Monday, November 30, 2009

Motivation Monday: It's Not Over

Happy Monday.

I have so many things to do today. I have a client's book proposal to begin, another client's book to edit, to complete my own ebook, to decide on the top ten for the month, and to get Dee's Goody Mail together.

And I have to congratulate my dear friend, Rhonda McKnight. Her debut novel, Secrets & Lies is at a bookstore and book seller near you nationwide as of last week.

I am so excited for her. I watched her put this story together, read and re-read many rewrites, gain a book deal. answer some of her book promotion questions and prayed with her, as she always pray for me.

It is an exciting time to witness your friends and family members dreams come true. It is thrilling. Your heart expands, but won't burst. It grows with pride and blessings to God. It is a good thing.

Before I get back to my many tasks I want to leave you with some Monday Motivation. Even when it seems like no one wants your book or likes your book or you can't finish your book...It's not over until God says that it is over. Listen to this song. Let it motivate you through the week.

I hope you stop by the blog this month. I plan to chop it up with Rhonda. Tomorrow I have an announcement for you guys. I hope you also be apart of that announcement.

Remember if you have a Christian novel that was published this year, email me your title as I compile Christian Fiction 2009 Best of....

Be blessed,


Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday: Why Borders "In-Stock Guarantee" Is Good for Midlist Authors?

This month Borders Group announced its third quarter earnings, holiday selling season strategy, store closings and new marketing efforts. One effort in particular, Borders in-stock guarantee program seems not just beneficial to Borders, who is competing with and Walmart, but also for authors who aren't getting much love these days.

Here's how it works:

Store customers who want a book not available at the store will be sent the title with no shipping charges. This offer is good through December 16.

Why is the program great for most authors:

1. It can increase your books chances to be shelved in Borders.

Although many book buyers shop online, books are found in bookstores. Especially for events like Black Friday where there are more instore traffic. During Black Friday customers troll the aisles searching for the perfect book. However, they won't see yours today, because it is not shelved. But don't fret if you send out a quick eblast to your fan list that they can order your book today and through the holiday season that it will be shipped free to them,...KAPOW.

The major reasons your book is not shelved is because your local Borders doesn't know you exist or doesn't  believe that your book will sell in their store. If your book is the Business(meaning pretty good with swagger) and a decent number of your fans ask for it, the chances that the Borders store that your fans requested it from will want to stock your book will go up.

One thing you need to seek as a sales goal is to make sure that your book is stocked in the favorite bookstore of your fans. All it takes is a survey or poll to find that info out.

With this current in-stock guarantee promotion you can leverage your shelf life in your ideal markets.

2. It can increase your sales numbers.

Although many authors use Amazon links to channel their online booksales, it is wise to use a brick and mortar store as well. These stores guarantee that your book is purchased new, not used which can happen if you are directing book buyers to Amazon. Used books aren't counted, because they have already been bought.

I am a fan of using BookSense stores, because they are independents. However, with the Borders in-store guarantee, I would consider choosing your local or your bookclub president's local Borders or Waldens(make sure it isn't closing) as the official bookseller for your book. You couple that announcement with quarterly instore appearances or hosting local community events at that bookstore, you will see more traction for your entire catalog of books in print.

3. It can increase your royalties.

Piggybacking on #2. Your royalties are affected by the types of sells your book make. If it is discounted(Walmart or Amazon or or bought used(Books for Less, Amazon possibly, eyc.)  As I've said before authors should be wise and place bookstore links on their websites.
Yes, I know bookstore events beget small book sales. On average Borders will only stock about fifteen of your books for a book signing. Low and newbie authors will sell maybe ten and mid authors (if twenty) at a time, if you don't have marketing support, don't advertise and only  tell your Facebook buddies. But when you host a book event offsite-- let's keep it one hundred(let's be real--after you spend monies for event booking fees, promoting the event, purchasing food(because we can't seem to buy books without eating) how much profit did you really make?

I agree you should focus on making monies on both the front and back end. When we're speaking book events the goal is to increase that royalty statement and for many of you to get a royalty check. Use this back back program to do that.

If you sell more books than the store provided, your patrons will have the books shipped to them for free, and the bookstore will be wiser to stock your next book when they receive your publisher's order catalog the next go round.

In short learn what these bookstore chains are doing to stay in the black, then help them accomplish their goal. It will help you in the process.

If you haven't signed up for Dee's Goody Mail, then do so today. The December letter will discuss Borders and Barnes & Nobles third quarter sales in detail and how to leverage these figures for you. The goody mail is free, but by invitation only. I am inviting you in honor of Black Friday. To receive it, send me an email at deegospelpr at gmail dot com and put in the subject header I want to Keep it One Hundred!

Related Post:

Harlequin Horizons No More

Harlequin Publisher's new self-publishing arm, Harlequin Horizons name has been changed to Dell Arte Press. This name change is no shocker. Some Harlequin authors were livid over the name, because it appeared more like an imprint than a separate entity. The new site is

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wilcard: Chilibras A Novel Idea

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

(contributions from best-selling authors including Jerry B. Jenkins, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock, Robin Jones Gunn, Angela Hunt and more)

and the book:

A Novel Idea

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (November 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Best-selling Christian fiction writers have teamed together to contribute articles on the craft of writing. A Novel Idea contains tips on brainstorming ideas and crafting and marketing a novel. It explains what makes a Christian novel “Christian” and offers tips on how to approach tough topics. Contributors include Jerry B. Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and many other beloved authors. All proceeds will benefit MAI, an organization that teaches writing internationally to help provide literature that is culturally relevant.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (November 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414329946
ISBN-13: 978-1414329949


Chapter 1: Plot

The Plot Skeleton

Angela Hunt

Imagine, if you will, that you and I are sitting in a room with one hundred other authors. If you were to ask each person present to describe their plotting process, you’d probably get a hundred different answers. Writers’ methods vary according to their personalities, and we are all different. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically.

If, however, those one hundred novelists were to pass behind an X-ray machine, you’d discover that we all possess remarkably similar skeletons. Beneath our disguising skin, hair, and clothing, our skeletons are pretty much identical.

In the same way, though writers vary in their methods, good stories are composed of remarkably comparable skeletons. Stories with “good bones” can be found in picture books and novels, plays and films.

Many fine writers tend to carefully outline their plots before they begin the first chapter. On the other hand, some novelists describe themselves as “seat-of-the-pants” writers. But when the story is finished, a seat-of-the-pants novel will (or should!) contain the same elements as a carefully plotted book. Why? Because whether you plan it from the beginning or find it at the end, novels need structure beneath the story.

After mulling several plot designs and boiling them down to their basic elements, I developed what I call the “plot skeleton.” It combines the spontaneity of seat-of-the-pants writing with the discipline of an outline. It requires a writer to know where he’s going, but it leaves room for lots of discovery on the journey.

When I sit down to plan a new book, the first thing I do is sketch my smiling little skeleton.

To illustrate the plot skeleton in this article, I’m going to refer frequently to The Wizard of Oz and a lovely foreign film you may never have seen, Mostly Martha.

The Skull: A Central Character
The skull represents the main character, the protagonist. A lot of beginning novelists have a hard time deciding who the main character is, so settle that question right away. Even in an ensemble cast, one character should be featured more than the others. Your readers want to place themselves into your story world, and it’s helpful if you can give them a sympathetic character to whom they can relate. Ask yourself, “Whose story is this?” That is your protagonist.

This main character should have two needs or problems—one obvious, one hidden—which I represent by two yawning eye sockets.

Here’s a tip: Hidden needs, which usually involve basic human emotions, are often solved or met by the end of the story. They are at the center of the protagonist’s “inner journey,” or character change, while the “outer journey” is concerned with the main events of the plot. Hidden needs often arise from wounds in a character’s past.

Consider The Wizard of Oz. At the beginning of the film, Dorothy needs to save her dog from Miss Gulch, who has arrived to take Toto because he bit her scrawny leg—a very straightforward and obvious problem. Dorothy’s hidden need is depicted but not directly emphasized when she stands by the pigpen and sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Do children live with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em if all is fine with Mom and Dad? No. Though we are not told what happened to Dorothy’s parents, it’s clear that something has splintered her family and Dorothy’s unhappy. Her hidden need, the object of her inner journey, is to find a place to call home.

Mostly Martha opens with the title character lying on her therapist’s couch and talking about all that is required to cook the perfect pigeon. Since she’s in a therapist’s office, we assume she has a problem, and the therapist addresses this directly: “Martha, why are you here?”

“Because,” she answers, “my boss will fire me if I don’t go to therapy.” Ah—obvious problem at work with the boss. Immediately we also know that Martha is high-strung. She is precise and politely controlling in her kitchen. This woman lives for food, but though she assures us in a voice-over that all a cook needs for a perfectly lovely dinner is “fish and sauce,” we see her venture downstairs to ask her new neighbor if he’d like to join her for dinner. He can’t, but we become aware that Martha needs company. She needs love in her life.

Connect the Skull to the Body: Inciting Action
Usually the first few chapters of a novel are involved with the business of establishing the protagonist in a specific time and place, his world, his needs, and his personality. The story doesn’t kick into gear, though, until you move from the skull to the spine, a connection known as the inciting incident.

Writers are often told to begin the story in medias res, or in the middle of the action. This is not the same as the Big Incident. Save the big event for a few chapters in, after you’ve given us some time to know and understand your character’s needs. Begin your story with an obvious problem—some action that shows how your character copes. In the first fifth of the story we learn that Dorothy loves Toto passionately and that Martha is a perfectionist chef. Yes, start in the middle of something active, but hold off on the big event for a while. Let us get to know your character first . . . because we won’t gasp about their dilemma until we know them.

In a picture book, the inciting incident is often signaled by two words: One day . . . Those two words are a natural way to move from setting the stage to the action. As you plot your novel, ask yourself, “One day, what happens to move my main character into the action of the story?” Your answer will be your inciting incident, the key that turns your story engine.

After Dorothy ran away, if she’d made it home to Uncle Henry and Aunt Em without incident, there would have been no story. The inciting incident? When the tornado picks Dorothy up and drops her, with her house, in the land of Oz.

The inciting incident in Mostly Martha is signaled by a ringing telephone. When Martha takes the call, she learns that her sister, who was a single mother to an eight-year-old girl, has been killed in an auto accident.

Think of your favorite stories—how many feature a hero who’s reluctant to enter the special world? Often—but not always—your protagonist doesn’t want to go where the inciting incident is pushing him or her. Obviously, Martha doesn’t want to hear that her sister is dead, and she certainly doesn’t want to be a mother. She takes Lina, her niece, and offers to cook for her (her way of showing love), but Lina wants her mother, not gourmet food.

Even if your protagonist has actively pursued a change, he or she may have moments of doubt as the entrance to the special world looms ahead. When your character retreats or doubts or refuses to leave the ordinary world, another character should step in to provide encouragement, advice, information, or a special tool. This will help your main character overcome those last-minute doubts and establish the next part of the skeleton: the goal.

The End of the Spine: The Goal
At some point after the inciting incident, your character will establish and state a goal. Shortly after stepping out of her transplanted house, Dorothy looks around Oz and wails, “I want to go back to Kansas!” She’s been transported over the rainbow, but she prefers the tried and true to the unfamiliar and strange. In order to go home, she’ll have to visit the wizard in the Emerald City. As she tries to meet an ever-shifting set of subordinate goals (follow the yellow brick road; overcome the poppies; get in to see the wizard; bring back a broomstick), her main goal keeps viewers glued to the screen.

This overriding concern—will she or won’t she make it home?—is known as the dramatic question. The dramatic question in every murder mystery is, Who committed the crime? The dramatic question in nearly every thriller is, Who will win the inevitable showdown between the hero and the villain? Along the way readers will worry about the subgoals (Will the villain kill his hostage? Will the hero figure out the clues?), but the dramatic question keeps them reading until the last page.

Tip: To keep the reader involved, the dramatic question should be directly related to the character’s ultimate goal. Martha finds herself trying to care for a grieving eight-year-old who doesn’t want another mother. So Martha promises to track down the girl’s father, who lives in Italy. She knows only that his name is Giuseppe, but she’s determined to find him.

The Rib Cage: Complications
Even my youngest students understand that a protagonist who accomplishes everything he or she attempts is a colorless character. As another friend of mine is fond of pointing out, as we tackle the mountain of life, it’s the bumps we climb on! If you’re diagramming, sketch at least three curving ribs over your spine. These represent the complications that must arise to prevent your protagonist from reaching his goal.

Why at least three ribs? Because even in the shortest of stories—in a picture book, for instance—three complications work better than two or four. I don’t know why three gives us such a feeling of completion, but it does. Maybe it’s because God is a Trinity and we’re hardwired to appreciate that number.

While a short story will have only three complications, a movie or novel may have hundreds. Complications can range from the mundane—John can’t find a pencil to write down Sarah’s number—to life-shattering. As you write down possible complications that could stand between your character and his ultimate goal, place the more serious problems at the bottom of the list.

The stakes—what your protagonist is risking—should increase in significance as the story progresses. In Mostly Martha, the complications center on this uptight woman’s ability to care for a child. Lina hates her babysitter, so Martha has to take Lina to work with her. But the late hours take their toll, and Lina is often late for school. Furthermore, Lina keeps refusing to eat anything Martha cooks for her.

I asked you to make the ribs curve because any character that runs into complication after complication without any breathing space is going to be a weary character . . . and you’ll weary your reader with this frenetic pace. One of the keys to good pacing is to alternate your plot complications with rewards. Like a pendulum that swings on an arc, let your character relax, if only briefly, between disasters.

Along the spiraling yellow brick road, Dorothy soon reaches an intersection (a complication). Fortunately, a friendly scarecrow is willing to help (a reward). They haven’t gone far before Dorothy becomes hungry (a complication). The scarecrow spots an apple orchard ahead (a reward). These apple trees, however, resent being picked (a complication), but the clever scarecrow taunts them until they begin to throw fruit at the hungry travelers (a reward).

See how it works? Every problem is followed by a reward that matches the seriousness of the complication. Let’s fast-forward to the scene where the balloon takes off without Dorothy. This is a severe complication—so severe it deserves a title of its own: the bleakest moment. This is the final rib in the rib cage, the moment when all hope is lost for your protagonist.

The Thighbone: Send in the Cavalry
At the bleakest moment, your character needs help, but be careful how you deliver it. The ancient Greek playwrights had actors representing the Greek gods literally descend from the structure above to bring their complicated plot knots to a satisfying conclusion. This sort of resolution is frowned upon in modern literature. Called deus ex machina (literally “god from the machine”), this device employs some unexpected and improbable incident to bring victory or success. If you find yourself whipping up a coincidence or a miracle after the bleakest moment, chances are you’ve employed deus ex machina. Back up and try again, please.

Avoid using deus ex machina by sending two types of help: external and internal. Your character obviously needs help from outside; if he could solve the problem alone, he would have done it long before the bleakest moment. Having him conveniently remember something or stumble across a hidden resource smacks of coincidence and will leave your reader feeling resentful and cheated.

So send in the cavalry, but remember that they can’t solve the protagonist’s problem. They can give the protagonist a push in the right direction; they can nudge; they can remind; they can inspire. But they shouldn’t wave a magic wand and make everything all right.

For Dorothy, help comes in the form of Glenda the Good Witch, who reveals a secret: The ruby slippers have the power to carry her back to Kansas. All Dorothy has to do is say, “There’s no place like home”—with feeling, mind you—and she’ll be back on the farm with Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. Dorothy’s problem isn’t resolved, however, until she applies this information internally. At the beginning of the story, she wanted to be anywhere but on the farm. Now she has to affirm that the farm is where she wants to be. Her hidden need—to find a place to call home—has been met.

In Mostly Martha, the bleakest moment arrives with Lina’s father, Giuseppe. He is a good man, and Lina seems to accept him. But after waving good-bye, Martha goes home to an empty apartment and realizes that she is not happy with her controlled, childless life. She goes to Marlo, the Italian chef she has also begun to love, and asks for his help.

The Kneecap and Lower Leg: Make a Decision, Learn a Lesson
Martha realizes that her old life was empty—she needs Lina in her life, and she needs Marlo. So she and Marlo drive from Germany to Italy to fetch Lina and bring her home.

You may be hard-pressed to cite the lesson you learned from the last novel you read, but your protagonist needs to learn something. This lesson is the epiphany, a sudden insight that speaks volumes to your character and brings them to the conclusion of their inner journey.

James Joyce popularized the word epiphany, literally the manifestation of a divine being. (Churches celebrate the festival of Epiphany on January 6 to commemorate the meeting of the Magi and the Christ child.) After receiving help from an outside source, your character should see something—a person, a situation, or an object—in a new light.

When the scarecrow asks why Glinda waited to explain the ruby slippers, the good witch smiles and says, “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.” The scarecrow then asks, “What’d you learn, Dorothy?” Without hesitation, Dorothy announces that she’s learned a lesson: “The next time I go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any farther than my own backyard.” She has learned to appreciate her home, so even though she is surrounded by loving friends and an emerald city, Dorothy chooses to return to colorless Kansas. She hugs her friends once more, then grips Toto and clicks her heels.

The Foot: The Resolution
Every story needs the fairy-tale equivalent of “and they lived happily ever after.” Not every story ends happily, of course, though happy endings are undoubtedly popular. Some protagonists are sadder and wiser after the course of their adventure. But a novel should at least leave the reader with hope.

The resolution to Mostly Martha is portrayed during the closing of the film. As the credits roll, we see Marlo and Martha meeting Lina in Italy; we see Martha in a wedding gown (with her hair down!) and Marlo in a tuxedo; we see a wedding feast with Giuseppe, his family, and Martha’s German friends; we see Martha and Marlo and Lina exploring an abandoned restaurant—clearly, they are going to settle in Italy so Lina can be a part of both families. In the delightful final scene, we see Martha with her therapist again, but this time he has cooked for her and she is advising him.

Many movies end with a simple visual image—we see a couple walking away hand in hand, a mother cradling her long-lost son. That’s all we need to realize that our main character has struggled, learned, and come away a better (or wiser) person. As a writer, you’ll have to use words, but you can paint the same sort of reassuring picture without resorting to “and they lived happily ever after.”

Your story should end with a changed protagonist—he or she has gone through a profound experience and is different for it, hopefully for the better. Your protagonist has completed an outer journey (experienced the major plot events) and an inner journey that address some hurt from the past and result in a changed character.

What Next?
Now that we’ve reached the foot of our story skeleton, we’re finished outlining the basic structure. Take those major points and write them up in paragraph form. Once you’ve outlined your plot and written your synopsis, you’re ready to begin writing scenes. Take a deep breath, glance over your skeleton, and jump in.

Taken from A Novel Idea by ChiLibras. Copyright ©2009 by ChiLibras. Used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Wildcard: Bo's Cafe

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Windblown Media; 1 edition (September 25, 2009)
***Special thanks to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Bruce McNicol is president of Leadership Catalyst, Inc. and an international speaker and consultant. He holds a master's in theology and a doctorate in organizational and leadership development. Previously he served for ten years as president of the international church planting organization Interest Associates.

Bill Thrall serves as vice-chair of Leadership Catalyst, mentor, and coauthor of the bestselling TrueFaced resources (, The Ascent of a Leader, andBeyond Your Best.

John Lynch is a national conference speaker and writer for LCI, holds a master's of theoology from Talbot Seminary, and has twenty years' experience as a teaching pastor of Open Door Fellowship. He's also cofounder and playwright of a theater troupe in Phoenix.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Windblown Media; 1 edition (September 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193517004X
ISBN-13: 978-1935170044


Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Self-Publishing Isn't for The Weak in Spirit

Stale Fruitcake, Princess Coaches & Fake Buffalos

Why Self-Publishing Isn't for The Weak in Spirit

There are  conversations, debates, rants, rumors of wars and gnashing of teeth regarding the teaming of both Thomas Nelson[Westbow Press] and Harlequin[Horizons]with Writers Warned Self-pub Goliath Author Solutions. And then there are those like me, who think this whole brouhaha is a load of stale fruitcake.

It doesn't take a genius to know that most self-pub books have poor distribution, poor book craftsmanship, even poorer content, and are priced too high for the current marketplace. It doesn't take a idiot to know that most traditional books are outdated before they hit the marketplace, because the turnaround time is too long now. So it doesn't take three wise men for us to see that publishing has changed and must.

The way we receive, store, search for, pay, and get paid for content has changed forever. Books, magazines, and newspapers aren't our only means to receive information. But they are the only places where this content isn't free and can't be downloaded to our smart-phones in seconds.
Like coaches and carriages print publications --published and self-published-- will very soon be overpriced products that will only service readers on a souvenir basis (i.e. novelized books.) We rent coaches for weddings,special occasions, and trips through Central Park or Downtown, but we don't use them to pick up our kids in the school carpool lane or even to escort our children to prom.
So why are we harping over a fake buffalo or pretty --albeit outdated--princess carriage?

Continue reading "Stale Fruitcake, Princess Coaches & Fake Buffalos" »

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend Chatterbox: Is The Princess and The Frog Just for African American Girls?

I'm so excited. Tomorrow I'm on the hunt to get Tiana. I was in Toys R Us on Monday. There was one doll in the store. I should have bought, but didn't. I hope I get another chance. Selah definitely wants one and I want one for myself and we want one for Selah's BFF. So wish us well.
My chatterbox question for you is do you think The Princess and the Frog is a Disney Movie just for African American girls?
My daughter has DVDs of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, even Enchanted. Never did I say to her that those movies were just for White girls. But I wonder, will non-African American parents take their daughters? I ask this because I've received so many emails in the past regarding why white readers don't read books written by black authors. They think the stories aren't for them or that they were not invited somehow. To my white, asian and latina readers I invite you to come out. If you're in Atlanta, meet me at Discover Mills on Thanksgiving to see it with us.
What do you think? Share your opinion. This blog is a safe place to say what's on your mind or you can tweet or facebook me a private message.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is Harlequin Horizons a better view for Writers?

In the past month we have learned that Thomas Nelson has relaunched Westbow Press as a self-publishing leg and Harlequin has followed suit with Horizons. Both use the same Self-publishing company, Author Solutions.
This news is so huge that most of the blogs, my emails, message board discussions and writing online groups I belong to can't stop harping on it. So I might as well add my two cents to it.

Who Cares?

Let's be honest here:
  • there were more self-pubbed books released last year than traditional publishers
  • last year publishing houses laid off staff and some filed bankruptcy because the psychographics of readers changed. book buyers aren't always readers. more are souvenir purchasers, and growing (think Twilight, President Barack Obama coffee table books, and novelized books)
  • the economy still needs a good plumber and money is funny, honey
  • smartphones have direct relation to epublishing success, which opens the door for stories to be created in many forms besides books
  • The Shack is still a New York Times Bestseller
  • everyone you know thinks that writing a book is the next come up. so no matter what you say or warn them regarding using POD as a solution, they ain't drinking your milk

So why lose your mind?

What gets me is that most of the hateration about these new changes are coming from traditionally published authors.

It's laughable to me all the time that was wasted this week on this topic. Yes i believe that independent publishing is a viable solution for many. I represent clients who are doing that(mainly ministers, business owners and public speakers) through Lightening Source as small press owners. However, I know plenty folks who would still would rather cut corners then write a compelling, relevant, page-turning book, create a business plan that includes funding marketing and/or publishing the read, becoming educated about the publishing industry, so that they can come out the gate in the best way the first time. In other words, folks want something for nothing.

My last cent on this topic is simple. There is no cheap and easy route to publication. If it was, then the reward would be cheapened. You understand?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 2009 Free African-American Christmas Play Download Black

Finally! My 2009 Black Christmas Play, The Case of the Missing Christmas Baby Jesus is available for download. Click here to get it. Enjoy! I will be uploading the Christmas Cupcake Recipe to go along with it this weekend.

So You Want to Be a Work At Home Mom?

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (August 15, 2009)
***Special thanks to Jill Hart for sending me a review copy.***


Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, Jill is a co-author of the upcoming book So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom (Beacon Hill, Sept. 2009). Jill welcomes work-at-home questions at

Visit the author's website.

Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing. Diana has worked from home for over 25 years and is passionate about PR, Publicity and Marketing & helping others Start their Own Virtual Assistant Business. Follow Diana on twitter at

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (August 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0834124661
ISBN-13: 978-0834124660


Making the Choice to Stay Home

Today’s moms are passionate women who want both careers and families without having to give up precious time with their children. They’re searching for ways to have it all, and they’re finding that it’s possible to work from home and at the same time balance a family.

It may sound like a dream, but it’s not. It does start with a dream, though.

A few fortunate women fall into a job or business that allows them to work at home, but it isn’t that easy for most women. To find a way to stay at home while still contributing to their family financially is something that many women long for but few know how to achieve. We hope to make it easier for you.

Being Content at Home

You might have expected us to immediately launch into a chapter about how wonderful life can be if you work at home. However, with the authors having worked from home many years, we realized that you first need to be content in your home life to make it work. The focus of your mind is where true happiness lies. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Before beginning your search for a career that will allow you to work from home, it’s important to remember that God has put you where you are for a reason. It may be for a season of your life, or it could possibly be long-term. Either way, trust that God will provide what’s best for you, and that may look a little different than what you think is best.

Being a mom and working outside the home can be incredibly challenging. Coordinating schedules, running kids to and fro, and being so tired by evening that you don’t have the energy to enjoy your kids take their toll. However, being a work-at-home mom every day, all day, presents its own unique challenges. It can become monotonous, even tedious. The kids, the house, the responsibilities—the list goes on and on. In either case, it can feel downright impossible to have an attitude of gratitude. The road can be hard, but in the end, your life will be less stressful and more satisfying if you can overcome discontentment. Following are some ideas for building contentment.

Be Grateful

One of the hardest attitudes to achieve is that of gratefulness. It’s easy to get caught up in the negatives that happen each day. However, it’s important to be grateful for each and every blessing that God gives.

Make a list of things in your life that you’re grateful for. You can start your list with your family and the opportunity to work from home, and continue from there. Take the time to thank God for each of the things on your list. As you begin to develop a grateful attitude, you’ll begin to notice more and more things each day you can add to your list.

Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Give Back

Changing your attitude is the first step to finding contentment. Reaching out and helping others is a proven way to change your attitude. When you extend help and graciousness to others, it can’t help but benefit you as well.

Find someone who needs a friend, and make a conscious effort to reach out to him or her every week or every month. Or find a ministry that you admire, and get involved. You’ll be surprised what investing something of yourself in others will do for your attitude. If you’re running a business from home, you may be able to bless others with a product they can’t afford or a special discount that will brighten their day. Maybe you can mentor someone. Be careful, though, that you don’t get so involved in helping others that you neglect your own business.

Choose to Accept Your Situation

A key component of contentment is acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean you don’t strive to better your life. It simply means that you make peace with where you are in life at this time.

There will always be more to attain—more money, more prestige. If you spend your life focused on what you don’t have or what you haven’t attained in life, you’ll be sad indeed. Celebrate each and every success, no matter how big or how small.

Examine your life and see all that is good in it. Each good thing is a gift from God. Accept that He is with you at this point in time. He’ll be with you in every success and every setback. Nothing you do will make Him love you more, and there’s nothing you can do that will make Him love you less.

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Focus on Christ

This may sound like a clichĂ©, but it’s easy to allow focus to move from the Lord to self. When moms work at home, the needs of family, business, and self can sometimes be all-consuming, leaving little time to meet spiritual needs. But focusing on your relationship with the Lord is what should come first. If your relationship with Christ is weak, all other relationships will be affected.

Here are practices that will help keep you focused on Him:

1. Read your Bible every day. Make the commitment to read at least one verse every day. The Book of Proverbs is a good place to start, or start with verses from the Gospel of John for a close look at the life of Christ. As you progress to reading more each day, consider purchasing a Bible that will guide you through reading the whole Bible in a year. There are also versions available that will lead you through the Bible in ninety days.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8).

2. Cultivate an active prayer life. You can pray anytime and anywhere—when you’re driving, putting on your makeup, cooking, even as you drift off to sleep at night. Take advantage of these precious moments to spend them with your Heavenly Father.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

3. Meditate on the Word of God. When you find a verse or verses that have deep meaning for you, allow your mind to dwell on them, and let them soak into your spirit. A good starting point might be Romans 8:38-39—“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Make note of the verses you’ve chosen, and jot down thoughts or ideas that they bring to mind. Keep your mind focused on Him, and be in prayer that He will open your eyes to what He would have you learn from the verses.

4. Wait. Contentment will not be attained overnight. Feelings of discontentment will push their way in. When they do, look through your life to bring to mind the ways God has changed you, the things He’s done to bring you closer to an attitude of contentment. Contentment comes in His timing, so allow Him the time to work in your life.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him

(Psalm 37:7).

If the temptation to wallow in discontentment continues to present itself, find someone who will hold you accountable—someone you can trust to be kind but firm who will speak the truth to you lovingly.

When you’re feeling dissatisfied or frustrated, give your accountability partner a call, and be honest about your feelings. Every mom gets frustrated; you’re certainly not alone. When you find someone you can talk with honestly, it will be an excellent help in overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. Accountability partners know each other on a very real and honest level and still accept and love each other. This allows both of you the opportunity to be supported as well as supportive.

Contentment may seem elusive, but with prayerful deliberation it can be achieved and will bring you more joy and peace than you can imagine. Start working toward an attitude of contentment today.

When your mind and heart are in a good place, it’s time to begin thinking about the choices that are available to you. Can you work from home? Should you work at home? And how in the world do you begin your search for success?

Setting Priorities in Business and at Home

Working from home, particularly if you’re running your own business, is a time-consuming endeavor—especially for moms. You’re responsible not only for the success of the business but for your family as well. You must be self-reliant, self-motivated, and self-disciplined in order to attain success in both areas.

When you work at home, it’s easy to let phone calls, e-mail, and paperwork keep you tied down and cause you to feel you don’t have time to take a break or choose to spend top-quality time with your family. Maybe you’ve noticed that you spend more time in front of your computer or on the phone than you expected to when you made the decision to work at home. Maybe you see your kids acting up and trying to get your attention. Maybe the work-at-home dream you envisioned isn’t happening.

You started out with noble intentions, but now the excitement of success in your business has caused you to lose sight of the primary reason you chose this path. It happens to many of us who work at home, so don’t worry. Help is on the way.

She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard (Proverbs 31:16).

Here are five tips for setting priorities in your life and business:

First, be honest. You probably didn’t start your work-at-home career to climb the corporate ladder. Spend some time in prayer, and ask the Lord to show you the things you need to change.

Take a few minutes to answer the following questions about how you’ve been handling the time commitment of owning a business.

• Are you spending too much time on the phone with clients?

• Do you think about business to the point that you’re distracted when you’re doing family activities?

• Is television getting more top-quality time with your children than you are?

• Do you snap at your children because of the stresses of your business?

Second, make a list. Sit down and write out a list of things you see that you would like to change. This can be a list of tasks you can do differently, such as limiting the time you spend on your business or ways you can reduce stress so you can deal kindly with your family.

Third, log your time. Buy a notebook or create a spreadsheet to log the time you spend on business. Make a column for each day across the top and a row of half-hour increments down the side. Time yourself every time you sit down at your desk by writing “in” in the box that corresponds to the time and day. Every time you leave your desk or complete a task, write “out” in the appropriate box.

At the end of the week, total up the hours you’ve spent each day on business tasks. Take special note of how much time you spend on e-mail and things that aren’t billable. Are you surprised, or is it about where you thought it would be? This can be a real eye-opener and show you in black and white if your priorities have gotten off track.

Fourth, take a break. If you’re in shock after examining your time log, it’s time to take a break. If you normally work during the weekend, make it a point to take this weekend off. Shut down your e-mail, turn off the ringer on your business phone, and shut the door to your office.

Plan ahead and schedule your time. Prioritize your workload, and have the work that will require the most effort and concentration scheduled for your peak time. Try not to get sidetracked; stay on task and focus on what you need to do. For example, you’ll be amazed by how much more you can accomplish by changing the way you handle e-mail. If you answer it only at scheduled times, you’ll find you have more time to do the tasks at hand.

Reevaluate the ways you’re spending your time. Try to plan when you can work on your business without losing time with your children. If your children are in school, make it a point to stop working when they get home. If your children are still small, try to plan your time accordingly. Perhaps a babysitter for several hours or days a week is necessary. Another possibility would be to have a grandparent or neighbor watch them once or twice a week to allow you time to work without interruptions.

Fifth, plan an activity. Now that you’re ready to make a change in your routine, why not plan an activity once a week? This can be an outing with your children or something simple, like setting aside time to make cookies together. You’ll notice that when you plan for these times, they actually happen.

If possible, find another work-at-home mom, and hold one another accountable to keep to your new schedules. Make a weekly play date for your children to spend time together. You and your friend can talk business if necessary, or you may decide to make it a “no business talk allowed” time.

Remember that the years you can work at home and have time with your children are a gift; your business is a gift also. How that will work for you and your family will take a little time to determine and will be different for each family. Take the time to find what works for you, and set your schedule accordingly. Reevaluate your priorities every few months to make sure that you’re making the best use of your time. The rewards will be well worth it. Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him (Psalm 127:3).

So You Want to be a Work-at-Home Mom, by Jill Hart and Diana Ennen © 2009 by Jill Hart, Diana Ennen, and Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. Used by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved. Visit to purchase this title.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Review: Derek Fisher's Character Driven

Happy Friday. This weekend. I'm reading Derek Fisher's Character Driven: Life, Lessons, and Basketbal (Touchstone, Sep. 2009)

For those of you who don't know who Derek Fisher is. He's spent thirteen seasons in the NBA playing for Los Angels Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and Utah Jazz. He is the president of the NBA and most importantly, a Christian father and husband.

In this book he shares:
  • How his faith has helped him on and off the court in the face of adversity.
  • How he used skills he had perfected in his career to help him deal with his daughter's illness(you have to read his story.)
  • His on court ritual before he shoots a free throw
  • and more
I like how the chapters are broken down into life principles. My favorite chapter so far is Making Good Choices. He talks about meeting his wife, Candace(who was a single mom at the time) and the choices he made that eventually made her his wife. I love reading a male's perspective on marriage, grappling with his religious conceit about Candace's social status as a single mom. and what his faith taught him about overcoming being judgmental and surrendering to how God sees us all. sweet.

Anyway, ladies if your son, husband, daddy is an NBA buy this book for you. He teaches you the rules of basketball, so you now can hold a conversation lol. Also get this book for your special men they would enjoy it. This is also a great tool for singles ministry, Christian parenting, wedding guilds, male book clubs, and so many others. Kudos to Touchstone and Derek.

Purchase Character Driven: Life, Lessons, and Basketball here
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Answers: New Moon, NANOWRIMO

When I have no answers for my own questions, I come here to the blog. Maybe you guys can help a girl out....

Next week my BFF, Natasha and I are donning are Team Tee's to see an early release of New Moon. Yeah, we can't believe it either.

For the past six years(since we turned 30s) we've hosted our annual 13 going on 30 Weekend. We hang out with the teeny boppers in the day, then turn into grown women at night. It's a blast. But last year our 13 going on 30 weekend turned into a book buying, girlfriend bonding, hilarity when we chose to see Twilight, the movie.

Since then we've read all the books, including the not released Midnight Sun partial, watched the DVD and Blue Rays countless times, and participated in local Twilight event.s Honey, we have no shame in our game about our Team Edward vs Team Jacob fascination. In fact, this month we both agreed to reread New Moon again so we can be prepped for next week's BFF Day. That's how deep we are into this fru fru ness.

Now understand I'm participating in NANOWRIMO again. I have yet to write a word. I just don't feel inspired by my characters yet. So I wondered how did Stephanie Meyers come up with Bella, Jacob and Edward? What in the world did she do to write a story loved by so many women across religion, race, age, class? Really I wanted an excuse to throw in my writing pens and sit down. To me there's no sense in writing weak.

So I popped in the movie and found a special features interview on the DVD where Meyers shares that Twilight was the product of a really good dream.  She didn't want to forget the dream so she woke up the next morning and participated in her own version of NANOWRIMO.

Does that mean I need to get sleep or dream better? LOL

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trailer Park Tuesday: Destination Romance

Romance Slam Jam will set sail in 2010 for it's annual conference. Rochelle Alers will keynote the fantastic cruise. But did you know that Romance Slam Jam also supports Non-Profit Foundations? This week's Trailer Park Tuesday will also feature Destination Romance.

It's an anthology where all proceeds will go to the South Side Health Center (an organization fighting to stop the spread of AIDS/HIV in the AAcommunity) Each story in the anthology will also have it's own ebook, according to Deatri.

Destination Romance: While on a cruise to Jamaica, six couples discover the “Love Boat” is a lot more than a television series from the 1980s, and this time the destination is hot, steamy romance.

As A Whisper
Izaya Charles was devastated when Gunther Datari ended their passionate and lengthy relationship. Work keeps her going until she and Gunther meet aboard the newest ship in his fleet. Will desire or devastation be the outcome of their reunion?

Show Me!
Cammie's life would never be the same following a chance meeting (or so she thought) with Jacques, a man many years her junior who would grant her unselfish, unbridled passion!

Trapped In Paradise
After escaping an abusive marriage, Saundra Write swore never to allow anyone to trap her again. Then comes along Jeremy King, the kind of man any woman would beg to be trapped in paradise with.

Seaside Seduction
Mac should be the last person to teach his best friend to love and trust when he’s been lying to her for years. And now that his game is up, he can only hope the beautiful Caribbean days and sensual seaside nights will be enough to make CJ dismiss the mistakes of the past to sail towards a brighter future?

On My Knees
Carmen placed everything before love until love was nothing more than the stories told in romance novels. Aaron is an accomplished romance author, but wants the real thing. A cruise brings the two together. Renewed
love, with a healthy dose of lust, works to keep them together.

More And More
Mocha Nivens enjoys the casual nature of her long-term, long-distance relationship with businessman Dean Kincaid, but she ends it when he moves back to town wanting more. When Dean dates other women, Mocha realizes what
she’s lost, but is it to late to claim the love shedeserves?


Happy 234th Birthday US Marine Corps

Bonus trailer park tuesday. This month is the US Marine Corps 234th birthday. My dad is a retired Marine. He was a sharpshooting instructor at Paris Island in Buford, SC. I have a host of cousins and good friends who have served and are serving. This birthday message is from General James T. Conway 34th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

Trailer Park Tuesday: Sesame Street 40th Anniversary & First Lady Obama

Welcome to this week's Trailer Park Tuesday. In honor of Sesame Street's 40th Anniversary this week's selection is this episode of First Lady Michelle Obama making a garden. Sesame Street's new season kicks off today.
Does anyone have a great Sesame Street moment? I love the Rubber Ducky Song. lol
Who's your favorite Sesame Street character? I like the Count

Monday, November 09, 2009

TMA: Thank your Favorite Blog and Blogger

Happy Monday. I love November. It's one of the few months of the year where instead of buying gifts we give thanks. We honor those who mean a great deal to each other. This month I would like for us to also honor the blogs that have meant so much to us. I will begin with me:
  1. Faith*In*Fiction - although new content is rare now. Bethany House AE David Long inspired some of the best Christian publishing blogs out there. He invited me into his community and have forged eternal friendships because of it, including...
See who I give thanks, then Join in on the fun at Blog Thanks Award

Thursday, November 05, 2009

If a Female Author Made Publisher's Weekly Top Ten Best Books List...?

Monday, Publisher's Weekly announced it's annual Best Books of [2009.] I was excited that Victor Lavelle(Big Machine) made the list, but surprised by  this statement:
It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male. -Louisa Ermelino
All male? As in no women women writers made the list?

Out of over 50, 000 books they reviewed this year, not one of those books written by a woman made the top 10. Moreover, none were books written with a Christian worldview(point for another discussion later.)

I remember back in 2007 NPR completed a survey that suggested women read more than men about nine books a year. So hearing the news that not one book picked in 2009 were written by a woman gave me pause. Is it that the books we typically read most aren't well written? or is there a PW standard that isn't realistic for most women readers? I'm curious about this, because I was sure Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie[That Thing Around Your Neck] would have made the list this year.

Is there a female author, who published a book this year you believe should have been on the short list for the Best of 2009?

Don't forget I'm compiling the Christian Fiction Best Books of 2009 as we speak. Stay tuned. I will make my announcement in December.

Kudos again to Victor for making it. Here's a snippet of Big Machine's opening lines. Great writing for sure...


Chapter One

Don’t look for dignity in public bathrooms. The most you’ll find is privacy and sticky floors. But when my boss gave me the glossy envelope, the bathroom was the first place I ran. What can I say? Lurking in toilets was my job. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Trailer Park Tuesday: Intervention

Good Tuesday. Today's Trailer Park Tuesday at Christian Fiction is  
Terri Blackstock's Intervention. 
 Watch the book Trailer then tell me what you think:

Monday, November 02, 2009

NANOWRIMO: A Day Late and a Chapter Short. Tips to Getting On Track

NANOWRIMO began yesterday. NANOWRIMO is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. I have participated in the challenge since 2007 and am already a day behind. Which isn't good for me, but good for you. Today I want to share some mistakes I've made in the past NANOWRIMOs, so that you won't make them. In return, I ask you to help keep me on pace. Be my accountability partner, if you will.

  1. Plot your novel before you start. The first time I participated in NANOWRIMO I thought I would write as I go, then I got bogged down with a plot point gone bad around Day 7. Save yourself the unnecessary drama plot ahead. 
  2. If you don't have a plot yet, here's a skeleton you can create in thirty minutes or less. Click here to get my Plot Point Quick Do. 
  3. Compartmentalize your book by weeks.
    • week 1 - the beginning & the inciting incident, setting up your story. 50 pages
    • week 2 - the journey- and the motivation change,. 50-100 pages
    • week 3- the black moment(gut check, route of real problem the main character is finally aware of, but it is too late,) climax (what we've been waiting to happen from the beginning) 100-150 pages
    • week 4 - the reversal,resolution and conclusion 150 - 200 pages
  4.  Write dirty. Don't care about mispellings, diction, tense, just write this thing.
  5. Write with words six graders and below can read.
  6.  Have fun. If the story isn't fun to you, then write something else. the point of this thing is to get your juices flowing and to have fun writing. 
  7. Get some accountability partners. My id is dee stewart.
Happy Writing. I will post up tonight I hope(wink)


November Top 10

Happy November. Below are my top ten book picks for November enjoy!


Breathless: A Novel
Dean Koontz (Hardcover - Nov 24, 2009)
Secrets and Lies
Rhonda McKnight (Paperback - Nov 24, 2009)
The Christmas List: A Novel
Richard Paul Evans (Hardcover - Oct 6, 2009)
The Christmas Secret
Donna VanLiere (Hardcover - Oct 13, 2009)

Songs of Deliverance
Marilynn Griffith (Paperback - Nov 1, 2009)


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