Thursday, January 28, 2010

James Pence (Advice for Novelists, Part 111)

Here's another post in my Advice for Novelists series in which editors, authors, agents and publicists answer the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Learn your craft. The overwhelming weakness of most fiction manuscripts I see is that the writer hasn't taken time to learn the craft of writing fiction.

When I decided I wanted to write novels I began reading books on the craft of fiction. I've lost count of how many books I read. I read and studied novels. I marked them up like you would mark your Bible. I took notes. I listened to audio books. I did everything I could to help me learn the art of writing fiction. So take time to learn your craft. From the time I started studying fiction to the time my first novel was published was close to 12 years. I'm not saying you should take that long, but don't rush things either.

--James Pence, author of Terror by Night (w/ Terry Caffey), Blind Sight, and more. Visit his website.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Summer 2010 Tyndale House fiction

Check out some of the Summer 2010 releases coming from Tyndale House. I can't believe I get to be at the same publisher as these authors! Aren't these some amazing covers? Which one grabs your attention?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How Writing is Like Fly Fishing

During an interview talented author Candace Calvert recently did with me on her blog, she asked me a question I've never received before. She found out one of my hobbies is fly fishing and challenged me to find some similarities between fly fishing and writing. At first I was stumped. But as I began to think, I realized there was a metaphor sitting right in front of me.

Fly fishing is like the process of a writer searching for a publisher. Our flies are our manuscripts. Each cast is us sending out a query letter or proposal. The fish are the editors searching for a project to buy. It’s important to research what the fish like and when they like it.

But just because we cast the line, doesn’t mean the fish will bite. Maybe they’re not hungry. What if the trout aren’t interested in mosquitoes today? Our fly might be tied perfectly, but the fish just aren’t hungry for it right now.

Then sometimes a fish will bite, but right when we think we have them, they spit out the hook. Does that mean we should give up and never fish again? No, it just means we need to keep on casting. Maybe today isn’t our day. But tomorrow might be.

Candace asked me many other fun questions, by the way. If you'd like to read her whole interview, check it out here. She's also giving away a copy of my debut novel Thicker than Blood. Deadline to enter is January 25th.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Need A Refill?

I shared this post over at the Scribble Chicks blog today, and I'd like to share it with you too:

Have you ever hit a point in your writing where nothing seems to flow? Where it feels like you're pulling teeth to get out one single sentence? Rest assured, you're not alone. Every writer feels this way from time to time. Here's something I'm learning that helps unstop the pipes and allows your creative waters to start flowing again ... living life.

Sometimes as writers we will devote so much time to pouring out our thoughts and emotions on the page that we don't take time to refill. The well runs dry. If that's you today, why not try this: take a day off and play with a ten-year-old. Go to the movies. Pull out a pad of paper and just start sketching what you see. Or ask someone who works in the profession of your main character if you can follow them around and soak up what they do.

I found the latter suggestion especially helpful recently. Several of my novels take place on a working cattle ranch. And when you're working on a ranch, you're going to be riding horses. For the month of January I've been volunteering at a local horse barn. In the morning we feed the horses and turn them out to their pastures. In the evening we bring them in and feed them again. I've learned a ton just from being around these great animals. But I've especially learned from watching others much more experienced and seeing how they handle situations. Soaking in their expertise has helped me immeasurably.

So if you're stuck today, may I suggest take a deep breath and chilling for a bit? :) It's okay to take a break. Trust me, you'll come back super-charged and ready to tackle that next chapter!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fun Christian Devotions SPEAK-UP Interview

I had the wonderful opportunity of being interviewed by Marianne Jordan of Christian Devotions Speak Up yesterday. It's now archived, and you can listen to it below if you'd like. We talked about when I knew I wanted to write, homeschooling, the whole story of how Thicker than Blood won Operation First Novel, how much research I do, and much more!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Susan Meissner (Advice for Novelists, Part 110)

And you thought I forgot about this series! :) No, my friends, here's another post in my Advice for Novelists series in which editors, authors, agents and publicists answer the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Writing in anonymity is like swimming laps in a pool while no one is watching. It doesn’t seem like you are getting anywhere. But you are. You are strengthening your writing muscle. You are becoming a better writer just like someone who swims twenty laps a day becomes a better swimmer. I am sure Michael Phelps started out like everyone else who swims competitively. In a pool. No one cheering. Putting one arm ahead of the other and kicking relentlessly. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep swimming.

--Susan Meissner, author of White Picket Fences, The Shape of Mercy, and other books. Visit her website.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Thicker than Blood featured in Weekly Insider

How exciting. Thicker than Blood is one of 4 novels featured in this week's Weekly Insider. Also featured are Colleen Coble's The LightKeeper's Daughter, Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater and Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand: