Archive for October, 2005

Back to the List

October 27, 2005

Several days ago, I mentioned a faculty member of the Glorieta Christian writers conference who was pulling together an impossible list of books.  These lists are always interesting to me. I’ve read many of the books on this list and formed my own opinions about some of the books (you will see that I have a bit of diplomacy here—I’m not going to tell you which ones I don’t like).  If you read these entries very often you will know I recommend books which I like and see value. And the others? We just won’t talk about them.

I’ve arrived in New Mexico for the conference. Finding any time for writing new entries is going to be a challenge. My day is scheduled almost completely from the minute I get up until late at night. I return home on Sunday afternoon.

Just so you can share in the list, I got permission to include it here. One book caught my eye—that I don’t have on my book shelf: James A. Michener’s Writer’s Handbook. I’m familiar with some of Michener’s novels so I cruised over to Amazon.com and looked up this book. Like many consumers I read the reviews of other readers. While the book released over ten years ago (1992) all of the reviews were in the negative category.  I might take a look at this book at some point—but the review gave me a bit of hesitation.

Are there writing books not on the list that you think should be considered? Let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’m off to get a bit of rest so I can hit the ground running in the morning for this conference.

 

Vampires and Jesus

October 25, 2005

I understand the two words in my title and how they seem to be disconnected. They aren’t.  If you haven’t caught it, the book world is buzzing about an article in Newsweek about bestselling vampire author Anne Rice.  Publisher’s Lunch had the headline “Anne Rice, Born Again (Truly)” when they pointed toward this article. Then the Newsweek article is called “The Gospel According to Anne.”

After writing 25 novels over 25 years, Anne Rice is releasing her first novel since 2003 titled, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. I have not read the novel which is centered a seven-year-old Jesus—who is also the narrator of the story.  If you read the Newsweek story you will see that Anne Rice has been through some drastic personal experiences in the last few years including the loss of her husband of 41 years to a brain tumor in 2002 and nearly dying a couple of times herself.  From what I know about people and life, I suspect these experiences have drawn Rice into a greater spiritual awareness. I love the line in the Newsweek story where she says, “I promised that from now on I would only write for the Lord.”

I’ve seen the posts on an online forum about Anne Rice where some people have been throwing out their opinions about whether Rice is a Christian or not.  I have no idea or connection to this story. I hope something has happened in her life. There is certainly good evidence of something happening from her website. If she has built a stronger relationship with Christ from her personal and writing journey, I hope she’s got some terrific Christians around her to help her grow in her faith.

Over the years, I’ve seen my share of “celebrity” conversions and some are more based in reality than others. Almost fourteen years ago, I wrote a children’s biography, Chuck Colson, which was part of the Today’s Heroes series from Zondervan. It was my privilege to work with Chuck, his family and friends to write this particular book.  When Colson came to Christ, it was loudly trumpeted in the media and Chuck wrote his own story in the bestselling book, Born Again.  The year this book released, I participated as an author at the Kentucky Book Fair.  At these gatherings, authors have tables in a large convention room to autograph books. I had my Chuck Colson book.  Despite Colson’s numerous appearance at Billy Graham Crusades where he gave his testimony and his stellar work in prisons around the globe, I was amazed to firsthand meet the skeptics. They would scrunch up their faces and proclaim, “Nixon’s hatchet man? There is no way that Colson became a Christian.”

The experience taught me an important lesson about these types of stories. First, when I receive such information in a media story, I pray that it’s true—the celebrity has actually had a real face to face meeting with Jesus. Then I entrust those results into God’s hands. It is not our role to judge the spiritual condition of someone else. We can simply pray and proclaim our understanding of the truth.

Applaud Design Innovation

October 24, 2005

Last night I snagged a few minutes in my local Barnes & Noble.  Between traveling and sitting at my computer working, I don’t get to the actual bookstore often but I try and make a point to do so at least once a month (more often if I can).  Last night I only had a few minutes but I made sure to check out the new hardcovers and paperbacks at the front of the bookstore. It’s always interesting to actually hold these new books in your hand, read the back cover or inside flap and see how it’s done. You can pick up a lot of information just from this simple action.

While I picked up a lot of information through this process, one book stood out to me. Simon Winchester’s new book released October 1st, A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906. When I picked up the hardcover, I could tell something was different. The jacket was thicker than normal and I took a closer look. It was folded and had something larger inside it.  On a single oversized page, tucked into the folds, the publisher put a full-color version of the front page from the San Francisco Examiner.  From my work inside publishing, I can tell you this little “extra” cost some money to put together. I applaud this innovative way to add an extra feature to a hardcover book. It’s the type of action beginning writers will pick up on and propose in their books. I’d suggest caution if you are thinking about adding such a proposal.

This type of innovation (including the newspaper front page hidden in a cover design) is something in the domain of bestselling authors.  If you are printing hundreds of thousands of books instead of several thousand books, then the cost per book becomes a minor issue. When you are only printing a few thousand books (which is typical for the majority of authors) then the price becomes prohibitive. Many beginning authors wonder why the publisher doesn’t print more books and do more innovative design. One of the continual discussions inside publishing houses revolves around warehouse space. You don’t want to print more books than necessary because you have to store these books then ship them to various locations (adding to your costs as a publisher).

I didn’t purchase this new title from Simon Winchester but I’m going to be watching to see how the sales progress for this particular book.  I noticed in mid-July, Crack in the Edge of the World received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. Librarians and booksellers follow these starred reviews and pick up on it for their buying plans. If you doubt the persuasiveness of these reviews, just consider the first sentence, “In this brawny page-turner, bestselling writer Winchester (Krakatoa, The Professor and the Madman) has crafted a magnificent testament to the power of planet Earth and the efforts of humankind to understand her.” I suspect many will get the book from the recommendation of this sentence.

While I’m writing about Simon Winchester, if you haven’t read The Professor and the Madman and you love words like I do, then you want to make sure you add that book to your reading list.  The book is a great encouragement to writers because the idea for it came from a footnote (according to a talk Winchester gave at the ASJA several years ago). Winchester is a master storyteller and you learn about one of the most unusual relationships with the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. The greatest contributor was an American madman.

Next time you reach your local bookstore or section of books. Check out Crack in the Edge of the World. It’s some innovation worth noticing.

Fuel for Dreams

October 23, 2005

As writers and editors, we have a lot of dreams about what could happen in the days ahead. Maybe it’s for your writing and how many people it will touch. Or maybe it’s the impact of the printed page in your own life.  However you define that intangible quality, something fuels your dreams and motivates you to get up every day and work on your writing. 

We regularly go to different movies and often on the weekend. Yesterday we caught Dreamer, which is inspired from a true story.  The film is a family movie about a washed up horse trainer who takes his daughter to work one day.  During a race, a horse has a tragic accident and breaks a bone. Normally the life of the horse would be over but the trainer decides to keep the horse and quits his job. Along with his daughter, the horse trainer nurses this horse called Sonador (or Dreamer in Spanish) back to full strength.  The horse not only walks but races again.

The acting and storytelling and dialogue in this film was remarkable. I was captured in the plot and the beautiful scenery. More than anything, the story provided fuel for dreams.  Not in words—but in actions, the story showed how hard the characters worked to make their dreams come true. Cale Crane (Dakota Fanning’s character) was repeatedly shown climbing out of bed at an early hour, making coffee and heading to the race track. Inherent but never verbalized in these scenes was the amount of time and sacrifice that it took for the Crane family to see their dreams become reality.

For me, the film was magical and something that I could watch at least once a month for inspiration. I highly recommend it—and it’s rare that I can recommend such a film without qualifications—yet I can do so with this film, Dreamer.

Each of us have dreams for our writing.  Whether you are writing a magazine article or a children’s book or a novel or a nonfiction book, the dream is the same—to reach people and have it succeed. Too often people are carrying these dreams without the willingness to do the work necessary to achieve it. It’s the hours of time spent learning the craft of writing or the hours of training which others rarely see—yet is critical to the process. And if you are looking for a bit of fuel for your dreams, then catch Dreamer.

Be Prepared

October 21, 2005

This week I made one of my rare trips to the local post office. I needed to send a package or two and pick up some postage stamps. In general I try to keep a  variety of postage on hand.  Then it’s easy to process any sort of mailing. Also while at the post office, I checked a new postcard that I’m going to be mailing. I wanted to make sure the postcard was the right size then I picked up several rolls of postcard stamps. Why check it?

Several years ago, a publisher graciously produced full color postcards to help market a new book.  I worked back and forth with the marketing department on the text of the postcard. In the final analysis, I figured they were the publisher and knew how to produce the right size postcard. Wrong. They printed an oversized postcard that required first-class postage instead of postcard postage. It added considerably to my postage bill to get that postcard out to people.  Postcards are a terrific inexpensive way to tell people about your book. Tests have shown that many people read a postcard as it moves through the postal system—particularly if it is attractively designed and has great content. I’ve learned the hard way over the years about the necessity of making sure the card has the right content. For example, does your postcard allow the reader to buy the book? Where? Does it give the price and International Standard Book Number (ISBN)? The ISBN is the number any bookstore can use to locate and order your book.  No one can copyright a title but the book number will only point to your book.

When I was checking the card, I asked the clerk if she ever thought about writing a book some day? Why ask such a question? I knew from the surveys that 81 percent of the population has dreamed about writing a book “some day.” My postcard includes the full color book cover for Book Proposals That Sell on one side. The other side has a brief quotation from Jeanette Thomason, Acquisitions Editor at Revell Books, “With practical know-how and tons of proven tips, this book is like that wise friend who’s been in the business, knows what works and why. Step-by-step, Terry Whalin guides and inspires both beginners and even experienced writers to doing better, successful, meaningful work.” Also the back of the postcard includes the title, ISBN, price and a couple of websites. After she measured my postcard and I purchased my postage, I offered gave her my postcard. Someone else waiting in the line overheard my conversation and jumped into it. “Hey, I write for magazines. I’d like to do a book some day. Do you have another one?” I didn’t have a second postcard (admittedly unprepared) but I had a small business card with the same information (including the cover of the book). In an instant, I left two pieces of literature as I walked out of the post office. Will anything happen from it? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve at least planted the seeds of potential because I was prepared for the opportunity and I opened the door to the conversation.

As writers and editors and communicators, we are in the seed planting business. It’s part of what we do day in and day out. Yet you have to be prepared to plant seeds. Next week I’m headed to a writers conference.  Whenever I travel or even drive around town, I make sure I’ve got a business card (or two) tucked in my pocket. Over the years, I’ve learned to freely give the information. It’s surprising how people will keep that card and call or write or email months later. One opportunity leads to another—but only if you open the door in the first place. Be prepared.

The Secret Is In the Sauce

October 19, 2005

I’m sure you’ve tasted a delicious meal and asked about the distinction. The unrevealing answer is “the secret is in the sauce.”

The same noncommittal answers happen in the writing community. People always want to know about where do you get ideas.  The key from my perspective is what you do with those ideas. This morning I was reading the Arizona Republic and one article was telling about the sitcom Everyone Loves Raymond. The sitcom creator Phil Rosenthal and six top Hollywood writers (minus Ray Romano) are touring the country and giving a program called, “Everyone Loves Raymond– Inside the Writers’ Room – Secrets of a #1 Sitcom.” While the article is interesting—and you can read it with this link—Dolores Tropiano included this interesting quotation, “Basically the writers and I go on stage and tell the terrible stories of the things that happened to us at home and illustrate these stories with clips from the show,” said Rosenthal, who lives in Los Angeles. “In between you get a sense of what it is like to be in the room with each of us. These people have known each other for nine years. We insult each other. We laugh. These are the funniest people I know.” The team worked together producing 210 episodes that earned the show six Emmy nominations for Best Comedy and two Emmys for Best Comedy in 2003 and 2005.”

The secret isn’t really a secret but very common. These writers draw from their own life experiences. The situations and details are exaggerated but the seed of the idea comes from inside then they are transformed, exaggerated and are written into the script. If you see a clever television show or movie, never forget it’s the writing which is foundational. I’ve repeatedly seen interviews with actors—and if these actors are gracious (as many of them are) then they will attribute at least some of the success to the writers. Without the clever plots and dialogue, the overall package suffers.

I’ve read many fiction proposals in recent days. Unfortunately many of these authors are lacking in the basics such as dialogue, plot and excellent characterization.  Yes, they’ve taken the common advice to writers, “start with what you know” but where have they taken it from there? I agree with Stephen Coontz who writes that writing is very hard work. Each of us have to continue working at the craft. 

Sweet Satisfaction

October 18, 2005

I’m certain you’ve met these people (maybe you are one of them). They are getting up each morning, gritting their teeth and plowing through their work day.  At the end of the day, they receive a pay check but little satisfaction. Maybe they are persisting to work several more years until their retirement or some other change happens in their life. Maybe these people are working their day job to support their real life—as a writer or some other dream occupation.

My father loved the railroad. Now not every day was a picnic (nor is any job) but my dad loved the trains and anything to do with them. During his college years, he worked as a clerk on the railroad in the summer. Graduating from college with a teaching certificate, he taught for a brief period—and determined it wasn’t for him. Dad returned to the railroad and ultimately retired from an executive position. My dad’s father or my grandfather, loved to be involved in teaching.  For a long stretch, he was the principal and superintendent of a small school in eastern Kentucky.  Grandfather loved education and it was where he found sweet satisfaction in his work.

My reading last night stirred me to consider this aspect of the writing life. The October 10th Publisher’s Weekly includes a review of the next Max Lucado book, Cure for the Common Life: Living In Your Sweet Spot, which releases in January from W Publishing Group. The same issue includes a brief interview with Max from Lori Smith.  Max talks about the surprising statistic that one out of three people hate their jobs—yes hate. Then Lori asks about the decision process about which job we select and how it’s often based on prestige instead of satisfaction or happiness.

Max answers, “That’s exactly right. Many people get promoted right out of their sweet spot because of prestige, because of a good salary. And I can understand that. I mean, we all have bills to pay, and yet my contention is that we really pay a high price when we allow ourselves to be promoted out of what we do best. I refer in the book two or three times to my father. He was an oil field mechanic out in west Texas. He loved his work. He was the happiest man I’ve ever known. And two or three times he was offered the chance to be a foreman, to leave the outside work and come indoors and sit at a desk. He wouldn’t even think about it, even though that meant more money for the family. He knew he was happiest working with his hands.” (p. 56) Obviously to me, Max’s father had located his sweet satisfaction working as an oil field mechanic.

I spent ten years of my life away from writing and in linguistics. After a season of this type of work, I had the opportunity to return to my writing and I grabbed it. I wrote a great deal in college but then followed this season in linguistics. I joined the small writing and editorial staff of a missionary publication called In Other Words.  It felt great to return to my editing and writing work.  My associate editor asked me to cut part of a story and I instantly stepped up and without hesitation chopped it down to size so it fit on the page. She watched in amazement at the cuts and wondered how I did it so quickly. It’s never been hard for me to cut something down to size and fits with the way I’m wired. Several months later, this associate editor made a personal decision to return to her home and care for an aging parent. Our small staff suddenly became smaller. It boiled down to a long-term editor/ writer and myself. The long-term editor (and one of my dear friends) didn’t want the responsibility of leading the publication. He knew his sweet spot was staying in his current position. I became the editor and the rest of my writing life is history.

Certainly some days I want throw away the writing life and work at some mindless task. But those days are few and far between. Overall I know that I’m in the right spot as a writer and editor. It’s wise to recognize such a gift.

A Marketing Plan for Every Book

October 17, 2005

Late last week, Brandilyn Collins asked me to answer a question from one of her blog readers. This reader referred to my Book Proposals That Sell and knew a nonfiction proposal should have a marketing plan. She wondered if a fiction proposal should also have a marketing plan and what would be in such a plan. I wrote the answer and sent it over the weekend so Brandilyn could post it today. With some slight revisions, I’m posting the same entry here. Some of this information I wrote in previous entries but I also include some additional twists (because I continually learn more about this topic):

Does a fiction book needs a marketing plan to catch a publisher’s attention? It’s a good question. Let me give you a bit of my background so you see why I’m answering this question. I’ve published more than 60 nonfiction books and I’ve been a book acquisitions editor for the last four years. While I had written a lot of books, it was a complete revelation when I became a book editor. I began to understand the economics involved and it’s important for every author to understand these dynamics—whether they write fiction or nonfiction. I provide a bit of this information in my book, Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. While somewhat focused on nonfiction, you can learn a lot about the publishing process no matter what you write from this book.

Here’s the financial information that I didn’t understand (since I’ve never self-published): for every book (fiction or nonfiction), a publisher is going to spend $50,000 to $100,000 (real dollars) to take your manuscript and turn it into a finished book. These numbers are with a modest advance to the author (say $5,000) and zero marketing dollars. These costs are production, cover design, editorial work, etc. on your book. Publishers receive thousands of submissions from would-be authors. I’m the part-time Fiction Acquisitions Editor at Howard Publishing. I’m looking for six to eight full-length novels a year—and I’ve received over 250 submissions from individuals and literary agents. I’ve rejected some quality fiction because of the volume and limited spots. And that is just my story so imagine these numbers multiplied on other editor’s desks. And if you read Book Proposals That Sell, you will see that editors do a lot more than read manuscripts.

Let’s pretend for a minute that you are the editor and have to wade through these volumes of material to find the books for your list. You have two manuscripts. BotIh manuscripts are excellent, fascinating stories. One manuscript has a marketing plan and the other doesn’t. As the editor, you will be held accountable for your choices (within the publishing house). It’s a business to sell books. Which manuscript will you choose to champion to the other editors, the publishing executives (sales, marketing, etc.)? Editors risk for their authors. Your challenge is to prove to be worthy (actually more than worthy) of this risk.

Later this month, at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference, I’m teaching an hour workshop, What A Publisher Looks for in a New Book Idea. Whether fiction or nonfiction, I’m going to focus on how you can make your book stand out for the editor. While I’m not going to give you the contents of my workshop, let me give you several ideas and resources to figure it out. Everything that I’m going to write is based on the assumption you’ve learned your writing craft and produced an excellent, page-turning novel that is appropriate for a particular publisher. A big part of you may resist even creating a marketing plan. Isn’t that why you go to a publisher instead of publishing it yourself? No, you go to a publisher to use their marketing efforts in combination with your efforts to sell more books (and to have your books in the bookstore—a closed system for self-publishing—which is another discussion). Publishers love authors who “get it” and understand they need to roll up their sleeves and take a bit of their energy to market the books to their own network. Also publishers always want to do more for their books especially when they release. Yet they have 20 books to shepherd through this process—and you have a single book. Who is going to be more passionate about the book? It’s you as the author—well show a little of that passion in your marketing plans for your book.

You need to be reading some marketing books and here’s a few titles to get you started: Beyond the Bookstore, How to Sell More Books Profitably to Non-Bookstore Markets by Brian Jud. Over half of the books sold are sold outside of the bookstore. This book includes a CD to help you understand these markets and create your own plan. Please don’t say you are willing to do radio interviews or appear on Oprah (yes, I’ve seen new authors put this repeatedly as their marketing plans and it reveals you know nothing about selling books. Of course you will do radio interviews and appear on Oprah (however unlikely it is to appear on Oprah). Publicize Your Book!, An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jacqueline Deval. Several years ago I met Jacqueline at a conference in New York City. She’s a publisher at Hearst Books and has led numerous successful book campaigns as a Director of Publicity. She knows proactive authors help sell books and has wise advice about how to be proactive but not high maintenance (something publishers avoid like the plague). The techniques in this book will give you practical ideas for your marketing plan. You have a network and the question is: how will you tap it and use it to sell books? Check out PyroMarketing by Greg Stielstra, Harper Business. This book is brand new and will help you see how you can stir people to purchase your book and why mass marketing techniques are ineffective. To get a taste of this book, read this free introduction (I got from Greg—who is the new Vice President of Marketing Christian Books at Thomas Nelson Publishers, the ninth largest publisher in the world). Next take a look at bestselling fiction author, Debbie Macomber, who won a Quill Award last week in the romance category. She has over 60 million novels in print. Bounce the ideas of PyroMarketing (particularly the fourth point of Pyromarketing: saving the coals or saving the data) against this page in her guestbook. I heard a “rumor” that Debbie has over a million names on her own database. Look at the information she is collecting on her guestbook from each person—including your bookstore information. See why she beat mega-bestselling author Nora Roberts (who had two romances nominated for the Quill Award)? Debbie understands what most beginning (and many published authors) don’t understand.

Finally can you bring your publisher a deal from the beginning that will sell at least 5,000 books? It’s not a crazy question since 70% of special sales are something that the author begins. For some creative ideas, check out Jerry Jenkins’ site (not the Left Behind author but another Jerry Jenkins). Most of these ideas are nonfiction but put your own spin on it. One quick completely fictious example, your novel has a main character with an eating disorder who through the course of the book, gets help and is on the road to recovery. Can you open the door for your publisher to cut a deal with New Life Clinics to purchase 100,000 (wild number maybe 5,000) copies of your novel to give to their patients? Some of those patients will never read a how-to nonfiction book but will consume your novel and get lots of ideas from it for their own life. New Life could have their own cover or a special explanation letter in the front or any number of other special things to make it their own book. Now these books are not money makers for the publisher or the author. They are heavily discounted but they spur interest and people talking about the book and they do stimulate bookstore sales. See how you’ve distinguished your book from anything else on the editor’s desk?

I’ve gone on too long but I’m passionate to tell authors about this process of creating excellent book proposals. Publishers are looking for true partners in the process. A marketing plan shows that you are actively going to enter into the process of selling books. Yes, publishers are looking for excellent storytellers but they need authors who care about selling books.

A Temporary Pain

October 16, 2005

The news has been filled with dire warnings and stories about the bird flu. MSNBC has even launched a separate area of their health section on it. This time of year, people also begin to think about getting a flu shot to prevent the regular flu. About ten years ago, I used to downplay this process and avoid the shots.  Currently I don’t work in an office building and I have little contact with the general public—except at conferences and occasional meetings.  It was ten years ago, I didn’t take the flu shot and was sick for over a week with the flu (killing all sorts of deadlines on different projects). Since that time, I’ve managed to get a flu shot every year. Last year, I was late getting it because of the national vaccine shortage but I still received my shot.

Because in about a week and a half I’m headed to the Glorieta Christian Writer’s conference then next month a trip to New York City (and who knows what else),  I was eager to get my flu shot and have the protection. For me, I’ve often gotten sick during one of these trips because I work long hours, don’t get much exercise and my regular schedule is generally off kilter. I called my family doctor and he would not have the flu vaccine until November 4th—or too late from my view. I spotted a sign at my local supermarket pharmacy. It required me to fill out a form, fax it to my doctor for his signature then return to the pharmacy for my flu shot. Now admittedly it was a pain to jump through those extra hoops of paperwork.

Several years ago when I worked inside a publishing house, the company arranged for the entire staff to receive their flu shots at work. You talk about an easy appointment! You simply walked down the hall, took your shot and returned to your desk to continue working. I had to push a bit harder this year to pull off my flu shot but I handled it on Friday. Yes, I will use caution throughout the winter such as frequently washing my hands, etc. but I feel a bit more protected as we enter the flu season. While such a discussion may seem a bit off for my musings about the writing life, it’s not.  As a writer, you need to think about these regular precautions—so your schedule doesn’t get knocked with the flu. Since I’ve been regularly exercising and attempting to care for myself, I have less down time from illness and can generally b e a more productive writer and editor. It’s something to think about for your own writing life.

And the Winner Is…

October 15, 2005

Several weeks ago, I told you about the Quill Book Award, the first national book awards where readers were going to select the winners. I encouraged you to vote because there was a limited window of opportunity. I hope you went over and voted. The Quill Book Award included books in a number of different categories—so there was a wide range of book possibilities from children to various types of fiction to various nonfiction book categories.

Last week, the winners of the 2005 Quill Book Award were announced. Mark your calendar for next Saturday, October 22nd because Brian Williams from NBC News will host the awards ceremony.  I care about these awards for several reasons. First, they are completely centered on books of all types.  Let me encourage you to note the winner of the Romance category, Debbie Macomber, who was nominated for her book, 44 Cranberry Point. She had a single book while mega-selling author, Nora Roberts was nominated for two different romance books. Yet Debbie won!

Earlier this year at the Frontiers In Writing Conference in Amarillo, Texas, I met Debbie and her husband, Wayne Macomber. If you read her blog (on my blogroll) or her books or you have a chance to meet her, you will understand Debbie Macomber is an approachable, kind and regular person—yet with a remarkable story.  After we were together, Debbie keynoted at the Romance Writers of America convention in Reno, Nevada.

If you need some encouragement to persevere with your own writing, let me encourage you to notice a couple of sentences on Debbie’s site: “Debbie Macomber loves to tell the story of how she got published. Of  how she struggled for five years to find a publisher who would buy one of the  manuscripts she wrote in her kitchen on a rented typewriter. Of how the young, dyslexic mother bargained with her four young children to give her the quiet time to write. Of the sacrifices Debbie and her husband, Wayne, made so she could pursue the dream that burned in her heart.”

Now I underlined those phrases in Debbie’s biography.  She continued for five years until she located a publisher and on a “rented” typewriter.  I heard Debbie tell the details of her remarkable story. Today Debbie Macomber has over 60 million books in print. So now you know a tiny bit of the “rest of the story.” As you learn about these winners, let’s celebrate their commitment to the craft of writing and their persistence. It’s an example each of us can follow.