Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

The Saga of a Book, by Eleanor Shepherd

Eleanor Shepherd is back at my blog this week to share with us about marketing our writing. She is a fabulous author, and really gives some great advice. Here’s what she has to say:

A Saga of a BookMarketing our Writing

by Eleanor Shepherd

When I began to work on my newly published book, More Questions than Answers, I gave no thought to the marketing of that book. I knew that I wanted to write about love as the distinguishing mark of a Christian. That was about all. Then as I picked up books and articles, I kept coming across phrases that related to listening, caring and accepting without judging. When a tragedy struck our family, I was forced to look deep within for some answers.  I had begun to develop a collection of these articles and chapters of books and when I was ready to begin writing I began to sift through them and try to organize them into consistent categories, coloured by the experiences of my pilgrimage. Slowly my book began to take shape.

The gestation of the book lasted ten years during which time its form developed during evenings at the computer where I spent hours writing and editing and rewriting and editing some more and then rewriting and editing again.  Finally, I arrived at a stage where I dared to let some trusted friends who seemed to be on the same wavelength read some of the chapters I had written.  Their comments and suggestions led me to more rewriting and editing until the manuscript was polished enough to present to publishers.

Each year I sent the manuscript for advance critique before attending a writers’ conference.  The critiques helped me to see areas that needed improvement and the positive comments that accompanied the rejections gave me enough courage to keep persisting because the material itself had merit.

Finally, an editor was ready to consider publication but assigned me the task of rewriting the whole book in a less scholarly and pedantic way, creating instead a friendlier, everyday manner of expression more consistent with the material in the book.  It was the advice my husband had given me.  The timing was precise.  It happened just at before I was laid off one job and was unable to start a new one for three months. The amount of time was sufficient to do the rewrite.

By this time, I was convinced the Lord could use what I had to say for his purposes.  I had come to a fork in the road.  I loved the material of my book, but I knew that I either had to persist, rewrite and see it through to publication or let it go forever.  I prayed what I thought was a bold prayer.  “Lord, if you want to use this book, you will have to give me the time to write.  I cannot work full-time and give it the attention that it needs. “  Two weeks later, I was laid off from my employment.

The next three months were such joy.  Every day I spent eight hours at the computer rewriting the text as a story and not as an instruction manual.  I found that my own heart was stirred as I read over what I was writing.  I sensed the presence of the Spirit with me.  I knew that I was the instrument that He was using to echo His thoughts and ideas.  They were being fashioned in His love.

When it was rewritten, I submitted it to another publisher and it was accepted.  When I first read the e-mail, I could not believe my eyes.  Signing the contract with the publisher was only the beginning of the next stage.  The book required professional copyediting and preparation for typesetting with re-readings at every step along the way.

I loved the cover that the publisher created and I sensed it was just right.  I was so excited the first time I clicked on the publisher’s website and saw the book there ready for purchase.  I did not even have my author’s copies yet.  They were in the mail to me.

By the time my copies arrived, I had begun to understand something about the next stage in the life of this newborn.  I could not just tuck her away in a corner and expect her to survive.  I had to care for her, to nourish her, to expose her to the light and take her out to be with others.  That was going to mean I had to learn about marketing.

When writers want to learn about anything, the first place they look is in books (or at least that was the case before the internet).  I went online to The Word Guild listserv and requested suggestions of good marketing books.  Off I went to the local bookstore to buy the first one.  The others I ordered online.

While the publisher is helpful, I know that they have hundreds of books to market and if I am going to get mine into the hands of those who will benefit from it, it is up to me to try and find as many markets as I can myself.  I am gleaning ideas about marketing from all kinds of sources.  Just as when I began to think about the book, I kept running into articles and stories about listening, now I am constantly finding material about marketing.

A debate that rages is particularly acute for us as Christian writers.  The key issue is whether we need to market ourselves, which is often what we are doing as we try to sell our books or whether we just leave it to the Lord to bring the people who need them to our books.  As with most debates, I expect this is not an either/or question but there are times when we need to speak out for our books as Arthur Paul Boers pointed out in an earlier post.  At other times, we will be able to stand still and see God at work using the creation that He has gifted us with for His purposes in ways we could never have imagined.  It is not all work and it is not all grace.  As it so many other areas of life, it is cooperative grace.

You can find Eleanor online at her blog: Eleanor Shepherd

She is also a contributor at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, where this article was originally posted on April 18th, 2010.

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The Writing Life, by Eleanor Shepherd

A few weeks ago, I asked the question “Why did you become a writer?” Well, this week, I am honored to share Eleanor Shepherd’s response to that question:

As writers, we receive encouragement from many different sources. Being raised in a home where I was surrounded by books, nurtured my love of reading.  Before I went to school, I had already learned to read. I loved the sounds of words and the magical way when they were put together they could tell a story.

While reading became a passion while I was still quite young, it was in the sixth grade that the possibility that I might also be able to write began to dawn upon me.  That year we had a teacher who required from us an essay every Friday.  She assigned us a different topic each week.  This first exposure to deadlines, also called forth my creative capacities. The adrenalin pumped as my pen flew across the page hardly able to keep up with the thoughts tumbling over one another that I tried to capture before they fled.  What fueled my passion was the commendation of this teacher who really believed I had some writing ability.

Throughout the rest of my schooling, the curriculum often offered opportunities for creative writing. I enjoyed these and knew that I could anticipate a decent mark for such endeavors.  With the confidence this success engendered, I had no hesitation in signing up for a creative writing course my first year at university.  I still am not quite certain what happened that year, but the professor and I were on entirely different wavelengths.  I learned some valuable lessons about developing journalistic and writing skills, but I barely passed the course and concluded I was not cut out to be a writer after all.  The experience was so devastating that I even doubted by ability to write a research paper, a problem that dogged me for the rest of my university career.

Although I still loved to read, my writing was limited to the prayer journals that I kept. They mostly recorded names and prayer requests.

In my early thirties, I needed to take an elective course to complete my requirements for ministry in our denomination.  I gathered up my courage and enrolled in a journalism course that was being offered by correspondence.  Though I doubted my ability, the desire to write persisted.  I was amazed when each of my lessons was returned with such positive comments and good grades.  Maybe I could write after all.

The clincher came when the editor of the women’s magazine for our denomination came to lead a women’s’ ministry Sunday service for our congregation.  As we visited together over lunch, she asked about my interests; I mentioned the journalism course I was taking.  She asked to see something I had written.  I showed her a couple of articles.  She requested that I send them to her for publication in our denominational women’s magazine.  That was the beginning of my writing for publication and I have not looked back.

I still struggle with my fears.  I write and rewrite and rewrite, and wonder if what I have written will be helpful to anyone; yet, I sense that to write is to exercise a God-given ability.  Currently my book about listening is on its way to publication.  The typeset proofs were sent to me last week, so I could check for errors and get them back to the publisher again by the end of the month.

This past weekend, I attended a conference in Phoenix related to my work.  On the flight west, I began to read over the proofs and mark any corrections needing to be made.   My goal was to finish this task on the flight home.  I really wished someone else could also read it. I feared there were things I would miss since I am so familiar with the manuscript.  I have been working on this project for ten years.

When we boarded the plane in Phoenix, I began chatting with the woman next to me.  She had been in Phoenix to receive her PhD that weekend.  When she saw the manuscript and pencil in my hand, she said, “It looks like you have some work to do.”  I explained what I was doing.

To my surprise, she asked if I would like her help.  She enjoyed doing that kind of thing and would be glad to read it over for me.  I was delighted and handed her the first section of the book.  This included the table of contents, forward, acknowledgments, endorsements and introduction, along with the first chapters.  She began to read and put her markings on the pages.  I figured she would soon tire of this, but I was glad she was willing to help.

When she completed the first section, she handed it back to me and asked for some more.  By this time, she was beginning to ask me the odd question about the book.  She seemed intrigued by some things I say about listening.  I handed her another bunch of pages and thought that I would be fortunate if she was willing to do even that much.  By the time we arrived in Chicago, where we both were changing flights, she had read and marked about sixty pages.  I thanked her and offered her one of my daughter’s CDs as a token of my gratitude.

Our connecting flights to Montreal and Syracuse were leaving from adjoining gates at O’Hare airport.  Instead of taking the shuttle, between terminals we walked together and chatted about the book.  When we got to my gate, we still had about an hour and a half before our flights.  My new friend sat down beside me and offered to proofread the next section of the book.   Her interest in the book affirmed for me it is now ready to touch the lives of people in the way that the Lord intends.  That is why I write.

You can find Eleanor online at her blog: Eleanor Shepherd

*Please note that Eleanor’s post was originally posted at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian on March 27th, 2010.

This is the first of two guest posts by Eleanor Shepherd. Check back in next Friday to read what she has to say about marketing our writing.

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Guest Blogging Etiquette

During November I have been hosting guest bloggers on Fridays. I have learned quite a few things during this time, and I wanted to share a few things with you.

If you are ever asked to be a guest blogger:

1. Stay on topic – If they ask you to write about something (no matter how broad or narrow the category) stay on topic! Don’t agree if you can’t write about what they are asking. It’s that simple.

2. Know your definitions – If you are asked to be a guest blogger, know what they want from you. A guest blogger writes a post to be posted on someone elses blog. A blog interview is where you answer questions to be posted on someones blog, and a feature is when they blog about you. Know the differences!

3. Mind the details – If they ask for a 500 word post, get as close as possible without being insanely shorter or longer. If they don’t specify, you may want to check if it matters. If they ask for a picture, be sure to send one. If they ask for an author bio, include one. If you want to be invited back, following instructions is key!

4. Be on time – No one likes a no-show! If you commit to getting them a blog, do so. If something does comes up where you wont be able to meet the deadline, be courteous enough to let them know and offer an apology.

If you are hosting guest bloggers:

1. Be specific – Let them know what you want. Topic, length, author bios, photos vs. no photos, language restrictions, anything that you can do to make it easier for there not to be problems later on is great! Then if the guidelines aren’t followed you will have a leg to stand on when you ask for a re-write or decide not to post what they have sent you.

2. Follow up – If your setting up a schedule, give them a deadline and follow-up if it isn’t met. You may even want to send them a reminder a week in advance. After the blog is posted, send them the link incase they want to share it with friends or see how it turned out.

For more great tips on helping you be a successful guest blogger, check out “A Step-by-Step Guide to Guest Blogging” by Shelley Hitz.

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Very Good by Gail E. Dudley

I am hosting guest bloggers on my blog each Friday this month (there is a complete schedule at the bottom of this post), and today I am excited to have Christian author and speaker, Gail E. Dudley. Here’s what she has to say:

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” When we arrive at Genesis 1:27, we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. As we continue to read this chapter, we read in the last verse of this chapter, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

It’s all good. So, what’s up with the woman in Genesis 3? She allowed the enemy to whisper into her ears lies that filled her mind with false information. You already know the story that I will recap in my personal paraphrase. God said it was not good for man to be alone so He caused man to sleep and from man came woman. It was so good that Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Then here comes the serpent, a slick, crafty, deceitful, and clever being. He trips the woman up by asking her, “Did God really say…?” After she opens her mouth to respond, he returns with these words, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” Back up! Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, the image of God.” This means that she was already like God. This is where we get things twisted. We allow others to speak some- thing into our lives to confuse us, even when we already know the truth. Come on. Let us study to show ourselves approved. It is important to know the Word so we don’t get tripped up. This is our challenge. We say we love God. We say we worship, adore, and praise Him. But do we really know Him and know His Word?

As you study God’s Word, you will discover God’s truth yourself, without leaning on the opinions and commentary of others. If we would study the Bible, we would be better prepared to respond if and when a response is needed. If we would spend time with God, we would know when someone is trying to deceive us and distract us from focusing on what is true.

Basically, the serpent was telling the woman that she was “less than.” He was telling her that she was not made in the image of God. And she like many of us will fall for the lie. We must put on the full armor of God and not allow others to feed us filth to where are minds are spinning out of control.

God said, “It’s good.” “It’s very good.” When are we going to believe Him and stop buying into the lies?

About the Author:

With a commitment to delivering messages that are both scriptural and applicable to real life situations, Gail E. Dudley shares the words that are spoken into her heart by the Holy Spirit and those same words are delivered directly from her heart to the listener’s ear.

Currently, Gail serves as a pastor at The Church at North Pointe, providing guidance, teaching discipleship studies, and overseeing multiple outreach efforts. She is also the Vice President of Diversity for Stonecroft Ministries, and works actively with the Mission America Coalition.

Gail is the wife of Reverend Dr. Kevin Dudley, senior pastor of The Church at North Pointe (Columbus, Ohio) and the loving mother of Alexander and Dominiq. Gail connects with people where they are and upon hearing her speak it is evident that Gail walks closely with the Lord, spends time daily in the word and seeks always to be ready to share God’s truth for transforming lives.

Booking Information:

www.GailDudley.org

GED@MIMToday.org

614-441-8178

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Guest Blogger Schedule:

November 4th: Shawn Lamb

November 11th: Dave Fessenden

Today: Gail E. Dudley

November 25th: Dennis De Rose

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Guest Blogger: Dave Fessenden

As most of you already know, I am hosting guest bloggers each Friday this month (you can see the complete schedule at the bottom of this post), and today I am happy to introduce you to Dave Fessenden. Dave blogs over at Concept to Contract, and has a ton of great tips to offer on writing Christian non-fiction.

Why did you become an author?

I’m honored to have Dave share his journey with us here:

I was approaching high school graduation and I began to get a bit nervous. What did I want to do with my life? (As an impatient seventeen-year-old, I just had to have an immediate and comprehensive answer to that question.) Sure, I could enter college with an undeclared major; everyone was doing that. But I knew myself well enough to realize that I couldn’t survive even a semester in college without a clear plan — a goal, a vision.

Everyone I knew would respond to my dilemma with the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” Good question. What did I like to do so much that I could see myself doing that day in and day out for forty years? A musician? A pastor? A teacher? (I envied Li’l Abner’s job as a mattress tester, but I doubted I could make a career out of that!)

It took a while before I realized I was asking the wrong question. The question I needed someone to ask me (and what I eventually learned to ask myself) was, “What does God want you to do with your life?” I had given my life to Christ a few years earlier, and had recently made the shocking discovery that this new life was no part-time hobby, but a total, lifetime commitment. If I was going to be a follower of Christ, I could no longer strike out on my own; it was not right for me to decide about my future without seeking God’s will on the subject.

What a relief! Instead of finite little me making my arrogant plans about an unknown future, I could leave it in the hands of the infinite God, who knows the future. So I bowed my head and prayed,”Dear God, what do You want me to be?”

The answer was immediate and clear: “How about a writer?”

It seems odd to me now that such a thing had never occurred to me before. I loved reading; I was fascinated with the interplay of words, in poetry and prose; and I enjoyed being able to express my ideas and explain concepts. Not only that, but I realized my favorite assignments in school, and the ones I did best at, involved writing.

As I later discovered, helping others get their ideas down on paper was just as fascinating and rewarding to me as working on my own writing projects, so editing and publishing soon became joint interests and callings. After thirty years of doing this, my love for words, books, writing and helping other writers has not dimmed. In fact, all these loves seem to have culminated in my latest book, Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract.

Has God called you to write? Your experience may not be exactly like mine, but if you’re brimming with writing ideas, and itching to put words on paper, ask the Lord what He wants to do with that desire. Every idea should be scrutinized by prayer. Inspiration and creativity are no proof of God’s favor. The Tower of Babel was a creative project, but it sure didn’t have God’s approval!

The writing ideas that are truly inspired by God, however, may start out small, but soon they come on strong and develop a life of their own. And because God is sovereign, there is nothing you can do to “make” them come. The only thing you can do is be faithful—be the kind of person that God can trust His ideas with.

About the Author:

David E. Fessenden is senior editor/acquisitions for CLC Publications, the U.S. publishing house for CLC Ministries International (formerly Christian Literature Crusade). Dave has a B.A. in journalism, an M.A. in religion, and over 25 years of experience in writing and editing. Before beginning his ministry with CLC, he launched an editorial consulting business after 12 years on the staff of Christian Publications, Inc., the majority of that time as managing editor. In previous positions Dave served on the communications staff of Elim Bible Institute and was editor of a regional edition of the largest Protestant weekly newspaper in the country.

Dave has published five books and contributed study guides and discussion questions for works by authors such as A.W. Tozer and Andrew Murray. He has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and edited numerous books. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences, was an instructor for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild, and did a ten-year stint as a regular columnist for Cross & Quill, a Christian writers’ newsletter. Dave also conducts Sunday school teaching workshops based on his book, Teaching with All Your Heart. His latest book, Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract, was published by Sonfire Media in June.

Dave and his wife, Jacque live in the Philadelphia area and have two adult sons.

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Guest Blogger Schedule:

November 4th: Shawn Lamb

Today: Dave Fessenden

November 18th: Gail E. Dudley

November 25th: Dennis De Rose

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Guest Blogger: Shawn Lamb

I am hosting guest bloggers on my blog each Friday this month (there is a complete schedule at the bottom of this post), and today I am excited to have Shawn Lamb here. Shawn is a multifaceted, award-winning, Christian author who takes her faith seriously:

A Christian author or an author who is a Christian?

This is a question I was asked in an interview, and personally somewhat surprised considering it was on another Christian forum.  I can’t divorce who I am from my beliefs nor compartmentalize my life. My faith in Jesus touches and effects what I do in every aspect of my life and has ever since age 14. Faith and my beliefs became especially important in my marriage and raising our daughter Briana. It also formed the book I wrote in response to my daughter’s request for a fantasy story.

Briana was an avid reader who devoured books. During her early high school years, Harry Potter was becoming all the rage, but she didn’t like dark stories, rather the old fashion kind by Tolkien or Lewis. However, she felt isolated, being picked on by those who read HP. I wrote for an animated series called BraveStarr, so she asked me to write her a fantasy to give her something to share with her friends.

At first, I only meant to write a single book, however, her friends became fascinated that her mom was writing this big epic story, as she described it. In actually, what did I know of fantasy? Historical fiction is my genre and the one I was pursuing for publication. I prayed about what to do and God led me to search among old papers I kept from childhood to rediscover a story idea I wrote at age 16 – and a fantasy! I still had the map, the first chapter and all the character names. This became the basis for the ALLON series.

The interest turned into visits to the house and her friends asking questions, first about the story than wanting personal advice on life. Nashville has become home to a large immigrant and refugee population. Most of these kids were either refuges themselves or first-born U.S. generation of immigrants. They came from Iraq, Egypt, Laos, Somalia and Kenya thus of different faiths, Buddhist and Muslim primarily. They asked about American behavior or why do Christians believe a certain way. But all were desperately seeking hope. They and their families came to the U.S. searching for it and the promise of a new life, but were having great difficultly assimilating and understanding so hope became elusive.

Naturally, I answered the questions based upon my beliefs yet always with respect and couched in hope.  God used their needs and desire as the catalyst for subsequent books in the ALLON series to address the issues they struggled with. These include sibling rivalry, parental tension, dealing with others who are different and consequences from bad moral choices. But hope is present throughout the series, the living hope. As a result, two girls from Egypt accompanied us to church one Easter.

Jesus taught in parables and stories are a powerful tool for conveying truth and principles. I make no apology for being a Christian or writing from a Christian perspective. My desire is glorify God in all facets of my life, whether in private or public. The number of book sales doesn’t matter to me, rather seeing the light of hope and smile on the face of a child/teen who is touched by what they read.

With ALLON established, I’m returning to historical fiction with  a new line of Christian books for adults. This begins with THE  HUGUENOT SWORD, the story of the faith and lives of French  Protestants under the rule of Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu  and the battle of La Rochelle.

About the Author:

 Shawn and her husband Rob live in Antioch, Tennessee. They  have been married for 25 years, and have a daughter named  Briana. Shawn will be appearing at the National Bible Bee &  Family Discipleship Conference in Nashville, November 17th- 19th, 2011. Or if you would like to find her online, you can check out the following links:

Website: Allon Books

Blog: All-on Writing

Facebook: Shawn Lamb

Amazon: Author Shawn Lamb

Twitter: @slamballonbooks

 

 

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Guest Blogger Schedule:

Today: Shawn Lamb

November 11th: Dave Fessenden

November 18th: Gail E. Dudley

November 25th: Dennis De Rose

 

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