We are a group of writers who belong to CAN, the Christian Authors Network, who are passionate about writing. As published authors, we long to share our victories and struggles with regards to marketing and promotion. No one really ever told us about this part of the business of writing, so, like you, we are learners. Won't you learn alongside us?
Hi! I'm Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I'm blogging about “PUGS”--Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling ... tips for writers based on the most common mistakes I see in the manuscripts I edit. These are excerpts from my new book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, which reveal how multi-published authors proofread their manuscripts to avoid typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors. (The book is available from Amazon.) If you're interested in working with a freelance editor (or know someone who is), e-mail me through the contact page of my website. Or go to the Christian Editor Connection to get referrals to other established, professional editorial freelancers. If you’re a freelance editor yourself, or think you might be interested in that field, check out The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network.
Greetings from the winter-draped Rockies in Colorado. Davalynn Spencer here to introduce multi-published author, Dianne Barker.
Dianne, how did you get into writing?
As an eighteen-year-old college student, I landed my dream job writing for my hometown newspaper in Johnson City, Tennessee. When Billy Graham held a crusade in Knoxville in 1970, the newspaper sent me to cover the event, which made national headlines with the visit of President Richard Nixon. Through the influence of my friend and mentor Dr. Sherwood Wirt (founding editor of Decision magazine), the crusade executive committee chose me to write a commemorative book about the crusade. Billy Graham in Big Orange Country was my first book—at age twenty-four.
When my gold foil 'autographed copy' labels arrived for my first book signing, another role of 'Award Winning Author' labels was included by mistake. I was tempted to use them when I earned an award for a little local writers' contest, but I knew that would be dishonest. So they sat for years. When my third book released I decided I needed to see if I could earn the right to place those stickers on my books. I entered book contests and was thrilled to win the Selah Award for Bible studies. If you want the right to say you are an Award Winning Author, here are some contests you might want to enter.
Jolissa Montoya believes God is calling her to work with the disadvantaged children in her inner-city neighborhood. There’s only one problem: The children wouldn’t be able to understand her. Jolissa suffers from a speech impediment and has a thick accent because Spanish is her first language....
Some of my favorite settings for novels, contemplation, and vacations also serve as locations for an important reorientation. I promise the whole blog post won't have -ation words peppering the sentences. Mackinac Island, Madeline Island, the Apostle Islands, and a peninsula that might as well be an island--Door County, WI--because the bulk of it is attached to the mainland by one thin drawbridge over a wide channel.
Hi! Maureen Pratt here with my monthly blog. A friend of mine and I recently got into an interesting discussion about how much of the programming on television and many of today's movies contain fundamentally unlikeable characters who do some pretty awful things. And yet, they draw an audience, sometimes rave reviews, and, sometimes, too, awards and accolades.
As a reporter, I've had to write stories about subjects that I don't necessarily "resonate" with. I've also had to interview people with whom I personally disagree or who are not exactly the kind of people I'd want to share a meal with. But, that's the life of a reporter; news and newsmakers come in all shapes, sizes and moral convictions (or lack thereof), and a good reporter is able to get to the truth of a piece without inserting personal feelings or bias (not to say we don't have them!)
But what about those stories we aren't professionally obligated to tell, but rather choose to tell or are led to tell by the Spirit? Do we have to like all of our characters, down to the lowliest criminal or town gossip or unsaved soul? Are we required to give soft edges to all inhabitants of our stories so that they will be palatable to us (read: so we'll be able to spend long hours with them through the creative process) and our readers? What about the really evil-doers in some books? If we're writing stories including those kinds of characters, do we have to like them in order to write them well?
For non-faith-based authors, the question can be answered rather succinctly: Characters don't have to be likeable in order for them to "work" in a story, but they do have to be attractive in some way in order for people to want to watch them. This attraction can be extremely superficial (a very good-looking man or woman as the villain, for example). Or, it can be character-deep, drawing the audience on an exploration of what the character's (often twisted) thinking/experience/perspective is and how that propels him or her to act as he or she does. Unfortunately, unlikeable characters often glamorize wrongdoing - the subject of another blog - and understanding why someone does something nefarious is often mistaken for condoning it.
For the faith-based author, the question of liking our characters takes on a very different color. We believe in God's love for each of us and the power of redemption available to all. Our characters might do very evil things, but God is more powerful and there is always the possiblity of redemption, forgiveness, a complete conversion of spirit. "Hate the sin and not the sinner" seems superficial, but is, in some sense, closer to the sense of balance in mind as pen is put to paper. And as the process unfolds, it is more useful the farther we get into the work. I for one cannot lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the Savior of the world, and, even in a fictional world, that belief is still valid.
Fiction authors will talk about the "heart" that they pour into their books, and the way they "bonded" with their characters. By the end of the writing process, many characters can become almost like friends and nearly as beloved. This is a far different emotional connection from writing straight news, covering a beat that runs the gamut of likeable and unlikeable denizens. It is much like the difference between "just doing a job" and completely throwing oneself into a vocation, a calling. So, it is much more plausible for authors of fiction to warm to their characters.
In fine fiction, the fondness an author has for his or her work helps bring the story to life and enables the reader to be drawn in, to connect, and to want to spend hours reading just as the author has spent hours writing. The characters who do evil things, who sin, who stumble, and who are, on the face of it, unlikeable, are part of this cloth of a tale, and in the hands of a faith-based author can be and show both the awful side of mankind as well as the miracle, wonder, and "Wow!" of a character's redemption. It's so powerful to read a story where the worst of the characters comes around, repents, and we all breathe a collective "Hallelujah!"
Do we have to like all of our characters?
Not all at once. But we can love God's presence and power working through and around them. And as our stories unfold, the unlikeable might just become the character we remember most - in a good and remarkable way!
One of the most effective ways to communicate with your readers is through your author/speaker website. How can you make your site better?
Your author website is your online “storefront.” It represents you and your writing to your readers. It gives you credibility. It builds your brand. It gives you the opportunity to showcase your books—and sell them. In addition to social media, your website is a place to connect and build community.
Jane Friedman, a media industry expert, calls the author website “the No. 1 calling card for a digital-age author.”
Today, there are many options for building a website. Some authors use a web designer to build a traditional website. Others useWordPress, traditionally a blogging site, to transform their blog into a website. Another option is to create your own professional website using a company, like homestead® or others, that provide templates (so you can easily fill in your own words and photos).
If you already have an author website, how can you make it better? Is your site the most effective marketing tool it can be right now?
First, start by asking yourself these questions: How useable is your site? Can your readers easily find what they are looking for (like your bio, books, speaking engagements, how to follow you on all your social media outlets and the like)? Is your contact information is listed clearly and on every page of your site?
Next, you may want to look at other author websites—fiction and nonfiction—to get ideas about what you want and don’t want on your site. Plus, if you scroll down to the bottom of the web page, most sites will list the web designer’s name or company name (which is helpful if you are in the market for a web designer).
Rob Eagar (WildFire Marketing) is a marketing consultant who specializes in helping authors to get amazing results in marketing fiction and nonfiction books. For an effective author/speaker website, Eagar recommends these basic, but crucial elements:
Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I’m delighted to interview dear friend and fellow WWII fiction writer Cara C. Putman. In fact, Cara, Tricia Goyer, and I have written a Christmas novella collection that will be coming out in October 2014 (Where Treetops Glisten). While researching my story, I had the joy of staying with Cara’s family and watching this lawyer/multi-published author/homeschooling mom in action—and with a continual smile on her face.
Cara, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
My 17th novel just released. Shadowed by Grace is set in Italy during WWII and is a story of a Monuments Man on a search for more than lost art. Before that A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island released and was repackaged in Waterfront Weddings.
Londonderry Dreaming of the Passport to Romance series
Acclaimed New York artist, Naomi Boyd, and music therapist, Keith Wilson, loved one another five years ago, until her grandfather with his influence over Naomi separated them.
That root of bitterness keeps them apart until a letter from Keith’s grandmother, Ruth, draws Naomi to Londonderry to find she’s too late. Ruth has passed on. After the death of his beloved grandmother, Keith has also come to Londonderry only to open the door to his past…Naomi...beautiful as ever, the girl who broke his heart....