Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Here!

Remembering the Alamo is here!
Dedicated to Silas Edward Blodgett and Pastor Daniel Clement.

Purchase HERE!

Don't have a Kindle? Not a problem! Download the FREE Kindle app for your PC, MAC, tablet, phone, or ipad now and start reading Remembering the Alamo in seconds!

Get your copy today! And, if you don't mind, how about leaving a review when you're finished? You'll be my hero if you do! :)



When Pastor Mark Siegler takes his youth group on a midsummer vacation to San Antonio, he anticipates teaching them about honor and sacrifice at the Alamo. But arrival at the historic landmark brings cutting disillusionment. A troubled teen is determined to make things difficult - and spread his embitterment to the rest of the group. 

Mark has two choices: give up or try again. Midst his own discouragement, he decides to give them the story behind the legendary Alamo. And his perseverance results in the unforgettable.

The sweeping events of the Alamo comes to life through the eyes of an 1800's wheelwright named Silas Edwards. As his tale unfolds, his decision becomes a difficult one. Is defending the Alamo so important? Or are the principles behind opposing General Santa Anna worth sacrificing everything for?

Join Private Silas Edwards, David Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Mark's youth group to discover the gripping events behind America's battlecry: "Remember the Alamo!"


Fun Facts:

  • Alamo defender Silas Edwards was based off of my adopted cousin Silas Edward Blodgett! Yep, he's the guy on the cover.
  • The real Silas is into trucks and loves all things Toyota. So what better name to give Silas Edwards's horse than Toya?
  • While Silas Blodgett was always going to be in my novella, I didn't originally intend to write about the Alamo. I originally started a 21st century, first-person tale about a girl named Emily. She meets a coffee barrista named Silas who strengthens her in her spiritual walk. It didn't take long before I realized the story wasn't my style and didn't really suit Silas's personality. I rethought everything out and decided to do something that fit Silas better. I recalled the Come and Take It flag and Alamo mug he owns. Remembering the Alamo was born!
  • The real Silas works at Discount Tire. What better occupation to give the fictional Silas than a 1800's wheelwright?
  • You know the advice for writers to only write what they know? Not true in my case! I've been to San Antonio twice. The Alamo, Menger Hotel, Riverwalk, Sea World, and Tower of the Americas are all places I've been to more than once. And I love them!
  • The real Silas's motto is to defend the weak. Incidentally, that Bible verse has always been a favorite of mine too. I marked it in my Bible when I was around 12 or 13 and have always loved it!
  • The real Silas is a good shot. (That made it helpful for making the Alamo defender Silas real-to-life!)
  • This is my first novel with 21st century characters and elements! I had so much fun with the Lighthouse Baptist Church Youth Group. 
  • I had to contact the Comanche Nation and Davy Crockett groups to get info for the book. I also got to hold a real Jim Bowie knife!

Get your copy today! I am so excited to share Remembering the Alamo with you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

One of those days (or months)


Being a writer can be so discouraging. You miss deadlines, you fall behind in your work, you can't find the information you want, or the word you need. There are times you just want to throw in the towel and quit, but you know you can't. Writing isn't something that you just do; it is a part of who you are.

This month has been challenging for me as a writer. I have been struggling with allergies off and on this entire month. Allergies make it very hard for me to do just about anything. Right now, as I write this, I am discouraged about posts that need to be written, emails that need to be answered, and editing that I am woefully behind on.

Sometimes, as a writer, you have to push through the bad days and a crazy schedule to get your projects done. There are other times when it simply isn't possible. You have to accept the fact that even though you are an amazing writer, you are not a super hero. You can sick, things happen, plans are made, and your writing gets the short end of the stick.

You, like me, may be looking at a computer screen and be on the verge of tears at the overwhelming amount you have to get done. You might be so behind, you don’t know how you will ever catch up.  Let’s take a deep breath together and remind ourselves of a few things.

You have been behind before and caught up.

Things will get done. That post will get written, the book will be edited. Make sure you give yourself some down time every day. Often a break will help spur on creativity.

If you are writing for the glory of God, don’t worry; your project is in his hands and will get done in his timing.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 NIV

My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do.

Eternal One: My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. Isaiah 55:8-9 The Voice

Friday, February 21, 2014

Congratulations!

Hello from Alicia! It's not my day, but I couldn't resist popping in. One of our dear Word Painters hasn't posted in a little while - but she had a good reason. One of the best reasons, actually.

Put your hands together and welcome....

Liam Valiant Kirkpatrick!


Congrats to Word Painter Perry Elisabeth and her husband with this wonderful new addition to their family!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Create an Author Newsletter Using MailChimp

Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

After creating my website last year, I knew I wanted to be able to connect with readers through a newsletter.

I wanted a newsletter software that had three features:
  1. Easy to use
  2. Looks professional
  3. Free
I had friends who had used Mailchimp, so I cased that service first, and it was so good that I never needed to look for another software.

Create a MailChimp Account

MailChimp has three levels of service, but unless you’re a blockbuster author you’ll probably be fine with the lowest level, “Entrepreneur.”

Entrepreneur lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers, and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month. Best of all? It’s completely free.

Sign up for an account here. (And no, that’s not an affiliate link. I just really like MailChimp.)

Create Your Sign-up Form

It’s easy to import email addresses into your account (e.g. friends and family who you want to keep in the loop), but the best, most efficient way to get the general public signed up on your list is to create a sign-up form in your account.

Here is the sign-up form I created.

You can imbed the form’s code into your website, and presto, readers who fill out their info will automatically be added to the email list in your MailChimp account.

Create Emails

MailChimp has lots of great tips for creating emails, and I recommend that you check them out.

You can view my first email newsletter here. I wanted a clean template with easy-to-read text and clear calls-to-action, and MailChimp’s toolset gave me almost exactly what I wanted.

Using MailChimp tools you can drag and drop all sorts of elements, try lots of different template options, edit images, create buttons, and much more. You can also send test emails to make sure that the finished product will look exactly the way you want it to.

Analyze Your Data

Do you like math? I don't, but I love looking at the statistics in my MailChimp account. Watch your subscriber list grow, see how many people open your emails, and see where they click. Lots of fun for a marketer like me! 

Why Have an Author Newsletter?

Maybe I put the cart before the horse. I explained how to set up an easy, free author newsletter using MailChimp, but I didn’t explain why you would want to do so. Here are three reasons:

  1. Readers like author newsletters. It gives them a way to connect with an author in a context that most of the world doesn’t have.
  2. Author newsletters connect you with readers. It takes an average reader maybe five or six hours to read a book. It might take you a year to write a book. While you’re slaving away on your next masterpiece, your readers have moved on to other books. Keep your brand fresh in their minds by periodically emailing something interesting/valuable — maybe an update on your Work in Progress, or an article you posted to your blog.
  3. Author newsletters sell books. Chances are, if you’re writing books, you’d like to sell them. Your newsletter subscriber list is your most targeted market in the world. Let your subscribers know about your books, and ask them to let others know as well!
Do you have an author newsletter? Tell me about it in the comments section!

John J. Horn is a Christian writer from San Antonio, Texas. You can learn more about him and his Men of Grit Christian Fiction series at johnjhornbooks.com (where you can also sign up for his email list).

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Cook a Story


Hello from soggy, drenched England! This last week has been pretty topsy-turvy, with awful weather and a power-cut that upset our plans. We're house-sitting, homeschoolers are taking half-term break, and we have a really busy week ahead catching up with friends. Plus, February is a weird month—I usually write after John Horn, and the fact that his Wednesday falls after my Monday has thrown out my pacing, so please forgive my lack of a precogitated post today. Instead, I shall scoop out the recipe book and see if it has any entries on how to cook a story.

 How to Cook a Story

http://creative-cooking-with-muriel.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/cherry-cheese-cake.html

My mom is a great cook (and baker! That's her cherry cheesecake on the right.) No matter what random ingredients offer themselves at late notice, she always manages to razzle up a lip-smacking meal fit for kings. This is something she is particularly gifted in, as many folks will tell, and it's something she has worked daily to improve on. Her gift is a huge blessing to us.

Now, to be honest, I'm not a great cook. Yes, I'm learning from the best, but I have quite a ways to go before I'll be as efficient, as creative, as practical . . . you get the idea. (Actually, I've just forgotten about the cookies I had in the oven. My intention was not to do an experiment involving carbon, but I did. Case in point.)

What does this have to do with writing?

Well, my mom told me a little cooking secret. When she's short on time, she doesn't walk into the kitchen and figure out what to make. She figures it out before she gets to the kitchen. On the way home, in the car, or in the store, she is already peeling the vegetables, preparing meat, or seasoning the gravy—all in her mind.

By the time she reaches the kitchen, she's already walked through the process mentally, and this gives her the edge she needs when the clock is ticking. She doesn't have to decide what to do next—she's already planned it. And this means everything gets done quicker. “It's like you with your writing,” she said. “I'm sure you don't come up with the story only once you're sitting at your laptop.”

That rang true. In any moment that doesn't require alternate mental effort, my mind is rolling along the track of what I need to write in the next chapter. I watch the scenes in my mind's eye as if they had been filmed, and this really helps me connect with the characters' emotions. Then, when I next get to my laptop, the scene has been planned and only the minor details need ironing out.

Another similarity between writing and cooking is this: the tough cuts need time to stew. Just as some cuts of meat need hours and hours to simmer in order to be enjoyed, I find that some ideas need weeks or even months to develop in the background. Right now, I'm working on a story that I got the seed concept for last summer. I resisted the urge to jump into it right away because I knew I wasn't ready to tackle a weightier project. Another two story ideas are vying for my attention, but I know I'll only get to them in a while. They're still unripened; maybe too many plot points are vague, or maybe I'm not ready to tackle the weighty topics they contain. I'll muse over them in the meantime and, Lord willing, will get to dish them up one day.

So—are you bubbling over with ideas, chopping and changing a draft, peeling typos, simmering tough topics, turning up the heat on a half-baked plot, or seasoning some dialogue? Or are you burnt out and in need of encouragement? I'd love to hear from you!

C. R. Hedgcock


P.S. Just click on the picture above for the cheesecake recipe! ;)

Caitlin R. Hedgcock is a Christian author who aspires to use storytelling for God’s glory. She lives with her family in England's picturesque county of Hertfordshire, and spends spare time reading, walking forest trails, and practicing violin for the next orchestra concert. Visit her blog to find out more.

Images © Muriel Hedgcock and Hans Pama (Flickr Commons) 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Because I Can Be Random

Hello, dear readers! I am popping in to say hello (I already did that, didn't I?) and that I am not quite myself. 

The fact that I just finished watching Bringing Up Baby and Susan's rollicking voice is still stuck in my head may or may not have something to do with it.

Seriously, though, I confess to having no post this week. I'm up to my neck in work with the completion of something big. See if you can guess what it is! John J. Horn will give you all an inspirational post next week, then I'll announce on the following week what it is and end the maddening curiosity. Until then, adieu! 

Keep up your writing and remember to be creative. (All the advice I have for you at this point.) If you are totally frustrated with this random post, please click HERE for my last post. And pray hold nothing of this against me.

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Is Self-Publishing for you? Making your Decision


In this series in learning about self-publishing we have discussed my journey, the best, and the worst of this publishing option. Now, it is up to you. What choice will you make?

This decision should not be taken lightly. You shouldn’t allow people to pressure you into making a decision one way or another. It is a decision that should only be made after a long time of weighing the options, considering the risks and rewards, an much prayer.

I highly recommend you take a least a month to do your own research, read some other articles, and seeking God’s will before you make you decision. As exciting as getting your book into the hands of readers might be, you want to make sure that you don’t rush into anything.

You also should consider emailing some authors and asking them about their experience. Most authors are happy to talk about how they got published. Ask questions and see what different authors chose and why. By seeing what others did, you might get a better idea for what you should do.

Look up different publishing options and finger out what you would need for them. Look into different print-on-demand publishing options and what they costs. Look into hybrid press like Cross Books and see what they have to offer. Make sure you also look in to agents and how to get a good agent to look at your books.
While you are weighing your options and counting the coasts, pray a lot. Ultimately, you decision should be based on what you feel God is calling you to do. What is He asking of you?


I hope you have enjoyed this four part series on self-publishing, and I hope it has been helpful for you. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them. You can contact me at thedestinyofone(at)juno(dot)com.

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of three published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stereotyped Male Characters

Congrats to Sarah Jungling for winning the giveaway! 

Images property of Pinterest.
___________________________

We writers work so hard on creating different female characters. Makes me wonder what happened to our guy characters?


Now, I write about guys. Try as I have, writing about girls just doesn't work for me. God of Her Fathers was a royal challenge! Not only did they not have as many adventures in the historical eras, but I tend to run out of ideas very quickly. Maybe it's because I am a woman myself and know how life really works. You know - dishes, laundry, and such? It just doesn't make for a thriller. I said all that to say this....

Even as I struggle with writing stereotyped female characters, I figure some of you struggle with writing unique male characters. And that might be the reason so many female authors write about women.

So in case you are struggling with creating a real-to-life male character, here are a few things I've noticed. And a few things that just irk me. ;)

What's with the men who never cry?

Yes, men don't cry as easily as women. I wouldn't enjoy a book where one did. But what's with never allowing him to tear up? Men do cry. And it's not only in sorrow. Physical pain is another factor. It is not wimpy to allow a guy to get misty eyed because he is in racking pain (you know, sometimes people tear up involuntarily). I recently read a book where a guy cried in extreme pain - and you know what? If felt right. It is not feminine for a guy to weep over a loss, a betrayal, or even an overwhelmingly joyous moment. If you don't believe me, read the book of Psalms and look into the life of King David. 

Take Willy (pictured above). Let's face it: he was an emotional wreck in Love's Enduring Promise. But I bet a lot of you have never really thought about it before. He cried several times and was in constant emotional turmoil. And I haven't heard a gal (or a guy) complain yet. 

Why? Because it felt real. That is the whole point. Don't disperse with masculine emotion. Just make it feel and be real. 

What's with the villains you hate with your whole heart?


Ok, there is such a thing as a villain you feel sorry for. There really is. Some of my books have this feature; others don't. It really has to vary. Villains are complicated creatures!

Take Willoughbye. I think he's a creep. An immoral, selfish wimp. But why do I always end up feeling sorry for him on Marianne's wedding day?

Because he's made some bad mistakes, lived a wicked lifestyle, and is now paying for it. Yeah, he deserves it. But there is just something about him you feel sorry for. Maybe it is because he did love Marianne (in his own selfish way). 

I think good authors will add that one tiny detail, giving their readers a reason to sympathize with their villain.

What's with the perfect male protagonist?


Male protagonists are tough. You want everybody to love them. You want everyone to relate to them. You want them to have that honorable character that will inspire your readers, that charismatic charm that will reel them in.

But over-the-top goodness is positively sickening. Yep. I mean Deputy Strode. ;) (Ok, I wasn't actually sick. I really did like him. But, still.) Moving on....

Give your guys a few character flaws. Of course, these will vary, depending on the era. Certain faults are more typical of certain time periods.

For example (I'm not saying I know best, by all means!), in The Comrades of Honor Series, I have Sir Robert struggle with impulsiveness. Sir Nathaniel struggles with occasionally losing his temper. In both of their lives, I showed how those faults were typical of the era and resulted in some harshness. Does that mean they weren't good role models and godly men? No. They just had faults.

Give your guy a fault or two. It won't hurt him. In fact, your readers will probably like him better.


Ideas?

Ok, do you want my opinion of a very well-developed, real sort of male character? (Guys, I forbid you to roll your eyes.)

Mr. George Knightley.

Why? Because he's wise, mature, gentle, severe when need be, masculine, average height and handsomeness, discerning, kind to inferiors, doesn't put on airs, and still has his faults. He's not exactly dashing, but he has good character. He's not tall or dark, but he's good-natured. He doesn't say what people want to hear, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. He's positively frustrating in his overbearing treatment of Emma, but then, it's his one major fault.

And we like him for it.

So study Knightley a bit, ok writers? ;)

That's all for today, folks! Any thoughts on stereotyped men?
_______________________________

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Is Self-Publishing for You? The 10 Best things about Self-Publishing



After exploring my reasons for self-publishing, and discussing some things you should know before you do it, it is time to dig into the good stuff. Today I want to share some of the best things about self-publishing.

1. You have control. Unlike traditional publishing, you have complete control over content, cover, promotions, and rights. This can be a lot of work, but it can also keep your book from being changed or used in ways you wouldn’t approve of.

2. No deadlines. Some people work best under pressure, others, it hurts. Although it is a good idea to set goals, when you are self-published, you don’t have anyone breathing down you neck.

3. Direct contact with your readers. Because you have to do just about everything yourself, you get a lot more direct contact with your readers.

4. You lean many skills. Since becoming self-published, I have learned so much about marketing, editing, formatting, and much more. Although some of my skills are still lacking, I am learning so many different aspects that I wouldn’t have learned is someone else was doing if for me.

5. Community connections. Sometimes, it can take a bit, but once you get plugged into the self-publishing community, you will have invaluable resources at your fingertips.

6. Your works aren’t rejected. I don’t write books that will be popular. My stories appeal to a niche market that many publishers aren’t interested it. My books don’t have any have any heavy romance; they are faith and adventure stories. While many publishers wouldn’t publish them because they wouldn’t make money, Self-publishing gets these books to the readers that will like them.

7. Faith can be the center. Some even Christian publishers try to keep the faith elements of a story toned down so more people will like the story. If you self-publish, you can make your faith and values as strong as you like them. They may not make the bestseller list, but they will bless your readers.

8. You can see the results quickly. It takes time publish a good book, but it takes less time with self-publishing. You can write, edit, and publish a book within a few months.

9. You are more motivated. For me at least, knowing that my output directly affects how much a make motivates me to write as much as I can. Every project I undertake, I want to make better than my last one. Being self-published an knowing I have to oversee the entire project motivates me.

10. You answer to God, not a publisher. Without a publisher, you answer directly to God. You can make decisions from everything from the content of your book, to the price based on what you feel God would have you do.

These are 10 of the best thing I have found to self-publishing. However, I want to say one thing before I close. Some of these apply to traditional publishers as well. There are also many different publishers, some of them who are very different from the norm and many that strive to honor God above profit.

Join me next week for the final instalment of this series on making your final decision.