Monthly Archives: April 2007

What works and what doesn’t

I participated in a local street festival this weekend in hope of selling books and meeting new readers. Suffice it to say, the weekend was not a raging success. It was an outdoor event and the weather couldn’t have cooperated better. While a little windy, it was warm and sunny, the perfect weekend to spend outside. The crowds were not huge, but big enough to insure moderate success. So why didn’t I sell more books, or at least attract the interest from future readers?

While watching visitors breeze past my booth as they tried to avoid eye contact, I noticed a few things I’ll keep in mind while planning my schedule for next year. It wasn’t only me they were avoiding. Most people weren’t buying anything. Except food. Everyone out on this gorgeous last weekend in April was there to buy walking burritoes, deep fried veggies, or ice cream. Hey, don’t knock ’em if you haven’t tried ’em.

One ingenous fellow designed a weapon made out of PVC pipe that shot marshmallows and was selling them by the truckload for $7 to everyone under 18. Other than that, the rest of us sat there and watched the crowds walk past.

Lesson learned, at least for this particular festival. Most attendees are not interested in buying books for summer reading. Several of the people who did approach me are already fans and have copies of all my books. I guess it’s time to branch out a little farther.

I do enjoy setting up at craft fairs and street festivals, even after this dismal showing. Many readers never find themselves in a bookstore and are thrilled to meet an author face to face. It’s always a boost for the old ego when they gush about how wonderful and brilliant you are. The local angle is also good for selling a few copies. Even people who don’t buy will remember you the next time they are in the library looking for something good to read. That’s what this is all about, folks, one reader at a time.

So don’t discount the festivals and craft shows because of one disappointing weekend. I’ll give them another try as my schedule permits. But when I get my application for this one next year, I think I’ll pass.

Have a great week. Teresa

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Winners of Evidence of Grace

evidence-of-grace-small.jpgCongratulations to Nancy Mleczko of Turners Falls, MA and Toni Holt of Waverly, Ohio. They are the winners of my “Be the First to Read Evidence of Grace” contest. They will each receive autograph advance review copies of Evidence of Grace, the third in my Jenna’s Creek series. Thank you, ladies, for posting your reviews of my books. These reviews really help build a buzz about upcoming books. For those of you who did not win, don’t despair, I will be hosting more contests in the future. Feel free to continue to post reviews for any of my books.

I am beginning a blog tour May 14th in honor of the official release of Evidence of Grace on June 1st. If you would like to interview me on your blog, please contact me at teresa@teresaslack.com or teresaslackfanforum@yahoo.com If anyone has ideas for future contests or promotions, please don’t keep them to yourself. Thanks to all for your participation.

Teresa Slack

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No Results

On January 10th I started an exercise program that, according to the bookcover, would theoretically enable me to lose two sizes in four weeks. I don’t have to tell you when you tell a woman she can lose two clothing sizes in four weeks, you have her attention.

Guess what happened! Nothing! Not only have I not lost two sizes, I haven’t lost one. After doing everything the book said to do, I haven’t lost one measly inch off my entire body. On a brighter note, I haven’t gained either. And that’s saying something considering I have the appetite of an offensive lineman.

Even after three and a half months, I still believe in the program. Everything about it makes sense. While I haven’t lost inches, the neck pain that used to wake me up in the middle of the night has disappeared. My husband is even following the program after years of begging him to get into an exercise routine. He’s losing inches even though he only does the workout half as often as me. Don’t you just hate men? But after three months of disappointment, I believe results can happen. It’s just taking me longer than anyone else on the planet.

Which reminds me of our writing careers. Even though I think I am doing everything right with the exercise program, I am missing something. Maybe you are experiencing the same thing with your writing. You have attended all the right conferences. You’ve read the right books. You’ve studied the market and fine-tuned the life out of your manuscript. But still you can’t get the attention of the publishing world.

Sometimes success seems like it’s beyond our control. Perhaps it is. For a season. There are always things going on inside our bodies that determine when and where we hold on to excess inches. There are also things going on inside the publishing industry that we can’t control. For a season. Maybe this isn’t the time for your manuscript. Maybe you need a little more training. Maybe your book isn’t as ready to seek a publisher as you think. Maybe you have done absolutely everything right, your book is pure genius, but God says the time isn’t right. For a season.

My body will eventually let go of those excess inches if I continue my exercise routine. Even if I never get down to a size 4–I don’t expect that–I no longer have muscle spasms in my neck while brushing my hair that make me cry out in pain. That alone makes those mornings in front of my television contorting my body worth it. Perhaps what you envision for your writing career is not what God has in store for you. Don’t despair. God always has greater plans for us than we can even imagine.

Keep writing. Keep fine tuning and studying the market. Don’t give up. You may never reach super-stardom, but you will achieve what God has in store for you if you only do your part and let Him handle the details.

Have a great weekend.
Teresa

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Through My Husband’s Eyes

My new friend at Shoutlife.com, Terri Gillespie, told in her current blog how the Lord taught her to see through her husband’s eyes instead of just her own. That got me to thinking. Was I seeing things through my husband’s eyes? Or did I wear blinders where his likes and dislikes were concerned?

My husband likes cactus and has different kinds of cacti all over our yard. I honestly don’t like cactus. To me, they are thorny and prickly, and when I try to rake leaves around them, I either get scratched or become a human pincushion.

But do you know what? The Lord made every single one of those thorny plants. He made my husband, too. 

Thanks to the Lord via Terri, I’m going to spend more time learning to like what he likes–even thorns and prickly pear. In the same way, I plan to spend more time reading my Bible in order to learn what my Lord and Savior likes. Isn’t that what being a Christian wife is all about? 

Blessings,

Molly

www.mollynoblebull.com  

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larkspur150.jpgToday I am excited to talk with Anita Higman and Janice Thompson, co-authors of Larkspur Dreams from Heartsong Presents.

Your Heartsong is entitled, Larkspur Dreams. What’s the theme of your novel?
Anita: Letting God grow us beyond ourselves.
Janice: Opposites not only attract; God often uses our “polar opposite” to complete/fulfill us.

How do writers go about coauthoring?
Anita: There are a number of ways to coauthor a novel. One writer can do the research and the other writer can actually write the story. Or coauthors can each choose a character and write from that character’s POV. In the three books we’re writing together, I guess you could say I’m writing the body and wings of the stories, and Janice is helping to make them fly. She has a quite a gift for critiquing.
Janice: Working with Anita is a breeze because she conceives and fully plots the stories then lets me add my thoughts/tidbits to give them flavor. She is so quirky and fun to work with, and I am very proud of the stories we have co-produced. I especially loved the character of Larkspur because I see so much of myself in her.

Were there times when it was hard to work together?
Anita: No hard times. Janice Thompson is a gentle dove of a woman. She is not only talented, but easy to work with. There were a few times in one of the novels that I found myself writing in a way that strayed from the general concept of a Heartsong romance. Janice made some good suggestions, which steered me in the right direction.
Janice: I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with anyone who was so willing to accept critique and/or take suggestions as Anita. She is a precious friend and collaborative partner. I already knew she was talented (even before we began this project) but had no idea how gracious she would be. Since I’ve written for the Heartsong line for years, I was able to “teach her the ropes” (as it were) and she was a ready learner! That’s not to say she hasn’t taught me a thing or two. I’ve learned much from her throughout this process, particularly as it applies to romantic tension. She’s far better at that than I am, and I’m happy to admit it.

Why did you choose to be a writer?
Anita: Ever since I was a little girl, I had this need to express myself in some sort of artistic medium. I’ve tried a number of things: piano, painting, decorating, and acting. But I’ve never been very good at any these endeavors, except writing. I guess really then—writing chose me.
Janice: Like Anita, I’ve always been artistic. As a youngster, I sang, danced and played the piano. I was also very involved in theater as a young person. I’ve been writing since childhood. I wrote my first novella in 6th grade, then went on to write musical comedies for the stage before turning to books in the mid-90’s. Like Anita, I can truly say that I didn’t choose writing; it chose me. Or, perhaps I should say that God chose it for me, as a gift.

How would you describe the characters in Larkspur Dreams?
Anita: Lark and Everett are total opposites. Lark is a sanguine and a free-spirit who loves people and loves being alive. Everett is a cautious guy who enjoys numbers more than people. I love throwing characters together who’ll stir up trouble just by being in the same room.

Janice: As mentioned above, I really related to Larkspur on many levels. She’s as fun-loving and free-spirited as they come. All artsy types will agree! To give her a love interest like Everett (ironically, my grandfather’s name) was terrific because we really got to explore the “opposites attract” principle. It worked like a charm!

Did you both enjoy working with these characters? Why?
Anita: Many of my characters are bits of me. Lark is only a small part of me. I’m more of a melancholy/choleric, and Lark is really a true sanguine with a little bit of phlegmatic thrown in. She is the life of the party, and everybody loves being around her. I enjoyed writing about Lark, because I am a Lark-wannabe. Aren’t we all?
Janice: Will I embarrass myself too much if I say that I enjoy being the life of the party, like Larkspur? I do! I’m a real people person, and I thrive on the affections of the people God has placed in my life. Consequently, I really loved this character. As for Everett. . . I had to “grasp” the concept that someone could actually “be” like that. He seemed foreign to me! But, of course, he was Lark’s perfect/ideal man!

How long have you been writing?
Anita: I’ve been writing for twenty-two years. It’s been a long journey, a hard journey at times, but I’m glad I didn’t get off the train. During those many years, I had a variety of books published, mostly nonfiction, but the passion for writing novels never left me. When I first started this whole process, my kids were little. It became difficult to sit down and concentrate on writing, but I did find bits of time. Also, kids go to bed earlier than adults, so I used that block of time to write rather than watch television. Now, empty nest is around the corner, so soon I’ll have even more time to write.
Janice: I’ve been writing professionally since the 90’s. As mentioned earlier, I wrote musical comedies for the stage. (I was a drama director at a Christian school of the arts for several years.) My first “published” works were magazine articles, then I sold my first novel (Duty to Die) in 2000. Since then, I’ve written/published over 20 books, in nearly every genre: historical fiction, contemporary inspirational romance, cozy mystery, non-fiction devotional, and Christian living.

When did you have your first success as a writer?
Anita: After several years of writing, I had some gradual success—books for children, books of one-act plays, and nonfiction for women. These successes were enough to keep me going toward my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.
Janice: This may sound a bit silly, but my first real writing “success” happened my senior year in high school, when I was chosen to help write the senior production. I had a blast, and the scene I crafted (a 1930’s/Busby Berkeley-esque “The Show Must Go On” scene) was a huge success. I can’t tell you what fun I had, or how great it felt for people to respond as they did.

Do you have any special methods of getting into the writing zone, such as favorite scents, music, or certain foods?
Anita: Sometimes I go to a local French café, order coffee and scrambled eggs, and then write a rough chapter. The noise, music, and bustle energizes me creatively.
Janice: An “ideal” writing situation for me would involve someplace like Starbucks (or otherwise) with a cup of my favorite hot beverage in my hand (to be discussed below). Ironically, when I’m at home, I can’t stand having music going. I find it terribly distracting… something about the “beat” drives me nutty. Having the television on is okay, but it’s often muted. Crazy, I know. I’m a fanatic about my Diet Dr. Pepper and several flavors of hot tea. I particularly love Earl Grey and Chai Latte, among others. And I’m nuts about hot chocolate in the wintertime. I’m also crazy about my puppies. I have two red mini-dachshunds named Sasha and Copper. They usually settle in next to me on the sofa, Sasha on my right, Copper on my left. When we’re all in place (with a cup of tea or a Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table, depending on the season) I’m ready to begin. Of course, I usually have to weed through several emails (clearing a path) before I can actually start writing. Whew! Sounds like quite a process, doesn’t it?! It’s a wonder I get anything done at all!

What is your best advice for aspiring writers?
Anita: If you feel called to write, don’t let people discourage you. I’m sure they don’t realize the impact of their words, but negative remarks can undermine our courage and joy. Comments similar to: “Maybe you weren’t really meant to be published.” Or, “Are you making any money at this yet?” Perhaps you’ve heard, “Why can’t you write like my favorite author?” Honestly, I could go on and on here. Writing is a great and honorable profession—one that can challenge, inspire, and change people’s lives. If you love words and love arranging them into stories, then don’t let the battering influence of dispiriting comments shatter your dream. Keep pressing on!
Janice: I often say this to young/new writers: Learn the craft, but don’t necessarily write what the publishers/agents/houses tell you to write. Trends change. Stick with the stories God places on your heart and if He intends them to be published, He will find the right publishing house in the right time.

What are your writing plans for the future?
Anita: I’d love to write romantic suspense. I’m also interested in fantasy.
Janice: I’m open to whatever God wants (and I really mean that). If He shifts me in a new direction (women’s fiction, for example) I’m following His lead! If He asks me to lay the writing down for a season in order to accomplish a different task, I’m open to that, too.

We’d love for you to visit our websites at http://www.anitahigman.com and http://www.janiceathompson.com. If you’re interested in our Heartsong novel, Larkspur Dreams, it can be ordered online right now through Barbour Publishing at http://www.barbourbooks.com/book/detail/larkspur-dreams-h-s-734/
Thanks for inviting us to your blog. It’s been fun!

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For who hath despised the day of small things? Zechariah 4:10

            Before I was born again, I sometimes asked the Lord in prayer for help if there was a major crisis in my life, but I hesitated to ask Him for small things. I figured He was too busy creating and maintain the universe to help me with my day-to-day problems, and for a while after I was saved, these conclusions remained. 

            Gradually, I begin to ask the Lord for help in finding small things—my glasses, my car keys, my checkbook. Sometimes I would even ask Him to help me find a lost Bible and always asked in the name of Jesus. At other times, I would forget to ask for His help. Instead, I would try to do things on my own.

            I have probably spent numerous hours looking for lost items without success. But when I remember to ask the Lord in prayer for help in finding these lost items, I often find them in seconds. So, I would have to say that the Lord cares about the smallest things in our lives and is ready and able to help us when we ask for help in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

However, I think there is a difference between small things, like car keys, and the day of small things mentioned in the fourth chapter of Zechariah. We are told to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto us. But if we focus on the small things in our lives without first seeking and finding the Lord, all we end up with are small and foolish things that have no long-term value.

Yes, the Lord cares about the believer’s smallest needs, but there will come a day when the time for seeking and finding God will end. In that day, we will only have our small things to keep us happy and contented, and even they will disappear. As a Christian, I despise the day of small things if that means a world without the Lord because a world within Him is no world at all. 

Molly Noble Bull

www.mollynoblebull.com

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Tribe Grandath Begins!

Knight

Greetings Dionians!

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback about the The Lion Vrie Book Trailer™. I love hearing from you! Very encouraging…

If you haven’t yet seen it, please visit my blog, or YouTube.

Just sending out a quick note to remind you that Tribe Grandath starts today! Tribe Grandath is the Official Christopher Hopper Reader’s Club. Many thanks to my club president, Hillary Jane, for all her help.

Again, we’ll be awarding a free copy of The Lion Vrie each week, starting a week from today, April 8th. So the sooner you get rolling, the sooner you can start winning! And there is no limit to the number of books you can win!

Please read through the whole site and register.

Thanks for your amazing support of The White Lion Chronicles. We can’t do this without you!

C’symia,

CH

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