Monthly Archives: March 2013

“Top 10 Signs Your Writers Conference Chose the Wrong Hotel”

Top 10 Signs Your Writers Conference Chose the Wrong Hotel

#10:  After passing a chalk outline in the hallway, you enter your room and the roaches don’t even try to hide. And one of them hangs up the phone and says, “You with room service?”

# 9:  The gift shop is running a special on gas masks & tetanus shots.

# 8:  At the airport, when you tell the taxi driver which hotel you want to go to, he turns blue and falls over in his seat because he’s laughing so hard he can’t breathe.

# 7:  When you ask if the hotel has “wi-fi”, the man at the desk says, “Not since we sprayed a few days ago.”

# 6:  The hot tub is out-of-order because the cook is using it to make his “special” stew.

# 5:  The “Continental Breakfast” is actually served in the parking lot, from the dirty trunk of a Lincoln Continental.

# 4:  The sound system is a hefty lady who stands on stage and screams out everything the keynote speaker just said.

# 3:  You’re sure you heard someone in the kitchen area yell, “Hey, Elmer! Is this a tapeworm?” And you’re having spaghetti that evening.

# 2:  There is no elevator, and the “escalator” is a sweaty shirtless guy–with an abundance of back-hair–who stands at the bottom of the stairs and says, “Jump on my back, I’ll tote ya right up there.”

# 1:  The guy at the front desk won’t check you in until you pull his finger.

Any other helpful ideas?

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Larry W. Timm, Writing

“Acceptable Stalking”

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”

The above quote is from Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451). As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I read the quote and thought, That’s exactly what I do!” I create a multi-dimensional protagonist, then stalk him or her through the pages of my manuscript. And, in nearly every case so far, that pesky main character does or says something that catches me by surprise.

There have been scenes that I’ve set up for the sole purpose of testing my protagonist’s metal. I mean I’ve uped the ante, dropped the hammer, and sharpened the knives. Why? Because I want to find out how my main character will react under extreme pressure. And I love to see him or her squirm. It makes me laugh like an evil scientist. I’m just wired that way.

And when my lead escapes, I chase him out the door…and the stalking continues. Man it’s fun!

But the key to a good character is I–the writer–have to know what he wants. And I have to stalk him and do everything I can to keep him from getting it easily…or at all. And then something will come out of his mouth, or she will do something, that makes me go, “Wow!”

What has one of your characters do that caught you by surprise?

NOTE: This friday’s post will be another “Top Ten” list. I think it will be “Top 10 signs your writers conference has picked the wrong hotel.”

6 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, editing, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

“Top 10 Signs You May Have Hired a Bad Agent”

In my quest to find the right agent to represent me, I’ve run into many others who are searching also. As a service to those seekers, here is today’s “Top 10” list:

Top 10 Signs You May Have Hired a Bad Agent

#10:  They think that Kinkos is a major Publishing house.

# 9:  They’re in the Witness Protection Program

# 8:  Their office is in the back of a van, parked down by the river.

# 7:  You can only talk to them every other weekend, and then it’s through plexiglass at the State prison.

# 6:  Your agent only works at night, because he really believes he’s Batman.

# 5:  Everytime you visit them, they invite you to sit on their lap and tell them all about “your wittle bitty book.”

# 4:  Their entire wardrobe is made of Spandex.

# 3:  Instead of using their real name, the insist you call them “Mighty Caesar.”

# 2:  They call you, all excited, because they’ve made a deal for your novel to be the first chocolate-dipped book in the country.

# 1: Their Business Card says, “Guido’s Sewer Cleaning and Literary Service” and their motto is: “All day long, we’re dealing with other people’s you-know-what.”

ohhhhhh boy. Do you have any other suggestions?

13 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, editing, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

“Carefully & Prayerfully”

Yep…I know I just used two “ly” words. I did it intentionally and happily [Larry snickers gleefully]. Seriously…(that makes 6!)…the two words I used for the title of this post are my answer to the question: “How do you approach your responsibility as a writer?”

Carefully and Prayerfully.

But, today, I’m going to concentrate on the second word. The more I am blessed to be around other writers, the more I am feeling a conviction that we ought to be praying for one another. Specifically. By Name. We are, after all, a band of brothers and sisters toiling together to impact our world with the light of truth. Yes, we want to deliver a strong emotional experience. But we are CHRISTIAN writers, which makes us brothers and sisters with the same Lord and children of the same Heavenly Father. The strong emotional experience we offer should be delivered in words soaked in spiritual awareness.

As Christian writers, we are dealing with a spiritual reality that secular writers can not possess or reveal. And regardless of the genre–or even the market–in which we seek to publish our stories, we can call upon a power that no unbeliever can claim: the power of God!

Of course no writer can prayer for every other writer…there are too many writers. But we can pray for some. And we should. If you are in a writing group, do you pray for those other writers? To you take time to pray together at your meetings? Do you pray for your favorite writers–the ones whose books have blessed you? ACFW members could take a minute to pray for the names of the new members when they are posted on the loop.

Let’s hold one another up in prayer to a God Who has promised to hear our prayers. Let’s tap into the power that awaits us. And let’s intercede for one another.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, Writing

The Juices Are Flowing Again

Okay, so this is a personal-type post. Many months ago I shared that I felt I was in a fog on my writing journey. For the time being at least, the fog has lifted. I’ve just finished polishing entires for a contest and then sending them off. They’re out of my hands.

Now it’s time to create. And I’ve got a few ideas competing for attention in my brain. Or, as writers will surely understand, the boys in the basement are sending up some good stuff. And the creative juices are flowing!

First, I am anxious to finish some proposals for my second novel. Then I will be sending that proposal to a few agents. No reason to be nervous there…right? [insert sound of dry heaves].

Then I have to decide which of the ideas careening in my cranium is going to be the one to turn into my next Work In Progress.

When you have more than one idea for a story, how do YOU decide which one to go with? I’d really appreciate hearing your reply to this.

12 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Larry W. Timm, Writing

“The Writing Table”

Not long ago, I imagined pulling up a chair at a writing-table that stretched out in both directions. It went so far I couldn’t see either end. I looked to my left and was awed by what I saw: all the stewards of story from the past were sitting at the table too. I saw C. S. Lewis, John Bunyan, Charles Sheldon, and many other fiction writers–some I recognized and some I didn’t.

No way I belonged there. I slid my chair back and started to rise to my feet, mumbling apologies.

A scraping sound caught my attention. I turned to my right and saw a man about twenty chairs down rising to his feet in front of the chair he just slid back from the table. Then, beyond him, another man stood. Then a child.

Suddenly everyone’s attention was drawn straight ahead. They went to their knees and bowed their heads. I looked, needing to see what had caused such a  reverent response. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Lord Jesus Christ approached the table. His kind eyes were set on me. I immediately dropped to my knees. My heart flooded with amazement. “Your Majesty!”

“Larry,” He said, “why are you leaving the table?”

He knows MY name! “I…I…I don’t deserve to sit at this table. I’m just a sinful man.” My heart pounded like a jack hammer.

Somehow, instantly, He was standing beside me. “Look at Me, My child,” the Lord said. Gentleness coated his words.

I lifted my face to see His smile beaming down at me.

“I must have misunderstood, Lord. I thought I was supposed to write for You. I thought…” My words trailed off. My mind swirled.

He reached His nail-scarred hand and brushed a tear from my cheek. “It’s okay, My friend. You don’t have to explain. I understand your heart.”

“But, King Jesus, You must be disappointed in me.”

“No, Larry.” He knelt beside me, then put His arm around my shoulder. “I’m not disappointed. I know you don’t feel like you deserve a place at this table. The only way I would have been unhappy was if you weren’t overwhelmed by this honor. Had you come to this table with pride and arrogance, My heart would have been broken.” He pulled me closer. “You are here by personal invitation from Me. Thank you for appreciating that.”

A river of relief poured from my eyes, tear by tear. I buried my face in His shoulder. Finally I regained my composure. “Thank You for inviting me here, Jesus.”

“Larry, to your left sits every person in the past that I have entrusted with the power of story. They have all finished the journey and have received their rewards. They wrote stories that helped many people draw closer to Me.” I felt him touch my chin. His gentle hand guided my face to look at him again. “People like you, Larry.”

He was right. To my left were people whose books had changed my life and deepened my understanding of truth. They had written stories that had helped me see the many colors of light.

Jesus motioned to my right. “And these dear servants…” He paused, then laughed with the purest joy I’d ever heard. “These are the writers who will come after you. Some of them have not even been born on earth yet. They will continue creating stories that will touch lives…and break the evil one’s chains.”

I looked down the row. “Master? Before You came, I saw a few of them standing…after I stood, that is.” I looked back at Him.

He nodded. His smile faded. “Yes. They are the ones who will be influenced by what you write. In fact, one of them will come to know Me…if you stay at the table. But if you decide to turn down My invitation to share in the power of creating stories that touch souls, they will not hear My invitation or feel My Spirit calling them to the table.”

He took my hands in His and stood, pulling me to my feet.

“Thank you for trusting me, Jesus.”

He grinned. “No one at this table deserves to be here by their own goodness. Each has been–or will be–called by grace.” He nodded toward my chair. “Now, will you sit at My table and write for Me?”

“Yes, My Lord and Savior. I will. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.”

He held the back of my chair as I sat back down.

What’s it like for YOU to have a seat at the writer’s table? How does it make you feel?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, Writing

“Top Ten Bad Back Cover Blurb Ideas”

These would probably be really bad ideas to include on the back cover of your book.

#10:  “If you hate this book as much as my mother did, you’ll get your money back.”

# 9:  “Why buy this book when you can get it at the library?”

# 8:  “Scratch & Sniff section inside!”

# 7:  “The blank pages at the end are so you can write your own dumb ending.”

#6:  “Book Two will probably be a lot better.”

# 5:  “There’s not going to be a movie. Get over it!”

# 4:  “Discussion questions? Are you crazy? It was hard enough to write the stupid book!”

#3:  “Here’s a few hours of your precious time, you’ll never get back!”

#2:  “This is Christian fiction…if you don’t like this book, it means you’re a pagan.”

# 1:  “What a coincidence…the ISBN number and my Social Security number are exactly the same!”

Any other bad ideas?

12 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

“Catching Sunbeams”

My four-year-old son was sitting on my lap, his hands reaching into the sunlight that streamed across the chair. “What are you doing, Son?”

“I’m catching a sunbeam!”

He reached, and laughed, and snatched at the ray of light, but each time he opened his fist his hand was empty. But he didn’t care. He was having fun pretending.

For many writers, the process of writing can seem like trying to catch a sunbeam. An exercise in futility. We reach and grab and all we seem to do is swirl the dust specks.

Or can we look at it another way?

I noticed the sunbeam–I mean I really paid attention to it–because my little son’s actions drew my attention to it. His creative powers of pretend may not have captured the sunbeam, but it caught me. After all, I’m writing a post about it! It’s good for writers to be reminded that one of the wonderful blessings of “playing in the sunbeam” is that God may use us to draw someone’s attention to the light.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, family, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

Terri Blackstock Interview

It is my great pleasure to bring you an interview I did with one of my favorite authors: Terri Blackstock. Terri is a best-selling, multiple award-winning, Christian fiction writer who has over six million books in print. Her latest release is called Truth Stained Lies, and is the first book in The Moonlighters Series. Truth Stained Lies releases on March 12, but can be preordered now at amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, or Christianbook.com. You can learn more about this book–and all her great books–by going to her website at http://www.terriblackstock.com. With over 25 years of experience, Terri knows how to write books that will keep you up all night.

And now….my interview with Terri Blackstock.

*Terri, having already enjoyed great success as a best-selling writer (with over 6 million books in print), what keeps you passionate about writing Christian fiction?

Thank you for saying that. I think my ideas are what keep me passionate. God has always gifted me with ideas that I can’t wait to write. So even as I’m getting to the end of a book or series, I have new ideas that keep me going on to the next thing. And sometimes God is working in my life in a way that I think will help my readers, and because I believe that everything happens for a purpose, I try to fulfill that purpose by passing those lessons on to my readers.

*Where do your story ideas come from? Do you develop them from the perspective of a seat-of-the-pants writer or from the mind of one who carefully plots out the entire story before launching into it?

I’m a careful plotter. Usually an idea comes like a light flicking on in my mind, and I have to flesh it out and develop a plot that I hope will be a page-turner. I tend to do a loose plot for the whole book, then I very meticulously plot the first fourth of the book, write that, then plot the next fourth, etc. I use a storyboard to plot each scene so I know where I need to take the story each day.

*Emotionally speaking, which book or series has been the most difficult to write? The most rewarding?

Definitely the Intervention Series (Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall). The series was inspired by my experiences with my daughter who had severe drug addictions. The whole series was very personal to me, and the mother, Barbara, felt and thought things that I had felt and thought. But I’m really glad I wrote the series, because it brought healing to so many families. I hear from family members of addicts, and the addicts themselves, telling me that they felt they were alone until they read these books. They finally knew that someone got what they were going through. The books give them hope, because they remind them that God is the parent of prodigal children, and He understands the pain and suffering.

*Do you enjoy or endure the editing process?

I actually enjoy the editorial process. The worst part for me is the first draft, but the second draft, all the way through editorial, are kind of fun for me. With each pass I’m able to make the story better. I’ve worked with the same editor for over fifteen years, and he usually gives me a long critique of the story. Then I’m eager to dive back in and take it to the next level.

*One of my greatest highlights from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis (2011) was the privilege of getting to meet you personally. How do you balance your time so that you can meet the demands of writing at such a high level with the need to maintain a certain amount of personal contact with your readers?

I’ve had to clear my calendar so that I can focus more on writing than other things. For that reason, I don’t speak or teach much, and I keep traveling to a minimum. But I do try to stay connected with my readers through Facebook, Twitter, and email. But I realize that there’s always more for me to learn about my craft, so I do try to make time to attend writer’s conferences when I can. I always enjoy meeting my readers and getting to know other writers. I love the wit and kindred spirit of fiction writers.

*The Restoration Series was a bit of a departure from the type of suspense you normally write. What drew you to that series?

Sometimes I get an idea that doesn’t fit perfectly within my genre, but no one can talk me out of it! That’s kind of what happened with that series. My publisher was concerned I was off-brand with it, but I was determined to write it, and I’m glad I did.

I got the idea for the series after Y2K, when everyone expected technology to stop when the calendar turned. When nothing happened, my imagination kept taking that story in a different direction. What if something actually happened that knocked out all our technology? I researched what could make that happen, and found that EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) are an actual threat. In the first book, Last Light, my middle class family finds themselves without electricity, transportation, communication, etc. I thought it would be interesting to see what a family like mine would do when all of our modern conveniences are taken away. How would they survive? Would they hoard what they had, or would they share at the risk of starving? And I realized that I could bring in the suspense element through the looters killing for food and provisions. In times of crisis, darkness is darker than ever, and light is lighter than ever.

I called it the Restoration Series because I wanted the crisis to be a time of restoration for this family. And at the end of the series, when the power returns, I wanted the family to be different. They have a choice to go back to the way they were before, or to embrace the changes in their family and live in light of what they’ve learned.

I have to say that the series has had renewed interest in the last couple of years, probably due to the economy’s downturn and TV series such as Revolution. My publisher is repackaging the series and will re-release it in the fall, hoping to give it a second life. The subject matter is pretty timely right now. Just for the record, my series began coming out in 2005, before all these similar programs/movies/books were written.

*Even though it was published under a different title and you used a pen-name, Shadow in Serenity represented a transition in your life as a writer. What was it like for Terri Blackstock the Christian writer to revise something by Terri Blackstock the secular writer?

It was kind of difficult because it’s not the kind of book I write now. But I liked the characters and the story–kind of a modern day Music Man–so when I got the rights back, I decided to rewrite it. I have done that with five other books. My Second Chances series was made up of four books that had been rewritten from my early days, and Emerald Windows was also “redeemed.” Revising those books wasn’t quite as hard as writing something from scratch, so it was a nice way to clean my palate between books.

*I’m very much looking forward to the release of Book 1 in the Moonlighter’s Series, which is about three sisters who try to prove that their brother is not guilty of his ex-wife’s murder. In addition to Truth Stained Lies, what can we expect to see in this intriguing series?

I got the idea for the first book during the Casey Anthony trial. I was very interested in that trial, and I followed some blogs written by people with legal backgrounds, who were digging for behind-the-scenes information, some of which wasn’t being allowed into court. It occurred to me that these bloggers probably made some people angry, and I began to do my usual What-If routine. What if someone set up the crime to turn the tables on the blogger? What if that crime put the blogger in the position of being judged? So I created Cathy Cramer, a former prosecutor who started her blog after her fiance was murdered. She’s determined to make guilty people pay–so she investigates and speculates, and posts her findings.

When a reader warns her that she’s about to get a taste of her own judgmental medicine, she shrugs the warning off. But then her sister-in-law is found murdered, and her brother is set up as the killer. The killer has orchestrated events so that her brother’s true story sounds completely unbelievable. Despite Cathy’s efforts to defend her brother, she knows that no one is going to believe the truth.

Cathy is one of three sisters–a blogger, a stay-at-home mom, and a ne’er-do-well taxi driver–who moonlight as private investigators to help solve these crimes related to their family. Michael Hogan, the brother of Cathy’s dead fiance, is a PI who eventually hires the unlikely trio to help him solve crimes. (And he’s Cathy’s love interest.) The personality differences among the sisters creates some humor and conflict as they learn how to work as PIs without getting themselves killed. Each book will feature one of the sisters, and I’m having fun exploring these characters and the relationships in this family.

*How do you handle the ups and downs of being a writer?

I’ve been doing this for a long time, so over the years I’ve learned patience. It used to be so hard to wait…to hear back from a publisher if they were going to buy my book or reject it, to actually get the contract, to get paid, to have a book come out a year later, to see if anyone bought it, to see my royalty statements. I was always waiting, and my emotions were like a roller coaster. One minute I’d be dancing because I’d sold a book, and the next I’d be devastated because someone wrote a nasty review. But I have to say that I don’t let those things bother me much anymore. Deadlines keep me pretty focused, I avoid reading most of my reader reviews, and I try to remember that God doesn’t judge me the way the world does. As long as I’m staying true to Him, I’m succeeding. That keeps me steady.

Thanks to Terri Blackstock for being a part of this interview! You can learn more about Terri and her books in the following places:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tblackstock

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/terriblackstock

Website: http://www.terriblackstock.com

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, family, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing