Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Tips to Finish That Book by Evelyn M. Hill

His Forgotten FiancĂ©e is the first book I’ve ever published.

And I have a confession to make: there came a point, in the middle of the book, where I realized this was The Worst Book Ever Written. I came very close to walking away. If I hadn’t entered a contest (Love Inspired Historical’s Manuscript Matchmaker) and had an editor ask to see the story, I do not think I would have finished it, let alone submitted it and had the kind editor offer to buy it.

I’ve gone on to write a few more novels since then. My next historical western, The English Lieutenant’s Lady, is due out in February. I’ve also written a couple of contemporary romantic suspense novels as well as a romance set in Victorian England. And oddly enough, during the course of writing these stories I realized that each one was The Worst Book Ever Written.

That should be a statistical impossibility. Surely one must be worse than the others? Apparently, the little voice of doubt inside me doesn’t concern itself with statistics.

I’ve come to the conclusion that doubt is part of the process just as much as the initial excitement of starting a story. The little voice of doubt might well be right when it tells you the story could be better. But if it tells you to walk away from a story that’s over the halfway mark—don’t listen to it. Finish the book.
If I give up on a story before it’s even finished, I’m doing the editor’s job for her, rejecting the manuscript. That’s not necessary. Editors are good at their jobs. You don’t need to do their work for them. Besides, you might be wrong. They might love it.

Really. It’s okay to finish a manuscript and send it out.

Or at least just finish it.

These are some things I wish I’d known when I started writing:
  • Write what excites you. If you write something because it’s popular and you think it’ll sell, you’ll end up with a book you don’t love. Writing is too much work to waste time on an idea that never grabbed you from the beginning.
  • If you’re halfway through the book and you start to think it’s awful, keep going. Take notes on the Bright Shiny New Idea that’s hovering around, but push through with the original story.
  • Try writing every day. There are two kinds of writers in the world: those for whom writing every day is the only way to go, and those who don’t find this helpful. The only way to be sure which group you’re in is to try it. I’ve seen too many writers who quit writing because they only wrote when they were inspired. The middle of the book is a desert when it comes to inspiration. Steady progress, even 500 words a day, can get you through the sagging middle.

What gets you through to The End when it seems you should never have started?


~~~~~~



According to family tradition, Evelyn M. Hill is descended from a long line of Texas horse thieves. (But when your family is not only Texan, but Irish, tall tales come with the territory.) This might explain why she devoted much of her childhood to writing stories about horses. Once she grew up, the stories naturally featured a tall, handsome cowboy as well.

She lives at the end of the Oregon Trail, where she gets to do all her historical research in person, and she loves to hear from readers!

Links:
website: evelynhillauthor.com
Facebook: Evelyn M. Hill, author
Amazon:
http://amzn.to/2kujfml


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Who Is Hephzibah? By Mesu Andrews

Mesu Andrews
One of the college pastors at our local university contacted me recently and asked if I’d be willing to meet with a short-term exchange student in her ministry.

I’m pushing mid-fifties, so I said, “Why does your student want to meet with me?”

She laughed and said, “She’s struggling with her name. I thought you could help.”

With a name like Mesu, I thought maybe she needed someone who could relate to a crazy first name. I asked what the girl’s name was.

“Hephzibah,” my friend said. “I knew you were writing about Hezekiah’s wife and felt you could give her a new perspective on the biblical name.”

I can’t tell you how excited I was to meet a real Hephzibah—my favorite name in the Bible.


Jewish Tradition

When I first read the name Hephzibah, I researched its meaning: the Lord’s delight. Immediately transfixed, I began researching how to become Hephzibah in the Lord’s eyes. Unfortunately, the Bible only mentioned her twice (2 Kings 21:1; Isaiah 62:4). Jewish tradition told a bit more of her story.

2 Kings 21:1 tells us she was Manasseh’s mother, so we can extrapolate her position as Hezekiah’s wife, but only Jewish tradition calls her Isaiah’s daughter. After more study on Isaiah 62:1-4, I felt certain enough of his role in her life to base a whole book (Isaiah’s Daughter, releasing January 16, 2018) on Jewish lore.
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent…The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.” Isaiah 62:1–4

A Father’s Love

In many chapters before, Isaiah prophesied Israel’s (Zion’s) judgment, desolation, and destruction. Now, in these verses, he finally gets to announce the restoration of God’s beloved Jerusalem and calls the sacred city, Hephzibah. I believe—as did ancient Rabbis who passed down the story—Isaiah likened God’s love for the vindicated, new Jerusalem to the love he felt for his own daughter. 

The love of a father for his daughter is different than a father’s love for his son. Not greater—just different. A father feels a ferocious need to protect his daughter. A desire to provide. And when she comes of age, he yearns for her to be cherished by a husband as she should be loved.


A Name to Cherish

As I recounted this Scripture, and the precious status of the name, to the college-girl-Hephzibah sitting before me, she said through a smile, “I never understood why the prophet Isaiah called Jerusalem by my name.” She walked a little taller out of the coffee shop that day, and I said a silent prayer. Lord, I hope that today, in this moment, I am Hephzibah in Your eyes. Because I believe we can all be called Hephzibah, delight of the Lord, as we walk through each day.
About the Author
Isaiah's Daughter
by Mesu Andrews
Gifted Bible teacher and award-winning author Mesu Andrews reaches into the pages of Biblical prophecy and Hebrew tradition to unearth a rags-to-royalty story of the devastated orphan, Ishma—meaning “desolation”—in Isaiah’s Daughter (Jan. 16, 2018, WaterBrook). At just 5 years old, Ishma’s life crumbles around her when Israelite soldiers violently kill her family and take her into captivity. Upon her release, the royal prophet Isaiah welcomes her into his home where she meets Prince Hezekiah (Hezi)—a boy who has also experienced great tragedy. Ishma and Hezi bond in their suffering, and as they grow in age, so does their love for each other. Aware of their developing relationship, Isaiah adopts Ishma as his daughter and presents her with a new name that will qualify her to marry royalty—Hephzibah (Zibah), meaning “delight of the Lord.” Hezi and Zibah marry, but after difficult times of barrenness, Assyrian aggression, disease and challenging prophecies from Isaiah, Zibah learns that loving her husband will require more of her than she ever imagined.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Finding A New Year's Groove by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
It’s a new year. Time to make resolutions. Time to set Goals. Time to start filling that fresh, clean slate with hopes and dreams ready to be fulfilled. Time to pick a word to accompany my journey through 2018.

Hmm. Perhaps it’s actually time to realize there’s a lot of pressure that accompanies the turning of a calendar page from one year to the next.

All things considered, want to know what my plan is? Normalcy. Finding my groove, my routine, and letting myself flow into new writing projects and whatever else life has in store. Sometimes, the best remedy to that sprint through the first month or two of a new year is establishing a sense of calm. Meditative prayer. The kind of directive peace that can only come once the celebrations and joyful chaos of the holidays comes to a close.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t look at freshly delivered edits for my Fishermen of Antioch series, or my WIP, during the month of December. And I was totally fine with that fact. The month began with my mother facing surgery (that went fine-praise the Lord!) and nothing trumped me being at her side. After that, Christmas preps kicked into full swing, and since I was hosting family on Christmas eve, my priority was sharing this time with those I love. That meant decorations, shopping, baking, visiting, laughter and the kind of happiness that fills your heart, but lifts you leagues away from “normal.”

Again, that’s okay. In fact, it’s welcomed!

Long before the playing of Auld Lang Syne at midnight on December 31st, I knew I was going to return to that which I needed more than resolutions, goals, or words of empowerment. I was going to return to a place where I can transform my time and energy once again into the process of writing and characters that tug my heart with stories they demand be told. I knew I would return to the kind of focus that would propel me into 2018 without as much stress or anxiety. In the meantime, though, I wasn’t going to cheat myself of every memory and precious moment of Christmas and the advent of a New Year.

As you move through the open door of 2018, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about facing that ‘clean slate.’ I wish you many blessings and much success as we move and grow through the coming year!

~~~~~

Ashley Coratini is bucking her family, and the odds, by embracing the chance to pursue a dream. During a three-week trip to Florence, Italy, she’s determined to immerse herself in the world of art and to explore the gifts God has given her.

Widower Luca DeRosa owns and operates a premiere art gallery at the heart of Florence. He’s just over a year away from turning forty, but doesn’t mind the milestone. He enjoys a life spent raising his five-year-old son and scouting artistic talent. When he comes upon Ashley, he’s captivated by her artistic skills and fluid grace, and he sees to it that Ashley’s dreams take off at high velocity.

But as love blooms, questions mount. Will Ashley embrace her gifts and a life in Italy that’s worlds different than the one waiting at home in America? Can Luca trust his heart and instincts enough to embrace the love of a vibrant young woman whose spirit speaks to him so deeply?

What comes next when the dreams they dare to dream really might come true…?


~~~~~

Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Readers laude her work as “Riveting,” “Realistic and true to heart,” “Compelling.” Her Christian fiction debut, Devotion, earned the Bookseller’s Best Award as well as the Heart of Excellence Award. Her follow-up novel, Forgiveness, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors as did her book Hearts Communion. She is also a two-time recipient of the Selah Award for her books Then & Now and Finding Home. Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan and an active member of Romance Writers of America, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. You can connect with Marianne at www.marianneevans.com.

Friday, January 12, 2018

When God Does a New Thing by Bethany Turner

Bethany Turner
Just when we think we have this writing gig under control, something can make us feel insecure all over again. But, that’s also when God often surprises us. Author Bethany Turner has experienced some of those unexpected situations, and she shares part of her personal journey with us today. ~ Dawn

When God Does 
a New Thing

I wonder what God thinks when He sees us down here on Earth, so sure we’ve got it all figured out. I’m sure He’s never surprised. After all, our attempts to pull together our own plans for our lives have literally been causing problems since the beginning of mankind.

When I was offered my first publishing contract, from Revell for The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, it was a one book deal. When you’re an obsessive planner, as I am, and—let’s face it—a control freak (again, as I am), a one book deal is a mental challenge. What do I work on now? When you’re continually struggling with your confidence, and you’re oh-so-eager to please everyone (as I am), a one book deal also becomes an emotional blockade. Don’t they believe in me? Do they just think I had one good idea and that’s all I’ve got in me? Hang on…are they right?!

But eventually I had what I knew was another good idea. I began writing, and I wrote in communion with the Lord. I was able to see how I had grown as a writer, and I was pretty sure I was writing better than I ever had. So, when the time came to pitch the new book to my editor, I knew that a second contract with Revell was an inevitability.

And that pitch was rejected.

I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. In my overreacting heart and mind, all of my previous wondering and fears were confirmed, and I could suddenly be assured that I was indeed a talentless hack who had lucked into one decent thought for a book.

My editor has become a dear friend, so we wrestled through it together. In one of our exchanges, I said to her, “I don’t even know what to write, then! The only other thought I’ve had that even resembles a book idea is…” And I went on to tell her about three sentences of a half-hearted idea. To which she replied, “I like that. Let’s talk more about that one.” Soon we were in Dallas together at the ACFW Conference, and over dinner we fleshed out that idea. About two weeks later my agent called me and said, “There’s an offer in my inbox.”

Isaiah 43: 18-19a says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”

Sometimes all I can do is shrug my shoulders. I don’t understand. I certainly don’t know the plan. But I’m determined to stop seeing that as a problem, and instead focus on the promise that exists. His way is always best, and that would be every bit as true if I never wrote or published another book. God is doing a new thing! And I’ll take His new thing over my former thing every time.





Becoming a Christian is the best—and worst—thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck.

Up to now, Sarah Hollenbeck made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now she's trying to reconcile her past with the future she's chosen. She's still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she's not sure she can write anymore. She's discovering that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her pastor . . . well, let's just say that doesn't make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of humor, novelist Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a witty debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.




Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned thirty-five), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

To learn more and connect with Bethany, please visit:




Thursday, January 11, 2018

Newsletters by Terri Weldon

I’ve been meaning to write a newsletter to promote my books and to get to know my readers for quite some time. Well, all my good intentions didn’t cut it. No newsletter. 

I subscribed to numerous author newsletters and watched as one writer friend after another produced a fantastic product. I kept telling myself I needed to do the same. 

So finally I plopped my backend in a chair and got busy. Things were going well and much faster than I expected. I could handle this. When I finished I printed it out and took it to the person I trusted to give me an honest opinion. She did. Didn’t like it and thought it looked unprofessional. Ouch! Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful she told the truth. The last thing I wanted to do was send out an unprofessional newsletter that would cause readers to want nothing to do with my books, thinking they might read as poorly as my newsletter.

So I went back to the drawing board. It took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to produce a product I was satisfied with. And guess what I discovered? There were still a ton of things I didn’t understand. 

If you have plans to start a newsletter I’ve got several suggestions for you:

1. Subscribe to numerous newsletters.
2. Choose a mix of authors you read and authors you don’t read.
3. Read their newsletters voraciously and see what makes the author seem real to you.
4. What did they include that made them seem fun? This is why it is important to read some from authors you aren’t familiar with.
5. What about their newsletter would make you want to read their books?

Now on to creating your newsletter:

1. Choose which automation service you’re going to use and sign up and familiarize yourself with the program. I didn’t do this first and as a result wasted a great deal of time.
2. Decide how often you plan on producing a newsletter – monthly or quarterly.
3. Use social media or whatever platform you choose to start your list of subscribers.
4. Determine how much of yourself you want to share publically.
5. Create the best newsletter you possibly can.

Okay, I’ve probably oversimplified the process. But hopefully you’ve gained a little insight into creating a newsletter. 

If you’re a writer and can offer some tips I’d love to hear them. If you’re a reader please leave a comment and let me know what you like to see in a newsletter. 

And finally, shameless plug, go to www.terriweldon.com and sign up for my newsletter. If all goes well it debuts next week!

The Matchmakers Anthology

A Match Made in Sheffield (Book Two by Terri Weldon)

Nalie Benton bounced from one foster home to another until she landed on Ellie Alexander’s doorstep. Natalie’s vagabond childhood caused her to yearn for a secure life, which led to Natalie’s five-year plan: complete her law degree, marry the perfect man, become a partner at Montgomery, Haynes, and Preston, and produce one child. Getting arrested wasn’t in Natalie’s plan. Needing a public defender wasn’t in her plan. Falling for Grady Hunter, her public defender, definitely wasn’t in her plan. Can Grady convince Natalie there is more to life than her five-year plan? Is Ellie the only one who sees a future for Natalie and Grady?

Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an award winning author by night. Her novella The Christmas Bride Wore Boots won the best novella category in the 2016 Lyra Awards. She enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, spending time with her family, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in the Heartland of the United States. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA. She is a member of the Seriously Write Team (www.seriouslywrite.blogspot.com). Readers can connect with Terri at www.terriweldon.com