Author Archives: tsabahouseauthors

About tsabahouseauthors

The authors of Tsaba House Publishing Inc.

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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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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Be the first to read Evidence of Grace

evidence-of-grace-small.JPGThey say third time’s a charm. I have tried to post this contest here twice but all that comes up is the book cover so here we go again on a beautiful Monday morning here in Southern Ohio.

Evidence of Grace, Book 3 in the award winning Jenna’s Creek Series is due for release in June. But here’s your chance to read it now before anyone else. Simply post a review on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or any other site that allows book reviews for the first two books in the series, either Streams of Mercy or Redemption’s Song. You can even post your review on your blog or the blog of a friend. Just send the link to your review to me at teresa@teresaslack.com or teresaslackfanforum@yahoo.com and you will be entered to win an autographed Advance Review Copy of Evidence of Grace. The more places you post your reviews for Streams of Mercy or Redemption’s Song, the more chances you will have to win.
Evidence of Grace byTeresa Slack
A murder conviction sent Sally Blake’s killer to prison. Nearly thirty years after that fateful night, a phone call from a potential eyewitness may prove the wrong person is serving time for the crime. But what would drive someone to plead guilty to another man’s crime? Noel Wyatt enlists the help of a young attorney, and David Davis, the retired judge who once prosecuted the case, to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. If an eyewitness exists, where has he been for the last thirty years? Is it possible the killer did not act alone? Is that person covering up for the real killer? What evidence does the eyewitness have that might overthrow a murder conviction? Will justice come too late for the person convicted of Sally’s murder?

Evidence of Grace is available right now for pre-order at your favorite local bookseller or at many online retail sites.

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Be the first to read Evidence of Grace

evidence-of-grace-small.JPG

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Our part in the creative process

Years ago, I taught a lesson to my primary Sunday school class about being created in God’s image. Created in His likeness, we also have the power to create. I like what Christopher said that even non-believers are given this gift…they just don’t acknowledge the source. More’s the pity.

We all have different gifts and talents to use for His glory or our own; it’s our choice. But sometimes we feel like those gifts are going to waste or that no one appreciates them. Or maybe it’s just me. I keep writing and plugging away at promoting my books and myself and wonder if any of it will ever matter in the long run.

But that’s not my problem. Jesus said to go out into the highways and the byways and compel them to come in. He didn’t add that if no one pays attention to us or if it doesn’t seem to be working, then it’s all right to stop. No, we are to keep working. The fields are white and ready to harvest.

Just like our gifts. They were given to us for a reason. Whatever the Lord has blessed you with today, use it. Don’t be like the wicked servant who hid his talent in the ground until the Master returned. Use your talent, expend some energy today, and let God worry about if it’s working or not.

I didn’t intend for this to turn into a sermon. This blog is about writing. Let’s just get rid of those excuses and do what we’ve been called to do, whether writing, any other art form, or otherwise.mallory-me.JPG
Teresa Slack

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Art that inspires

tsabahouse-tenderreed.jpg

This past Saturday I was the guest speaker at The Word Talks book discussion group in Norman, OK to discuss my book A Tender Reed. Few writers will pass up an opportunity to explain the inspiration behind a book to readers who loved it. I am no exception. I love talking about the creative process, my journey to publication, and of course, my books.

They asked me typical questions like how I came up with the title–from the first line in The Rose: Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed–why I dedicated it to my dog, and if any of my characters are based on real people. They also asked some atypical questions that put me on the spot like: How have you changed with the writing of this book?

Then these wonderful ladies did something a little different. They took turns telling me how A Tender Reed touched them on a personal level. Nothing is more gratifying for a writer. We spend our days, months, and years pounding away on our keyboards in virtual anonymity wondering if anyone will ever read our words. Asking ourselves the same question over and over again: Do I have anything relevant to say that hasn’t already been said by someone more qualified than me to say it?

I believe every person on this planet was put here for a reason. I also believe God gave me the gift of stringing words together in a loosely cohesive manner to tell a story. In the last few years I have come to see that every day we use our gifts and talents to glorify ourselves or glorify God. What a blessing to know my writing has ministered to a small group of women in Oklahoma. There is no greater accolade than to know that the message on this writer’s heart ministered to another.

Whatever your ministry, whatever gift the Lord has given you, whatever unique perspective on seeing Creation’s beauty, use it to edify others and uplift Jesus. There is no greater calling on any of our lives. slack6-small.JPG

Have a blessed week,
Teresa Slack

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The World of Publishing

Whew! Just finished my interview with Jeanette Cezanne, aka Dr. J, at the World of Publishing. What fun. I probably rambled on too much, but that’s a given with me. I can relax a little and enjoy what’s left of my Monday. I always obsess too much before an interview and don’t get much creative work done. Now I’m free to decompress until Saturday when I will be involved in a workshop at the Union Twp. Civic Center in Cincinnati, OH. Check it out if you’re in the area. There will be six of us Ohio authors discussing the romance of writing. Here’s the link for more info.

But for now, here’s a huge thanks to Dr. J for a fun interview. I hope listeners had as much fun as I did. I was especially excited to hear Dr. J’s glowing endorsement of my latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, run don’t walk to your local independent bookseller or go to my website to find out how to order it.

Have a great night!

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A Not so Productive Weekend

I knew I was in trouble when I spent $44 on yarn Friday at Hobby Lobby. I start every week with big plans on what I’m going to accomplish by week’s end. This one started unraveling on Thursday and went straight down the tubes on Friday.

It isn’t all my fault. It’s hard to concentrate on writing related activities when the view outside my front window resembles a Christmas card. We’ve been getting lots of snow here in southern Ohio…weather that makes me want to sit in front of a roaring fire and crochet. And that’s exactly what I did all weekend.

I’m in the process of researching and outlining a new novel–a short contemporary that will be included in a book with romance author Molly Noble Bull. I’m approaching this story differently, with plans to go into it fully outlined and in order. This is in hopes of avoiding problems and extensive rewrites down the road. I’ll let you know how it works out.

What about the rest of you? Do you meticulously map out your story before jumping in with both feet the way I normally do, or are you a seat of your pants writer? Let’s hear it. How do you get started on a new project? Do you have a course of action or is each work different? How do you even decide on which story idea is going to be your next great masterpiece? Personally, choosing is often the most enjoyable part of the process for me.

Don’t forget to tune in to The World of Publishing Monday nite 8:00p.m. EST. I’ll try to sound articulate and knowledgable, but I’m not making any guarantees.

Have a blessed and productive week.
Teresa Slack

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