Posts Tagged ‘christian fiction author’

Trouble at Mentink Manor…and a giveaway!

Pull up a chair and a fork. I’m having dessert and a chat with my cyber friends about treats and troubles. I’m also raffling a lovely prize. Details in the video. You don’t want to miss this one!


A Dr. Seuss Quiz you’ll like, with a fish and a bike!



Let’s give it a go, it’s a good time, you know, for a fun kinda quiz, about Dr. Seuss biz! Tell us how you scored, I’m sure we’ll be floored!

Three best perks of being a writer

blog motivational


Yep, it’ s a hard job writing fiction books for a living but really, the perks just can’t be beat! Here are the three best things about my wacky job.

1.  It fosters curiosity.  As you’ve probably heard me say before, my other job is an elementary school teacher and you’d think that would be high on the “fosters curiosity” list too, but frankly, teaching 26 kids of varying levels and needs takes every bit of mental stamina I possess. In a word, I’m too busy to indulge my curiosity much while in the thick of things, but writing is lovely because it causes me to ask questions. What if a massive earthquake hit an old opera house? How would a man react to having his childhood disease return? What would it be like to be uncertain of your own identity?

2.  It can be done anywhere. My favorite location to write is sitting opposite my wild tangle of tomato plants, banging away on the keyboard while butterflies and finches do their thing. I’ve also written in coffee shops, the back seat of cars and composed tricky sections mentally while in the bathtub. (Do yourself a favor and don’t imagine that last one!)

3. I can provide justice in an unjust world. I only read the paper on Sunday and it’s INFURIATING. I know God’s justice will prevail ultimately, but I’m maddened to see how things are going along right now. I mean this I.S.I.S group? Violent crime in the U.S.? Children betrayed by the people who were supposed to protect them? I feel powerless to set anything right on planet earth, but in my books? Oh you’d better believe bad people will be punished! SEVERELY! I know it’s only fiction, but there’s some comfort in that, right?

So what are the perks of your current job or those you’ve held in the past? It’s a big prize month here at the blog. The September prize is a signed book, Starbuck’s card and a fun fall treat! I so value all of your comments!

Why an author’s first book is different….

imageDid you ever devour an author’s first book and find the subsequent books slightly different? Perhaps in tone or intensity, or level of quirkiness? I recently had a conversation with a gentleman about that very topic. What is the reason for this “first book”  phenomenon? From my perspective, that first book is your ‘book of the heart’ so to speak. It’s that story that’s been kicking around in your soul for ages and maybe it took a good two or three (or more) years to finally get it nailed down. Then a miracle occured and someone actually wants to pay you and publish the thing! Incredible. But now your writing is not completely “of the heart” anymore, it’s “of the head” as we seek to make a go of it in shark infested publishing waters.

Now, there will be deadlines (because a second book must follow the first with a reasonable period in between to carry our readers along.) There will be lessons learned from the first book that we now apply to the second. There will be planning for the third book perhaps, and the next series after that if we’re going to seriously pursue a writing career.  Unless you are producing books regularly, both readers and publishers will forget about you.

Will the author’s next books be sub par? No, just….different. I have gained skill as a writer with each book I produced and I’d like to think I’m a better writer now than fourteen years ago, but my writing will never be quite have that “book of the heart” feel again.

Have you ever noticed an author’s books changing over time? Does that bother you? Or, on the other hand, do you sometimes feel that a book series can be too “cookie cutter,” mere duplications of the first book? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away an Amazon gift card and a signed book this month.

Dear novel…a letter from your author.

DaydreamingDear Novel,

I know this relationship is new for both of us, and strangely formal at this point. Let’s face it, our union was arranged via a signed contract with a point by point synopsis and a mere three chapters of interaction. I don’t even know your characters full names yet! So we’ve got some work to do, you and I. It’s time to get out the character charts and the big while plotting paper and the research books and dive in.

It will be painful, of course, as we will have those “new love” misunderstandings. Perhaps we will obsess too much about the plot while our dear characters languish about as mere cardboard prototypes. In the first draft of our relationship, we may experience (gasp!) a sagging middle. These things happen. No page can remain white and spotless, no draft fresh and unmarred. We will face the edits and revisions with grace, won’t we, dear novel? Together we will open new chapters and learn things about ourselves and the world that we didn’t know before.

I am looking forward to this journey with you, dear novel, and all the people who will come alongside us as we travel.


Your author


Content edits? Calming breaths, everyone!

DaydreamingWhat’s the difference between content edits and line edits? In my case, it’s the amount of head banging required. Content edits are those overarching, big issue topics that your editor feels needs work in your manuscript. Perhaps they do not feel your characters have enough internal conflict. It could be that the theme of the story is somewhat vague, the romance lackluster, the resolution too insignificant. Then again, you might have a sagging middle or a plot turn that has derailed your story completely. In other words, these are the BIG things that don’t work. I often joke that this is phase where the editor doesn’t seem to like anything but your font! Can you hear the head banging? It’s the time to remind yourself that editing takes rough stones and buffs them into jewels. Jewels, I tell you!

Line edits come next. These are smaller scale tweaks that can be anything from misplaced commas to timeline issues, to words repeated too often. (In my last manuscript, I used the word ‘look’ and its derivatives more than any author should attempt in an entire career.) Line edits are the kinder, gentler edits that are much easier to fix.

Did you ever produce something that was heavily criticized? How did you handle that? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card this month.

Writer lingo…the all important “earn out.”

imageOh boy. Earning out is a very big deal for writers. It means that you have sold enough copies to earn back the advance your publisher forked over, and you’re now on your way to collecting royalties. Can I hear a huzzah?  Earning out is extremely important to me as a point of pride. The publisher trusted me to write a winning book. If I can’t deliver enough sales to cover the advance and then some, we’ve both lost. It doesn’t feel good. Oh sure there are lots of contributing factors. I have had a few books fail to earn out and though I did my best to promote them myself, I was disappointed in the level of support from the publisher. Without adequate publisher website support and marketing presence, it’s going to be extremely difficult for a new author to sell enough copies. That said, there are ever increasing ways for authors to handle their own promotion, and I’ve learned over time how to better do that. Does it still sting that a few of my titles did not earn out? You bet, but that’s the way things go in this wacky world of writing.

Did you ever have a venture fail to meet your expectations? Have you experienced marketing yourself or your product? What did you learn from it? Would love to hear your thoughts! Giving away an Amazon gift card in the February drawing

Best gadgets for writers

imageI used to have this romantic idea when I was a kid that writers were mysterious people who sat in cabins nestled in rustic woods and scribbled madly on yellow notepads. Perhaps some do, but not this writer. I bang away on a computer keyboard from the comfort of Mentink Manor. What’s more, I have to admit I have a few neato gadgets that make my life even easier.

Neato gadget #1: my Tipsy LED light. I know, I know! It’s so CUTE isn’t it? That’s only part of its charm. I am the kind of person who turns off the light and thirty minutes later BAMMO! I’m struck by the greatest idea ever or possibly, the solution to the corner I have recently painted myself into in chapter three of my recent work in progress. I tap this little baby on the bedside table and it gives of a soft glow while I scribble madly on a post it note. Then another little tap and the Tipsy light is off and I’m free to slip into slumberland.  I got this super duper writer’s light at Brookstone, if you find yourself needing one.

Do you have any gadgets that make your life easier? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Writing Resolution #3, Follow that octopus!

Writing is an odd business. You never know where a story idea will take you. Some of my best writing has sprung unplanned out of an oddball interest, an intriguing fact. Resolution #3? Follow that octopus! This December we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and took a behind the scenes tour. One aspect of the presentation enthralled me…the giant octopus. Did you know that octopuses (octopi? octopodis?) can tell the difference between two people by feeling with their suckers? They also learn by watching each other, and the only thing the keepers have found that an octopus cannot stick to is Astroturf. Why do I need to know this as a suspense author? I don’t know…yet, but one thing I’ve learned is that if I’m interested, fascinated, enthralled by something, it’s going to make for a great story someday. I might not understand it now, but down the road, that octopus is going to wriggle its way into a novel. My advice to writers everywhere? Follow what fascinates you. It will lead to a story, I promise.

So what are you passionately interested in? Posts get you entered in the January contest for an iTunes gift card. new year 2014

A Writer’s List of Resolutions

Lose weight? Eat better? Get more rest and don’t sweat the small stuff? Of course those resolutions are perfect for writers (and most of the general population.) Since I make my living writing fiction novels, however, I require some resolutions that are a bit more specific in nature. Here’s resolution #1.

Take the time to imagine. Ridiculous, you say. You’re a writer for the love of tuna!You imagine all the time. You’re right, but sometimes the push to complete a word count, meet a deadline, write blogs, participate in interviews, etc., causes me to cut short my imagination time. Result? The writing becomes mechanical, stale, uninspired. So I resolve to sit myself down in that comfy chair, without the iPad, t.v. or any current works in progress and spend some quality imagination time. The payoff is rich.

Ready? Set? Imagine!
Do you use your imagination to complete work or home projects? I’d love to hear about them. Giving away an iTunes gift card this month.2014 new year