Monday, May 24, 2010

How to sell your story

So, you’ve conquered the mountain and written your novel/memoir, and now all you have to do is find an agent or an editor who loves your work. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately it’s not all that easy. As much work as you’ve put into your story, I’m sorry to tell you that there’s a lot more work ahead of you. You have to create a catchy elevator pitch (a 15-second description of your wip), write a query letter (to ascertain interest from an agent/editor), write a synopsis, and make sure you have some dynamite opening pages in your story.

Guess what? I’ve got a great tip to helping to learn how to create those necessary components—this Thursday, May 27th, at 1 pm Eastern time (my!) literary agent Rachelle Gardner will present a live 90-minute webinar, “Sell Your Stuff: How to Get Your Novel or Memoir Published.” The webinar is being produced through Writer’s Digest.

Rachelle is one of the best literary agents in the market today. She is a part of WordServe Literary and publishes a blog that’s been included in Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites list. This woman knows her stuff, and now she’s going to share her insight and knowledge with the attendees. Not only that, but attendees will have access to the presentation for one year—that way if you have to leave in the middle or if you want the info as a reference, it will be available.

The webinar will include top instruction, a free query critique, an opportunity to ask questions, and five lucky attendees will be chosen at random to win a 20-minute personal phone call from Rachelle.

The cost of the webinar is only $79 and you can register here.

Keep in mind that education and instruction are a part of the writer's journey. This webinar is a great opportunity, and you should consider investing in your craft, yourself, and your story.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

I arrived in Estes Park yesterday for the CCWC. It was hard to believe the calendar said May 11th while driving through so much snowfall.

Last year I went to CCWC for one day and wore short sleeves. My friends and I were sitting on a deck and scootching into the shade. I think I even got a bit of sunburn. What a difference between this year and last.

I'm so excited for all that I'll learn this week and the friendships I'll make. I'll update Twitter and FB as I can.

Also, we have a winner! Congratulations to JoAnn Bennett who won a personalized copy of Candace Calvert's Disaster Status.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Writers and Editors Needed

So a few weeks ago when I was in Mexico I went to the buffet closest to the beach for lunch. Because it’s the beach buffet, people tend to dress less, uh, well, less.

I was in line behind a young man who wasn’t wearing a shirt. He had tattoos on both arms, and a large (maybe 7”x12”) tat in the middle of his back. It was lovely—a stylized cross with a crown of thorns and the words, “King of Kings.”

It would have truly been lovely if his tattoo artist or the person who designed the tattoo had a basic knowledge of the possessive apostrophe. You see, this unfortunate fellow will go through the rest of his life with a massive punctuation error written on his back because the phrase was written like this: King of King’s.

Ugh. The way it’s written implies possession, not King of all kings.

This experience, plus the several images online with Tat-fail examples, point out a possible new market for writers and editors: tattoo parlors. Obviously they have a need. Why don’t you give them a call?

BTW, the error in the photo is the lack of an "e" in the word awesome. Also, if you're going to get a tattoo, please be sure to do a spelling, grammar, and punctuation check before you put anything in stone, or rather in flesh.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I took a break in paradise

I spent last week lazing on a beach in Mexico doing what I like best, hanging out with loved ones, reading, and plotting. I even dreamed of the book I'm starting.

I'm in the middle of the photo below, all covered up, wearing sunscreen with SPF 50, and I still got a burn. Sigh.

The handsome guy in the white baseball cap is my delightful beta reader, reading through the book I just finished.

Oh, and I brought some friends along, here's a photo of two of them on the beach:

I'm going to be posting more photos on my Facebook page soon. If we're not yet friends, please feel free to friend me.

Two of the books I brought with me are Michal by Jill Eileen Smith (about King David's first wife -- fabulous) and C.J. Darlington's debut novel Thicker than Blood. I couldn't pry it out of my daughter's hands (she loved it), so I'll be reading that one here at home.

Guest author Candace Calvert

I had the pleasure of meeting Candace two years ago in Minneapolis at the annual ACFW conference. We hit it right off. The second novel in her Mercy Hospital series is available now, and I asked Candy to stop by and chat.

If you'd like the opportunity to win a personalized copy of Disaster Status, please leave a comment. I'll draw the winner's name next Wednesday.

1. Tell us about your latest novel, Disaster Status.

Disaster Status is the second book in my Mercy Hospital series and continues the story of nurse Erin Quinn introduced in Critical Care. I think the back cover copy gives readers a good sense of the drama to come:

“Charge nurse Erin Quinn escaped personal turmoil to work on the peaceful California coast. But when a hazardous material spill places Pacific Mercy Hospital on disaster status and stresses staff, she's puts to the test. And thrown into conflict with the fire department's handsome incident commander who thinks her strategy is out of line.

Fire Captain Scott McKenna has felt the toxic effects of tragedy; he's learned to go strictly by the book to advance his career, heal his family, and protect his wounded heart. When he's forced to team with the passionately determined ER charge nurse, sparks fly. As they work to save lives, can they handle the attraction kindled between them . . . without getting burned?”

2. What is the most surprising discovery you’ve made on your journey of publication?

Despite the competition (in contests, for agents, book contracts, etc.) there is such awesome support in the writing community—particularly in the CBA. Two years ago I attended my first ACFW conference and felt “at home” from the moment I arrived. Cheerleaders, prayer warriors, helpmates and mentors . . . friends--it’s wonderful. Aspiring authors shouldn’t feel intimidated; so much encouragement is there for them.

3. Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

A woman let me know how much she enjoyed Critical Care, then went on to say, “Finally, a book I can share with my teenage daughter and my mother!” I love that! And I’ve been delighted to hear from readers who’ve said that reading the Mercy Hospital books has prompted their decisions to explore nursing as a career—I can’t think of anything better.

4. What’s your favorite meal to cook?

(Grinning) Ask my Twitter Followers—they’ll swear I post my updates by tapping the keyboard with a wooden spoon! I get much the same thrill out of cooking as writing; it’s a creative, colorful and satisfying process filled with sensory detail and imagery—much like a good scene. I guess my favorite thing to cook is party food, an array of pretty appetizers in an artful display on tabletops, breakfast bar, side patio tables . . . wherever my guests can mingle, nosh, chat. Some “munchies” I’ve had fun with include: Grilled Portabella Mushroom Spread, Ole Squares, Roasted Corn and Lobster Dip, Crab Quesadillas, Ham Wrapped Asparagus Spears, Fire and Ice Salsa, Santa Fe Nuts. And little dessert bites of course—including frosted Christmas gingerbread shaped into cactus, armadillos and the map of Texas! Cooking makes my heart go pitter patter for sure. In fact, I’m typing with a wooden spoon right now.

5. What makes you happy?

Soul-deep happy: Being a child of God and knowing that He has a loving plan for my life.

Grin-on-my-face, heart happy: Our children and grandchildren, hiking and bird watching, gardening, sun on my face, seeing my handsome husband in a tuxedo smiling at me from the rail of a cruise ship, dancing the Two-Step, letters from readers, making a cozy home . . . and wielding that wooden spoon.

6. A piece of jewelry, the fragrance of lilacs, and the song of a mourning dove – make a scene.

Riley Hale set her stethoscope on the sheet of paper to stop it from blowing off the visitors’ table and across the hospital parking lot. She tucked a windswept strand of blonde hair behind her ear. As was its nature, the Texas weather was changing; a muggy promise of rain and now initial nudges towards an infamous “thunder bumper.” She tried to remember if fluctuations in barometric pressure wreaked the same Emergency Department havoc as a full moon. But what did it matter? Riley had less than an hour left in her ER shift, so maybe she’d get lucky and—

“Studying?” Sarah Burke arrived beside her, blue eyes intense as always. She jabbed a finger toward the flapping paper under the stethoscope.

“Sort of.” Riley hoped her shrug was casual; this course of study was nothing like the nurses’ required continuing educations classes in cardiac life support, pediatric emergencies and hazardous materials. It’s for me, my soul. I need this outlet. “An assignment for an online class . . . in novel writing.” She wasn’t at all surprised by the immediate wrinkling of her teammate’s snub nose.

“I know, I know--” Riley glanced toward the doors of the ER—“Who needs fiction when we’ve got this colorful drama 12 hours a day?”

“Right. Well . . . let’s see.” Sarah plucked the paper, scanned it, and then read the last part aloud. “‘A piece of jewelry, the fragrance of lilacs, and the song of a mourning dove—make a scene.” Her gaze met Riley’s, brows rising as if Riley had succumbed to barometric lunacy. “A scene?”

“A few paragraphs,” Riley explained, “using that sort of . . . romantic imagery. You know: a sight, a smell, a sound. It’s a prompt designed get the creative juices flowing, help a writer show off her ‘voice’, and --”

The ER doors slammed open behind them and a bearded staff nurse jogged out, stethoscope bouncing on his chest. “Code Three coming! Two teenage males, gunshot victims. One under CPR. Rival gang members--police will be crawling all over this place. ETA three minutes. Better get in here, ladies. Our ‘Doc Rambo’ is shouting orders like he’s still in a Kandahar MASH unit.”

They jumped to their feet as lightning flashed across the sky, accompanied by an immediate and deafening rumble of thunder. Ambulance sirens followed like shouts of ‘Bravo’ at a symphony. Sarah handed Riley her stethoscope and groaned. “Here’s your ‘jewelry,’ and”—she raised her voice above the storm that now qualified as a genuine Texas thunder bumper—“and I’m afraid that’s the sound of your mourning dove, girl.” She jogged toward the ER doors and Riley followed, saying a silent prayer for the victims and their families—such a sad waste.

Sarah looked back over her shoulder as the doors opened. “Can’t promise you lilacs, but there’s smelly slab of garlic pizza in break room calling our names . . . if Rambo doesn’t get it first.”

Jewelry, scent of lilacs, the peaceful cooing of a dove. Romantic, but not my reality . . . here or anywhere.

She tossed Sarah a tight smile. “Pure poetry, pal.”

In seconds they would be part of a life-and-death scene. God would write the ending.


Thank you for hosting me here on your blog, Megan. Your questions were fun—and challenging. I enjoyed answering them and having this opportunity to connect with your readers. I welcome them to “scrub in” with my Mercy Hospital series!




Candace Calvert is an ER nurse who landed on the “other side of the stethoscope” after the equestrian accident that broke her neck and convinced her love, laughter--and faith--are the very best medicines of all. The inspirational account of her accident and recovery appears in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, and launched her writing career.

The author of a madcap cruise mystery series in the secular market, Candace now eagerly follows her heart to write Christian fiction for Tyndale House. Her new medical drama series offers readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine, along with charismatic characters, pulse-pounding action, tender romance, humor, suspense--and a soul soothing prescription for hope. The second book in her Mercy Hospital series, Disaster Status, has just released.

A native northern Californian, Candace is the mother of two and proud grandmother of six. She enjoys cruise travel, Bible study, bird watching, hiking, gardening, cooking, and being her husband’s biggest karaoke fan.



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