 

 

“What is one piece of writing advice you could give to the MBT audience.”

Thoughts from Romance Writers of America Conference

Last weekend I attended the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta.

I had a great time and connected with my editors, publicist and agent, as well as author friends like Robin Lee Hatcher and Voices June Bowen and Elaine Clampett. To name a few!

I can’t stress enough how key a conference is to a writers journey.

Not only for the workshops but for the networking, relationship building and information gathering outside of workshops.

And oh, did I mention the book signings with free, yes, free books?

Then there’s the Golden Heart and RITA Awards which believe it or not I always find inspiring.

I’ve entered the RITA twice and finaled twice. Won zero.

But when I saw author Eloisa James get up there with her hand full of silver RITA pins showing us how many times she’d been nominated but not won, I was encouraged!

For new authors, the chance to pitch to editors and agents is invaluable.

But all can network with booksellers, marketing and promotion people, distributors, all aspects of publishing.

Which leads me to the workshop I attended on Indie Publishing.

The panel consisted of Amazon’s Jon Fine, Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre, Smashwords Mark Coker and B&N Nook Julie Conlentz.

They talked about trends and opportunity in Indie publishing as well as lessons learned.

Let me say before you read further: INDIE PUBLISHING IS NOT THE ANSWER TO TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING REJECTIONS!

If you are getting rejected from traditional publishers take a long look at why. Ask the hard questions.

Indie Publishing still requires good, no, great, well written stories that are edits and proofed with exceptional packaging.

Remember, you get what you pay for!

That being said…

“What are some of the trends in self-published romance?”

Opportunity. You don’t have to wait for traditional publishing to accept your manuscript.

Proliferation. You can write and publish as fast as you want. Traditional publishing requires time and turn around.

Indie publishing doesn’t need a lot of lead time. Since practically all indie books are e-books, there are no print cost or restrictions.

Access to resources. Meaning, programs, artist, publicists and e-publishers who enable you to get your book out there to readers!

But these things cost money! You have to pay for the cover, the editing, the promotion. Even though e-publishers allow you to publish for free, you have to give them some of the revenue. So do your homework.

New Adult and YA are on fire.

Box set series. Even in e-publishing combining books in a series is doing well.

Romance dominating!

Let me say before you read further: JUST BECAUSE YOU E-PUBLISH A BOOK AND PUT IT ON AMAZON OR B&N FOR FREE DOES NOT MEAN YOU’LL GET A TON OF DOWNLOADS! FINDING AN READERSHIP TAKES TIME!

 “What are some trends and ideas to boost publishing opportunity?”

Seasonal Merchandizing

Authors collaborating. Work to share audiences and keep up with demand. Short content a way to bridge time between books.

Recover books slumping in sales Gives books a refresh to jump start sales.

Go for good review. You sell more books with higher star ratings.

Go back to description copy and add great reviews or blurbs.

Fan Fiction has gone legit.
I’m not into fan fiction but apparently it’s all the rage!

“What are some ways seasoned authors can diversify?”

Maxine to as many retailers as possible. Market across platforms. Meaning don’t just publish in Kindle or Nook or Smashwords. Publish everywhere!

Be proactive and produce shorter content pieces to feed the readers between the bigger books.

Books are an asset. Earn money for a life time. Get your rights back. Back list is crucial to move forward. Pay attention to reversion rights.

Think globally. Maybe you can get foreign rights and sell those if you can’t get American or English rights from your publisher.

Remember publishing is the “long game.”

Make work as available as possible. Keep you  face in front of readers.

People searching for books online via key words. Meta data becomes increasingly important. Keep it up to speed. Search inside turns book itself into Meta data.

“What pitfalls should am author avoid?”

Joe Konrath said, “Don’t write crap.” (Okay, I translated but you get the picture.)

Let me say before you read further: DON’T WRITE CRAP!

Avoid the devaluing of your work. Low price point are good introduction to work. Don’t price too low because it does tell the reader “might not be good.”

Be flexible, nimble. Control your work.

Packaging is important. Don’t just through stuff out there. If you’re not an artist, don’t create your cover. Be professional. Not cheap.

Balance being author as well as entrepreneur. Leave enough time to really focus on the business side.

Remember WYBOW —  Would You Be Better Off Writing? Don’t get distracted!

“Discoverability. How to get seen?”

Go where the readers are.

Maximize info that exist about you. Be on Twitter, Facebook etc. Books found mostly through recommendations. Be in place where people most likely to find you.

Focus on target audience.

Find the right ppl who love your work. They ate your street team.

Word of mouth more necessary than before.

Indie bookstores key!

Engage in social media as a human who cares not a marketer or book hawker.

Create your own email list!

Build a street team!

Look for reviewers of books like yours. Go on Amazon or B&N, look at books like yours and study the reviewers. Find those who seem to be readers and fans of what you write. Email and ask if they’d like to review your book.

General Comments

Authors are the future of publishing.

Power shifted from publishers to authors. Rights and power in authors hands.

Stigma of self publishing going away.

Growth slowing. Facing more competition. Indie authors becoming more sophisticated.

There are great publishers who are putting effort behind authors.

See more diverse opportunities among trash publishing.

There are benefits to self publishing and traditional publishing. Great to be both. Opportunities to be in both worlds.

Publishers aren’t going away.

Consider both roots but don’t give up digital rights.

Indie 3.0 is a drive for quality and professionalism. Books must be as good as they can. Professionalism is key!

Sooo, there you have it. A summary of indie/self publishing.

Let me say, however, there is NOTHING like a professional publisher as a partner.

They have connections, resources and sales avenues indie authors DO NOT have.

So, do all you can to write the best book possible.

Build relationships with publishers.

Consider indie publishing for backlist titles or your spec fic no one wants.

Write well.

***

RachelCloseUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 16 novels.

She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal?

How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Social Media Minute—Navigate Social Media Etiquette

The social media universe has developed into a world with it’s own ways of interacting. Stumbling around this brave new world is exciting, but it can also lead to some embarrassing moments. Today I’ll share some tips to help you acclimate to this new online society.

Facebook

When to LIKE , COMMENT or SHARE on Facebook: When you read a post on Facebook you have three options if you want to interact.

The First is to LIKE the post. When you click on LIKE, Facebook will register your user name and the fact you liked it. This carries more weight with the Facebook Edgerank Algorithm than just viewing the post, but not as much as commenting.

The second option is to COMMENT. This carries the most weight with Facebook and will give you the most engagement with others seeing the post. BUT, and this is an important consideration, it will also include you in all subsequent conversations. This means that if you get email notifications on Facebook, everytime someone else comments on this post, you’ll get an email about it. If it’s a popular post, that can mean twenty or more emails in your inbox. So think carefully before you comment.

NOTE: You can opt out of a conversation (what Facebook calls post interaction). But if you choose to do that, everyone in the conversation will be notified that you opted out.

The final option is to SHARE a post on Facebook. This takes a copy of the post and pastes it on your page. When Facebook pastes the post, it gives you the option of deleting the name of the person you got the post from. Doing so is bad form. Not quite as bad as plagiarism, but it is in the neighborhood.

  • So LIKE a post, when you want to let people know you agree or enjoyed it.
  • COMMENT if you don’t mind becoming part of the ongoing conversation.
  • SHARE a post, always giving credit to the original poster.

When to FILTER a post or just UNFRIEND the person:

FILTERING or HIDING a post or user can keep that person’s updates from showing up on your timeline. This is a good option if you don’t want to offend someone.

UNFRIENDING someone basically says you don’t want to have any interaction with that person. Depending on how many friends you have, this may be noticeable, especially if you interact regularly at work or socially.

  • So FILTER someone who’s annoying.
  • UNFRIEND someone you don’t mind alienating.

Twitter

When to RETWEET and when to REPLY: There are two ways to answer someone on Twitter, RETWEET and RELY. And there are specific times to use each one.

A RETWEET, is a repeat of the tweet sent. This is used when you want to share a tweet with your followers. For instance, if I saw a tweet about how to avoid getting embarrassed on Twitter, I’d retweet it to my followers so they could learn too. I also use it to share good news about others.

A REPLY, is an answer to a tweet that’s been sent. This is used if someone asks you a question on Twitter. It’s also used when someone else mentions you on Twitter. It’s a way of saying thank you.  It’s considered a very bad instance of bragging to retweet a mention of yourself. For instance if someone tweeted about this post, I’d REPLY and say thank you.

  • So RETWEET if you see an update you want to pass on to your followers.
  • REPLY when someone mentions you or asks a question.

Social Media in General

When is it acceptable to HOG THE STREAM? The short answer is …NEVER! Hogging or Spamming the stream, means posting several social media updates in a row. This can be on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. You can do this inadvertently by engaging the AUTOMATIC updates available on some ancillary programs like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Buffer.

This option of automatic updates claims to identify when the largest amount of your followers are engaging on social media and update at that time. Unfortunately this can often result in multiple updates sent one right after another. This can leave you labeled as an irritation or even banned from certain networks. I recommend you avoid any automatic scheduling options to avoid this.

So schedule the times when you send out your social media updates and don’t post them one after another. Spread them out.

  • First, so you don’t irritate anyone by Hogging the Stream.
  • Second, so you reach people who are on at different times of the day.

These are just a few of the worst blunders for social media. I’d like to know what social media faux pas you’ve seen and which ones irritate you the most.