Friday, 28 April 2017

Changing Routines

I keep seeing articles on social media that talk about how to be a "real" writer. Most of these involve routines that mean you are writing every day, the implication being that if you don't follow the steps in the article, you are not a "real" writer.

The tips to help you achieve this often include helpful tips such as getting up early, having calendars to mark off when you've written, write the same time every day, set aside hours of time to achieve your word count goals, and similar ideas.

Most of these ideas are quite unhelpful to me. They seem to assume that you have hours every day to devote to writing and that you have a supportive someone who can work to pay the bills, look after kids, etc. Or your writing is generating enough income so you don't need a day job.

One thing these articles seem to talk about is having a rigid writing routine, where you protect your daily writing time and set it in stone.

Scheduling writing time

Lately I've learned that it's great to have goals and diarise writing time, however, I have also learned that life changes and things don't always go to plan. Your writing routine has to be flexible.

Earlier this year, my older son ended up in hospital in extreme pain. There was a week when no writing happened. He is still in pain and has multiple appointments per week. Juggling that with work and getting my other son to school and activities usually results in little writing being done, and especially not every day. Getting up early to write is not going to happen either - I'm too tired.

I have found another writing routine. This usually involves setting aside some time on the weekend to sit in my favourite cafe and write. I'm incredibly productive in these times and have been known to write 2,000 words in a session!

One of my writing sessions - over dinner!
The fact I don't write every day doesn't make me any less of a writer. In a discussion with another author, she pointed out that writing is a job, just like any other job, and we're entitled to some time off or even working part time. Just like any work situation, there is no one size fits all approach to writing. Different routines work for different people, but no matter what, we need to be flexible with these routines because life can often get in the way of the best laid plans.


Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne with her two teenage boys and pet blue tongue lizard.

She writes flash fiction as well as middle grade novels. You can follow her writing journey at www.melissawrites.com.au and www.melissagijsbers.com

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review: True to You by Becky Wade

By Iola Goulton


A Top Pick for 2017

I discovered Becky Wade had free novella available—Then Came You—the prequel to her new series. I downloaded it, and read it, and discovered my review copy of the first book in the series was already sitting on my Kindle. So I read that as well, and now I have to wait months for the next in the series. Yes, True to You was good. Excellent. The best romance I’ve read so far in 2017.

The prequel novella, Then Came You, is the story of Garner Bradford and how he ended up with three daughters. It’s told in a combination of journal entries, telephone call transcriptions, and letters. True to You introduces Garner’s three adult daughters, Willow, Nora, and Britt, and is told in a more traditional third-person style, with the occasional telephone call or letter thrown in for good measure, along with Facebook direct message and text message conversations.

Strange, perhaps, but it worked.



True to You is Nora’s story. 

She’s a bookish librarian-researcher-genealogist who is a devotee of a certain British period drama, and one of the minor actors (the way she describes him, I see him as a slightly more foppish version of Benedict Cumberbatch). Nora also happens to own a historic village (as you do). She meets the handsome John Lawson when her sister volunteers her as a hostage for a training exercise run by John’s company, and the attraction would have been immediate if it wasn’t for the existence of Allie, John’s perfect girlfriend.

John is adopted and wants to find his birth parents. 


Nora seems the perfect person to help him. Only she’s too perfect … and he’s too much of a Christian and a gentleman to be able to do anything with that perfection when he already has the perfect girlfriend in Allie. Allie, who knows his secret and still wants him.

The plot was excellent, with the perfect (!) combination of predictable and surprising. 


There were several plot points that I didn’t see coming, but which made perfect sense. The characters were excellent—intelligent, funny, and quirky, and I’m already looking forward to the next two books in the series, to find out how Willow and Britt get their happy-ever-afters (the who has been pretty well identified already. The how … that’s going to be fun to watch. And I don’t know which I want to read more—the story of the ex who’s back in town, or the story of the boy next door who’s been in love with her forever).

The writing was outstanding. There were so many great lines, but I can’t quote most of them because *spoilers*. I especially loved the faith thread. Both Nora and John are Christians, and while the plot never makes a big deal about it, it is central to both their characters and both their stories. It comes across as entirely natural, and that’s tough to pull off.

I think you’ve figured by now that I loved this book. Recommended for all contemporary Christian romance fans.


Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Becky Wade at her website.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Three Things In Publishing That Have Changed in Two Years - Kara Isaac

In January 2015, I signed my first traditional publishing contract. I was recently thinking back on the things that have changed between then and now and thought I'd share a couple of thoughts :)

The rise (and rise) of indie publishing 

Two years ago indie publishing was gaining acceptance as a legitimate business decision by talented authors, as opposed to the "Plan B" of writers that weren't good enough to attain a traditional publishing contract. However, the hybrid author scene (authors publishing both traditionally and independently) was limited.

Two years later, the hybrid author scene is huge. Of all the traditionally published authors that I know almost all of them are publishing independently. Some reissuing backlist titles whose rights have reverted back to them, some writing novellas to complement series they are having traditionally published and some releasing full-length novels themselves between traditionally published novels.

Having lost almost all of the stigma previously associated with indie publishing, there are many things about it that are attractive to authors. These include the ability to control everything from cover design to price, a much shorter lead in time between finishing a book and getting it in the hands of readers and the ability to try new things in their writing.

Some previously traditionally published authors have found indie publishing so attractive that they've made the transition across. Others have been forced to take the jump because of...

The continuing shrinking lists of Christian publishers

In 2015, it was no secret that Christian fiction publishers were facing challenges. Changing reader demographics, closing brick and mortar bookstores, the proliferation of free and 99c indie books conditioning consumers to baulk at what were realistic sustainable prices for a traditional publisher. But there was still a reasonable number of medium-large houses doing Christian fiction.

In the last two years we've seen Abingdon and Harvest House discontinue their fiction lines. A number of other houses have further reduced their fiction titles leaving a number of authors without a publishing home. Two years ago it was hard for a debut author to get their foot in the door, today it is that much harder.

The influence of readers in place of marketing budgets
As bottom lines have continued to be squeezed one of the first things to get continually trimmed are marketing budgets. Where word of mouth has always been important to generate buzz about a book these days it it vital. Without a decent marketing budget and with thousands of books being released onto Amazon alone every week without any reader buzz a book can sink without a trace. Every author that I know is serious about cultivating relationships with their readers. Not just because it's fun (!) but also because, unless you're a bestseller with a huge existing audience, without readers who are committed to spreading the word about your books the chances of it getting found and read are slim.

As with all industries things are changing at a rapid pace. Authors, like other professions, are being forced to adapt or no longer be in the game. The one thing that hasn't, and will never, change is there will always be room for great stories. Now there are also ever expanding ways to get them into the hands of readers :)

What about you? What changes have you noticed in publishing over the last few years?


Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, was recently named a RITA Award 2017 double finalist. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac  

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Making the most of every opportunity

Mount Hermon Conference Centre
 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:15-16

Paul gives this directive in a different context to the one I’m going to use it in, but the point is valid—it’s wise to make the most of every opportunity.

I recently attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and initially I was going to go straight to the conference and come straight home. However, my family persuaded me that if I was going that far I should make the most of the opportunity and spend a few days being a tourist. So I flew to San Francisco before heading to Mount Hermon. This meant I had the opportunity of attending Menlo Park Presbyterian Church on the Sunday, which is where John Ortberg (multi-published author) is the senior pastor. I also visited Stanford University.

At the conference, I endeavoured to make the most of the opportunity by meeting agents and editors, with the goal of leaving them with a good impression of myself—that I was teachable, flexible and diligent. This opened up opportunities for me to send them my work.

Mount Hermon Conference Centre
Being a member of Omega Writers also provides lots of opportunities. One of them, which is currently greatly underutilised, is the opportunity members have of putting their photo, bio and links to social media on Omega’s website. The more sites that have links to your website, blog or facebook page, the more Google will point people to your sites.

Then there is the opportunity of attending the Omega Writers Conference. It’s on 27-29th October at Edmund Rice Conference Centre in Sydney with two international speakers, Margie Lawson and Alex Marestaing, as well as a host of home grown talent. There will also be publisher and editor stalls with appointments available.

Registrations open on 15th June at omegawriters.org. Cost will be between $300 and $395 dependant on accommodation choices etc. An airport shuttle is available.

If you believe that God wants you to write, make the most of every opportunity.

*****

Susan Barnes likes to write devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly blogs at abooklook.blogspot.com.au. She is also a school chaplain and pastor's wife.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Using Pinterest to Market your Author Business

By Pip Reid

Pinterest is a great way to drive traffic to your online author platforms. Our latest quarterly page view results on www.biblepathwayadventures.com show Pinterest was the best referrer of website traffic, beating rivals like Facebook and Google Plus by a country mile.

Interested? Here are five simple ways you can use Pinterest to increase the number of visitors to your author website, blog, or social media pages.

1. Add a Website Link

Did you know Pinterest allows you to add a website link (URL) to every image you pin? This means every time a pinner clicks on your image, they land on the website or platform you’ve added to your pin. How do we do this?

Take a look at this pin of Pharaoh. When you click the pencil icon, it brings up an edit box. Next to ‘website’, I’ve added a URL to the Escape from Egypt story page on biblepathwayadventures.com. Note: Pinterest doesn’t like shortened tinyurl and bit.ly links, so remember to include the full website address.





From now on, every time a pinner clicks on Pharaoh, they get taken directly to Escape from Egypt. (see screenshot below).


2. Make sure search engines can find you. 

In the Account Settings section of your Pinterest page, find ‘Search Privacy’. Search privacy allows you to choose whether you hide your Pinterest page from search engines. Make sure your settings show ‘no’, as shown in this screenshot.

Here’s an example of how effective Search Engines discoverability works. When I type ‘Jonah Bible Quiz’ into Google images, Bible Pathway Adventures’ quizzes appear five times on the first line. All these images are from our Pinterest page.



If someone clicks on one of these quiz images, they get taken our Pinterest page. If they click the image in Pinterest, they get taken to our website. It’s easy to see how consistently adding content to Pinterest can boost web traffic to your author blogpost or website!

3. Doing well on Pinterest often means your website can rise in Google rankings. 

To help pinners and search engines like Google find your work, add a description to each pin. Write short engaging image descriptions that speak to your audience. Since our biggest audience is Christian moms looking for Activity and Bible teaching ideas, my Activity descriptions read like this: ‘Printable Bible Quiz: Abraham | FREE Download’ or ‘Plague of Hail | Ten Plagues of Egypt’. These descriptions are packed with keywords that show up well in search results.

4. Pinterest lets you verify your author website. 

This adds credibility to your Pinterest profile and shows pinners you are the owner of your website. To verify your website, go to account settings. Next to the box where you’ve added your website domain name, click the ‘confirm website’ button to start the verification process.


Once you’ve verified your domain name, you’ll receive a check mark next to the website address. Verified websites can rank higher in Pinterest and Google search results, so it’s worth doing.

5. Join Group boards. 

Group boards appear under many different names – shared boards, contributor boards, community boards and collaborative boards, and are where like-minded pinners meet. Group boards give your pins even greater visibility, meaning more traffic to your website or blog. It’s also a fantastic way of connecting with other pinners and building relationships. To join a board, ask a member to invite you. Otherwise you’ll need to contact the owner via Pinterest message, email, or twitter, and ask for an invitation.

HOT TIP: Use the website Pingroupie to find Pinterest group boards worth joining.

Never underestimate the power of consistency and perseverance. Great images, useful content, and frequent pinning are the keys to doing well on Pinterest.

Is 2017 is the year you give Pinterest a go?


About Pip Reid

Pip Reid is the co-founder and author of Bible Pathway Adventures, a free Bible storyapp created to help parents around the world teach children more about the Bible. To help with this mission, Bible Pathway Adventures offers Bible stories and educational resources stories in many languages including Chinese, Hindi, Swahili, Tagalog, Spanish, Russian, Indonesian and Portuguese. All available for free download at www.biblepathwayadventures.com.

Outside of writing, Pip loves spending time in the outdoors, traveling, reading, and hiking with MJ, the world’s most lovable Staffy X.

Stay up to date with Bible Pathway Adventures on social media:
Pinterest: https://nz.pinterest.com/biblestory4kids/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/biblepathwayadventures
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/biblepathwayadventures/

Friday, 21 April 2017

Have A Go


Boat Licence
The email attachment icon felt like a pitiful representation of my first writing attempt. The manuscript I had been sitting on for eight months was now secured in a technology paperclip. It was time to put it out to the world. I vividly recall the trepidation that flooded me as I clicked ‘Send’. I know that if I hadn’t taken that step of faith, I would still be sitting on that manuscript thinking my writing was nothing more than a personal hobby. Ultimately, it was something profoundly Australian that had pushed me into submitting my story for assessment– our tradition of ‘Have a Go.’

It’s an old Aussie application to life so deeply ingrained in our culture that it’s a national catchphrase. Having a go is as Australian as kangaroos, koalas, and vegemite on toast. So what’s it all about? Well, it means exactly what it says: have a go. Don’t sit on the sidelines of life. In our culture, the greatest accomplishment isn’t failure or success: it’s all about the attempt.

Here in the land ‘Downunder’, it isn’t considered unusual to have many different careers, and a mass of random accomplishments during a lifetime. For Australians, the word ‘reinvention’ is just a fancy way of saying we’re having a go at something different. We dive in head-on and take leaps of faith outside our comfort zones.

For example, for years I had been toying with the idea of getting my boat licence. Here in Oz we are required to display sufficient boating skills and watercourse competency in order to skipper a recreational boat of any size. Some people voiced confusion as to why I would want to get my licence at the age of forty, but it was a niggling desire that wouldn’t go away. So I went for it, gave it my best ‘go’ and I succeeded—to my delight. A week later I attended a firearms safety course – the first step to acquiring my firearms licence (a mammoth task here in Australia, as our gun laws are restrictive). With some trepidation and a lot of help, I notched up that achievement as well. I was so happy—and relieved. These two skills might seem foreign to my path in life, but I have come to the conclusion that nothing is ever wasted. The Lord has a purpose for every accomplishment.

Have you ever had that same niggle? That little voice inside that is telling you to ‘have a go?’ It was this very voice that prompted me to start writing. Prior to my first manuscript, I had never written anything beyond university essays and the occasional letter. But that niggle wouldn’t go away, so one day I committed to ‘having a go’. I discovered that writing was my God-given calling, and the ministry the Lord had for me.

Thank goodness for my Australian heritage that had taught me to jump in and swim like mad, because without the push forward, I am certain I would have balked at the task. I probably would have told the inner niggle that it had my capabilities and ambitions all confused. In this and many other instances, I am grateful for my cultural propensity to ‘have a go’.

‘Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.’ Ecclesiastes 11: 1 (NIV)

The feedback I received from sending in that manuscript gave me the encouragement to keep writing. It told me that I was on the right track, and the Lord had a purpose for the road I was on. Having a go paid off, because I not only learned what I was doing right, but also what I was doing wrong.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’  (H. Jackson Brown Jnr, although usually attributed to Mark Twain).

With this Aussie spirit of having a go in mind, I would like to challenge you, dear reader, to listen to that inner niggle. Maybe it is calling you to do something completely outside your comfort zone. Perhaps it is pushing you to do something you have wanted to do for a long time, or even something you’ve always desired to do but never had the courage. Whatever it is, if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that when God places something on the heart, He has a terrific plan for it. Experience and accomplishment is never a burden to bear. His journey, no matter where it leads you, is never a waste.

Do you have a manuscript gathering dust? Have you wondered if your writing is any good, but don’t have the means to seek advice to improve your skills? In the spirit of ‘have a go’ I encourage you to explore our Australasian Christian Writer’s Association: the OMEGA Writers:


Or please consider entering our Australasian CALEB Awards for Literature: http://www.omegawriters.org/competitions/caleb-prize/

In us you will find a wealth of experience, a generous group of sharing professionals, and an endless supply of encouragement.



Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series.
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is A Christmas Resolution, which is part of the novella box set, An Aussie Summer Christmas.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.
Visit Rose at: https:/https://rosedee.com/






Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Priority Unit by Susan Page Davis

By Jenny Blake
The Priority Unit
Maine Justice Book 1
by 
Susan Page Davis

Description:
A missing man. 
A mysterious computer program – 
Even the people constructing it don’t know what it will do.
On the worst night of Harvey Larson’s life, his partner is killed and his wife, Carrie, walks out on him. Ten years later, the Portland, Maine police detective has learned to cope with his grief and depression. When he and the Priority Unit investigate the disappearance of software designer Nick Dunham, he meets a young woman who will change his life. Jennifer Wainthrop was the last person to admit seeing Dunham alive.

Harvey and his partner, Eddie Thibodeau, stay a step ahead of a bomber and put together the clues that tell the truth: Dunham’s kidnapping and the bombings are one case, and Jennifer is caught in the middle. News that Carrie has committed suicide may plunge Harvey back into despair. Harvey turns to God for help untangling his complicated life. He finds strength in his faith as he attempts to save Jennifer from the same grim fate that claimed Nick. But Jennifer must depend on her own wits and God alone when the killer gets too close. 

My Review:
Thanks Susan Page Davis for my copy to review.

This is an interesting suspense story.  The book starts with Harvey having the worst night of his life. His partner is killed and his wife leaves him. The book then fast forwards 10 years to when he is investigating the disappearance of a software designer and this is where he meets Jennifer Wainthrop. Not long after he learns is ex wife has died and while at the funeral he spends time with her grandmother who challenges him. It is here he starts to wonder does God exist.  At the same time Jennifer has questions of her own and they both decide to do research together. In the meantime there is still a missing man and there is a car bombing. 

I enjoyed waiting to find out what would happen next. The suspense wasn't too heavy which I like but enough to keep you on your the edge of your seat. I wanted to know who the bomber was and why, and why did the designer disappear. I also have to mention Eddie, he is a scene stealer at times and a fun character. I was kept guessing which is a good sign of a good book. I am eagerly awaiting book two. 

If you like Police suspense I am sure you will enjoy this book