No Reply on Submission

I submitted a book to Deseret Book 8+ weeks ago. I have been waiting as patiently as possible and have not heard back. (They say to expect from 6-8 weeks) Now I am trying to get a hold of them to see if there is a possibility it got lost in the mail etc. I submitted the book about a year and a half ago and during that process (about 4 weeks in) i received a confirmation postcard that they received my manuscript. i have since improved and edited the book and resubmitted it. but this time around i have not received a postcard and the time for consideration has passed and still nothing!

I will probably try sending it in again next week if I haven't heard back, but i am getting a little bit frustrated that they don't have any phone numbers available for me to call to inquire about it. I have sent an email to the contact they have listed from the publishing department, but i have not received a response. I have called the one phone number they have for corporate, but i always get a voicemail. Do you have ANY contact phone numbers for the publishing department? Thanks! :)

No, I don't have any contact numbers for Deseret Book, other than what they post on their website.

Let me make sure I understand. You submitted 1 1/2 years ago and they rejected you. Then you made changes and resubmitted.

Did they ask you to make changes and resubmit? If they did, then be patient. Their website actually says, "Allow at least eight weeks (and occasionally longer) for response on your manuscript." At the 12 week mark, send a short and polite email asking for confirmation of receipt of your book and where it is in the review process.

They've also changed contact names and email addresses since the last time I checked their site. You want to GO HERE and contact the person listed for Publishing.

Make sure you put that email address in your "safe list" so that a reply doesn't end up in your Spam/Trash folder. (That happened to me a lot with authors. If they sent you a reply and it bounced back to them, chances are they don't have time to track you down and figure out why it bounced.)

Also, put all your contact info at the bottom of your email, including mailing address and phone number, so that they have multiple ways to reach you.

If they didn't ask you to resubmit, they may think your second mss is a duplicate submission (which they tell you not to do) unless you were very clear in your query/cover letter that you had re-written the book. However, most of the time, if they weren't interested the first time around, they probably won't be interested in a rewrite unless the changes are substantial.

My recommendation is to send the email again but do not resubmit the same manuscript until you receive a reply.

In the meantime, you are working on another book, aren't you?

(BTW, a friend of mine has her first book coming out next spring. She submitted to a national publisher and didn't hear back for nearly two years before she got an email saying they were interested. So 8 weeks is nothing.)



Do Book Trailers Work?

What do you think of book trailers? 

Book trailers seem to be the "in" thing right now. I've never really worked with trailers because they weren't common practice when I worked in-house at a publishing company.

I've seen some trailers that look great and some that look awful. They're expensive to make and I have no idea how effective they are.

Readers, help! Answer these questions in the comments:

  • As a reader, have you ever purchased a book based on the book trailer?

  • Have you ever NOT purchased a book based on the trailer?

  • As an author, do you have trailers for your book(s)?

  • Do the trailers seem to help with sales?

  • Do you feel the trailer was worth the cost?

Where can we post/how can we use trailers to use them as marketing tools?

YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, your website or blog. Again, readers, I need your help. Where else?

If you're an author and your book is on LDS Fiction and you have a trailer, send me an e-mail with a link to your trailer and I'll add it to your book post.

It's Not You, It's Me

 Okay, so yesterday's late night post wasn't a real post. But it was all I could manage because I was working on those electronic files all day. So today, you'll get two posts.

When should a writer finally admit that it's not your query that is the problem, but the subject matter?

I've written a YA suspense novel set in the 1960s. Those who have critiqued it with me think it should sell. However, I've sent out well over 100 queries, many following extensive revisions suggested by members of several writers forums. None of my queries have garnered even as much as a request for a partial. So, when should a writer give up and realize it's not the query but just something no agent or publisher wants?

Having not read the query or the novel, I can't tell you where the problem is. However, if you've sent out over 100 queries and not gotten a nibble, something is wrong.

When this happens and you really don't know if it's the topic or the query, set it aside. Hopefully you've been working on another novel during your submitting process. If not, get started right away on one. When it's done, start querying it.

Then do it over again with a third novel.

During the process, your writing will improve and you'll learn more about submitting and eventually you'll hit it right.


A Little Late but Worth the Wait!

I bet you thought I wasn't going to post today because usually I post early in the morning.


The reason I'm posting so late is I wanted to be able to announce that in addition to CreateSpace, Stolen Christmas is now available from Amazon.com and in various e-book formats at Smashwords. You can even read a sampling there.


Writing Prompt Friday: Thanksgiving? No Thanks.

Since I will be taking next Wednesday through Friday off from the blog due to the holiday, today's writing prompt is centered around the American holiday of Thanksgiving—although non-Americans may participate as well.

Write a short-short story (2,000 words or less) that has to do with Thanksgiving WITHOUT using any of the following words:
  • thankful, thanks, thanksgiving or any variation

  • grateful or any variation

  • turkey

  • pilgrim

  • family

This will get you to stretch a bit beyond the commonplace and cliché.

If you post your story on your blog, feel free to leave a link in the comments section.


What's With This Twitter Thing Anyway? Guest Post by Jaime Thelar

I started twittering not too long ago, as you readers may know—and as of today, I have 100 followers. Now what do I do? Since I'm behind the curve on this geeky type stuff, I asked Jaime Theler to explain it all. Thanks, Jaime!

I'm pretty vocal with friends and acquaintances about my love affair with Twitter. (Thanks, friend and techo-savvy guru Matthew Buckley for getting me hooked!) Usually the response I get is a raised eyebrow and a disbelieving look. I mean, it’s called “Twitter,” which sounds like something a six-year-old would say over and over while giggling, like the word “pooh.”

Eventually some of the skeptics decide to give it a try. Then I get emails, messages, and conversations that go something like this:
I heard all about this Twitter thing, so I reluctantly gave in and joined. Now I have an account, 4 followers, and I don’t get it. Who cares what I eat for breakfast or that I’m going to the store? This is stupid! I'm going back to Facebook.”

Impatient are you, my young Padowan. Knowledge need you.

*cough* *clearing throat*
Okay, that's enough talking like Yoda. I can't even do it in a blog.

Anyway, what I was trying to say by channeling the little green dude is that perhaps the problem stems from not understanding Twitter and how it is, and more importantly, is not, like Facebook.

*Disclaimer: I am a Twitter enthusiast, not a Twitter expert. You can find several discussions, articles, and blogs about Twitter and why it's popular and how it's changing the world and why the little bird should be your favorite animal, etc. etc. I'm just sharing why I like it and why it's valuable to me.

What Twitter is not:
Twitter is not the place to connect with your ex boyfriend's best friend's sister that you lost touch with after high school. Neither is it the place to build your own farm, aquarium, or medieval castle. You won't find BeJeweled or MahJong or notes with 40 random questions that you then pass on to your friends. You can't post 140 pictures of your last race, (adopting innocent, "who, me?" expression) or take quizzes about which 80's movie you are, or what your birthday says about you, or what your Native American name is. And on Twitter you won't see everyone else you know who is doing all these things.

What Twitter is:
1. Twitter is like removing all the extraneous bits of Facebook and leaving the status, but Tweeters (or tweeps) don't use it like the status updates in Facebook.

2. Twitter is more public than Facebook, because anyone can follow you on Twitter, but you don't have to follow them back. This is why you'll see so many celebrities on Twitter, because they can have a kerjillion fans but not have to wade through a kerjillion fans' worth of Tweets.

3. Twitter is more business. It's for staying current in an industry. I follow hundreds of writers, editors, agents, and publishers, and the vast majority of them I've never met. Yet they carry on a constant conversation with each other and their followers about the industry. When the whole best-seller price war happened I knew about it right away, as well as their reactions to it. I also find out what drives agents nuts, when they get excited about something in the business, and when they have a big deal. The people share links to great blog posts, contests, or things of interest to the business.

4. Twitter is fast. You only have 140 characters per Tweet, so you won't get rambling discourses. If you want to check out someone's link you click on it, if you don't want to, you don't. If you like something someone else said, you retweet it.

5. Twitter is what's happening in real time. Here's an analogy--> if Facebook is the 30 minute evening news, Twitter is the ticker at the bottom of the screen.

6. Twitter is also entertaining. You learn how to tweet something that is a) interesting and/or b) informative in an entertaining, ADHD way. And you get to know another side of people.

7. Twitter brings together people for real time conversations. When your tweet involves a common topic, then you include what's called a hashtag. It involves a # sign and a word or string of words. Then people can search for that hashtag and pull up all the tweets on Twitter about that subject. Some common ones I use are #amwriting (for tweets about my current WIP) or #writegoal (self-explanatory). There are hundreds of people using these hashtags and it develops into a network of people with similar interests. They cheer each other on, or vent to each other.

Like this tweet this morning by @GripeMaster:
Done" in the sense of "done until tomorrow, when it becomes worthless because I changed everything--again."#amwriting

Oh, can I identify with him!

There are even groups that set up a certain time to talk about a topic. For example, the topic of #nano is pretty hot. Some agents do an hour of answering questions on #askagent, some authors do #askanauthor, and there are several groups of writers, readers, agents, and publishers that participate in discussions like the weekly #kidlitchat and #yalitchat. It's like sitting around and instant messaging with dozens of people at once who like talking about the same things as you, and you don't even have to shower.

You can use the Twitter Search to find the conversations under these hashtags, but if I want to follow a conversation as it's happening I prefer Monitter, which is a free, real time, live twitter monitor. It gives you three columns so you can follow three topics at once--and never get anything done. ;)

Try following one of these conversations. Twitter user @Georgia_McBride hosts #YAlitchat on Wed. @ 9PM Eastern. #Kidlitchat Tues @ 9 Eastern. Here's a link to her post where she explains more about it, and where she posts the transcripts after she's done. You don't have to participate or even have a twitter account, but you can see what it's all about.

Beyond the Twitter site:
Slogging through one column of everyone's tweets on the Twitter site can give anyone a headache. When it gets better is when you start using organizing programs like the one I use, called Tweetdeck. You can organize the people you follow into groups which then have their own column. I have a column for all that I follow, a column for agents/editors, a column for published authors, a column for writers, and a column for my friends that I know personally (that way they don't get buried under the hundreds of other people's tweets). I also have a column for Direct Messages (like private email - but still only 140 characters) and Mentions (when someone responds to me or retweets me - basically anything that has my username in it). Tweetdeck now also has a Facebook feed, so I can see Twitter and Facebook all from one program. It saves sooo much time.

A tiny note on Twitter Etiquette:
Give proper credit. If you like something someone else said or linked to, then make sure to give them credit with their twitter name (the @ sign and their name). Like this tweet this morning from @MFAconfidential:

Getting published takes passion, persistence & patience by @JaneFriedman via @mystorywriter @CafeNirvana ~ http://bit.ly/2fVmK1

You can find a whole slew of articles on Twitter Etiquette, and I don't want to get too long-winded, so just Google it.

The Best Way to Learn is To Follow Those That Do It Right:
If you're only following people that tweet the minutiae of their day, then it's hard to figure out how to work Twitter right. I learned best by reading what others said. So here are a few people I recommend to follow to learn.

@ldspublisher [added by LDS Publisher!]

**Ahhhh! Brain freeze! I'm drawing a blank and I had a whole list yesterday. I'll write them down from now on and post them all in another blog, promise. Just look at the people I follow on Twitter (I'm @bookmom2000- click on the Follow Me button in the sidebar). There are so many good ones.

You can also check out these lists:
15 Twitter Users Shaping the Future of Publishing
100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter
15 Must-Follow Comedic Film Actors on Twitter

Does Twitter Make You a Better Writer?
Here's one blogger's opinion about How Twitter Makes You a Better Writer. I'm not so sure I agree with it, but I'll still pass it on.

Thanks for sticking with me this long, dear readers. This turned out to be a rather wordy post, so I'll forgo the discussion on how to get followers for a future post. I hope this has been at least a little helpful, and do chime in with all the things I've missed or your Twitter questions.

Jaime is the author of two LDS non-fiction books, Parenting the Ephraim's Child and Enjoying the Journey. Jaime is also the mom of three, and addicted to books.

Read more of Jaime Theler's posts at her blog, Bookmom Musings.

Or visit her official website HERE.


Stolen Christmas Available Now!

Order your copy now!

Title: Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season

Author: LDS Publisher, ed.

Publisher: LDS Publisher*

Release Date: November 18, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-931858-16-8

Size: 108 pages, 6x9, softcover

Genre: Christmas Short Story Collection

What happens when you’re so poor you have to steal your Christmas presents? Have you ever taken a punch in the face as your Christmas gift to the girl you love? Or saved Christmas while hunting were-weevils?

These award-winning Christmas stories are the best of the best from the LDS Publisher Christmas Story Contests. From Christmases past, to present, to future; from sweet and inspirational, to zany and delightful—there’s a story for everyone in this eclectic collection.

Featuring LDS authors:
  • Roger Bonner
  • Don Carey
  • Laura Craner
  • Joyce DiPastena
  • Sarah M. Eden
  • L.T. Elliot
  • Gussie Fick
  • Melanie Goldmund
  • M. Gray
  • Taegyn Hutchinson
  • Angie Lofthouse
  • Lori Nawyn
  • Tristi Pinkston
  • Brian C. Ricks
  • Sandra Sorenson
  • Janice Sperry
  • Christine Thackeray

Order through CreateSpace E-store

Order from Amazon.com (link coming soon)

ROFLR Clause

Can you please explain the ROFLR clause in contracts? Does that mean if my publisher rejects a manuscripts and I find another publisher, I have to go back to my original publisher and allow it to reject the manuscript a second time?

First off, ROFLR does not mean "rolling on floor laughing riotously" (although sometimes I do that when I read publishing contracts).

It means, "right of first and last refusal"—something I personally would never agree to as an author and that has never been in any of the contracts I've offered authors. "Right of first refusal" perhaps, but last too? No.

And yes, that's exactly what it means. The publisher gets to reject you twice.

For a more detailed explanation:

First, what they're saying upon acceptance of Work #1 is that they get automatic first rights to Work #2. This may not be fair to the author but I can see why publishers do it. We do it. Or rather, did it when I was working as a publisher. However, if an author wanted it stripped from the contract, we usually agreed. Personally, I might sign a contract giving ROFR (right of first refusal) depending on how good my offer was for Work #1.

Second, it means that if they reject Work #2 and another publisher offers for it, you have to go back to the first publisher and let them know. If at that time, they decide they want it—it's theirs. And, depending on how it's defined, they may not even have to match the other publisher's offer or get the book out there in a timely manner. Not fair at all. For me to personally sign a contract with this in it, it would have to spell out that they had to BEAT publisher #2's offer and that they had to publish it within 1 year of dibsing it.

Third, again depending on how it's defined, even if they let go of Work #2, they may still have dibs on Works #3, #4, and on into infinity. Totally not fair—and if our market was big enough to allow agents to make a living, a good agent would strip that out first thing. I would never, ever, ever sign a contract like this.

So what do you do if you're offered a contract with this in it? First, you have the right to ask that it be taken out or amended. If they really want your book, they'll negotiate. Second, if they won't negotiate, you have the right to refuse to sign the contract. Nothing is binding until the ink is dry.


Jumping on the E-book Train? and a Poll

POLL INFO AT BOTTOM. Even if you don't read this, please take the polls.

With everyone jumping on the e-book train, is there an advantage to just get a paypal account and offer your book(s) on a blog/website etc. for the ten bucks that Amazon would charge? Just make it a pdf file and advertise by word of mouth?

  1. Not everyone is jumping on the e-book train. I have a Kindle. One of my dear friends has a Sony. We're the only two people I personally know that have e-readers. (I'm not counting reading from an iPhone because those are so teeny that most people will not read an entire book that way.) If e-book is the only way you're going, sales will be low. Most people still read paper books.

  2. If you can go through traditional publishing, that's still the preferred method for most people because:

    a. You don't have to make all the files (or pay someone to do it).

    b. Your publisher has distribution avenues to bookstores that are closed to individual authors.

    c. Your publisher has a marketing budget and plan. Even if it's small, it's still usually better than what you can do by yourself.

    d. If someone else is doing the marketing, promos, selling, etc., that frees you up to write more books.

  3. This is not a "one size fits all" situation. A basic pdf file will not work with all readers. In fact, a basic pdf won't work with most readers. There is a conversion process that has to happen first and it's different for Kindle, Sony, etc. In fact, there are about five or six file variations that you need to create if you want it available to all e-readers. And now there's the new B&N Nook, which I know nothing about but I assume will require it's own file variation.

  4. If you're going to do it yourself, I'd suggest using Amazon's CreateSpace (which is what I'm using for the Christmas book). They will allow you to create both a paper version and a Kindle version to sell through their site. Since Amazon is THE leader in book sales, you'll want to make sure you get on there. The set-up is free; they take a percentage from each sale. But you do have to create the files following their very specific guidelines.

  5. In addition to Amazon/Kindle, you may want to create e-book files that work on the other popular readers and sell them from your own site.

  6. Unless you have a very big mouth and a spectacular product, word-of mouth is not going to get you much farther than your immediate circle of family and friends.

All that said, there are reasons to follow this do-it-yourself route. If you have a niche book that appeals to a small but dedicated readership and if you have avenues to sell your book (like you do a lot of workshops and other speaking engagements).

Now, because I am extremely curious about all this e-book/e-reader stuff, I have two polls over in the sidebar. (Scroll down beneath the ads.)

The first one is about e-books in general. Everyone please take this poll.

The second one is about e-reader brands. Take this poll if you own or use a reader regularly. If you have multiple readers and you use them regularly, then select all the ones you have. If you mostly use one and the other one just collects dust, don't include the dust-catcher. If you expect to get one soon (and by expect to get one soon, I don't mean wishing you could; I mean, you have the $ budgeted or Santa will be bringing you one) then select the one you are planning to get.

*Special thanks to my lovely assistant who knows about this kind of stuff. She says to thank MOJO who helped her with a lot of the info.


Do Your Research!

I'm in a mood. The e-mails below are just a sampling of a few I've gotten lately. I've highlighted in red the parts that made me want to be snarky.

I don't want to be rude (well, maybe I do want to be rude, but I will refrain because like I said, I'm in a mood and this is more about me than you). . . the answer to all these questions is DO YOUR RESEARCH.

I am just finishing a book I am writing. You can find the first 12 chapters below [link to website]. Can you give me some direction on an agent or publisher?

No. I don't have time to go read someone's sample chapters and then customize a response.

Serious: As to finding an agent, you can look at AgentQuery.com or QueryTracker.com. Make a list of who is looking for your genre. Then go to their website or look them up in Writers Market and carefully read their guidelines. Narrow down your list. Put them in order of who you liked most. Start sending queries.

To find a publisher, go to the bookstore or library and find books that are similar to yours. List and rank the publishers you're interested in. Then do research online to find their submission guidelines.

Before sending anything off, check your lists against Preditors & Editors to screen out the bad ones. (Although most of the agents you find at the sites I've linked to and the publishers you find in the bookstores are going to be okay.)

Just a quick question, I have a fantastic idea for a [book], and I have never seen it done anywhere. A few years ago we had been in contact with another christian publisher and they wanted to publish [it]. When we started asking too many questions about the contract, they backed out! I would love to have an LDS publisher take a look at our idea and draft we have come up with, but I have no idea who is out there and the best way to go about it. If you have any suggestions, that would be great!

Snark: See, there's this thing called Google and you just type in a search word or phrase (like "LDS Publishers") and magical things happen.

Serious: When I googled "LDS Publishers" I found a link to to the Storymaker's list of LDS Publishers near the very top. Scroll through. Visit the websites and see who might be interested in your idea. (A clue to interest: they have published similar but not the same.)

I think you would be a great publisher for my book. I can tell by your posts that you would probably like it. You've said to check the publisher website for submission guidelines, but I can't find any guidelines on your site. Would you prefer I send an electronic copy (is WordPerfect okay?) or should I mail it to your P.O. Box?

Snark: No. No. And no!

Serious: This is an information only website. I do not accept manuscripts through my secret identity. If I receive a mss in the mail, I will throw it away. Same with e-mailed mss.

Snark: And WordPerfect? Really? I can't even convert those files anymore. Go with Word or rtf. But don't send it to me.

I feel better now.


Writing Prompt Friday: Speaking of Shakespeare

Many of Shakespeare's plays are absolutely timeless because they deal with basic human emotions that have been around since the dawn of time—love, jealousy, prejudice, suspicion, remorse. You can take one of Shakespeare's basic plot lines, tweak it a bit, and plop it down into any setting you like and it will work just fine.

Annette Lyon did this, setting Much Ado About Nothing in mid-1800s Salt Lake City, and calling it Spires of Stone. You can do it to. Your writing prompt for today is:

Take one of your favorite plays from Shakespeare and update it to some time in the past 100 years. You can write a scene, a synopsis or a short story.

If you're not familiar with Shakespeare, pick another book or a movie that's at least 30 years old and update it to today.

If you post your story on your blog, feel free to leave a link in the comments section.


How Do We Become Miltons and Shakespeares?

Here's my question. We've probably all heard the quote from Orson F. Whitney:

"We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God's ammunition is not exhausted. His highest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God's name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation may now be low on the earth."

In your opinion, how can we as LDS authors reach such lofty aspirations?

This always sparks so much controversy. So, dear readers, have at it. There is room for differing opinions here, just be nice about it. No nasty personal comments.

But before you post your perspective, here's mine. First off, Milton and Shakespeare are who they are due to time. When they were writing, some of their contemporaries thought them talentless hacks.

And I can see where they were coming from. I love some Shakespeare, and I hate some Shakespeare. What makes Milton and Shakespeare the 'ideal on the pedestal' is their survival over time. Who's to say that something recently published by an LDS author isn't going to also pass the test of time and be held up in a few hundred years as the ideal for the new writing generation to strive toward? We don't know. We can't know. All we know for sure is what we personally like and don't like, right now, in this moment when we live.

Another thought I have is that we don't have to "make" Whitney's prediction come true. As writers, we don't need to worry about the fact that we're not writing as well as Shakespeare or Milton. We don't need to despair over the state of LDS literature or denigrate writers' attempts at capturing their view of the world in words. We don't need to fret over not making the best-seller list.

We simply do the best we can. We write the best story we can, in a prayerful manner, and God will bless our efforts and create the masterpieces He wants the world to read for our time, place and circle of influence.

A few practical steps to this are (and these apply to all writers, not just LDS writers):
  • Write a lot. The more we write, the better we get.

  • Write well. Constantly work to better our skills and talents.

  • Write honestly. Put honest thoughts, feelings, emotions on the page. Pray for the spirit to quicken our minds and guide our pen.

  • Write about great things. The struggle between good and evil; between the spiritual man and the natural man; the heroic journey of earth life.
That's what I think. What about you?


How Long is a Short Story?

What is the max/min words for a short story?

Depends. If you're writing it for a magazine, a book compilation or a contest, it's whatever length the editors tell you it is.

Generally speaking, you should be able to read a short story in one sitting. If it's fewer than 1,000 words, it's usually considered a short-short or flash fiction. If it hits 20,000 words, it will probably be called a novella. Anywhere between those two, you get the label short story.

Most often, a short story is between 2,000 to 5,000 words.


Juvenile vs Traditional Fiction

I'm suspending Writing Tip Tuesday for a bit because 1) I've got lots of questions in the que, and 2) I can't think of a tip today.

What's the difference between juvenile literature and traditional fiction? I swear that some books I read could be either.

Juvenile literature, more commonly divided into the two categories of children's literature and young adult literature, is primarily defined as "material written or produced for the information or entertainment of children and young adults." (Library of Congress)

Most often juvenile literature is characterized by a younger protagonist (under the age of 18), simpler vocabulary, shorter chapters, fewer plot lines, lower word count, and lighter subject matter. Picture books, beginning chapter books and middle grade books are usually easy to identify as juvenile fiction, even if adults like to read them. For example, the early Harry Potter books are clearly intended for middle grade readers, although many adults enjoy them too. The same can be said for Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz series, Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series, James Dashner's 13th Reality series, and J. Scott Savage's Farworld series.

The line between the YA classification and traditional "adult" fiction is a little fuzzier. A YA book may have a young protagonist dealing with mature subject matter. Many YA publishers these days seem to feel that it is not only acceptable, but required to have protags over the age of 16 involved in intimate physical relationships. Clearly written for youth, the subject matter is too adult for us to feel comfortable letting our teens read them. For example, many of the current paranormal fantasies that are popular now have teens behaving in ways we're teaching our children is improper and immoral. Therefore, while the world defines these books as YA, we often define them as adult.

On the other hand, you have YA books that are clearly for teens, but adults love them as well, such as the later Harry Potter books, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series (although some readers may put them up in the previous category).

The publisher determines whether a book falls in the juvenile or general fiction category, but most often, if the character is 18 or younger, it gets the juvenile classification.


Christmas Book Update

Because I got so far behind on this book (due to viruses—both me and my computer), we're working on a really tight schedule.

  1. Today—Final typesetting done and e-mailing "bluelines" to authors. Authors, normally you'd have a couple of proofs and a few weeks to get back to me, but check your e-mail first thing in the morning and get back to me by Wednesday afternoon.

  2. Thursday A.M.—Send to press. Will be posted on Amazon.com soon thereafter. Print copies should be available for sale no later than Nov 20th. Maybe sooner. Watch for announcement here.

  3. Friday—Working on e-books. They should be available around Nov 18th.

Isn't that a darling cover? Many, many thanks to Lori Nawyn. Everyone go visit her blog and tell her how awesome she is.


Writing Prompt Friday: Changing POVs

By this, I don't mean changing POV within your story. I mean, looking at a situation from your character's perspective. This exercise will help you learn to see from other people's POVs. If you can do this exercise well, using real people, you can do it for your various characters.

Prompt: Write about a disagreement you had with somebody from their POV, in first person, in their voice. Don't make them an unreliable narrator. [They should be 100% believable.] Take an external look at yourself, in this case in the third person. How would the other person see you? How would they describe you and your actions?

Objective: To learn how to see from other people's POVs. This is good not just for writing, but for getting along in friendships, marriages, societies.

Check: Has your antagonist become the protagonist of the story? Have you found weaknesses in your position and shown them? If not, go back and reveal them.

If you post your story on your blog, feel free to leave a link in the comments section.

(Fiction Writer's Workshop. Josip Navakovich. Story Press, 1995. p 124)


Is There a Demand for LDS Fiction?

My Dad keeps saying I should write books specifically for church members, because he sees them as something of a captive audience. And as far as it goes, I do see his point that the mass market doesn't seem to be exactly overflowing with books that present positive messages and role models. I am a bit skeptical, and would prefer to write for a wide audience, just keeping the positive role models and messages.

As a publisher, does my Dad's approach make sense? Is there a huge demand in the LDS culture for fiction written specifically to and for them?

Does your dad make sense? Ummm, yes. I've made my living for many years on the demand for books written specifically for the LDS culture. If you go into Deseret Book or Seagull, you'll see shelves and shelves of LDS fiction. If there were no demand, there would be no one out there making the product.

Also, my blogs are pretty much geared solely toward the LDS fiction writing and reading audience and I average about 2,000 unique visitors a month. I stay plenty busy keeping up with the new releases.

So, yes, there is a demand for LDS fiction. As to that "captive audience" part, yes, there is a group that will read LDS fiction simply because it's LDS fiction, regardless of the writing quality. There is also a demand from more discriminating readers who want more high-quality LDS fiction.

However, compared to a national market, the LDS market is small. If you want to write for a wider audience, go for it. LDS fiction readers also read national, non-LDS specific fiction. They'd appreciate more good clean books out there.


Memoirs—To Write or Not to Write

I've been asked to comment about memoir. Keep in mind as you read this that other publishers will have different opinions on this. I have published memoirs over the years. None of them have made money. None of them have even recovered the costs.

Also, in the many years that I was an acquisitions editor, the absolute worst of the worst submissions that crossed my desk were memoirs. Personal stories that "needed to be told." And their query letter often started with, "After fasting and praying for quite some time, the Spirit told me that YOU were the publisher who would bring my memoir to those who really need it and bless their lives."

These were also the people who were most likely to send me nasty letters when I rejected their book.

So, keeping in mind that this is a touchy topic for me, I'm going to do my best but I'm probably going to be more negative than say Knopf or Scribner or whoever published Tuesdays with Morrie.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is WHY are you writing this? Most of the time, memoirs start as a healing effort for the writer. They put their lives in perspective as they write, come to terms with the bad, find little treasures of good, and feel a huge release and empowerment when they're done. Sharing this with their friends and loved ones is a good thing. It's a testament to the human spirit and can often help others struggling with similar issues.

If you're writing a memoir like this, congratulate yourself when you're done. Find a POD company who doesn't charge and arm and a leg to format and publish it for you. Give copies to family, post links online so interested people can buy it if they want. Then celebrate that you've completed something wonderful.

If you want to go bigger than this, know ahead of time that you've got your work cut out for you. You must have a unique story and a unique voice.

As I see it, there are three types of memoirs that sell well:
  1. Celebrity: Political figures, movie stars, sports heroes, buisiness tycoons, and even our own General Authorities. These memoirs sell pretty well, even if they're not the most well-written books because we're interested in these people. We want to know what makes them tick, how they got where they are.

  2. Train Wreck: These are memoirs of those people who just can't get it together. They're accidents waiting to happen and we can't tear our eyes away. These are often people on the edge, the fringes of society. Their lure is because they are so different from most of our realities.

  3. Healing: The most common, and yet the hardest to sell. This is the personal story of recovery and redemption. For this to sell, the author has to take the events of their life and use them to uplift and inspire others who are enduring their own challenges. It must be well-written. It must be unique.
If you think your memoir falls into one of these three categories, and it's well-written, then do some homework. Go look at the memoirs that are selling well. Find some that are similar to yours. Look up their publishers and submit to them.

And good luck to you.


Some Blog Business

Item #1:
The good part: Thank you to everyone who is now following me on Twitter. I try to go to my Twitter account at least once a week and follow everyone who is following me. I'm way new to this and am finding it kind of fun.

The bad part: None of you are following me closely. I know this because I twitted a book giveaway with specific instructions and no one entered to win the book. And here I thought I had tens of followers who hung on my every word. I'm crushed.

The future part: I'll give a book away like this every once in awhile. In the future, however, I'll give you a full week to enter to win the book. So give the Tweets a quick check every so often.

The Christmas book. Behind schedule. I'm hoping to have it available soon. Please be patient.

Writing Tip Tuesday: Follow Your Bliss

Are you one of those writers who have been writing for years, and you have a zillion novel starts but nothing finished? That was me to a tee.

When I would bemoan this to my writers group, I was often told that I just needed to sit myself down in a chair and write. Get through it, no matter what it takes—bribes, threats, whatever.

I suppose there is some wisdom to this. The problem is, when I force myself to write, my writing comes out sounding, well, forced. Stilted. Unwieldy.

In the past few years, however, I've discovered that I work better, longer and more enthusiastically when I follow my bliss. I generally have two or three projects going at a time. When I get tired or stuck on one, I move to another one. I "go where the energy flows."

What I've found is that I'm writing more and better—and I'm finishing things.

What works best for you?


What qualifies a novel as "historical?"

If I want to write a "historical" novel, everyone tells me there needs to be a purpose to setting a novel in that era.

I'm currently reading a book titled: "What I Saw, and How I Lied," by Judy Blundell. It's a National Book Award winner. It's about a young high school aged girl, set in the early 1950s. It's touted as a "historical" novel.

So, what makes it "historical" rather than "young adult?"

Yes, one of the characters is recently returned from WWII. The scenes and settings all depict how conditions were back then. But, in my opinion, it could as easily been set in 2009 with the soldier returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. So, what qualifies this book to be "historical?"

I haven't read the book you mentioned, so I can't speak directly to that one. However, as a general rule...

Historical fiction, simply defined, is when an author puts fictional characters against a setting of real historical events. Usually, to call it historical, the fictional characters need to interact with real historical figures or take part in/be impacted by the actual events.

What defines a historical event? Some people would call a novel set in the 70s historical fiction. Personally, I'm offended by that. I remember the 70s. Sort of. The 1950s is borderline. By the time you get to WWII, it would definitely be classified as historical.

Just because you can take a plot from one era and make it work just as well in another era doesn't mean it isn't a historical novel. However, the more the story depends upon the actual historical event, the more truly "historical" it is.


November 2009 Prize Sponsors

Last month's prize winners announced HERE.

Please take a moment to learn more about our wonderfully generous sponsors.

The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen

Growing up in the foster care system was no picnic, but after being adopted into a loving LDS family, playing college basketball, and launching her career in the software industry, Denise Dewalt finally feels as though she s left her former life behind her. What she doesn t realize is that she must confront her past if she ever wants to move on to a brighter future.

While her search for her biological family isn t an easy one, Denise s biggest fear is that even when she finds her family, she ll have nothing to give Rich, the only man who can see past the tragedies of her childhood. This emotional and inspirational story proves that life is full of unexpected twists and turns especially when it comes to facing your demons, fighting for love, and finding happiness for the future.

Hi, I’m Heather Justesen, writer of LDS women’s fiction.

Ask anyone who knew me growing up, I would as soon have my nose in a book as go to the neighbor’s to play. Reading helped shape my image of the world, both the parts that I see on a daily basis, and the areas that are too far away for me to visit. I suppose it was only a matter of time until I started making up worlds of my own.

I started my first book—I use that term loosely because I never expect to publish that mystery story—when I was in high school, then mostly set my writing aside through my college years. It wasn’t until early 2000 that I started writing again as an outlet when things were stressful. I wrote a good start on the story, then promptly lost the handwritten manuscript when my husband and I moved.

I worked on several other stories, hoping to come across the part I had written, but didn’t until I started writing that story all over again.

I have a second book, Rebound, slated for release in the summer of 2010.

Am I Not a Man by Mark L. Shurtleff

An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

Mark L. Shurtleff attended Brigham Young University, University of Utah College of Law and University of San Diego School of Law. He lived in Peru for two years, absorbing the culture and living amongst the Peruvian people.

Mark began his legal career by serving four years in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG), then was a lawyer in Southern California.

Mark was a Deputy County Attorney and a Commissioner of Salt Lake County. He then became an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah. He was elected Attorney General in November 2000, and was re-elected in November 2004 and again in November 2008. He is the first Attorney General in Utah to win re-election for a third term.

Mark is married with five children. He is an Eagle Scout, fluent in Spanish and this is his first novel.

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