Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#TipfulTuesday: What Writers Really Need

I love writing. I don't like ... (here is where you fill in something like marketing, crafting a synopsis, query, proposal, etc.)
Like so many areas in life, there are components that we have to push ourselves through in order to move forward. 
Writing is more of a journey than an arrival. The destination is not:

Finishing a manuscript (although that is something  
definitely worth celebrating), 
Signing with an agent, 
Getting a book contract, 
Finding our story on a bookshelf in a store, 
Witnessing someone reading the book, especially if we 
don't know the person, 
Reading positive reviews

All of these are magnificent. But they are not the destination.
God has called you to share unique stories, told only in the way you know how, to readers who have a need. The need could be entertainment, enjoyment, uplifting, or a thousand other things. There isn't an arrival place. This is an on-going assignment.
So, if you have received criticism, a rejection, feel unworthy to continue, or struggle in any other writing way, raise your hand. I'm raising mine, too.
My last proposal was rejected recently. Sigh. Thanks, I hear your sigh in return.  I had a pity party for a time. Walked away from writing for...one day. That's all the longer I could do it! I simply love telling stories too much to stop. 
What I really needed more than anything was Grace. God's grace to continue what He had called me to do. He never promised an easy road. And this road, by the way, is one that continues long into the sunset. 
I asked for God's grace to continue perfecting my proposal. He gave me the enthusiasm to learn from the criticism in the rejection. He gave me eyes to see this person wanted to teach, not hurt. I have spent the entire day rewriting the proposal and am pleased to say I am not done. Quality work worthy of submission takes time, thinking, editing, rewriting, letting those words rest, then editing again. THEN SUBMIT.
I know I won't arrive, in terms of finding the end of the writing journey road. I guess I really don't want to. And so comes the dreaded question: Do I love writing enough to learn how to write stellar proposals? Sigh...I guess. Only with God's Grace to help me Continue.
~Mary Vee
Photo Credit: Mary Vee

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

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

Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Conference Prep, Editing, and One Sheets

Anyone prepping for conference?

Appointments with editors and agents are great opportunities to let your stories shine. One thing that calms my nerves in those appointments, is having top notch materials to share. An eye-catching one sheet and a stellar synopsis are the best ways to give "audition" to your story! Sometimes though, it can be overwhelming to gather everything you need, as well as getting yourself ready for conference in general.

 I want to suggest to you conference goers: Outsource! We would love to help you with your needs for conference season this year. Fellow AlleyCat Laurie Tomlinson and I have been to multiple conferences, and love helping with authors get ready for a stellar experience. Check out our services in the ads below.

What conference are you planning on going to this year?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Welcome, Becky Wade! + GIVEAWAY

Y'all. Today I am thrilled to pieces to be hosting one of my all-time favorite authors, Becky Wade. If you haven't read her newest release, Falling for You, what are you waiting for?! :) It is AMAZING. And the perfect summer read. (If you're wondering, the first book in the series, True to You, is spectacular too.) So without further adieu, let's get this interview started! -- Ashley

Ashley: Welcome to the Alley, Becky! I’m so excited to chat about Falling for You. 

Becky: Thanks so much for inviting me to join you here!

A: Becky and I thought it’d be fun to talk about who would play Corbin and Willow if the book were made into a movie. (Just to clarify— the movie is only happening in my dreams!) What are some thoughts you have, Becky?

B: I find this conversation — the Who could play these characters in a movie? conversation — endlessly interesting!  I definitely have thoughts, which I’ll share at the end of the post.  But since I love to find out from readers who they envision as my characters, I asked for input on my Facebook author page.  Here are a few of their suggestions for the role of ex-NFL-quarterback Corbin Stewart:

 Karen Klepsteen said, "In my mind, Corbin has to be someone who looks good in a baseball cap (since one is mentioned in the book). Therefore, I give you Chris Evans.”

B: Well, in my book Chris Evan is never the wrong answer.  To any question.  He does indeed look good in a baseball cap. He’s six feet tall and Corbin is taller, but the muscles are right.  There’s a wholesomeness about his look that I adore but that might not be quite right for a hardened rascal like Corbin. What are your thoughts, Ashley?

A: And Corbin is indeed a hardened rascal. I think it's a fair point. But then again, you don't get the title Captain America for nothing.

"Corbin should definitely be an actual football player, in my opinion, and my favorite is JJ Watt,” said Jessica DeCoster.

A: This guy's got some good publicity behind him, donating to charitable causes, just like Corbin! And it's hard to beat the fact he actually plays football. But I have to admit, I like to picture Corbin with a little bit more scruff. Anyone else?

B: Jessica makes a good point! It's hard for a professional actor to play the part of professional football player. Hmm. I wonder if JJ would be interested in the role? Look at those arms! Be still my heart.

"For Corbin: Travis Fimmel,” suggested Stacy Simmons.  

B: I have to say, I see a lot of merit in Stacy’s choice!  I’ve seen Travis in Vikings and his charisma, inner forcefulness, and determination are right in sync with Corbin’s.  Also, his age is about right.  And his features are hard, as are Corbin’s.  Ashley, what do you think?  

A: I don't know, y'all. There are pictures floating around the internet of Travis with a three inch long beard. Would Willow let Corbin neglect his manscaping like that? ;) Trim up that beard, though, and I can definitely see it.

Here are a few of the women who readers nominated for the role of Willow Bradford, professional model:

"My pick is Julianne Hough for Willow,” said Nicole Cook.  

B: Yes!  Julianne’s face and hair look very, very similar to my vision of Willow.  The only drawback…. Willow’s 5’9” and Julianne is 5’3”.  Hmm.  Perhaps a pair of stilts or crafty camera angles would solve this dilemma.

A: I LOVE this choice. Because I could totally see Willow starring in a televised production of Footloose or having an alternate career as a ballroom dancing judge. (Did I mention I love Dancing with the Stars?) Seriously-- the hair, the facial features... it's a great match! 

Jen Wade said, "I can totally see Carrie Underwood as Willow.”

A: Ohhhh... this is a great choice too. I like to say I'd nominate Carrie Underwood to represent women everywhere because she's just so darn likable. And gorgeous. And a little feisty. As an added bonus, I could completely imagine Willow keying Corbin's "four wheel drive" in the beginning of the book. Sorry, y'all. You knew I had to go there.

B: Carrie radiates a Willow-Bradfordesque calm for sure. Also, her make-up is awe inspiring. Never in my life has my make-up looked even half this good. Never.

"I would pick Blake Lively or Rosie Huntington Whiteley for Willow!” said Natalie Pawlak.

B: Blake definitely does have the right sort of classiness and composure.  There’s something mature and thoughtful about her and both of those qualities reflect Willow’s personality well.

A: I agree. And I like how she has something unique about her persona and features. I imagine Willow to be that way too. There's almost a whispy-ness about her, which I realize makes no sense at all. But I completely see her fitting in as a model.

B: Before we wrap this up, I thought I’d open my computer files to you so that you can see the people I chose for the roles of Corbin and Willow.  Confession: I don’t base my characters on any one person.  I often have a few inspiration photos that I glance at from time to time, but I much prefer to “build” my characters in my imagination.  I want to see them more clearly in my mind than in a photograph.  

(Quick interjection from Ashley-- I love Becky's approach here because it keeps us from falling into the trap of simple description, instead pushing us into deeper levels of characterization. Let that be a lesson to us all, because Becky is a master at characterization!)

That said, Bethany House always asks me to submit photos of my hero and heroine to the art team because they reference them when deciding on the models to hire for the covers.  Thus, there comes a point in time with every novel, when I select a photo that best reflects my hero and heroine.  For Corbin, I sent in this picture of Jason Lewis.

In other photos, Jason doesn’t look like Corbin to me.  But in this particular picture, with the short hair cut, the two dogs, and the intense expression, he does.  Does this jive with the Corbin of your imagination, Ashley?

A: YESSSSSSS. Especially with the strong jawline. It's hard to resist a hero hugging an old dog. I mean, really.

B: For Willow, I submitted this photo of Amber Valetta:

The crisp bone structure, the cool and regal beauty, those almond-shaped eyes!  In my mind, Willow has those same qualities.  Thoughts?

A: Regal is such an appropriate word for Willow, because she really is! I loved how you gave her such a grace, while also writing her with accessibility. We typically see models as flat characters, but Willow has a charm about her that is very relatable. I will say, I pictured Willow's hair much lighter and a little more sass in her smile, more like the model on the cover of Falling for You.

So that's it, friends! Thank you for stopping by today, and a huge thank you to Becky for the chance to chat about her wonderful characters. If you haven't read Falling for You, believe me when I say you need this book in your life. And today just may be your lucky day!

Becky is giving away a copy of her newest release to one of our readers! For a chance to win, simply comment below and help me welcome her, or tell us who you think should play Corbin and Willow in a Falling for You movie!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

#TipfulTuesday: It's Just Plain Tacky When...

After building my contacts for several years, I've ended up with a good amount of email each day. I don't have a problem with that because most of these can easily be grouped. The group I have time to read today will be read, the others will be filed in related folders for when I do have time.


This morning, I opened my email and found several newsletters. Ones I had not subscribed to. So tacky.

With the recent uprising about privacy notifications, spamming, and ensuring only those who signed up for a newsletter remain on the list, I hardly expected this.

I mean, really? These people added me to their newsletter list without asking? Yes, I took the time to unsubscribe myself and didn't send a note to the person, I was nice, but...really? Who has the time for that?

If we want people to engage with us as writers, become fans, loyal readers, and know we are worth the time invested in opening and reading our letter, is adding their name to our newsletter list without asking worth it? Can I hear an AMEN?

Yes, we need to show great numbers to agents and editors. Yes, we need to get the word out about our books.

No, we should not drive away our readers.

So. How can you build your newsletter list?

I'm sure there are many suggestions, and I hope you share yours in the comment section. The one I have been using is: I posted the link to my newsletter signup form and wrote ad copy to entice readers to click. I did this ... oh... a couple of months ago and left it on my author facebook page. 

Readers have stumbled onto my page, scrolled through the posts and saw this link to m newsletter post. They clicked and chose to receive my newsletters. Almost every day, at least one person has signed up. No pressure. No stuffing posts on newsfeeds. I posted it and haven't touched it since.  I add other content regularly, which intrigues readers to my page, which causes them to scroll down and see this newsletter invitation.

I gotta say. One of my favorite emails is the one from my newsletter provider saying someone else signed up. Better than a cup of coffee in the morning. AND I wasn't tacky.

So, how have you invited readers to sign up for your newsletter? Let's share and help each other.

~Mary Vee

#TipfulTuesday #Thewritersalleyblog #amwriting #newsletters
background photo credit: Pixaby.com-tack

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

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

Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.