Publishing in 2019: What Do We Know?

By Jennifer Hallmark

The publishing world has changed much in the last five years and left even the experts baffled. For established writers and those just starting, the world of writing is confusing at best, impossible at times. With so much fake news and opinionated articles out there, what do we know for sure?

AMAZON is not going anywhere soon. Online shopping is growing. The writing industry has many opportunities via Amazon. From Audible to Amazon ads to Amazon’s Author Central, writers need to study and take advantage of the many opportunities offered by the largest Internet retail company in the world.

Good EDITING is crucial. Whether you are aiming to be traditionally publishing or going Indie, the competition is fiercer than ever. A well-edited article, story, or novel stands out. But Writer Beware: many who claim to be editors are either ill-equipped for their job or scammers searching for the uninformed. Check out our Monday and Friday posts on editing during the month of April for more information.

Any author, whether traditional or Indie, needs to know how to MARKET The good old days of writing books while others do the marketing for you is gone, unless you are willing to pay for it. Marketing is primarily discovering your readers and giving them a reason to buy what you’re selling. Authors need to examine social media, word of mouth, and ads, then decide how each will aid in finding an audience for their book. All three are vital for successful marketing.

The AUDIOBOOK industry is growing. More and more people listen to podcasts and audiobooks while they drive. Should your book be an audiobook and how hard is it to produce one? We’ll share the answer in a two-part in-depth article and interview about this topic at the end of the month.

WHO YOU KNOW And I don’t necessarily mean your cousin’s aunt who cleans Big Publisher X’s office. I mean, how social have you been in your pursuit of writing stardom? Each person you meet, whether a newbie, editor, reader, publisher, or the director of a writing event is a vital connection. Some will help you reach your writing goals while others will cheer you on. Or maybe you’ll cheer them on. We all need each other on this difficult journey. How you regard others makes all the difference in the world.

CHANGE is the word that most describes this year’s publishing market. Major bookstores are closing. Online stores and companies open and either succeed quickly or close. Scams and fake news abound. You can no longer believe one source. You need to research it all.

Staying in tune with the writing world is the key. No, you don’t have to know all the ins and outs of publishing. But study enough to have an overall picture in your head of what’s to come. Pick your road carefully and stay true. It makes the trip much longer if you backtrack.

Study.

Write.

Engage.

Write.

Submit.

If you persevere and grow, you’ll eventually find success. Even in this fluctuating world of print, audio, and digital…

Click to tweet: Publishing in 2019: What Do We Know? The overall picture is something you need to understand. #amwriting #publishing

Please read all of our Monday and Friday articles this month to learn more about publishing in 2019.

Writing Prompt: Kiel sat drumming his fingers on the desk. The writing course he just finished left him with more questions than answers. Where should he turn now?

The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio

image2.jpegGood morning, dear reader! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. We have Jarm Del Boccio with us this morning. Jarm is talking about the writing process and her newly released debut book, The Heart Changer.

Jarm, tell us a little about yourself.

Jarm:  I was an only child, who grew up in a single parent home. My dear dad, a kind and artistic man, died when I was only four — it broke my heart. But I still cherish his memory after all these years!

As a child, I loved to sing along with Disney songs, acting them out as I listened on my phonograph. I learned to read at a very early age – The Hat and the Cat Came Back was a favorite. I kept a diary almost all my life, into which I poured my joys and sorrows.

My mom and I took trips across the country every summer, visiting family and friends, along with natural and historical sites along the way. One year, she drove me (as an eight year old) and a friend with a broken leg, all the way from Chicago to Alaska and back! My favorite part was being the navigator, as I followed our route on an old-fashioned map. I believe it gave me a love for history and culture — and created in me an adventurous spirit.

I was a single schoolteacher and librarian, nannied for two years, then spent another two years as a missionary teacher in an isolated village of Papua New Guinea. When I arrived home, I got my RN, and soon after, married my husband Dan. Three years later, I discovered I was not able conceive, so we adopted a son and daughter from Russia. There has never been a dull moment since!

After home educating them for ten years, they left the nest, and I was able to pursue my writing passion. I began with picture books, but because I had a difficult time keeping my descriptions short, I was advised to write for middle-grade. I found my sweet spot and never looked back! Although one day, I would love to see one of my PB manuscripts in print.

I have a soft spot for kids in the Bible who have no name and backstory, but have made a huge impact on the people around them. With The Heart Changer, Naaman’s wife’s servant girl came to mind from 2 Kings 5. So, I gave Miriam a name AND a feasible backstory! I try to stay as close to the historical account as possible. Since my passion is to ‘breathe new life into the pages of history’ I delight in the ‘what-ifs’ and bring the story to life so children can relate to the Bible characters in a fresh way.

Some fun facts about me:

– I love to travel, and am passionate about visiting new places. My motto is: never visit the same location twice. Well — I’ve disregarded my own rule a few times, but otherwise, I stick to it as best I can. I’m slowly checking off destinations on my bucket list, and have journeyed to six of seven continents. I’ll let you decide which one I have yet to step foot on . . .

– I was accidentally hit in the head with a baseball bat and sported black and blue eyes for eight grade graduation. A well-meaning elderly man thought I had applied my makeup incorrectly. The ironic thing is — I am not a sports fan!

– When I was a junior in high school my first job was — no joke — in a Chinese laundromat.

– My secret desire? To get caught up in a flash mob singing a tune from a favorite musical.

– When I was in elementary school, I begged my Mom for a baby alligator from Florida, trying to convince her we could keep it in our bathtub. She gently asked me what I would do once it grew to full-size. I pondered the question for a minute or two, and reluctantly backed down. 

What do you love most about the writing process?

Jarm: I love the way words flow from my mind to my fingers, as a little-known person from history begs me to tell his or her story. Sometimes, it happens so fast, I wonder if the words are flowing from my heart to my pen, missing my mind altogether. I certainly don’t speak the way I write. It’s a unique process for me. I also thrive on critiques and love to edit to make my story shine. I’m disappointed if no one can find a problem with my manuscript.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Jarm: A plethora! One or two half-finished, but I’ve written a total of 30+ unpublished historical/Biblical fiction picture books and middle grade novels. Most of them have been critiqued and edited at least once, and for the last three years, I’ve been sending them out on submission — but no one has snatched them up at this point.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Jarm:  Be faithful in keeping a daily journal. Someday, you may become famous — and it’s discovery may change the world. Even if you don’t, it will leave a legacy for those you love. Also, dare to be different. Be who God meant you to be. And don’t be afraid to try new things or go out of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to write about them later.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Jarm:  One of the biggest, I believe, is to write for the market. The quality of your manuscripts will suffer if you do that, since your passion is not engaged in a book you force yourself to write. Another trap is to think you have nothing worth saying to readers. Of course, that’s a false assumption. Each person has a unique perspective on life, depending on their culture, faith and upbringing which can inspire a story. The challenge is having the skill to write it in the best way possible to make readers care — that’s the difficult part. If you are willing to work hard, and take constructive criticism, you will be successful!

What does literary success look like to you?

Jarm:  Of course, we think of the number of books an author has published and sold, and the rave reviews they receive. I’m not there yet. But if I heard from those who, by reading my novel, have been inspired to be the hero of their own stories — given confidence to be the person God has meant them to be — that’s the meaning of success for me!

Future projects or WIP you can talk about?

Jarm: I’m writing (with the help of the Institute of Children’s Literature) another middle-grade historical fiction, The Orphans Who Saved the World, set in early nineteenth century Spain, based on a little-known medical expedition. A completed MG historical novel, Fair Investigation! set at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition has been sent numerous times to editors and agents, but no bites yet. I have plenty of ideas but it’s difficult to know which one to focus on first!

Thank you for joining us today, Jarm!


image2Jarm Del Boccio

Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine.

The Heart Changer,” her debut MG historical/biblical fiction, releases with Ambassador International April 26th 2019. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. You can connect on her author’s website/blog at: https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/

My Passion is to Make Scripture and History Come Alive for my Readers: Illuminating the Past. Making Sense of the Present. Offering Hope for the Future.”


image1Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission—far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.

 

Hidden in a List by Marlene Houk

writing picture Marlene HoukGood morning, dear reader! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. We have Marlene Houk with us this morning. Marlene is talking about the writing process and her new book, Hidden in a List

Marlene, tell us a little about yourself.

Marlene: I’m a woman of faith, wife, mother, grandmother and many other roles. My career was in accounting and I’m now semi-retired with writing and consulting vying for my time. Sid, my husband, and I have enjoyed and stumbled through bringing up two grown and flown children, but my daughter is close and serves as my personal guru of technology, encouragement, and critique in this writing journey. 😊 I enjoy snowtubing, soapmaking and visiting Ireland.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Marlene: I heard someone say at a writers’ conference, “I dance with words.” God gifted us with the ability to waltz to the rhythm of words and gave us language. He even called his beloved Son, the Word. The Bible fascinates me with its structure, patterns, and implications. And God, the Master Storyteller’s methods work because he created us to respond to Jesus. I love to copy those same methods in my writing.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Marlene:  Too many. One unpublished book and about eight half-finished books wait patiently for me.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Marlene:  Two pieces of advice rise to the top.

  1. Learn from the Master Writer: the Lord. His ways are best, and he created us to have the same emotions, needs, and pleasures as the rest of humanity. These ways help us to understand the Bible. Capitalize on that and learn his methods which are stories, questions, the senses, word pictures, figures of speech, patterns, etc.
  2. Write. Because I’m a backslidden perfectionist, training myself to write rather than waiting for the perfect moment and inspiration is difficult.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Marlene:  In the big picture sense, the traps are the same as elsewhere in life. Our strengths (For example, I strive for excellence but drift into perfectionism.) are our weaknesses. When the Bible says, “the wisdom of the prudent is to know his way,” (Proverbs 14:8), it means writing too. If we know our strengths, then we know our weaknesses. When we see our personalities mirrored in many others’ reactions to us, then we know our way. And to excel at our careers supports our writing.

We have the same foibles everyone falls in to. For example:

  • I somehow think that writing is a luxury, and, like a nap, put it off until I deserve it. But writing is an accountability for the gifts and the truths that we discover. They should be a light set on a hill rather than under a bushel. (Matthew 5:15)
  • The craft of writing takes time, and I want to purchase the book and consider it done.
  • And, like most people, my creations are my babies, not to be critiqued.

The traps are the same as experienced writers.

What does literary success look like to you?

Marlene: Literary success would fulfill my desires when people receive my work and grow spiritually from it.

Future projects or WIP you can talk about?

Marlene:  My current WIP is a Bible study whose working title is Divine Drama: transforming patterns in the lives of Bible women. It won first place for Bible study at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). Based on easily-observed patterns in their stories, we can absorb divine truth that changes how we view life.

When this one is published, there are about 7 others in various stages of completion that follow this pattern. And there’s an infinite number of other possibilities when studying women of the Bible.

Thank you for joining us today, Marlene!


writing picture Marlene Houk

Marlene Houk writes a series of Bible studies that connect ancient women to us, conveying messages of hope, faith, and warning. She has recently published a short-read on Amazon Kindle called, Hidden in a List: secrets from Bible women

Marlene is passionate about finding the Master Director’s heart prints in the women he has positioned in his Word. And she loves to ask unusual questions such as, “What one word did Eve omit in her conversation with the devil?”

She writes for the Blue Ridge Christian News and contributes to the Short & Sweet Series published by Grace Publishing, compiled by Susan King. She also encourages women through her teaching and speaking ministry. Her Bible study, Backstage Pass to Emotion Commotion, won first place at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

  Marlene is a graduate of Covington Theological Seminary with a degree in Ministry and Gardner-Webb University with a degree in Business Administration. Learn more about the fascinating world of Bible women at www.MarleneHouk.com.

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Maglenes_Hidden in a ListDo you have a plan when life kicks you to the curb in its daily grind and when disaster strikes? Imagine relying on simple, doable, Scripture-based steps to realign your emotions with God’s Word. In this short read, you can:

  • Unlock proven secrets to control reactions and instead act from a God-given perspective.
  • Triumph in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as he overcomes fears and failures.
  • Delight for a lifetime in using these secrets and sharing them with others.
  • Conquer insecurities by following the women of the Bible.
  • Boldly increase your faith and hope as a daily part of life.

Choosing a Freelance Editor

By Fay Lamb

Hiring a freelance editor may be one of the most important decisions you make in your career, but there are precautions you should take in order to find the editor most suited to your needs.

First, I want to say that the most effective use of a freelance editor is not to rewrite or to revise an author’s work but to catch the mistakes that might have been made or the areas that might have missed because the author is too close to the work.

Now, with regard to the qualifications of an editor, I do not believe that an editor needs to have a degree, but I do believe that they need to have studied the craft of writing and have the ability to show forth a knowledge of the specific area in which they are being requested to offer an edit.

Editors who claim to be able to edit everything should be viewed skeptically. For instance, if I were writing a college thesis on a highly specialized field, I would search for an editor familiar with that field of research, not an editor who would simply look for comma placement or spelling. In fact, I’d be worried that the spelling would be a problem for someone unfamiliar with the subject.

Let’s bring it down to our scope, though. In fiction, there are genres, and each genre requires specific techniques. Thrillers are fast paced, barely leaving time for the reader to breathe while romantic suspense will speed up and slow down depending upon the type of suspense being portrayed. Romance, well, it lingers, but it is often formulaic, and an editor will need to know the formula. Historical fiction is another beast altogether, and nothing can be taken for granted, even word choice. I know, historical fiction is not my expertise.

Overall, though, fiction has elements such as plot, conflict, suspense, proper use of dialogue, showing and not telling, deep point of view, and characterization. An editor who is unaware of this canvas upon which an author creates can do little to help the author should the brush stroke be imperfect.

There’s also non-fiction. In fact, this editor will only edit non-fiction if the author is requesting proofreading and nothing more. Why? I do not have the expertise in this format either, and my lack of knowledge will harm an author.

Another important thing to know when it comes to hiring a freelance editor is the going rate, and many authors will be surprised at what it will cost because most freelance editors don’t care about the author’s return on investment. They’re rightfully concerned with their return on investment. Thus my reason for stating why an editor should not be used to revise or rewrite.

Before agreeing to a contract with a freelance editor, an author should ask for a free chapter edit. This will be of benefit not only to the author but to the editor. As a freelance editor, I often use those free edits to determine if the author is ready for publication. If not, I will refuse the edit and will offer suggestions on how they might improve their writing. If I find that the author has a command of the story, I am then able to determine the length of the manuscript and offer my estimate, which is always the highest fee I will charge, and sometimes if the edits take less effort, I charge less.

This leads me to the most important advice that I can give to an author seeking a freelance editor: never agree to an open-ended hourly contract. An editor who has given you a chapter edit may estimate high in case the story falls apart somewhere along the line, but agree up front to the total cost and to the terms of payment. If an editor is unwilling to provide the cost up front, run away.

Again, it is important to note, in order to utilize the freelance editor’s time and the money you pay most effectively, send the editor your cleanest manuscript. Utilize an editor’s expertise to find the mistakes you missed and not to clean up the mistakes you didn’t want to remedy.

Click to tweet: Choosing a Freelance Editor by Fay Lamb. “Editors who claim to be able to edit everything should be viewed skeptically.” #editing #amwriting

Writing Prompt: In leiu of a prompt, tell us whether you use a critique group, a critique partner, or hire a freelance editor? Why?

Why Delilah?

By Fay Lamb

When Delilah came on the scene as the ruthless antagonist for Charisse in the first book of the series, a reader wrote to me before finishing the story and said, “I hope Delilah gets hers.” I replied that she definitely did, but it would not be in the way that she thought.” Since the release of Charisse, I heard from many readers who fell in love with Delilah, this delightfully fiendish character who changed in some ways from story to story but never truly lost her brash personality that made her who she is.

I never meant to give Dee her own story, but like many of the characters I write, I find that those that I consider truly secondary are the ones that seem to capture the imagination of the readers. I have a character in a little-known book that I wrote in 1999 that my readers still ask me about today, and characters in a writing tutorial that I used as examples have an adoring audience. The same was true of Delilah. When I sent the synopses in for Charisse, Libby, and Hope, the stories which at that time, encompassed the series, the publisher indicated I could have the contract on one condition: if Delilah got a story of her own. Who was I to argue?

As I completed the other two novels in the series and five other novels in different series for the same publisher, I worked on Delilah in my mind. She wouldn’t let me alone, and she never ceased to amaze me with her story. When she told me her background, I laughed aloud. When she learned her connection to one of the other gals in the series, I cried and I rejoiced with her. Delilah truly had me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and tell her unique tale set against the backdrop of Central Florida’s homelessness and our wonderful natural resources. It is truly my hope that you’ll come along for the ride.

Find Delilah here.

Click to tweet: Fay Lamb’s last book in The Ties That Bind series, Delilah. Great contemporary romance. #romance #amreading


Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.

Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ hearts. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction.

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