Friday, March 30, 2007

DiAnn Mills, Part Two

Once again I am pleased to host DiAnn Mills. Her article this time deals with book signings. Believe me, I'm taking notes! Even if you're not a writer, you might enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek.

I enjoy book signings. For those few hours, I anticipate meeting new people and enjoying their personalities. That doesn't mean every one of my book signings have sold tons of books, but they all have been successful. Why? Because every opportunity to meet a new reader is an opportunity to positively impact a life. Have fun! Celebrate the people around you! Offer them a smile and a kind word whether they purchase your book or not. How can I make such statements? Simply put, those moments in time are divine encounters to make a new friend. And if you make a new friend, you are richer for it. The numbers of books sold do count, but aren't people more important? Perhaps this new face may not have purchased a book today, but they will remember you in the future as one who displayed a genuine and gracious attitude.

Through the years, I’ve found different items that work in making my book signings successful. What is important is that THE WRITER takes charge. Bookstore owners and managers are busy people. And unless the writer is a personal friend or this bookstore is known for giving their all for signings, you are responsible for making the event the best.

Listed below is a checklist that I use for my book signings. It’s a compilation of many sources, so feel free to add or delete items that are unique to you.

Book Signing Procedures:

Name of Bookstore:

Date and Time of Book Signing:




Other authors to contact:

1. Deliver press kit and include a copy of the book. I also include a promo item and bookmarks.

2. Meet with bookstore owner.

3. Suggest speaking topics and explain the value of an event with the book signing.

4. Discuss advertising and ask for a media list – newspaper, radio etc. that the bookstore uses. Unless the writer has a publicist, she/he handles the media advertising. Your publisher may wish to know about the event.

5. Find out if the bookstore needs posters. You may need to create a poster, or ask your publisher to provide them.

6. Prepare ½ page flyers for bookstore to be used as bag stuffers. Your publisher may do this for you.

7. Send the bookstore endorsements of your book.

8. Prepare bookmarks. Include bookmarks from other published titles.

9. Have book cover enlarged onto heavy board and place on easel.

10. Write the announcement for the bookstore’s intercom.

11. Send media info at least two weeks in advance.

12. Two weeks prior to book signing, make sure the store has your books in stock. *Make sure you always have plenty of books in your vehicle.

13. Present gift to bookstore owner.

14. Bring camera to have picture taken with bookstore owner – include the book, then send bookstore a copy of the photo.

15. Have candy available. Everyone loves chocolate.

16. Have copies of endorsements or reviews on book signing table.

17. Have sign-up sheet for writer’s newsletter.

18. Have copies of endorsements or reviews on book signing table.

19. Make sure your books on the shelves are face side out.

20. Talk about other writer’s books.

21. Move around. Don’t sit. Be available to recommend books to customers—even if it is not your book. You will be remembered.

22. Have door prize. Customers register for the door prize by giving name, address, phone, and e-mail address. Customer need not be present to win.

23. Ask bookstore owner how many books you can sign before you leave. If permissible, place an “autographed” sticker on the cover. Sign the book and slip a bookmark inside.

24. Have fun!

25. Follow-up with bookstore owner by writing a thank-you note and include the photo from item #14.

Thank you, DiAnn, for joining us this week. God bless you and your writing.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book Pile

I have too many books to read right now. I know, I know. How can there be too many?

I visited my local Christian bookstore yesterday for a CD. (Go Michelle Tumes--great work on your self-titled latest release!) But while I was there, I had to BROWSE the bargain book section. So, there I am glancing through, thinking fiction, when suddenly some non-fiction catches my eye. A book about the character of God and one about the greatest song in all of Scripture. Gotta have 'em. 60% off, oooh yum! Then, I noticed novels by authors I've not read recently. I start stacking books in my arms. Here's a novel, there's a novel. Fun!

Then, this morning some books I've been waiting for in our local library system have come in and are waiting for me to come claim them. Suddenly, it's like book heaven around here.

But I can't forget all the writing I need to be doing, or the critiquing I'm doing for a fellow writer. Have to keep those priorities in order.

Okay, I gotta run. As soon as I finish my work, I get to read!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

DiAnn Mills, Guest Author

Hi everyone,

I'm excited to host DiAnn Mills this week. This award-winning author launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million books. DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story. Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Check out her website at for more information.

I'll post her articles in two parts. Her latest release is called "Lightning and Lace." I'm reading it now and enjoying the development of the characters, which I feel is a strong feature of DiAnn's writing. Following is DiAnn's first of two articles on writing.

Accelerating Your Writing Career

The 6 Cs of Professional Writing

1. Colorful – Making sure your writing is colorful does not mean filling your story with flowery description and boring description. It means making sure every aspect of your writing contains sensory perception. Try using all of the senses in every scene. Blend this tool with the natural flow of your writing. A writer invites a reader to be a part of an adventure. What better way to hop on a magic carpet ride than to use sensory perception. List below three ways to make your manuscript colorful.




2. Compelling – Have you done your homework with your characters? Strong characterization is what drives any story. If you need help in developing your characters, look to personality tests, psychology books, character sketches. Study people and listen to dialogue. Interview your characters and discover motivation. If this is an area of your writing in which you need assistance, e-mail me and I will send you a character sketch. List below three ways to make your manuscript a page-turner.




3. Concise – Why use two or three words when one will do? Pack your story with punch by using powerful nouns and verbs. A good exercise is to list all the words that mean a common verb – like walk. The different ways a character walks gives a unique word picture. List below three ways to make your manuscript more concise.




4. Conflict – This is a vital ingredient in every manuscript. Without tension and conflict, the writer has no plot. A compelling story is one that contains conflict and tension on every page. This doesn’t mean earth-shattering events but differences in goals, emotional conflict, spiritual conflict, physical conflict, or conflicts with nature. Donald Maass says that every page should have some type of conflict. If yours doesn’t meet the test, delete the page and head back to the computer.




5. Creative – As writers, we are creative people. Our stories must take twists and turns that are totally unexpected by the reader, but the events must be in character. All the plot lines have been written. It is up to you to make your stories distinct. List three ways in which your story can be more creative by utilizing more creative attributes for your protagonist and your antagonist. Here is a tip: write your story outline in your antagonist’s point of view.




6. Credible – Our stories must be believable. Consider the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Those stories engage us because we believe what is happening. Consider facts, characterization, setting, and dialogue. For additional help with this portion, view movies such as Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Star Wars, or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. List three ways in which you can incorporate credibility into your manuscript.




Thursday, March 22, 2007

So Much More

My baby has learned how to kiss. She moves her head close, presses her lips to my skin and says “mmm-ma.” She’s a sweetheart. I’m glad she’s so affectionate.

But people aren’t the only thing she kisses.

She’ll also kiss her books or her bears or her reflection in the mirror (which is tooo cute!).

But all that affection going toward those inanimate objects sometimes makes me jealous, especially when she first started doing it.

I wonder if that’s a smidgen of what God experiences.

Have you ever enjoyed a rich dessert? You dig your fork into that decadent chocolate brownie and bring it to your mouth. It’s so rich your lips can’t even clean the fork as you draw it back out of your mouth. Your taste buds are having a party. Your endorphins are taking a joyride. You tip your head back in pleasure and close your eyes. “Hmm… heaven.”

Do you ever enjoy God like that?

Now, I know we don’t “eat” God in the way we ingest dessert, but we do partake of Him—His presence, His goodness, His Spirit. Do we enjoy Him more often and with greater pleasure than anything else on earth?

You will make Me know the way of life; in Your presence is fullness of joys. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 ModernKJV)

This season, as we approach Resurrection Sunday, I’m praying for grace to enjoy Him more.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Guest Author: Julie Carobini

Hi everyone, Today we're in for a treat with guest author Julie Carobini! She's a new author and has just released "Chocolate Beach." I've linked Julie's blog to my "Connections" tab below.

Hi, Julie. Welcome! Let's start with what inspired you to write Chocolate Beach.

First, I wanted to write a book set in one of my favorite locales—the California coast. Then I began to think about relationships, and how people often marry their opposites. What happens to them down the road? How do they deal with their differences? Are they still charmed by each other, or bugged? In Chocolate Beach, Bri Stone has always found solace in chocolate and the beach (and who wouldn’t?) but will these things get her through when she faces serious questions about her marriage?

When did Chocolate Beach release?

The official release date was February 2007, but it actually made it into readers’ hands in January. Exciting times for a newbie author!

Are there any new projects on the horizon?

Yes! Watch for Truffles by the Sea in Spring 2008. It’s the story of Bri’s best friend, Gaby Flores. Stop on by my website for more info, if you’d like:

Do you prefer to write contemporary chick-lit fiction?

Yes! I read all sorts of genres, but found my voice in Chick-lit. It’s sassy and fun, and allows me to tell stories of life’s challenges in an entertaining way.

Who are your readers?
My readers are the “young at heart.” Mostly women, they are aware of current trends and technology, yet they like to giggle through a good story. They also love to bond with other women over faith, a hot cup of coffee or tea, and of course, designer chocolates!

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

It can be so tough to find unobstructed time to actually write when there are so many other things vying for my attention: proposing new books, marketing current ones, writing articles, and most especially, caring for my family of five.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run world?

Actually? I’m often overwhelmed. I try to pray a lot—and God always steps in.
Attending a regular Bible study helps too, because it keeps me focused on what God thinks about my busy life! I also jog on the beach, take a spinning class, and drink (too much) coffee.

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

I address this on my new website. First, find every opportunity to read. Next, make sure you actually enjoy the process of writing before investing your life into it. Finally, get help. Go to writer’s conferences and watch how the experts do it; make friends at those conferences, the kind who will cheer you on in the days ahead (and who you can cheer along too!); and invest in yearly guides such as Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide.

Thanks, Julie, for including us in your beach hopping blog tour! And thanks, readers, for stopping by. Visit again soon to read about other authors and their books.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

He's Got You

My baby’s afraid of the lawn. She doesn’t want to step down onto it, even with her shoes on. If I hold her over the grass and move like I’m going to put her down, she’ll curl her legs up under her and wince. If I lower her further, she’ll curl to one side.

What is going on?

But then I remember that her sisters did the same thing, until they got used to walking around outside. She’ll get used to it, too. And she’ll learn there is nothing to fear.

That’s the way it is with God, too. He sometimes carries us into risky, uncharted territory and we may baulk a little bit. But after more exposure, we learn we really are going to be okay.

Is He asking you to take some risks in your life? If so, go for it! Take that leap and trust Him with the outcome. He’s got you.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Great Fiction

I reached for the tissues this morning to mop up tears and said “this is soooo good.” I know, incongruous, huh?

I was crying over Christian fiction.

The story was so well-written. This author had once again drawn me in and caused me to feel the emotions of her characters. Author and teacher Randy Ingermanson calls this the “powerful emotional experience” that we writers strive for. That’s the satisfaction for the reader. As a reader, I’d have to agree. Yum!

I love this field. I love reading it, writing it, brainstorming it and watching it (there are more and more movies being made from inspirational novels and novellas).

Being a writer and a member of the ACFW, I’ve been blessed to meet some pretty spectacular writers, if only through email. I’ve responded to their novels with comments and soon heard back from them in writing. At conferences, I’ve sat in on their workshops, sponging up whatever tidbits they’d learned along the way that could apply to my path. A lot of the Christian writers I’ve interacted with would tell you they see their writing as a ministry. That’s their approach. So, they make themselves available.

As a way of introducing you to some writers you may not be aware of, I will be featuring a few authors on this blog. So far, I’ve scheduled: DiAnn Mills later in March, Julie Carobini will be up soon as will Anita Higman and Janice Thompson for their collaborative latest release. I’m grateful for their willingness to share their stories with us, both as authors and as blog guests.

Keep checking back for news and articles/interviews with some great writers. We’re in for a treat.

If you get a chance this weekend, why not pick up a good book and relax? Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hang on Tight

Today was the big day! I knew this morning and I waited all day for news.

I tried to concentrate on writing.

I tried to concentrate on reading.

I tried to concentrate on meals and caring for my children.

It is hard to wait!

Then, the news came. The baby has arrived. She's a girl!! Mom and baby are fine. Praise God.

Now I can breathe again.

Sometimes God asks us to wait. He's working out His character in us. Patience. Character. Long-suffering. The challenge is to trust God through the whole process. Knowing by faith that what He promised He will do. He's faithful.

If you've been waiting on God, hang in there. Someday it'll all make sense, even if that someday isn't on this side of eternity.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for good and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

He will not let you down. Even if things seem to go haywire, He will turn everything out for good. (Romans 8:28) Just hang on to Him. That's part of the point of the waiting.

Hang on tight.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Never Sit on the Panic Button

Yesterday morning, when my kids and I arrived at church, we piled out of the van, gathering all sorts of bags and gear. I still needed to grab my bottle of water. So, after scooping my toddler from her carseat, I sat back down in the driver's seat, leaned in, and snatched up the bottle. That's when it started.

The echoing of car horns off nearby buildings. On time-change Sunday at oh-dark-thirty... well, not quite. But not quiet, either.

Oops, I'd sat on the panic button.

I had put my keys in the pocket of my coat and when I sat down, my coat shifted and wow, was this awkward. But I could only laugh. My older kids were saying "What's going on? Is that us?!"

I stand back up, water bottle somehow in hand with my toddler and bags, and I fumble in my pocket for the keys. Oh, boy, they're buried. Okay, toss one glove into the van. There! My keys.

I lift them out and focus on that little red button on the fob. Then click the alarm stops. Shew!! Everybody exhale.

One of the pastors met us on the way in. He was laughing, too, as he watched us tromp forward. "You're going to wake the neighbors," he said, chuckling.

I contained myself a bit and told him, "It's never good to sit on the panic button."

So, we get inside and are warmly greeted by the precious family of God. My heart is ready for a touch from Him. I drop off the kiddos to their classes and walk into the sanctuary just as my husband and the rest of the worship team are taking the platform.

As we reached toward the Lord yesterday, He reached back--in power, with His love and by gracing us with His glorious presence.

I love that about Him. Here's His promise: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8a)

I pray your week is doused in the love of God.

Friday, March 9, 2007


I had a mysterious phone call tonight. Well, not mysterious exactly, just confusing.

The number that came up on the screen wasn’t one I recognized and it was local, but the voice in the message (I was eating and didn’t answer) was a dear friend’s who had moved across the country about a year ago.

I called the number back and asked for my friend. That’s when the person at the local number explained they had done a three-way call.

Okay…mystery solved.

So, my local helper dialed my friend and ta-da! We were connected again.

I stayed quiet in the background while the two chatted for a moment. Local Gal said, “Hey, guess who I have on the phone?”

You have to understand, the only communication we’ve had has been in writing for months. Just hearing her voice was blessing me more than I could have imagined it would.

She says, “Who?”

That’s when I jump in. I’m smiling ear-to-ear. “Hey there, sister-friend.”

“Oh, Annette! Hi!!” she sings into the phone. A perfect moment of reuniting friends.

We’ve always had a connection.

That same sort of connection can pop up when first meeting someone, too.

This afternoon, I reached out to an author whose book I was finishing and we shared a special exchange of emails, ending with each of us wanting to meet the other person. We could talk about the Lord, our families or our writing. We had lots in common already. What a gift—our friendly exchange.

I’m feeling blessed tonight by friends, near and far, long-time and potentially new. I know friendship—fellowship—is a gift from the Lord and I’m very grateful.

Why not give a friend a call this weekend? Tell her how much her friendship means to you. And don’t forget to tell God thanks, too. Friendship was His idea.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Being Held

I just spent a little extra time putting my baby down for bed.

I’m so thankful that most of the time, she goes down very easily. And tonight was no exception. But shortly after I left her room, she started coughing. I decided to set up the humidifier to moisten the air in her room. When I went in, she woke up. So, I scooped her up and snuggled her for a while.

My toddler draped herself on my shoulder. I settled us in the rocking chair and sang over her. She was like a rag doll, so floppy and cuddly. Adorable. I rocked her for a while, reminiscing over the length of her life, recalling those early months of lots of rocking and singing and soothing.

You know, sickness can make us like that—more willing to just let God hold us for a while. So often, I’m so involved with my list that I don’t listen.

So, tonight, I listened.

God reminded me of the times I spend just holding my daughter—times when she is drowsy and will just rest her head on my shoulder and trust in my love.

I’ve been doing that a lot more lately, since I’ve been battling a bug. Everything slows down and, forced to take it easy, I simply turn to God for comfort. And He always comes through.

Nothing frustrates me more than when I’m ready to cuddle my daughter but she can’t be still in my arms. She’s busily pointing out everything around us, labeling and asking for things and basically taking me for granted.

Uh-oh, that sounds familiar.

I hope I can find that place again in my life with Jesus where I just come and surrender to being held. Just resting and listening because I know He wants to let me hear Him sing over me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New and Refreshing

Hi everyone, welcome to my new blog! This will offer a place to share ideas with you and hear from you as you read. Please feel free to leave comments.

It feels like spring! The weather today is amazing--upper-60s here in the Northwest. Makes me feel like throwing open the windows.... I'll be right back. :0) Ahh, that's better.

This time of year makes me focus my devotional time on Jesus' death and resurrection. I read the Word of God, but I also get into devotional books that will cause me to see something I haven't seen before.

Here are a couple of things that God has reminded me of this season:

He responds to the hungry. He can't help himself. He's like a parent who knows His child is hungry and will do everything He can to answer the cry. I love this about Him. He's attracted to my hunger for Him. That means all I gotta bring to Him is my need. He'll fill me up.

He longs for us. I love this one. Easter is about this--He wanted you so badly as part of His family that He'd rather die for you than let you go without His love. Amazing. Grace.

He waits for us. God is a Gentleman. He doesn't force Himself on us. But He woos us. Like today, while I sat in the warm sun and deadheaded a potted plant. His love wooed me. I knew He was right there with me. And we struck up a two-way conversation.

He is the God of the new. God doesn't do things "again." He doesn't take us back. He takes us forward. God is the God of the new. He makes things and people new. He restores, refreshes, revives. He causes us to be reborn when we say yes to Him. I'm so thankful He's at work doing something new in my life.

Happy early spring, dear reader. May the Lord bless you with something new.