Hello from Crystal Bowman! This blog post is for those who want to write fiction for children, and even for those who don’t because the more you know, the more you grow. Most of my books are for the children’s devotional or Bible storybook market. However, I have written several fiction picture books as well as few dozen I Can Read! books, so I want to share something I learned many years ago in my novice years of writing. The mistake many writers make (and I used to be one of them) is to write an explanatory introduction to “set up” the story. Read More →
Greetings from north-of-Orlando Mount Dora, Florida, where the soggy remnants of Tropical Storm Colin are steaming their way out of our backyards.
But I know the weather where Angela Breidenbach (the lovely subject of today’s author interview) lives looks a bit different. Angela, a former Mrs. Montana International, still lives in that northwestern state when she’s not busy participating in author events, teaching at conferences, or traveling in her role as president of the Christian Authors Network. Angie has lots to share, so let’s move on to the Q & A.
Welcome back to the CAN blog, Angela! How many books do you have published?
Nine, with several more in process. I should have about 13 out by the end of the year, or close to it.
Wow! That’s amazing. What are a few of your latest titles?
Lassoed by Marriage, Blue Ribbon Brides (releases November 1), Bitterroot Bride, Taking the Plunge. . . all have 2016 publishing dates. One I’m really excited about isn’t fiction at all. It’s a compilation of my ancestors’ autobiographical stories—my grandpa, grandma, a great-aunt, and letters that were translated from my great-grandma from Swedish to English. I’m still working on a title, but this book is for preservation of history, and quite a few of my readers expressed interest. My big hope is that many family and descendants of these amazing people, who never read or knew of these writings, will be able to access them from all over the world. Readers are welcome to help me title it. I’ll take any and all suggestions under consideration. The big job is fact-checking dates, names, spellings, and places.
Sounds fascinating! Angela, you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
If the story is important to me, then I have to write it regardless if it’s important to a publisher. There’s a sense of job satisfaction and spiritual fulfillment that has to happen for me to enjoy my job as a writer. When I’m only writing to contracts because they sold, I find I lose my sense of joy in the art and creation. So now I make sure to work on my pet projects, too. Comically, one of those “pet” projects is Muse and Writer. He really is my pet, but Muse is my fe-lion personal assistant. (Don’t let him hear you say he’s a cat!) He has his own following. Writing those conversations between us is pure fun, but I’ve also learned that even comedy has valuable purpose. Muse and I get notes from readers about how these comedy snippets have helped them through tough times like divorce, depression, hospital stays, etc.
When I started, I had no idea there would be passion in me to write cat, ahem, fe-lion comedy or that it would actually have an outreach ministry. I learned I write to offer hope and encouragement. I learned that when people respond to that offering of my unusually voiced humor, telling me I helped them through a rough patch somehow, that it clicks in my soul. I will write those comedy sketches until the cows come home because I feel like it matters to someone. No way would I have thought Muse & Writer mattered for more than a snicker when I started it three years ago. But those readers are avid supporters, and I’m their avid supporter. I want to offer a bright spot on a dark day. That synergy between reader and writer is the most important thing I’ve found in my writing life—and it was in the least likely place I’d expect to find it. Read More →
Welcome from C. Kevin Thompson! The more I write, the more I become appreciative of those who have gone before me and “blazed a trail,” if you will. It’s no small feat to write multiple books, especially when it was done before the advent of the modern self-publishing phenomenon. I know of many people who tell me they’ve started a book. It’s the finishing that’s the hard part.
That’s why writers like our guest keep me writing. They’ve shown that good, old-fashioned hard work, perseverance through times both good and not-so-much, and a persistent pursuit to hone their craft pay off in the end.
Allow me to introduce to you our guest for today, Nancy Mehl.
Nancy, it’s great to have you on the Christian Authors Network Blog. So, let’s get to it. How many books do you have published now?
Twenty-five books so far!
Amazing. For our readers who are maybe not so familiar with your work, what are a few of your latest titles?
Some of my latest titles are Gathering Shadows, Deadly Echoes, and my newest, Rising Darkness. These are all titles in my Finding Sanctuary series. I also have two recent books with Guideposts. These are in the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series. The first book is Blessings in Disguise. The second is Simply Vanished which will be released any day now.
You’ve been busy since you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are some of the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
Discipline is paramount! I’m writing for two different publishers, so I have to work hard to pre-plan my writing goals. I use calendars and plan out each book by daily word counts and weekly goals. If I didn’t do this, I’d be sunk.
I’ve also begun to understand how important good editors are. Editors who are brutally honest, but can also encourage their authors, are worth their weight in gold.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since 2012?
To be honest, I can’t drive myself crazy with promotion. I don’t have the time. I do have a street team, and recently, I hired a young man to help me with promotional duties. He is a whiz at what he does, and I am truly blessed. Writers need to write. We just don’t have time to spend on a lot of promotion.
That said, I do have some social media outreaches. My main emphasis is Facebook, which I enjoy. And I work with some other authors on a blog called the Suspense Sisters. I do intend to learn more about Twitter after the first of the year. I also intend to become more involved with CAN. I realize it’s one of the best tools available to authors.
You and me both (the part about CAN). I really haven’t even scratched the surface on how this organization can help. Once my newer works come out, a crash course I will need. What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Honestly? My most effective means of book promotion comes through my publisher’s promotional activities. On a personal level, Facebook has been quite helpful.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Book signings. When I first started writing, all my newbie writer friends and I dreamed of book signings. It didn’t take long for me to see that they just aren’t worth the effort if your emphasis is sales. But…I do try to have a book signing every once in a while – just for readers who want to meet me. If you want to schedule a book signing, I recommend joint signings. It helps when other authors bring in their readers. It gives an author a chance to make new contacts.
I’ve participated in some of those joint signings, and you’re right. They do work better. Makes it more effective for readers to have more than one writer in the building, unless your Ben Carson or James Patterson, I suppose. On that note, what’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
Probably through Facebook. It gives us a chance to connect on a more personal level.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you’ve ever tried?
I don’t know if it’s crazy, but the most nerve wracking is something called “Book Banter,” a promotional event my publisher manages. It’s done on Facebook and draws in a big crowd. It’s fun to connect with so many people, but you move a mile a minute, trying to answer questions and stay on top of things. By the end, I’m usually exhausted!
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
There have been several – all of them at book signings. One that sticks out in my mind is the woman who couldn’t wait to tell me that I really needed to be writing books for children – about buses. She was adamant about it. LOL!
Buses, huh? A mystery/suspense writer creating children’s books about buses? I’m afraid by the time mothers around the country finished reading it, their children would become car riders the very next school day. Sometimes, people need to think things through, you know? Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books, besides the possibility of a new school bus genre?
I love Charisma magazine and have been a subscriber for years. Imagine my surprise when I opened it one month and found myself and my newest book mentioned in a feature about what was happening in the Christian community! I about fell out of my chair. My best friend called me as soon as she saw it. “I had no idea you were so famous!” she said. That was not only a surprise, but a real thrill.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
First of all, write a great book. It’s not hard to promote a well-written book.
Secondly, reach out on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But be a real person. There’s nothing worse than someone on Facebook who is obviously trying to promote themselves. I usually “unfollow” people like that. Don’t be obnoxious – be yourself. If you care about the readers you come in contact with, you’ll have made a lifetime friend – and a lifetime reader.
Nancy, it’s been a pleasure having you stop by and take time out of your busy schedule. We wish you well on your present and upcoming works.
If anyone wants to catch up with Nancy, she can be found at the following online locations:
Suspense Sisters Blog: suspensesisters.blogspot.com
Thanks for stopping by, Everybody!
C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.
A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, he is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.
Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24 , The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Page
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson
Bob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:
Holy Spirit, cultivate and proliferate your fruit in my writing.
Let love permeate my words.
Help me experience joy in the writing, and let my readers experience joy in reading.
Use my writing to spread shalom.
Give me patience in the writing.
Let goodness characterize what I write, and gentleness how I write it.
Make and keep me faithful to you, to the publisher, and to the reader from beginning to end, and let God-given self control guide my every thought, impulse, and decision as I write, revise, edit, and review, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Bob’s latest book is The Red Letter Prayer Life, available now via Bob’s website or at fine Christian retailers everywhere.