Tag Archives: publishing

Growing in The Waiting

Waiting is probably the hardest thing to do, and yet, it is what God throws my way each time. Whether it’s waiting at three red lights in a row, in line at the grocery store as a seventy-something year old woman searches for that dime because she doesn’t want change, or for the two people crossing the crosswalk to realize there’s a car waiting. The antidote to my impatience is waiting.

In the waiting, growth happens. I am reminded of the song, “I will worship while I’m waiting.”  I now sing that in my head every time I wait, turning my focus from the waiting and the irritation or wondering of it, to Jesus. Writers wait for a rejection or acceptance. People wait for word on that job promotion. Others are waiting for their current storm to pass.

Enjoy the music video of that song as you wait for whatever it is you are waiting to happen. May I pray for you?

Lord Jesus, Please help us grow in the waiting. Help us to see your footprints so we know what direction to go in this crazy world, and not be lulled into complacency. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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The Book Lacks Life

It’s important that editors, critique groups, and fellow writers help each other by pointing out when our dialogue and narrative are stiff and unemotional.

I read two books recently by a favorite author (who shall go unnamed), and it makes me wonder if something isn’t going on in her life. 

Her other books were always interesting and believable. Now her writing voice has changed. It’s like a man is writing it. Her writing voice is indistinguishable from the other books she wrote years ago. It’s like two different people have written the books.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were famous for having various authors writing under the same pseudonym, but the tone never changed. The style remained the same so the publisher could pull off several authors sounding like one person. 

In this case, my favorite author is fast becoming my least favorite author. Usually, I have no problem naming an author when reviewing a book. Since I am not reviewing, I see no good from naming her as I want to remain sensitive to the author herself. If something is going on, I pray that she can work through it and return to her powerful writing. If the publisher is having someone else write under that name, I pray they read the reviews and stop messing with the author name. But there’s a lesson we can learn from this–editors, agents, and writers need to help each other write better by pointing out our flaws so we can improve. 

Changes in 2014

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As 2013 slows to an end, I am once again reassessing my time and my writing career. I am asking myself: (1) What are my goals for 2014? (2) How can I utilize my time better? So here are the changes coming in 2014. This hasn’t come without much prayer. Some things will remain the same.

  1. Blogging – Blogging can become stagnant if the writer doesn’t keep her perspective fresh. I admit to experiencing some burn out which has impacted my blogging. It’s amazing what you read into your own writing, and in January, I hope you will be pleased with a fresh perspective. I am taking a blogging sabbatical in December. If you would like to be chosen as a guest blogger in December, read the requirements here. Meanwhile, I will still be blogging three times a week in 2014 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  2. Taking a Break From Social Networking and Blogging on The Fourth Week of Every Month: A family pastor takes a solitude day every once in a while to reconnect with God. I will be taking a week out of every month to not blog, social network, or write; only to read and learn. It’s important to keep up to date on the changes in social networking, blogging, writing, and the publishing industry. So I will be taking the week to stay up to date on things.
  3. No More Than Three or Four Book Reviews a Month: If I can stay true to this and not let my book addiction get the upper hand, this will be true. Mostly my books will be of the traditionally published or independent variety. Seldom will I review a self-published book or novel, giving preference to the independently or traditionally published genre instead. Preference will also be given to those self-published authors that I have reviewed before who have earned a three or larger star rating.
  4. Beginning a Speaking Tour: Stay tuned on this one. I plan on announcing very soon my plans to professionally speak. I have been speaking to groups of twenty over the past couple of years and my confidence is growing. Some would say I have a knack for it. I will allow one eight hour or two four hour speaking gigs a month for an honorarium (plus travel expenses if over an hour away). I say eight-hour because my topic has a practical application very relevant for this day and age. It’s a calling.
  5. A New Novel Will Begin: The Anomaly will be undergoing critiquing by a select few in January, corrected beginning of February and submitted to a publisher. January will find me outlining a paranormal suspense to begin writing in March.

My goal is to balance my life better in 2014, because I tend to be a workaholic. I want my life to mean something and my words to have purpose. This blogging sabbatical that I am taking in December will allow me to prepare for a new website launch, new goals, and a better sense of balance in 2014.

Are you reassessing your writing goals for 2014? Explain.

Last Chance to Voice Your Opinion!

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I would be pleased if you would take this poll and let me know what you think.

I am considering publishing a free ebook devotional or fiction piece for every new subscriber to both my blog and newsletter and I would like to know what you would prefer. You could also leave a comment, if you wish. Results will be published later this week sometime.

My Novel: Should I? Or Shouldn’t I?

The Rose Door is complete. I am shopping it around for an agent and/or publisher.

Elevator Pitch: A college drop-out has to fight a witch and reclaim her rightful place in another world.

In my second novel, I am over 16,000 words into The Anomaly. The Anomaly is a cross-over speculative Christian fiction. Someone defined crossover for me as having a Christian character that directly relates to the plot of the novel, but the beliefs of the Christian character are not necessary to the story. One Christian character is in the story for part of the novel. No Salvation message. No redemption. Any message would be barely a whisper, realistic when a Christian talks to a secular person or when a non-believer lives in a family of believers. My target audience is mostly secular; in fact, you might even call it edgy. It’s my first science fiction novel. The elevator pitch is still being worked out.

Because my novel is edgy and the two main characters are unsaved and rough, I have been struggling how realistic to make it. Characters of this worldview aren’t people appalled by a little swearing. While there’s no redemption story in this novel, let’s just say by the end of the novel they will be headed in the right direction. In this story, I am exploring emotional and physical affairs, how they begin, and how this married couple grew a part. The two people in the story represent the culture. The economy plays a part in this novel, meant to encourage those who struggle. I based this story on a Yahoo article I read a couple of years ago when scientists warned the populace that sunspots or sun storms will disrupt wireless and electronic communications. I wondered what would happen if the atmospheric disruptions caused time displacement as the storms increased in size? People are disappearing little by little.

The main plot is the marriage issues, the affairs, and the second plot running alongside are the power outages, the disappearances, the disruptions in cable and phone services that intensify as we get near the end of the novel. Eventually, it will trap one of the main characters who will discover that the people never disappeared in the first place, but were always there, unseen, sandwiched between past and present.

So while I am shopping around The Rose Door, I am writing The Anomaly. I submitted the first chapter to my Word Weavers group for critique and it went well. One line in the first chapter caused what they called a ‘bump.’ When the husband got angry, his language should reflect his character. Should he say, damn or freakin’? Some well-placed swearing is okay, but only if they serve a purpose and not overwhelm the story. That’s where I am right now. Because it’s a crossover and I have a publisher in mind, would a crossover publisher accept a swear word or two, or should I get creative on the words? Use freakin’ or friggin? What’s your opinion?

© Copyright Nikole Hahn

Why I Don’t Write Writers Blogs

Hand in hand
Hand in hand (Photo credit: Images by John ‘K’)

Many blogs crowd the internet talking about writing. I made a decision years ago that I would avoid talking about writing unless necessary.

Too many sites talk about writing all ready. Some of them are qualified. Others are not qualified. I do my own research through agent and publisher blogs. A smattering of authors are in there, too. What makes those authors an expert in my opinion are the books they have sold over the years.

The few self-published authors I follow are great at social networking, but since my interest is in independent and traditionally published companies I keep abreast of the publishing world with the people who have the experience in it. I subscribe to Publishers Weekly and Writers Digest. I also don’t write about writing because I feel my qualifications are lacking.

I can tell you what I have learned, but you can find this same information through diligent research. I have completed one novel and am in the midst of deciding whether to continue into book 2 or write another, separate one so I have two products to market. I have never published a novel. My resume is long with publications in small presses. I ghost blog to bring in extra money.

Writing online is about creating community. That’s also why I don’t blog about writing much.

Mike Duran said in Are Writers Too Insulated From Their Readers?, “So while we debate whether an author should blog or how much to “show v. tell,”, our real audience could care less. We get lost in feverish discussions about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, but our potential readers couldn’t give a rip. We argue “the rules,” but the general public has no idea what rules we’re talking about. We strive to make a name for ourselves in the publishing community, but “because we’re in it, and we care about it, we incorrectly assume that because writers know who I am, readers must as well.”

I love my writer friends, but also my reader friends. I love reviewing books as a writer and reader. Like twins, you can’t separate the two. With so many self-published authors trying to fluff reviews and play with their amazon ratings, I am on the side of the reader.

Like you, I can’t afford to buy much. So when I buy a book I examine the cover and the narrative on the back. Then, I read the bad reviews before I get into the good reviews. I want to know if the money and time I am investing will be worth it. And because my blog is about creating community, I want to talk about living in this world as a Christian and the inward struggles I face everyday. Then, I want to hear from my readers. I want to know what to pray for as they struggle.

With so many blogs talking about writing, the left and right politics of self-publish versus traditional, and the ever-changing publishing world, the internet doesn’t need one more writing blog.

What are your favorite writing blogs? What do you look for in a blog?

C.S. Lakin Kickstarter Update

C.S. Lakin is raising money to publish a book:

“Conundrum is an important novel to me. It’s mostly the story of my own family’s betrayal, and although I resisted writing it, I felt led by God, my agent, and my husband to tell a story that dealt honestly with bipolar illness and the need to sever ties with toxic family members.

I hope you will consider helping me get Conundrum into print. I’m giving away signed copies of the book and critique services as rewards for supporting my Kickstarter project. You have until August 30th to join in and help bring this dream to reality–and help many readers who need to read this book.” – C.S. Lakin

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cslakin/turning-conundrum-the-novel-into-a-print-book

Won’t you help?

Book Review: Night Sounds

Description: A story about a woman enduring verbal and physical abuse and being stalked by her husband after finally escaping him.

Night Sounds by Pam Young piqued my interest. It looked and sounded like something that would get me hooked. Instead, I did a lot of skimming. This puzzled me. The writing was good. Why didn’t it interest me?

First of all, there were errors. I’m not against self-published books. I’ve given fine reviews on self-published items and some not-so-good reviews. Inconsistent point of view changes (attributed to the e-formatting perhaps?), some punctuation and e-formatting problems (i.e. NIGHT SOUNDS came after an incomplete sentence, a large space; then, the page number, followed by the rest of the sentence) made the reading a trial. I haven’t had a problem reading other e-formatted books on my kindle (except a recent ARC), and wonder if the publisher didn’t adequately e-format? It’s very distracting and breaks the tension.

Also, I had to re-read the first two chapters in order to get my bearing again. That’s unusual. I can read between the lines the author’s voice, her experience, and passion, but for some reason the book didn’t keep my attention. I did a lot of skimming, and at the end of the book stared at the wall in complete mystification. The plot was good, and yet I was bored. It hit me as I was lying in bed. The story lacked what Donald Maass calls, “micro-tension.” But even that doesn’t give me a clear idea why it bored me or how I would fix it.

I rated it three-stars for effort and good character development. Dr. Young says on Amazon.com, “In my career as professor, and later as psychotherapist, I encountered too many women who had been sexually abused. This story was written not only for the colleague who inspired it, but for all those others. Sexual abuse leaves its victim broken, depressed, angry, sleepless, and unable to form healthy, intimate relationships without some kind of healing intervention. My intention in writing this story was to facilitate awareness, understanding and perhaps even healing for all involved.” She did a very good job in illustrating that in the character of Samantha.

Book given by WoMen’s Literary Cafe to review. As of an email from WoMen’s Literary Cafe, the e-formatting issues were because it was sent as a pdf. They sent me a mobi file and so the formatting issues are a non-issue. However, I still stand by my review.

Success? By Whose Standards?

Origin Unknown

Just the other day, I realized why rejection letters don’t faze me.

I’m used to rejection.

My grandmother once said quizzically, “You have low goals.”

I disagreed at the time because I thought I had some pretty lofty goals.  At that age, I never had any follow through.  Eventually, I came to expect rejection in relationships and friendships.  I dreamed big, but I discounted those dreams as fiction.  So my epiphany took me by surprise.

I’m used to rejection and I am unfamiliar with success.

Rejection reminds me of a warm down comforter that I liked to wrap around my body on cold winter nights.  It’s familiar.  Success reminds me of the cold winter nights.  It’s unpredictable and even slightly scary.  What is success like?  And how do we judge success?  Who judges if someone is successful?  Does making a lot of money make you successful?  Does having a name on the front of a book, any book, make you successful?

Naturally, I am competitive.

A friend published a novel with a publisher that was in trouble with the courts for fixing the books and deceiving young writers.  She told everyone she was published and my competitive side nudged me.  How she went about publishing was wrong, but I still felt this competition between us.  I knew I wasn’t writing just to see my name on the front of a book.  Getting the coveted book deal takes time, hard work, and patience.  Rarely, are you like the Twilight author or a James Patterson. Most of the time, it’s a quiet, solitary life of rewrites, rejections, small successes, and as Margaret Daley told us at the mini-conference, “You could have a contract for two years and be out of a job.”

But I sure would like to know what it feels like to have that success!

The definition of success depends upon your worldview.  If you’re saved, God gave you that gift and depending how you use your writing, your success may be measured by what lives are touched by your words and experiences.  If your worldview is focused on external success, of degrees, money, power, or staying in the limelight, the lack of tangible reward for your hard work may say to you and yours that you’re unsuccessful and maybe it’s time to change careers.

I think I am successful.

I love my job at the church.  I love my second, non-paying job of creating a community, encouraging others, writing, blogging, book reviewing and hopefully being a catalyst for change.  One book was sent into Women of Faith’s contest and I’m working on my novel.  I’m not so used to rejection or so afraid of success that I will ALWAYS be working on that first novel.  I’ve become more focused and disciplined learning as I go along and taking braver steps forward.

What about you?  How do you define success?

For the Love of…

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...
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A friend took a creative writing class.  She asked me a lot of questions about how to put together a story.  I gave her advice learned from perusing blogs and online articles of experienced writers and long-time publishers.  Her teacher confirmed through her lessons all I instructed in our conversations.  People impressed with my writing have repeatedly said, “You should take a college course.”

College courses are at least $40 a credit.  I can’t afford the time or the money.  Plus, you have to buy the supplies and depending upon the teacher, the supplies can get pricey (I learned that in my young twenties when I took a few college courses).  Then, you have so much of the required courses to take that don’t apply to your chosen career.  I’m not bashing college.  I think it’s useful in some higher paying positions like doctors, lawyers, philosphers and the like.  There are good and bad colleges.  The inclination was never there to attend.  As I built up experience in the work place I managed to obtain jobs over those with college degrees.

A writer in a University quit his schooling.  He managed to get instant success and a steady income with his writing.  His story was featured in Writer’s Digest.  Instead of paying for college, I buy and read books that expand my mind and improve my writing.  I keep up with the online blogs from agents, traditionally published writers, and experienced publishers.  I watch the fickle publishing market.

And I LIVE.

I keep my eyes open to every new experience.  I people watch.  I study people—their nuances, their fidgets, their conversations with each other, and their behavior.  The books I read are both nonfiction and fiction.  I read the classics and am beginning to read the theologians, too.  A writer must learn listening and observation skills.  It’s not about the art of writing.  It’s not about seeing your book in print (that would still be nice).  It’s recording human behavior in a story setting.  It’s practicing different writing styles by experimenting in blogs or journals.

A twenty-something year-old writing a love story will have a different view than a forty-something year-old writing that same story; human experience is necessary.  You can’t write about love if you’ve never fallen in love.  You can’t write about heart ache if your heart never broke.  You can’t write about human behavior unless you first risk interacting with other humans at an intimate level.  A degree can get you places, but if you don’t know how to tell a story in a succinct way that compels the reader to keep turning the pages, give up now.  Writing is not for the faint of heart or the glory seeker.  It is for those who love story and the written word.

Books in Progress:

The Rose Door (Book 1 of 6, The Origin Series; Speculative Fiction):

44,000 words approximately

Women of Faith Devotional Contest Book (Top secret Nonfiction):

30,000 words approximately

Short Stories in Progress:

The Faerie Queen Chronicles (A two-part short story series)

Lost in the Hedge

Strange

The Rose Door Self-imposed Deadline:  January (Then, it goes to a group of specially picked volunteers for critiquing.  I hope to bring it’s proposal to a Writer’s Conference next year).

The Women of Faith Devotional Deadline:  January 15, 2010