Friday, January 29, 2016

Behind the Scenes with Love Inspired Suspense! {{GUEST POST by JESSICA R. PATCH}}

AMY here: I am so excited to have my sassy southern friend and fellow debut author Jessica R. Patch as my guest on the alley today! She is very recently published with Harlequin's Love Inspired line and I asked her to share a bit about the process of working with LI as I know so many of us have pitched or have considering submitting our stories to the popular line. And make sure you check out Jess's new book Fatal Reunion!!! It's on the top of my TBR pile! It is garnering fabulous reviews and I can not wait to dig in! Here's Jess!

First, I want to say a big thank you to the lovely, Amy Leigh Simpson for having me today. It's always so much fun to hang out with the alley cats!

I can remember when I first started writing. All those big day dreams of what it would look like to be a published author. Then I started reading industry blogs and I realized it wasn't quite as I'd envisioned it. You mean my words might get cut? Scenes red-inked? Titles changed? Gasp! But I'm glad I read them because it prepared me. It will prepare you!

My agent had been pitching my manuscripts since 2011. In Winter of 2014, she asked me if I would be interested in writing for the Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense line. They were looking (and are) for new authors and she thought I'd be a good fit. I told her I would. I'd read many of the books, but I wasn't familiar with the formula. Yes, there is one. I checked out the guidelines and cooked up a story. I wrote the book. Sent it to my agent and in October, I received a revision letter from my editor, Shana Asaro (who is just fabulous).You can read more about my journey HERETip: Always be willing to make the revisions. They want to see them. They know what they're talking about and it can land you a contract. I did what was asked of me and in January of 2015, I sold the book! Now what?

First, I had a phone call to meet my editor. Two hours later, I knew we definitely were paired up for a reason. We have a lot of the same tastes in books, heroes, heroines, and TV shows like Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill.

Next, I received my first set of revisions, all about the content, and was asked when I could get these turned in. I set the date and  read through the track changes, making the necessary fixes.

Once that was finished it wasn't long and I received what's called an AFS. Art Fact Sheet. It's an online form Harlequin uses to help them with cover art and how to place your book in the catalog etc... It's a lot of questions about my main characters from personality to physical traits. I also include three key scenes and include pictures found on the internet to give them an idea for the cover.Since I already use Pinterest in this way, it was super helpful getting the information they needed quickly! I happen to enjoy the process, minus that short synopsis (not the blurb). But I get it done!

Then comes the title. I'm asked for title ideas and given some direction as far as the hooks they want to use. Then one is chosen. My tentative title for what is now Fatal Reunion was Price of Betrayal! Tip: Don't get hung up on your titles. Nine times out of ten they're going to change!

In between this and my second round of edits (line), I write my Dear Reader letter, Dedication, and choose my scripture for the book. I also get to see the mock-up for my cover!

It all takes about nine months or so for the process. It's been a great experience and I love writing for LIS. I walked away from 2015 with 4 contracts. Fatal Reunion hit shelves in January. Protective Duty releases in June, Veiled Threat and Final Verdict are slated for January 2017 then later in that year.

I share all this to give you a little look inside the publishing process with LIS, and to encourage you to never to give up on your dreams, but also let God develop and mold those dreams the way He wants. Writing for Harlequin didn't cross my mind until my agent brought it up. Always be willing to be re-routed. This has been an amazing journey so far. I can't complain about a single thing! Trust God. Believe. Keep writing!

Do you have any other questions about the publishing process? 


Purchase Fatal Reunion:





When her beloved grandmother is almost killed during a home invasion, Piper Kennedy isn't surprised that she's a suspect—especially since Luke Ransom is on the case. The handsome detective she once loved thinks she knows more than she's telling about the attack. And given her crooked past and the heartbreaking way she'd been forced to betray Luke years ago, Piper understands why he doesn't trust her. But when attempts are made on her life, Luke insists on keeping her safe and finding out who wants her dead. And Piper and Luke soon realize a remorseless criminal will do anything to keep them from the truth…or an unexpected second shot at a future.


About Jessica

Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. When she's not hunched over her laptop or going on adventurous trips in the name of research with willing friends, you can find her watching way too much Netflix with her family and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she'll probably never cook. Sign up for her newsletter at


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What Fuels Your Writing?

If you've been writing for any length of time, you know that it can be a hugely draining endeavor. You will spend hours plugging away at your keyboard praying that what you are writing will sometime be read and appreciated by others. And if you're realistic, you know there are no guarantees that will happen.

Writing is a tireless dictator. It requires infinite words, unlimited time, and buckets of inspiration. 

So where do you find the fuel -- the photo is a bit tongue in cheek, because if you talk to most writers they will swear by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate. Mixed together you may just have the gold that powers them through the long hours and nights. 

But each writer has her own process. Here's what I think fuels most committed writers. What would you add to this list?

1) A committed writer has passions. They believe they were created at least in part to capture stories on paper or monitor. They have embarked on this journey fraught with danger and uncertainty because they have a passion for words, for characters, for creating. It is an innate part of who they are. Without writing, they don't feel complete.

2) A committed writer has goals. Passion alone isn't enough. If you Google "how many people want to write a book?", you'll quickly find articles that claim 81% of Americans* (or roughly 200 million people in the United States alone) want to write a book. That statistic lines up pretty well with the number of people who tell me they've thought or dreamed about writing a book. The passion might be there, but a committed writer takes the next step and moves to goals -- concrete, this-is-how-I-will-get-there goals. 

3) A committed writer makes sacrifices in pursuit of the goal. For me -- TV, I don't see many movies in the theater, don't have many coffee dates with friends. Probably don't get enough sleep. But for each of us the sacrifice will be different. And those sacrifices will change as our lives enter different seasons. But there will be sacrifices. Something has to exit to make room for the dream. 

4) A committed writer fuels the dream with BICT (butt in chair time). Without it, there is no writing -- though I do have friends who write entire books on iPhones. I don't know how, but they do -- you know who you are, Kristy Cambron and Dawn Crandall. Crazy women! But all in pursuit of the dream. 

5) A committed writer bathes the dream in prayer. The dream is empty without the Dreamer participating in the dream with you. Let me say that again. The dream is empty without the Dreamer participating in the dream. Eric Liddell is said to have said he felt God's pleasure when he ran. I feel God's pleasure when I write. It's part of what I was created to do. Don't get me's still work, but it is a partnership with the greatest Creator. 

6) A committed writer is always learning. They are reading craft books and blogs. They are reading books and analyzing them for what works and doesn't. They are constantly pushing themselves to be better. 

I didn't start drinking coffee until I started writing. But I can't drink it black like the cup in the photo. It has to have the right mix of creamer. And I'm not nearly as big on chocolate as most people. But if you wanted to buy my a bag of Lindt white chocolate peppermint truffles, I would say "Yes, please!"

What fuel would you add to this list?

* The closest I could track the statistic to is a New York Times OpEd written by Joseph Epstein. You can read the piece here.


An award-winning author of twenty books, Cara is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bravery and the Writing Life with a GIVEAWAY!!

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." -Teddy Roosevelt speech, 1910, "Citizenship in a Republic

Who has not known the bitter taste of failure sliding down the throat? Those who have been invested in the writing life for any significant amount of time are acquainted with the sting.

Rejection letters.

Contest losses, perhaps year after countless year.

In On Writing, perennial #1 NY Times bestseller Stephen King discusses his nail of shame. As he began submitting his work to magazines at age 16, rejection after rejection letter was pounded into the wall.

But through the process, King learned to "dare greatly" a phrase made newly popular by TED Talk speaker and social worker Brene Brown in her aptly titled recent tome, Daring Greatly.

King not only dared greatly in facing rejection but also in his work. King's breakthrough bestseller (though it was his third published novel) was The Shining, a book in which Stephen was shocked to recognize himself on the page. Jack Torrance is a brash troubled working class man who succumbs to alcoholism and depths of darkness as he spends the winter trapped with his family in an isolated hotel during an avalanche. King recognized his own struggles in Torrance's working class background, battle to overcome it, and brashness. Like Jack, King was also an alcoholic and writing The Shining opened his eyes to some of the perils the addiction had wrought in his own life.

Perhaps if King had not been bold enough to put his heart on the page it may have "held" back his writing career. I do find it fascinating though that his breakthrough novel was written in a place of vulnerability in his own life.

As writers we are designed to share ourselves on the page. Truth-telling and ministry cannot be separated from each other for God is the God of Truth. Even more so than writers in the world, we must be authentic and dare to bleed on the page.

Ephesians 4:25 says: Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

In the early years of Christian fiction, readers decried the "perfection" of characters after their salvation. Years later, there is much growth in the area of realism.

We are being sanctified, called to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:11). Set apart. Different from the world.

Yet at the same time although we are to walk in freedom we all are in process. Your reader may deal with pornography or cigarette addiction. Perhaps, you don't. But we can all relate to that struggle on some level. Maybe like me you can't buy Oreos because you struggle with the temptation to turn to them after a rough day instead of spending the time in prayer. Remembering you are a person in process and so is your reader can help you to be more authentic on the page.

Being real about our struggles, temptations and spiritual growth and transformation are all part of ministering to others. Think about those who spur you on in your Christian life. If you are like me, they are people who are humble enough to admit their failures and setbacks, yet are engaged in the fight of the Christian life continuing to pursue holiness.

God has placed several older women in my lives at various points in Titus 2 mentoring type roles. Those who blessed me the most were those who didn't only want to teach me using their words but were willing to be vulnerable enough to share mistakes. They weren't perfect, so I felt free to share my questions and doubts.

God places others in our path, other writers, readers of our blogs, those who engage in our storyworlds and desires our lives and work to bless them.

What does daring greatly mean when it comes to our books?

It means putting our wholehearted self on the page. It doesn't mean you and your characters have the same struggles, but recognizing that all our temptations are common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13).

...not letting rejection hold us back from entering that contest for the twelfth time

...not stripping away the layers that make your characters more real, because they hit too close to home.

...realizing that your ministry and vulnerability levels are in direct relation.

...not attaching your self-worth to rejection or acceptance in the publishing world but recognizing your identity in Christ.

...daring to write the books of your heart, even if its not the type of book you think fits in the industry.

...knowing your value so that you can persevere in the writing life the way God intends.

I struggle with putting myself out there when I write devotional type posts. I know these posts require realness of heart and when I hold back I notice the difference. Its when I am the most vulnerable my writing seems to connect with readers. Another fear of mine I am learning to combat is fear of rejection. I struggle with shame and lack of worthiness at those times.

I highly recommend any of Brene's books. I am learning and growing through her fantastic course on Daring Greatly.

**Is rejection, failure or another fear holding you back in your writing life? If you're willing to share here, I would love to enter you to win a copy of DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown, one of my favorite reads of this year and a book that has been life-changing for many.**

Julia Reffner has been a writer and reviewer for Library Journal for several years. She also is a regular blogger for the devotional site Wonderfully Woven. A wife, homeschool mom, and children's ministry leader, Julia resides in central Virginia.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Creating A Memorable Story World: A Lesson from WDW

***Happy Monday! While some of us are sitting in the stark, and maybe wintry blizzard weather, I chose to re-share a fun post inspired by sunny Florida from last March. Aaah...enjoy!***

Last week, my husband and I braved the Spring Break crowd and took our kids to Disney World! It was the first time they have been, and it was something I wasn't sure that we would ever do. But the stars aligned for us to visit the most magical place on earth! 

My writerly senses went haywire as I walked into a story-land perfectly crafted for the audience. I just knew that I would have to post about something I learned in the kingdom of fairytales and storytelling...and you know, it really wasn't that hard to find material! Let's just say, Disney sure has a knack of getting to the heart of their audience, just like we (as authors) want to do with our own readers. 

So, what does Disney have to teach the writing world? Here are just a few things I found as we took boat, bus, and monorail to Cinderella's castle, Ariel's grotto, and Pizza Planet....


There were characters, characters, EVERYWHERE...and they acted their parts to the FULL! Each character, whether an oversized Donald Duck or an exotic Princess Jasmine, played their part with every mannerism and expression they could muster to get it right. And the thing is, as an audience member, I could easily believe that they knew their part and played it well.

As writers, we should strive to make our characters so well-defined in the mind of the reader that they could pick them out in the crowd (without a bulky costume) and know exactly how they would stand, talk, and react to the world around them.  Here is a fun video of the Princess Anna from Frozen, greeting my little girl on her birthday. I was convinced she came right out of the story!!


Yes, most of us can belt out those Disney songs, like “Let It Go”, and “Never Smile at a Crocodile”...and let me tell you, Disney World pumps those songs into your head the entire stay. But something that was super fun, was sitting in an audience watching a show when all of a sudden, the whole room—regardless of country, creed, or culture—recited an awesome one-liner, like, “Just keep swimming”...or... “That wasn't flying, it was falling with style"...or..."To infinity and beyond!"

As writers, we might not have catchy music filling our readers' ears, but we have the capability of creating beauty and memorable language in our books. I love seeing the popular highlighted lines in novels on my Kindle. That's what I want to see in my books one day--to know that my words have caught a reader's attention, enough to highlight for memory-keeping's sake. Our words can be powerful, be sure to put a punch to what you write!


So not all of us want our books to leave the reader with a "Disney type" Happily Ever After, but we want to leave the reader with...something...and it has to be impactful.

Do you consider the aftermath of your work on the reader's heart, memory, and world view?

Disney obviously has given many millions of people the satisfaction of a happy ending and a long-lasting memory which starts as they leave the theater, to years of life, and then as they step into their theme parks, not minding one bit to re-live their stories through rides, shows, and displays. Each movie, story, and character gives the audience the same warm and fuzzy they got that very first time the story was told. And THAT, is a very big thing we should all hope to give our readers...

An everlasting sense of our unique story that will last long after 'The End'.

Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written five Historical Romance novels, has a Historical underway, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets, selling Jamberry, and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at and her personal blog at  or head over and say hello on Twitter, @angiedicken

Friday, January 22, 2016

Building a Dream Team Part 2

A couple weeks ago we talked about building your “dream team” and the people that make up your Dream Team. The readers, friends and industry professionals to add to your list and empowering them to go out and SELL your books—simply by the almighty word of mouth that is still the #1 way to reach readers.

So now you have the team, how do you best work with them?

If within your power give over the administrative work to someone who can do the follow up, ask for reviews, provide the prepared social media updates and remind your Dream Team of their duties, when things get too quiet.

Why should you do this? I’m definitely not saying that you can’t play both roles in your Dream Team, however, when you have clear definitions between who is the “taskmaster” and who is the “praiser” your team won’t feel as though they are getting mixed messages from you as their leader. If you can’t have someone helping you out, then keep your posting requests to your team to 1 or 2 times a week and maintain the work to praise ration of 1-2. Be conversational and grateful, so it’s not all about “me, me, me”. These people are giving a lot of time and energy to help you promote your book. 

Keep your interaction genuine and you’ll have a team ready to promote your book to the ends of the earth!

Provide your Dream Team with ready made social media updates they can easily copy and paste.

In that same vein of thought:

Build structure into your promotions

Have dedicated weeks for promoting on each social media. Example: a week dedicated to:
o   Pinterest
o   Twitter
o   Facebook
o   Blogging
o   Google+

Pick the social medias your team are good with and provide them with material to promote your book on those venues.  

By building structure into your promotional process you’ll better direct your Dream Team and not leave them so wide open and overwhelmed by the big wide world of social media

It might feel as though you’re doing all the work for your Dream Team. Writing them social media messages, creating images, telling them where to go and what to do, etc. But think of it this way: You would be creating this information anyway and asking the huge world of social media out there to do you a favor and help you. And some people might, but not all and not very many. And they certainly aren’t going to help you over and over again. Your Dream Team is a targeted force. They are built and structured to tackle and chip away at the ambivalence of social media. They are going to consistently go out and over and over again promote you and your book and this will get noticed. 
Spread yourself thin, you won’t do any one thing well. Go at a goal with a targeted force and you’ll make incredible strides.

Keep updates calm and not frantic/panicked/urgent for results.

Really, I don’t need to expound on this point much further than that. You’ll have some last minute sales and details that either slipped by you or snuck up on you that you will want your team to promote on quick notice and it’s those kind of notices that you don’t want to slip past your Dream Team because they have started tuning out the chatter on social media telling them everything is high emergency situations.  

So, now you have a better idea of how to work with your Dream Team and the material you should be providing to them to best promote your book.

Next time we’ll talk about empowering and rewarding your Dream Team and why you should consider doing something like that.

Do you have any questions you’d like answered in upcoming posts?


Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Problems in the Writer's Sandbox: Friends and Marketing

Warning: This is a slightly uncomfortable post for me to write. And MIGHT be slightly uncomfortable to read.

But a fellow pubbed author friend and I were having an "honest" conversation the other day about writing friends and supporting each other in marketing and what expectations abound there, and I realized that we don't really talk about it that much. It's kinda like talking about sales numbers. It's uncomfortable and a bit taboo!

In fact, as an unpublished author, I never really thought about it. I think I just made this vast assumption, as I think most of us do, that once my book was PUBLISHED that all my writer friends whom I love, who I have supported with both my money and my time during my pre-published days, would be SO excited for me and jump on the bandwagon with reviews and Facebook shares and whatnot. Not like huge overboard by any means, but just in general.

But then you get published.

And a few of them share your Facebook post.

Even fewer invite you on their blog or post about THE BIGGEST MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE (not really, but it seems so at the time.)

And even fewer take the time to go on Goodreads/Amazon to post a review for you.

Some do. Definitely.

But a very small percentage.

It can leave an author feeling devalued. Deflated. Especially when we see those same author friends cheerleading and rallying around other author friends in your same "circle" and you think... what in the world?!? Did they hate my book? Do they hate ME? Did I get an F in the author popularity contest?!?

That evil, green-eyed monster called jealousy tiptoes in and takes a bit chomp out of your heart and you're left with more questions than answers and a bleeding heart.

Don't get me wrong. You're thankful for the few who DO support you.

So.... what do you do about it?

That's what fellow newly published author and I were chatting about.

I can no longer claim the status of "newly published" since my 5th book is coming out in February. But I am well acquainted with the feeling of jealousy and that sadness that comes with feeling like no one really likes your books. (My second Sandwich novella has a whopping 14 reviews... and very few if any of those are by fellow authors. This is not a woe-is-me moment, just a fact.)

But over the last few years, I've learned/realized/been-convicted-of a few things.

1.) I value friendship over marketing. At the end of the day, I do NOT want my friends, writer or not, EVER to feel that our friendship is based on whether or not they review or share about my book. Ever. Ever. Ever.

2.) It is HARD to champion ALL the books by ALL your author friends. Especially once you are published. You are on your own deadlines and your own tight schedule and you just can't do everything. And if I shared every Facebook post by all my author friends (or even one of each) my own timeline would look like a whole heap of ads and it would NOT be helpful, for my own marketing or for the people I'm sharing.

3.) Those writers you see being heralded by your writer friends? Chances are they have a large percentage of THEIR writer friends who are silent too. 

4.) Some authors I know just plain don't post reviews. Ever. At all. Amazon has been known to delete reviews by fellow authors (although definitely not all the time.) And because of this, and because of this whole fear of hurting others feelings, there is definitely a new trend of authors not reviewing books.

5.) There is a newish trend for authors to band together. To form a little "marketing" group to help promote each others books and "share" readership if you will. On one hand this is smart marketing. But I also think it is why we are seeing such a feeling of "holy cow everyone is supporting her and no one is supporting me" because a Facebook blitz by 10 people for the same author can feel like EVERYONE is supporting them all the time... even when it is only 10 people.


~~~Not everyone will like your books.~~~ EVEN YOUR FRIENDS. It's a fact. Face it. Deal with it. Move on. Maybe it's too steamy for their comfort and they don't feel like they can promote that. Maybe it isn't steamy enough. Maybe it just isn't their taste in genre or the voice isn't something they care for. It doesn't have to be personal. And I'd rather have 10 honest reviews then 100 fluff reviews from people who are doing so out of obligation. (Okay, that's a lie. I'd probably take 100 fluff reviews when it came down to it, 'cause bottom line, reviews can help sell books. But I'm happy with my honest reviews too, HAHAHA!)

What about you?

If you're published, do you have any tips for other fellow published writers about dealing with the complicated quagmire that is authors supporting each other?

If you're unpublished, had you ever thought about this before? Are you just assuming all your friends will be ready with pompoms and Facebook shares once that first book is released?

I'm a fan of being real. Of stripping off that cloak of PC fakeness and sharing real struggles. And the above HAS been one for me. I'm still working on it. I hope you'll feel this is a safe place to share, too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Trade Stress Writing for Total, Absolute, Epic Excitement Writing

My children enjoy playing video games. They are willing to restart levels even entire games after hitting a roadblock. The competition is liken to a perpetual Super Bowl.

Starting at level one is so exciting for them. Their character bumps unto things, falls over cliffs, sinks in water, and any other variation on the obstacle gamers invent. My kids replay levels over and over until they pass to some mysterious, unseen next level. Poof. A new scene with new obstacles and pitfalls appears. And although they may sink or fall and will have to start the entire game all over, they do--with the energy of the Huns ready to overcome.

This is the life of a writer.

We start at level one and face obstacles like: 

* organizing/outlining an entire book
* disciplining ourselves to write everyday
* realizing that the first draft is not publishable quality
* finding out we have more to learn about grammar
* how to write a good beginning, middle, and end
* taking the time to read, read, read. BTW, The best way to learn the craft.
* holding the storyline to one main problem for one main character crafting strong villains
* accepting and growing from other writer's critiques

Once we hear that longed-for-music that indicates we have passed level one we move on to level two.

In level two we face obstacles like:

* humbling ourselves to reading our story outlaid to detect errors
* learning how to self edit
* learning how to add layers to the story and not let those layers steal the show start networking by:
     setting up author pages, blogs, twitter, etc accounts
     connecting with groups that can relate to your book
     participate in these groups without promoting a book. Become one of the gang. Be faithful to these and grow your tribe.
* learn how to develop your characters into 3-D characters who are so memorable their name along forms a picture in a 
     hearer's mind.
* enter contests. This will let others know your name, your genre, and possibly give you a contact to get your book published, 
    not to mention a critique.

Again the music plays indicating we have passed level two and have moved on to level three:

In level three we face obstacles like:

* Polish your manuscripts so they are the best example of a well written story.
* Start writing another story
* Send out proposals to agents/editors. 
* Research indie publishing. There are many resources out there to help you. Don't settle to 
      get your book published. Look for the gold. The one that will make your debut novel stand 
      out online and in stores.
* Up the networking. Branch out to more groups. Build your tribe. The more people who will  
      recognize your name, the more will be interested in looking at your book.
* Set up a newsletter and get off the ground.
* Research avenues to promote your book. Can you set up a radio interview, speak to a club, 
* Write an article in a magazine that has similar interests. 
* Enter contests. This will let others know your name, your genre, and possibly give you a 
      contact to get your book published, not to mention a critique.

At any time we can be sent back to the beginning of the game. Starting over with level one can be discouraging. But, we can learn from the kids who play video games. Shrug it off and allow yourself to be excited to play again. Always with the goal of publication in mind.

Oh, publication, BTW is not the end of the highest level. Publication is the door to yet another level. AND since I am still trying to get to that level, I have not seen the obstacles. I don't really know how many levels there are...or if anyone has reached the "top level."

Perhaps you have romped around on the Publication level of the Writing Game. What obstacles have you faced?

Perhaps you, like me are still romping around on levels one, two, and three. What other obstacles have you encountered?

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Photo Courtesy of header photo.


Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary's list of a great ways to enjoy a day. These can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

All subscribers to Mary's newsletter will receive her new short story an intriguing suspense/mystery. Come, read a good story. To get your free gift, sign up for the newsletter at Mary's website or:


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tackling the Revise + Resubmit Request

You're waiting for news from an agent or editor, and that anticipated name finally appears in your inbox. But what if it isn't a yes or a no? Besides the obvious answers, there's a different option: A revise and resubmit request.

Whether there's an element of your story that needs to be tweaked or a structural component that doesn't meet the requirements for a particular line, this typically means they see promise in your project but would like to see how you change certain things before they commit. Sometimes this happens in a pitch meeting or query response. Other times, they will send full editorial notes like they would for one of their own clients.

Since I'm working on one as we speak, here are my top tips for dealing with a revise and resubmit request:

Number one and most important, this is -- more often than not -- a good thing. Nothing to be upset about at all. Yes, it's more work to put into a project you've probably already spent a considerable amount of time shaping up to send off in the first place. But it will be worth it. Remember that this means your story made this agent/editor think and that he or she is invested in the idea enough to respond thoughtfully to you out of the hundreds of submissions in any given week.

But you don't have to take the advice. Revise and resubmit requests are great opportunities to show how teachable and creative you are with constructive criticism (an editor's dream author). If you've made every attempt to be open-minded and discussed it with trusted people who know your work and you still feel these suggestions don't seem like a good fit with your vision, then it might be best to move on. If their suggestions are so extensive that the structural integrity of your story is lost (and it's no longer your own story), then maybe you'd be a better match with a different agent/editor. But more than likely, a reputable industry professional will give you suggestions to bring out the best in your story and make it a mutual fit, especially if you know this individual has worked with authors whose work resonates with you. Don't be afraid to ask if it's all right to run your revision ideas by the agent/editor before you begin, but make sure you have a good handle on them first to present them cohesively. (And if you have an agent, make sure to get his or her approval to contact an editor first!) Experiment with the changes. See if they resonate with you and give your story life. Then proceed accordingly.

When undertaking this kind of edit, you can never go wrong with a good checklist. If a request seems daunting (Mine was two pages long!), make a list with each change along with action items that can accomplish it. What backstory and plot points need to be changed? Does any of this change your characters' essence or how they would react to things? What questions need to be answered as these changes unfold? What plot points will each change affect later in the story? Having a roadmap or sorts is a tremendous reference as you implement these changes in each chapter and a great way to keep things organized! Plus, the accomplishment of checking things off never gets old.

Here's what mine looks like:

Have you ever gotten a revise + resubmit request? What are some ways you know an editor/agent/critique partner's advice will benefit your story? How do you tackle a big rewrite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is passionate about intentional living, all things color-coded, and stories of grace in the beautiful mess. Previously a full-time book publicist, she owns a freelance copywriting, editing, and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She's a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a two-time Genesis Award winner, and the runner-up in the 2015 Lone Star Contest's Inspirational category. 
Her work is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.

You can connect with Laurie here:
Twitter - @LaurieTomlinson

Monday, January 18, 2016

C.O.M.F.O.R.T. While We're Waiting

Sometimes it's okay and gets very long. Sooooo long. And what can we possible do to, not only find our own comfort, but comfort others during the 'wait'.

Phrases like 'hang in there', 'this all happens for a reason', 'your time will come' or 'bless your heart' are not bad in and of themselves, but if you've been waiting a long time...well....they can grate on your nerves a little.  
Whether the waiting is from the delivery of your fourth kid (and I put fourth because there is a DISTINCT difference between the waiting for number 1 and number 4), the results of a biopsy, the funeral march, a soldier’s return, or an editor’s answer- there is just some advice that’s less appealing than other types J

And sometimes all you need is something words can't provide.

On both sides of publication, the waiting game happens A LOT!! But especially when we're on the unpublished side of writing, the days, weeks, and years of 'waiting' stretch into a seamless line of doubts and fears. This stir-crazy game of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’ can dig a hole in our self-confidence like little else. Sometimes all we want is an ear to hear our rant, a shoulder to cry on, a loving hand providing chocolate, or an all-expense paid vacation.

Since the latter is less likely to occur, one of the first three will have to do J

Even now, on the published side of the bridge, the waiting and doubt continues. Will there be another contract? Do I have the ability, wisdom, courage, and funds to Indie publish? Will this dream putter to a stop after this last book in the series?

For a profession filled with words, sometimes words aren’t enough to quell the worry.

Christians have a particular advantage in this waiting game. No, being a Christian doesn’t mean you automatically write better and have more compelling stories – however, it does mean that your perspective is different while you wait. It doesn’t mean you don’t still roll your eyes when some well-meaning person puts her arm around you and says, “Well God’s got a plan.” But it DOES mean our minds understand the Sovereignty of God more than our hearts at the present. We know He’s in control. He works all things to our good. He loves us with an everlasting love. All the days planned for your life were set in place before you even lived one of them.

Yeah – totally awesome.

But what are some other things we can remember while we wait? Other ways we can crawl down in the fetal position with our friend who has had 2 novels on submission for 3 months (or a year) without an answer yet?

Well, as a good ol Southern girl, I’m going to turn to what comes naturally.

C.O.M.F.O.R.T.  Food!

C: Chocolate, duh! Or that person’s comfort food. Whatever it might be. In the south when we bring food, we're also bringing support, encouragement...we just happen to bring it with sugar on top :-) Nothing makes company better than a little sugar on top. So figure out a way to provide what that person NEEDS...or maybe just wants - and it doesn't necessarily have to be words.

O: Options- Provide practical options while they wait. Could they begin edits? Read a favorite author for inspiration? Or perhaps you could encourage another book they're working on because you already know the market is open to that particular storyline or genre?
M: Merriment – humor is a necessary comfort of life. Laughing is an internal massage. AND it's like medicine over a wounded spirit. Is there a way you could plan something fun with your friend? Or maybe a phone call to provide some much needed laughter?

F: Friendship – Knowing you’re not alone in this crazy business makes the path so much lighter. Just BEING there, may take the need for words away altogether. I know, for me, that just feeling the love of my friends helps me keep stepping forward even if I'm not sure which way I'm supposed to go. They're with me, encouraging me along the way. That's a beautiful and God-given gift.

O: Open for Rant – provide an atmosphere that encourages honesty without judgment. Sometimes there is no need for a ‘fix’, just an opportunity to ‘lose it’ with someone who loves you.

R: Right Perspective- provide fear fighters to help turn to right perspective.  When your friend is ready, an encouraging verse or vote of confidence in her writing might be what she needs. When we're discouraged, we have a tendency to see through a veil of desperation or sadness. Loving truth helps us gain the proper perspective.

T: Tips to ponder while they wait. Practical reminders like:

1.       Are you working on another book so you can be ready when they contact you?

2.       Have you been direct with your agent about what you need from him/her in your relationship?

3.       What ways can you work on building your platform while you wait? (internet? Speaking? Contacts?)
4.   Do you feel this time may be an opportunity for you to develop another creative interest you have?
5.  What are some other options that you might have been afraid to explore before? (Indie publishing? Mainstream vs CBA?
Writing a book make take one person plugging away on a keyboard every day, but building a story takes a community of writers, friends, and encouragers.
Comfort food just makes it go down sweeter!
What brings you comfort while you wait?
     Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in April 2016. You can connect with Pepper on her website at, Facebook- or Twitter at