Category Archives: Author spotlight

Revision Requests

The road to publication is long, arduous, and wrought with gray areas. Who’s advice do you follow? How many changes can you make without losing your story and voice? Imagine receiving personal advice from an editor. It’s exciting, and nerve-wracking! It means your novel has gained enough interest to warrant their attention, but it’s in no way a guarantee of publication. Today Anne Mateer shares her revise and resub story. I hope you’ll find it informative and encouraging.

Making Requested Revisions BEFORE a Contract is Offered by Anne Mateer

I sat across the table from a Bethany House editor, the two of us alone in a room while most other conference attendees sat listening to the keynote speaker. A month earlier, I’d sent the full manuscript of my novel, which she requested after seeing the beginning of it in the finals of the Genesis contest. My heart pounded and my hands twisted in my lap. A simple rejection would be done via email, not face to face—right?

We chatted. She set me at ease, telling me how much she enjoyed the story, the characters. My heart thumped harder. Was this the moment I’d been waiting for my whole life long?

She slid a stapled set of papers toward me. She and a couple of other editors had read through the book. And while they liked many things about it, they didn’t feel it quite ready yet. My heart sank into my stomach, then seemed to slither onto the floor in a puddle. A rejection after all.

And yet—not.

The pages she handed me contained a run down of things they like about the book and things they felt weren’t quite up to par. Could I revise it and resubmit? She asked. Of course there are no guarantees, she continued.

I worked to keep my excitement in check, reminding myself this did not mean if I did the work I’d receive a contract. But I quickly realized the amazing opportunity that had been handed to me. Some of the best editors of historical fiction in the business had given me feedback on my book. Not just on a few opening pages, on the entire story! Whether or not my revision resulted in a contract, they were essentially offering me the chance of a lifetime—an advanced class in publishable historical fiction.

Holding tightly to this idea, I plunged into my manuscript, working on the issues they’d identified. More than anything, I wanted to grow as a writer, not to squander this opportunity to learn. With that as my goal, I finished the revision and resubmitted. No, it didn’t result in a contract. At least not at that moment. There were more tweaks before they felt it ready to go to pub board. At times I despaired that it would ever meet their mark, but I persevered, determined to strengthen my writing muscles. After a grueling six months of work, the editor called and offered a two book contract.

I could have opted out of the initial opportunity. But if I had insisted that I wouldn’t do the revisions without a contract (or at least the promise of one), I would have missed out on some amazing things—like understanding how to work with an editor, learning how to shore up problem areas of the story and honing my craft for its own sake. And while the contract itself was an awesome reward at the end of the process, the experience of revision and resubmission beforehand was a priceless gift from the Lord that I will always treasure.

Anne Mateer worked over ten years on the craft of fiction before seeing her debut novel, Wings of a Dream, in publication. Her second book, At Every Turn, releases in September of 2012. Anne and her husband of 25 years live in Texas. They are the parents of three young adults. Visit her online at AnneMateer.com, follow her on Twitter, or connect via Facebook.

Wings of a Dream:

Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family’s farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he’s the man she’s meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother’s sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur’s training camp as God’s approval of her plans.

But the Spanish flu epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt’s death, Arthur’s indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she’s always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

Buy it now.

We’d love to hear from you. Do you have any revision stories you can share? Any feedback from editors, agents, or crit partners you found especially helpful? What about when you receive conflicting advice? How do you sift through all the suggestions competing for your attention?

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Writing With Vision and Submission

I happened upon today’s post a few weeks back and loved it so much, I asked the authors of Writing Sisters Blog if I could repost it here. Not only do I love the message, but I love the fact that these ladies are sisters. Last May my sister, a social worker with extensive experience with troubled families and teens, joined the Christ to the World Contemporary Youth Writing Team. In fact, she recently completed her second Hear the Word Study and did a marvelous job. I know the Writing Sisters would agree, there’s something special about writing with a sibling.

Today Betsy Duffy and Laurie Myers, co-authors of numerous adorable children’s books, share what it means to…

Write With Vision and Submission:

A children’s book writer shared one of her fan letters with me.  Printed with crayon on bright yellow construction paper it read: “Thank you for writing god books.” We chuckled at the truth in the error, god vs. good. But later it made me think:

What is different between a good book and a God book?

As I grow in my faith and as my writing efforts shift to Christian books I want to know the difference. How do I write as a follower of Jesus?  What does Christ-centered writing look like?  

How can we write with Godly vision?

Where there is no vision the people perish. Proverbs 29:18

Christ-centered writing begins with God’s idea instead of my idea, but how do I know the difference?  In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley presents two ways to know the distinction between good ideas and God ideas:

1.  A God-ordained vision will eventually feel like a moral imperative.

Have you ever had the idea for a book that would not let you go? “As the burden in you grows, you will feel compelled to take action.” My ideas wane over time, God’s grow stronger.

2.  A God-ordained vision will be in line with what God is doing in the world.

My ideas serve myself or advance my career.  God’s ideas are part of a bigger plan.  This is not always apparent at first.  “Initially, you may not see a connection.  If not, wait.”

My idea?  Or God’s idea? Will I ever know for sure? Probably not, but I am encouraged that Jesus was big on restoring people’s vision.

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.  Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”  Matthew 20:29

May my eyes be opened too.

How can we write with submission?

Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Colossians 3:23

Submission means to yield to the power or authority of another.

As a writer to submit means the moment of terror that I experience when I drop the envelope into the mail slot or hit send on my computer.  Submission means judgment of my work. I love the story of E.B.White begging the mailman to return his just sent manuscript.  I have felt the same desire to hold on one more day.

Can we write with the spirit of submission to God?  What difference would it make to start with submission, instead ending with submission.  If I can submit the work to God first then the fear of submitting to man disappears.

Catherine Marshall writes in Adventures in Prayer about this Godly submission during the writing of her first book, A Man Called Peter.

About midway in the manuscript, I received devastating criticism from one whose judgment I trusted.  He told me bluntly, “You haven’t even begun to get inside the man Peter Marshall,” And he was right, that was the sting of it.  The realization of my inadequacy as a writer was not only an intellectual one.  It was also emotional; there were plenty of tears.  But out of the crisis came a major realization.

 In my helplessness, there was no alternative but to put the project into God’s hands.  I prayed that A Man Called Peter be His book, and that the results be all His too. And they were.

The book was published and sold millions of copies all around the world.  My best writing comes when I give up control of the results and begin to see my books as God’s books.

May I write today with Godly vision and submission.

Writing Sisters, Laurie Myers and Betsy Duffey, have been writing for children for over twenty years, publishing with Viking, Clarion, Simon & Schuster, Henry Holt and Harper Collins.  They had published over thirty-five chapter books for children and have had books on master lists in over twenty states.  Laurie and Betsy are now focused on writing Bible stories in fresh ways for the chapter book audience.

http://writingsistersblog.wordpress.com/ 

 www.writingsisters.com

 

What Keeps You Going When You Hit the Wall?

On Wednesday, Mary Hamilton talked about the “why” of writing–that inner drive that propels us forward and clarifies our message. Today she’s here to talk about reasons to stick with it, despite obstacles, disappointments, and set-backs. Once again, the question I posed in the title points back to your why. For me, I write for Christ, the Creator of the universe, the risen King, the bright and morning star. This encourages me to continually seek excellence, because He deserves no less than my absolute best. This week I’ve had some major rewrites and other responsibilities land on my desk, requiring long days. One afternoon, needing a mid-day refresher, I retreated to my “prayer closet” and proceeded to tell God how tired I was. As I prayed, I thought of Moses, and his forty years in the desert. I thought of Paul, and the intense and continual struggles he faced. I thought of David, fleeing from Saul. By reminding me of these stories–of these courageous men who continually poured out all they had to give–God showed me fatigue, at times, is part of the deal.

Why I (Still) Write by Mary Hamilton

It occurred to me that there might be something worse for a writer than not getting published, something that would make me lay aside my pen or pencil, turn off my computer. What is it that stops me from writing? What kills my motivation, drowns my inspiration, to the point that I am convinced I have nothing worthwhile to say in print?

It is when my work doesn’t measure up. Even sought after, well-intentioned, constructive criticism can sap my confidence at times. I work on a piece for weeks or months, spend long hours going over the content, the sentences, the grammar, making it the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. Then, I find out the characterization needs deepening, the dialogue doesn’t sound different from one character to the next, the plot doesn’t quite follow—that’s what stops me. I want to chuck it all and go back to my knitting. At least there, I have a tangible product. Like maybe a cozy afghan to pull over me while I curl up and cry.

Why do I write even when it feels like I have nothing worthwhile to say? Even when the world seems to tell me it’s futile? Even when I’ve rewritten the same passage eight times and the editor sends it back again?

In my last post, I mentioned my son’s losing basketball season. Several years after that, he and I watched a game where the team’s 3-point shooter consistently missed his shots. The team was behind, but they kept giving him the ball. And he kept missing.

Frustrated, I asked, “Why do they keep giving it to him? He hasn’t made a single shot.”

“Eventually, it’ll go in,” my son said. “Just gotta play through it.”

Sometimes, as writers, we’ve just gotta play through it. We can’t see the excellence when we’re staring at the mediocre. But we keep playing through it, keep writing while the inspiration is dried up and our motivation is flatter than the floor of a basketball court.

In life, the hardest times result in the most growth. The Bible likens it to the purifying process for precious metals, applying heat so that the dross rises to the top to be skimmed off. Is writing any different? If we keep writing through the disappointment and discouragement and hopelessness, the impurities will slowly but surely be left behind. One day we’ll look back and see how much stronger our writing is, how much closer to excellence we are. Because we’re still writing. We’re still in the game.

***

A homemaker for almost 30 years, Mary L. Hamilton has been published in several Christian periodicals. She also wrote “Homespun Angel,” a Christmas play, and is currently working on a middle grade contemporary novel. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, reading, and exercising. (Well, maybe not exercising.)

Mary lives in the Houston, TX area with her husband, three nearly-grown kids, and a dog. You can find her on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/M-L-Hamilton/167765133302978

Blog: http://marylhamilton.wordpress.com/

Drop by and say hello!

What a Great Suspense Novel Looks Like

Tuesday and Thursday, Liliian Duncan, author of Pursued, shared some tips for writing great suspense novels. (You can read both articles here: part I, part II.) Today I wanted to highlight her novel so you could see what the end product looks like.

PURSUED by Lillian Duncan

Reggie Meyers has spent her life pursing the American Dream, but now she’s the one being pursued— by an unknown killer. Putting her trust in Dylan Monroe, a man she barely knows, will either be the best decision she ever made or the last.

Reggie’s a big city lawyer and Dylan’s a country farmer. In the normal course of events, their lives would never intersect but some accidents just aren’t meant to be avoided. When Reggie crashes into Dylan, it makes a bad day even worse or so she thinks. Dylan, on the other hand, is intrigued by the feisty lady lawyer and wrangles a way to spend a bit more time with her by offering to drive her home after the accident. And so the journey that will change both their lives begins…

What others are saying about Pursued:

“The ultimate test of a good novel is the story told, and Lillian Duncan created a powerful story with Pursued.”

“I enjoyed the book from beginning to end. I read it in a few hours since it was hard to put down!”

“Combining a good mix of suspense, mystery, and romance, Lillian Duncan’s new novel, Pursued, is sure to please!”

***

Lillian Duncan lives in a small town in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband, four parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Whether as a speech-language pathologist, an educator, or as a writer, she believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian believes books can be entertaining without being trashy. She writes the types of books she loves to read, suspense with a touch of romance. Her newest release is PURSUED and her fifth novel, DECEPTION, will be released later this year. Her website is: www.lillianduncan.net and her blog is www.lillianduncan.wordpress.com.

Remember to visit yesterday’s post (scroll down to the end) to try your hand at writing a suspenseful paragraph!