Monday, April 23, 2012

Debra Dixon's GMC

I love reading craft books for writing.

What can I say? I love studying.

Currently, I’m on my second time through Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict.
This is a book that is written in such a straight-forward way it’s easy to understand.  Basically, the author maintains that each character in your story should have concrete goals (what they want), motivation (why they want it) and conflict (what’s keeping them from getting it). She uses well-known movies to illustrate her points, and it’s worthwhile to watch those movies (she encourages you to do so in her introduction).
I initially read this book a year ago when I was developing the characters for my first book. Even in the early drafts I was getting comments like “these aren’t cardboard characters,” and I know it’s because I used Debra Dixon’s GMC chart to develop all of my characters, not just the main, point-of-view characters.

So tell us, what are your favorite craft books?

You can buy Debra Dixon’s GMC here. You’ll find a much better price than on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Next BIG Step!

 I don’t know exactly how many steps it takes to become a published writer, but I do know I recently took a huge one – 

I am now...

                  (drumroll please!)

…an agented author!

(We will pause here for cheers, whistles and Snoopy dancing!)

It all started when I received the sage advice (first from Tina Radcliffe and then from Julie Lessman, two of the authors from Seekerville) that it was time to get an agent.

Hah! Easier said than done!

First of all, I needed to write a query letter.

No, scratch that.

First of all, I needed to understand what a query letter IS. (See the results of that part of the journey here)

Next, I needed to write a query letter.

                    Not just A query letter – I needed to write MY query letter.

Because the query letter is your foot-in-the-door, smile-on-your-face first impression.

Then I needed to polish my synopsis.

Then all I needed to do was put it all together and send it off to an agent!

No – back up again – first I needed to find an agent I wanted to query, research the agent and the agency – make that multiple agents and agencies – and prioritize my list.
There are so many good agencies, prioritizing was the hardest part!

I queried one agent, ended up with a negative result, and put querying agents on the back of the stove.
God was telling me to wait, so I waited.

Then the Seekerville ladies (thank you, Ruth Logan Herne!) had another one of their impromptu contests - -
-          - well, impromptu for their readers. I know a LOT of thought, prayer and planning goes into these contests!

But this contest just HAPPENED to be an agent query contest.
The five finalists were given an opportunity to query an agent that just HAPPENED to be one of the top agents on my list.
And I just HAPPENED to be one of those five finalists.

So, with much trepidation, I sent my query to Barbara Scott, of WordServe Literary (

knowing I would have to wait several weeks for an answer…
…and got an email back from her in less than an hour!

The rest, as they say, is history.

I can’t tell you how much it means for this newbie writer to have an agent – someone who knows the business, knows the publishing houses, knows the editors, and is enthusiastic about my book. 

Whew! I feel like I have Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and Roger Staubach all rolled into one as my quarterback!

Lessons learned?

1)      Finish your book! If you’re a new writer, have been working on that story for a while, but you’re still not even close to writing “The End”, sit in your chair and work! If you need some cheerleaders, join the #1K1HR group on Facebook ( Tell ‘em I sent you.

2)      Research agencies and agents – find out who they represent, what kinds of stories they’re looking for – and ask your friends for recommendations. Read the agents’ blogs, their guest appearances on writing blogs, and their bios. Make a list of your top five. Once you’ve queried all of them, make another list of your top five.

3)      Be like a Boy Scout: Be Prepared! You never know when God is going to send opportunity to your door, so be prepared to answer that door when He does. Write your query letter. Write your synopsis – better yet, write two. Have a one-page and a three-page both ready. You can then expand or contract your synopsis easily to fit the requirements of the opportunity.

4)      Don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking – pray for God to show you His time for you to send out that query!

5)      When you get that call or that e-mail, don’t faint. The floor is hard, and you’ll just worry the dog.

6)      Call your husband and crit partners with the news before the excitement wears off.

7)      Start on your next book, if you haven’t already!

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

Historical fiction means much more when it’s been inspired by a true story, and that’s just what Jody Hedlund gives her readers in The Doctor’s Lady.

It is 1836, and Priscilla White knows she has been called to be a missionary teacher in India. She is just as sure that God has called her to remain single, but the Mission Board has decided young, single women are not fit for the dangerous mission field, and have turned down her application.

Dr. Eli Ernest is also bound for the mission field – as a doctor to the native tribes in the newly discovered northwest. He has spent a year among the tribes in Oregon, and longs to return, but the Mission Board supporting him has determined that he must take a wife along, or not return at all.

In order for both of them to fulfill God’s call, Priscilla and Eli decide to marry – in name only. But even as they start their journey west, have the seeds of romance already been planted?

Jody Hedlund was inspired by the story of Narcissa and Marcus Whitman, missionaries to the Nez Perce Indians in the early 1800’s. Mrs. Hedlund drew extensively from the Whitman’s diaries for her story, giving the incidents along the way the true flavor of authenticity.

The Doctor’s Lady is Mrs. Hedlund’s second book (her first was her award-winning The Preacher’s Bride, 2010), and I hope we will be able to enjoy many more offerings. Her next book, Unending Devotion, is due out September, 2012, and is available for pre-order now.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my unbiased review.