tagged with: books

file5791287577951 (2)Just recently, I came across a post on one of my author Facebook pages where an author complained that she had paid a lot of money to have her book proofread before publishing, only to have a friend call her and tell her that she found typos in the book. How important is proofreading to the indie author? It is extremely important.

Traditionally published authors have the advantage of professional editing, but independently published authors are on their own, unless they hire reputable editors who can polish their books so they are good as traditional ones. But from what I mentioned above, not every editor or proofreader is worth the money they charge.

The thing is though, if we indie authors want to have our books taken seriously by the reading public, we should hold ourselves to the highest possible standards. Sadly, I see too many books by indie authors with errors that make me cringe. If this would make you feel better, I found two typos in a Dan Brown book. Maybe that’s excusable in a 400-page book and one by such a famous author.

I pride myself on being one of the best proofreaders there is. Maybe it’s from my years as a teacher, or maybe it’s just my penchant for thoroughness; whatever it is, I have proofread books for independent authors, and have received nothing but praise for my work. But what blew my socks off was when my critique group sent me Eagle Eyes. They are always complimenting me on finding those tiny little errors that seem invisible to other members of the group, and this was their way of showing their appreciation.

So, if you are looking for a proofreader/editor who will help you get your work ready for publication – traditional or independent – I would be happy to hear from you.

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I am showcasing my book Coming Out of Egypt this month. This novel deals with the lives of characters who were sexually abused and are struggling to forge new lives for themselves. There is so much to be gained from this 256 – page book. Apart from showing the devastating effects of sexual abuse, the book deals with relationships, the value of forgiveness, and the power of redemption. Get your copy today by clicking the image below.

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A 1993 survey conducted by polling firm Bruskin-Goldring showed that fear of public speaking consistently ranks as the number 1 one fear in America. Yet, as writers, we are told that one of the best ways to promote ourselves and our books is through speaking engagements. This week I interviewed my friend and critique partner Glenda Mathes to get her take on what is involved in being a writer/speaker and what advice she can give to fellow writers.

Glenda Mathes

Glenda Mathes

Glenda has authored several books, fiction as well as non-fiction. Her non-fiction works include two devotionals, A Month of Sundays: 31Meditations on Resting in God and Discovering Delight: 31 Meditations on Loving God’s Law. Another nonfiction book, Little One Lost: Living with Early Infant Loss, offers biblical hope for the pain of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility (a form of infant loss). Not My Own: Discovering God’s Comfort in the Heidelberg Catechism is the first workbook in the Life in Christ catechism. Glenda is currently collaborating on a memoir with Uriah Courtney, a man who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for over eight years before being exonerated. They anticipate this powerful story will be titled Exoneree.

Glenda has six grandsons, and wrote The Matthew in the Middle series of three novels: Matthew Muddles Through, Matthew Makes Strides, and Matthew Moves Ahead with boys in mind, but girls and entire families enjoy it as well.

 

Questions:

1. Did you always want to become a speaker, or did you just slip gradually into it?

Although I was involved with speech activities in junior and senior high, I never longed to be a speaker. It’s stressful! But because writers are encouraged to build their platform through speaking, I try to embrace the opportunities God sends. I may attempt to schedule an engagement when I plan to be in a specific area, but for the most part I haven’t actively sought speaking opportunities. They have come to me gradually, so in that sense I’ve slipped into it.

2. What topics do you speak about in your presentations? Who is your target audience?

I usually speak to women’s groups on topics related to the Christian life and to my written work: experiencing God in the Psalms, resting in God, or delighting in his word. I also teach seminars on becoming discerning readers or excellent writers. I’ve been blessed to teach Christian sisters in prison and a seminar on writing to male inmates. I enjoy sharing about my life as a writer to elementary students on career days. I even managed to engage junior high students. My toughest audience was a high school youth group. I haven’t been asked to return.

3. Do these topics relate in some way to your books?

My speaking topics often relate to my published work, but also to subjects I’ve studied and written or blogged about—like literature and writing. My regular writing for a couple of publications piques my interest in a variety of subjects and allows me to meet—often only virtually, but sometimes in person—people from different backgrounds and countries with fascinating stories. These experiences add depth and authenticity to my speaking presentations.

4. How do you juggle your schedule as a writer with your speaking engagements?

Your verb choice triggers the apt image of juggling. Speaking means adding another ball to the family and work obligations I’m already spinning. Before accepting a speaking engagement, I carefully consider if I can fit it into my scheduled deadlines and family commitments. I pray about it, and I discuss it with my husband. Scheduling includes more than simply setting aside time for travel and speaking. Adequate time must be allowed for writing a speech and possibly crafting a PowerPoint presentation. How much time is adequate? I always have less time than I’d like.
An instructor at a recent writing conference asked, “How long does it take you to prepare a speech?” I answered, “Forever.” That’s how it usually feels.

5. Can you cite two memorable experiences from your speaking?
When I presented a writing seminar to male inmates participating in a seminary program, they kept me on my teaching toes. They fired questions like bullets, and I had to think extremely fast. It was exhilarating and exhausting.
For a recent trip to speak to women inmates, I prepared two speeches. But I ended up speaking five times on five different topics. Because I like to prepare far ahead of time and write out my entire speech, speaking with little preparation and only a bare-bones outline forced me to depend on the Lord like never before. But God demonstrated that it’s not about me, it’s all about him and how he equips even a weak vessel for his glory.

6. How can someone overcome the fear of public speaking?

I can’t give a step-by-step plan to overcome this fear. Before I speak, I get so nervous I can’t eat. Afterward, I’m starving. But while I’m speaking, God enables me to relax and enjoy it. He expands my mind to work on different levels: I’m concentrating on what I want to convey, focusing on engaging the audience, paying attention to the time, and communing on a deep level with God. If that sounds something like an out-of-body experience, it kind of is.
Perhaps your fears decrease the more often you speak, so the best solution may simply be to do it. And keep doing it. Many books and websites offer practical advice such as video-taping yourself or speaking in front of a mirror, but I find the less I think about myself and the more I depend on God, the better he equips me.

7. What advice would you give an aspiring writer/speaker?

If you want to get into speaking, start small. Perhaps you could offer to lead devotions for a women’s group at your church. Maybe you have something valuable to share with a local parenting group. Look at your church and community for small opportunities to gain speaking experience. You don’t always have to be paid for speaking, especially if you’re a beginner. Even if you’ve published books, you may simply accept whatever honorarium or love offering the group chooses to give you. But be sure to ask for a table where you can display, sell, and sign your books.
Once you have secured a speaking engagement, pray and prepare. Ask God to soften the hearts of the people who will hear your speech—and the heart of the speaker! Seek his direction on what to say and how to say it. Find friends who will pray for you while you write and give the speech.
Don’t be afraid. It’s the most frequent command in the Bible, and it applies to so much of life, particularly speaking. Unfortunately, not fearing is easy to say and difficult to do. My best advice is to lean on the Lord. Don’t try to impress people with your brilliance or beauty or poise. Don’t speak only to sell books or build platform (although that may be the hoped-for corollary). Do it for God and his glory.

Great advice from a writer who has taken the plunge and done what she needs to do not just to get her book into the hands of readers, but also to encourage and inspire others. Updates on this and Glenda’s other projects can be found on her website here.

Are you a writer/speaker, or do you aspire to become one? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.

 

English: Jordan Sonnenblick doing a book-signi...

English: Jordan Sonnenblick doing a book-signing at the Eldersburg Library in Eldersburg, MD. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it might be true to say that for most of us our desire to become writers grew out of our love for reading. And that love for reading grew out of our visits to the library. For many of us, those book-lined buildings were like a second home. Now as authors, we still treasure our local libraries and visit them often (I hope) either to satisfy our hunger for good quality reading material, or to do research. But did you know that your local library holds other benefits to you as an author?

 
Below are some ways we can benefit from our library:

 

1. Submit your book. As an author, one of the best ways to gain exposure is to have your book included in the library system. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for indie authors to get in because of the overwhelming number of indie titles being churned out in the US alone every year. But now there is hope. If you have written an ebook for which you hold the rights, you can submit it to SELF-e, a library curation process open to ebooks written in the English language. Your book has to undergo a vetting process by the Library Journal’s evaluators, and if selected, it will be made available to librarians nationwide. You can get more information  here

 

2. Hold a book signing or library reading. If you have a print version of your book, holding a book signing or library reading is a great way to get the word out. After I self-published my book Women For All Seasons, I plucked up my courage and approached my local library to do a book signing. To my surprise, the librarian was very pleasant and helpful. She gave me all the information I needed and even made a large poster for me with my photo and the title of my book and placed it at the library entrance on the day of the event. I felt like I was a famous author. Read about it here.

 

3. Participate in group discussions. Writers’ groups, book clubs and other community groups hold regular meetings in the library. Getting involved in these events not only helps you get known, but it may help you establish valuable contacts. Readers also love to see the face behind the wonderful book you have written.

 

4. The ideal environment. Above my desk, I have rows of bookshelves. Whenever I look up from my computer screen, I see books, and even though I’ve had most of them for a long time, they still inspire me and help to keep me anchored. If you are not blessed with the right environment for writing, what better place to go than your library? It’s usually quieter than a coffee shop or bookstore and has all the books you may need for research right at hand.

 

5. Donate your print book. In #1 I stated that it’s difficult for indie authors to get their books in the library. Difficult, but not impossible. Marlene Harris, a librarian with 15 years experience, advises that you call or email the person in charge of Collection Development or Acquisitions. He/she may request two copies, but Marlene warns there are always exceptions – textbooks, fill-in-the-blanks books and books with spiral or comb bindings may not make the cut. You can also check to see if your library’s website has a blog. They may be happy to help you promote your book there. But, say Marlene and a librarian I spoke to, the best way to get your book noticed by libraries is to have it reviewed by a reputable reviewer like Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and others. Get more information here.

 
So, the next time you visit that revered building to return or check out books, look at it with a new pair of eyes. Think of ways you can use your library to promote yourself and your writing. Best of all, make friends with your librarian. Let them know you are a local author and what you write. You never know what unexpected benefits may come your way.

 

I received a very distressing e-mail from one of my writer friends and a member of my critique group the other day. She has written a series of three books so far and is working on the fourth, but she doesn’t seem to have much enthusiasm for it. My friend, Yvonne Anderson, is an excellent writer and she has helped me a lot in my development as a writer, so when I read that message, I felt an ache inside. For her, for myself and for all the authors having to deal with rejections and little or no advance.

Yvonne published the first two of her Gateway to Gannah series with a traditional publisher, who doesn’t pay any advance and does not assist with publicity. Therefore, she is left to handle all the marketing herself and as a relatively new author, book sales are slow. Not an encouraging picture, is it? In today’s publishing world where closures and mergers are the order of the day, and agents only seem to accept queries by referral only, new authors are having a hard time cracking the proverbial glass ceiling.

However, every now and again I come across a blog post that gives me a bit of hope. Julie Isaac, author and book coach, whom I follow on Twitter, wrote about Dr. Richard Carlson, now famous author of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. One evening, Dr. Carlson was discussing with his wife that he was thinking of quitting writing because he had received such a small advance on his book, You Can Be Happy, No Matter What, when the phone rang. It was Oprah’s producer calling to say that she was just in their library looking for a book on stress management when the book fell off the shelf and hit her in the head. (If I wrote that in one of my novels you would say it was contrived, wouldn’t you?)

But anyway, the lady wanted to know if Dr. Carlson could fly out the next day to be on the Oprah show. And the rest, as they say, is history. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff has sold over 25 million copies. What are the chances of your book falling off a shelf and hitting Oprah’s producer in the head? The same as lightning striking on a clear, sunny day. But if you don’t give into discouragement, doubt and fear and keep on writing, you can eventually succeed in the writing business. Don’t give up!

You can view Yvonne’s blog (and buy one of her books!) here: http://yswords.com.

Even though the month ended yesterday, I am scratching my head trying to remember what happened in February. Where did the days go? Will March vanish in the same way, with hardly a whisper, leaving no trace of its journey here on earth? Well, I do remember some things. For one, it was my birth month, which meant I’m one year older and have one year less to do the things I want to do. My oldest son also had a birthday in February and my car, which has never given me any trouble in the eleven years I’ve had it, broke down. And after months of talking to a travel agent, my plans to cruise the Mediterranean finally went into high gear.

Also in February I continued to work at my day job as an occupational therapist and at home I plodded away at the second in my Egypt novel series. In addition, I’ve been updating this blog and my Christian devotional blog while posting to my church’s website. I’ve also started writing again for Hubpages and participating in a little social media here and there. And, I almost forgot, I worked on a synopsis for someone. Not bad for someone with an almost full-time job. Now I don’t feel so guilty after all.

So here we are in March. A new month with new opportunities. I’m going to try my best to spice up my blog, work on my About page and make a better effort to get myself on the road to retirement. Oh, I also want to read more. I find that when I read good books my writing flows better. How about you? Have you started on your 2013 goals? Are things going according to plan? Don’t beat yourself up if you find you are not accomplishing things as fast as you would like. Just keep your goals in front of you and keep working on them. You may be slowed by other things, but try to do a little every day. Remember, the race is not for the swiftest, but he who endures to the end. Keep at it!

Words In The Wind

I am very pleased to announce the launch of Words In The Wind written by my friend Yvonne Anderson. The second book in the Gateway to Gannah series was launched on Wednesday last and is now available at Amazon or from the publisher, Risen Books. Yvonne won me over to speculative fiction with her masterful portrayal of the leading characters in her first book The Story In The Stars. Words In The Wind has proven to be no less compelling and can be enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike. You can learn more about Words In The Wind from the link below.
http://ascribelog.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/2059/


Shooting down free speech

This week another disturbing event sent me rushing to my keyboard. This time it was not shooting in a public place, but shooting at a simple statement made by a private citizen. By now you have guessed. I’m referring to the Chick-fil-A debacle. And since I’ve already sounded off on this on my other blog, I’ll just post the link to it here: http://quildonwrites.blogspot.com/2012/08/stay-up-chick-fil-a.html

And talking about free speech

Gabby Douglas delighted the world with her stellar performance to win the all around Olympic gold medal in women’s gymnastics. This is a great achievement for an African American. But instead of celebrating her victory, some African Americans saw this as an opportunity to exercise their freedom of speech by making negative comments about Gabby’s hair! Well for what it’s worth, I think it’s refreshing to see an African American young woman wear her hair the way Gabby does hers.

How well do you know the Olympics?

What are the colors of the rings on the Olympic flag?

What do they signify?

Where was the Olympic flag first used? In what year?

What is a kotinos?

In what year were women first allowed to compete in the Olympic Games?

Come back next week for the answers or leave a comment below.


The Colorado theater shooting

I am taking a break away from blogging about my book to put in my two cents’ worth on the latest senseless act of carnage to take place in the US. By now you must have all heard that 12 people were killed and around 50 treated at local hospitals in Colorado. A young sportscaster, Jessica Ghawi, better known as Jessica Redfield in the sporting world, was among the fatalities. A young woman with a promising career cut down in the prime of her life. My prayers are with everyone associated with this tragedy.

It was April 20, 1999 when two high school students killed 12 of their school mates and one teacher in another senseless massacre. Today, history repeats itself, not in a school, but in a theater. When will they ever learn? What could motivate a young Phd student to do something like this? Was it stress? We may or may never know the answers, but tragedies such as this one ought to shake us to our core and remind us how vulnerable we are.

Orangeberry Summer Splash

This is a mini book tour marathon organized by Pandora Pikolos of Orangeberry Book Tours. The marathon features blog hosting and posts by authors of 100 books. My book Women For All Seasons will be among the 100 books featured. There will be links to author interviews and other posts, plus Twitter and Facebook blasts. The marathon runs (pun intended) from August 1 – August 31. I will post other updates as the time draws closer. This is a good opportunity to learn more about my book and a lot of other wonderful books out there.

Stephen Covey’s passing

The author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People passed away this week at the age of 79. This book has influenced a lot of people, including me, when I studied it in college some years ago. One piece of advice Covey gives in his book is, “To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.” I think this book is worth a reread.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on any of the items above.


In my day job as an occupational therapist, I come in close contact with many doctors, and while I have the greatest respect for the majority of them, I never relish the idea of making a visit to one of them. Worse yet, I dread the medications they prescribe. However, recently, a friend of mine recommended me to her doctor, and after seeing him, I came away with the impression that doctors aren’t so bad after all. In fact, my visit reinforced what I already knew – that doctors are necessary to my health and well being.
Which brings me to book doctors.

In this day and age when everyone, including Aunt Lucy, is writing a book, if yours is to be successful, you may need a check up from a book doctor. But before you see one, and make your first co-payment, know what to expect. Your ideal book doctor should be able to:

1. Give you an honest and professional evaluation of your project.

Like a “real” doctor, a book doctor will first evaluate the health of your book. He will look for things like viability or salability of your idea. Is it the kind of thing that will catch an agent’s or publisher’s eye? Is it well written? Does the story flow logically? Does it have a satisfying conclusion?

2. Begin treatment

Once the results of the evaluation come in, your doctor begins treatment. He may have to cut you open and remove some things that are not working. Oh, how you dread it! As a writer, you have labored over those parts for months, but they may be the reason you keep coming down with rejection after rejection. Once the treatment is finished, your book will pass all the tests and you may get the much-coveted contract.

3. Make recommendations

Now that your idea is working smoothly, your book doctor will recommend the right markets for you to submit your work. He will also prepare a winning proposal that will ensure your project doesn’t end up in the slush pile. Your project will live!

So if you have been putting off that visit to a book doctor, don’t hesitate. But don’t just close your eyes and pick one out from the yellow pages. Get a recommendation from a trusted friend or from your writer’s group, and then go with confidence. Your book will thank you.


Well, what do you know? 2012 is almost here. I hope you are looking forward to a bright and prosperous New Year, in every sense of the word, which, for us writers, means accomplishing some of the things we were not able to accomplish in 2011. I still haven’t fully recovered from the Christmas rush, but I thought I would take some time to focus on what I hope to achieve in the New Year.

Before the year is out, I vow to clean up my inbox. A messy inbox slows you down and confuses you. Then I’m going to sit down and write my goals for the New Year. Heck, I’m here, aren’t I, so why not do it now? That’s goal #1 right there. No more procrastinating! Okay, here goes:

Market Women For All Seasons : Visit bookstores, contact book clubs, women’s groups, radio stations and newspapers.

Finish writing Coming Out of Egypt: This is my romance novel that I’m revising and since it’s a revision, I’m setting a deadline date of April 30, 2012. Submit to publishing houses.

Finish In The Promised Land, sequel to Coming Out of Egypt and submit by Dec. 2012.

Query health-related and women’s magazines at least once a month.

Post to freelance writing blog 3x week; to Christian blog 1x week.

Begin affiliate marketing in earnest

Write and market a health-related ebook (if time permits).

So, what about you? Have you made any goals yet for 2012? If you haven’t, you can still do so after the ball drops or after you get back from watch night service or that party. But don’t put it off too long. The sooner you get your goals down, the sooner you can start working on them and the sooner your success will come. Let me know what your goals are. Happy New Year!!!

Establishing yourself as an author or freelance writer is not a task for the faint-hearted. I am realizing this everyday, but I’m also realizing that there are thousands of writers who succeeded because of their perseverance. Would you believe that authors like Stephen King, Carrie, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar and Agatha Christie, Murder on The Orient Express, to name just a few, all experienced the pain of rejection. When I think of what these famous people have contributed to the world of literature, I wonder where we would be if they had given up. (more…)

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