Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

We're three! Can you believe it? And as with every anniversary, we're making changes to guarantee our readers have a quality experience while here with us on AuthorCulture. We always strive to enlighten, encourage, and entertain--and now we have more people to help us reach our goals.

Along the right sidebar, you'll see the addition of Lisa Lickel, Janalyn Voigt, and Michael J. Scott, authors all and all chock full of wonderful advice and tips.

Lisa was one of the editors for Give the Lady a Ride, Linda's novel that debuted in 2011. She has a sharp eye for what works and what doesn't and carries that into her own writing. A multi-pubbed author of both fiction and nonfiction, she'll touch your heart and tease your brain.

Janalyn has a magical voice in her writing. She knows how to elevate prose to its highest level while keeping a sharp story running smoothly. Her trio of fantasy novels just sold to Harbourlight, and it won't be long before we see the first in the series, DawnSinger, advertised in our Amazon widget in the right sidebar.

Michael writes seat-edge international thrillers that leave you panting from the wild ride. His Jonathan Munroe series just sold to Ellechor and is guaranteed to please. With his Dragon's Eye Circle series, he shows his talent in the realm of fantasy also. Michael's books always promise adventure.

With these three talented authors and our regular group of Lynnette, Johne, John, and Linda, AuthorCulture will continue to become a center for discovering writing tips and techniques, interviews, reviews, and publishing news--and whatever else hits our creative fancies.

Will miss K.M. (Katie) Weiland who was, among other things, Queen of the Calendar, but she passed her sceptor to Lynnette who'll keep us all in line. John will be quiet for a while as real life tramples across his writing career. Once things settle for him, we can expect him to return, full of the wit and wisdom we've come to expect from him.

Lynnette, Johne, and Linda hope you join us in welcoming our new members and saying farewell to a loved one, and all of us here at AuthorCulture hope we prove ourselves worthy of the loyalty our wonderful readers have gifted to us over the past three years.

Our fourth year will be an inspiring adventure, and we're grateful to have you along for the ride!

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Resource Roundup: 5 Time Savers for Writers

Today, I'd like to offer five nifty sites that can save a working writer time on a variety of tasks.

Task #1: Alphabetizing Lists.

Task #2: Finding Overused Words.

Task #3: Researching Etymology.

Task #4: Hunting for Descriptors and Synonyms.

Task #5: Finding Costume Inspiration.
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Fabulously Fun Friday: The Dark Side of the English Language

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Avoid the Second Book Slump

Writing, like marriage, is an odd mixture of passion and duty. The same writers who speak of “falling in love” with a story complain about “having to” edit it. Some marriages are easier than others, and that’s also true of books. Some pearls make it to publication with few edits, but often, by the time a novel reaches readers, its writer is sick of working on it.
Given these conditions, it’s not surprising to learn that the second books in series frequently disappoint readers. Preventing this from happening to your second book requires a look at this syndrome’s causes.
Time Frame  
A debut novel usually benefits from years of labor as its author polishes it over and over in order to land a contract. But a second novel, when written in a matter of months, doesn’t go through as strenuous a process.
  • Simply being aware of this as a problem is half the battle. Commit to giving your second book your all, just as you did with your first.
  •  Before you submit your second manuscript, make sure you put it before a number of “eyes.” Accept knowledgeable critiques, remarks from beta readers and/or paid editorial advice.
A writer often has to set aside writing the second book in a series to work on edits and/or promotion for the first. While necessary, interruptions stifle the creative flow. Most writers find returning to a cold manuscript difficult.
  • Have all books in a series written before you submit them for publication. Previously, writers held off on writing a second book until the first had sold. This made sense because publication usually went through traditional publishers. These days it’s harder to win that traditional contract but easier to become published. Take this advice if you would hire an editor and independently publish your work, should it fail to land a traditional contract.
  • Learn to write your first draft quickly so that, by the time edits for the first book hit, you’re ready for them.
  • Dedicate part of your day to writing and part to editing, with a break in between. Your brain will learn to readily switch gears.
Conflicting Emotions
During edits, a writer must face, accept and overcome weaknesses. The angst this causes can attach itself in the writer’s mind to the series itself. To draw a parallel from marriage: While undergoing marital counseling , it can be hard to remember first love.
  • Go back over your notes or read earlier entries in a writing journal to remind yourself why you love this series.
  • Reconnect with your novel’s theme, which you hopefully drew from one of your passions.  Prayer and meditation can help.
Eroded Confidence
It’s common knowledge that artistic people are their worst critics, and that’s certainly true of writers. As a result, while dealing with edits it’s easy to lose confidence and take fewer risks with the second book, which can rob it of zeal.
  • Re-read any endorsements or encouraging comments you received for your first novel.
  • Remind yourself that your publisher believes in you enough to work with you.
  • Give yourself permission to dream about what could happen in your story. Don’t censor your ideas, but simply write them down. And when you go back over your brainstorming session, be wise but bold.
Creative Desire  
When the passion in a marriage fizzles, it’s tempting to look elsewhere for fulfillment. In the same way, when a writer loses that loving feeling for a project, other tempting ideas can siphon creative energy and distract attention. This has an adulterating effect on the work at hand.
  • Rather than ignoring new ideas, write them down (briefly) and save them for later. This keeps them percolating on the back burner until you’re ready for them.
  • Stir your passion for the work at hand by dreaming about the story, exploring the nuances of its characters and mentally writing the next scene.
If you follow these steps, you’ll soon recapture your passion for your series.

Janalyn Voigt is an author, literary judge, and avid reader who understands what makes a novel worth reading. Her own writing flows in a lyrical style, creating worlds of beauty and danger in the historical fiction and fantasy genres.  She is represented by Barbara Scott of Wordserve Literary.

DawnSinger, the first offering in Janalyn’s epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, will release with Harbourlight Books in 2012.  Other projects include a Western romance set in Montana’s gold rush. Janalyn publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press (now David C. Cook), and Pentecostal Evangel. She trained through Christian Writers Guild and maintains active memberships in ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and NCWA (Northwest Christian Writers).

Janalyn is a member of ACFW & NCWA.
Twitter: @janalynvoigt
Facebook Page: 

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Sayin' Goodbye

Linda here, with the painful announcement that one of our founding members will be leaving us at the end of the month. Katie, Lynnette, and I met on roughly five years ago, though it seems we've known each other forever. By the time we got together in this collaborative blog, Katie's second full-length novel, Behold the Dawn made it's debut, Lynnette had just signed a contract with Oak Tara for Rocky Mountain Oasis, and I was putting the final touches on Give the Lady a Ride. Individually and together, we've all come a long way.

Now, three years after we started this blog, Katie has made the tough decision to leave it. I'll leave it to her to tell you what's going on in her life:

Want to share the reason for your decision to leave?

It’s been a great ride, but a lot has change in the three years since you, Lynnette, and I started up AC. For me, those changes have mostly meant seeing my own writing pursuits (my novels and my own blog Wordplay) grow to demand more and more of my time. All this busyness has also meant that the associated computer work has wreaked a maniacal-laughter kind of havoc on my wrists. I have a beautiful set of repetitive stress injuries in both wrists, which could possibly lead me down the dark road of carpal tunnel syndrome in a few years more. Not a road I want to go down! So this year I resolved to pare down my life and particularly my computer work to essentials. Since AC continues to grow and add new members, I felt it was something that would be left in good hands if I let it go.

How are your wrists now?

Earlier this year, about the same time I made the decision to step down from AC, I bought a set of bed risers and used them to lift my desk about five inches. That made a dramatic difference, since having the keyboard at a height that kept my wrists level took a lot of stress off them. After that, I had moments in which I thought I was miraculously cured. But I got yanked up short a few weeks ago when three days of inputting manuscript corrections flared them up again. I have a feeling this is an injury I’ll live with the rest of my life. But if I can just rein in my tendencies to attack everything and overdo it, I should be able to keep the problem under control so it doesn’t interfere with what really needs doing.

I understand you’re subjecting one of your manuscripts to a professional editor for the first time. What made you decide to take that step?

Yes, just a few days ago I just sent the manuscript of my fantasy Dreamlander to the marvelous CathiLyn Dyck of Scienda Editorial. I await her comments with eagerness—and a little trembling! For my past novels, I relied on the expertise of experienced critique partners, some of whom are editors in their own right (yourself chief among them!), but this time around I figured it was time to start practicing what I preach: namely, that independently published authors owe it to themselves, their readers, and the industry to be professionally edited. Even the best of authors are blind to the mistakes in their own work and need the practiced eye of someone who knows the art, craft, and industry of writing.

What were you looking for in an editor?

Someone brilliant, of course! I knew I needed someone who understood the genre, had experience under her belt, and offered her services at a reasonable rate. CathiLyn fulfilled all those qualifications easily. The fact that I “know” her from other social circles on the web and already liked her and was comfortable with her was icing on the cupcake. Having seen some of her work on others’ manuscripts and heard more than one glowing review clinched it.

Do you still take on editing/critiquing jobs?

No, I discontinued my First Chapter Story Consultation service earlier this year in the same purge that nailed AC. Although I loved working with other authors and helping them near their goals for their stories, the truth is I’m just not an editor at heart. I’m much happier in a role of unofficial “mentor,” such as what I do on my blog and social sites. The lessened stress on my wrists and the added time to devote to my own writing and website were, of course, also factors in my decision to move on.

When will your next book be out? 

The tentative release date for Dreamlander is December 1st (just in time for Santa to make a big order!). Unless CathiLyn hits me with an unexpected round of major changes for the book, that date probably won’t be tentative for much longer. Can’t wait!

What else are you working on?

Aside from various pre-publication chores for Dreamlander, I’m also about to dive into another revision of my historical WIP The Deepest Breath. After that, I get to start outlining my next book, a historical fantasy about a barnstormer who has a mysterious woman quite literally fall out of the sky and into his lap. I’m really excited about this one. Deepest was a dark story, even for me, and I’m looking forward to doing a fun and (mostly) lighthearted adventure story.

Any parting words you’d like to share?

Being a part of AC has been a wonderful experience and I’ve been honored to participate in it for these last few years. I’ll miss the group emails with the AC writers (I’ll even miss putting the schedules together), and certainly I’ll miss chatting with our readers. But I’m happy to know I leave the site in the wonderful hands of not just you, Lynnette, and Johne, but also a trio of wonderful new members who are soon to be introduced. Thanks for all the fun memories, everyone!

We'll miss Katie, but you can still keep up with her: On Facebook, Twitter, and her award-winning blog, Wordplay.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Fabulously Fun Friday ~ How Big is Your Vocabulary?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review of Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter

Sooner or later, most authors are faced with the necessity of having a character throw a few punches. A streetwise cop taking on thugs or a hunky gentleman saving his damsel—whatever your cuppa, the nature of conflict demanded by good fiction means characters often end up getting physical with each other. This is a good thing, since no conflict means no story. But what isn’t so good is the fact that many of us are uninitiated in the cold hard facts of fighting. We take our cues from Hollywood’s overblown, highly unrealistic action—and, as a result, we fail to present the necessary telling details to convince our readers that our fight scenes are the real deal.

Fortunately, we have Alan Baxter on our side. In this fast read (12,000 words) professional fighter and author Baxter shares his expertise in the friendly manner of two friends taking a morning coffee break. His down-to-earth voice and self-effacing wisdom is so darn likable, you might almost forget this guy is lethal—except for the fact that he’s packed this book with an insane amount of useful details about how to recognize, initiate, survive, and win a fight.

He explains up front that no book, especially one of this size, is capable of teaching you how to fight or even how to nail all the details of your characters’ fights. But this is the perfect place to start. He explains the basics of physical confrontations, the psychology behind the action, and the all-important “what not to dos.” When I started the book, I wasn’t sure what kind of information I was going to find; I was half-expecting a relatively un-useful list of kicks and punches. But Baxter goes far beyond that. Not only will your characters be better fighters by the time you’ve finished reading this book, but you’ll have picked up a few good self-defense tips for yourself. In short, I highly recommend this book. Five out of five stars.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Writing Tips Courtesy of Mark Twain

The official title of this original piece is interesting; Twain's Rules of Writing (from Mark Twain's scathing essay on the Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper). I'm not sure what Mark Twain had against the author of The Deerslayer and other classic tales of early Americana. I do know that his rant reveals a treasure trove of writing tips.

1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.
2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.
3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
4. The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.
5. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.
6. When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.
7. When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a Negro minstrel at the end of it.
8. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.
9. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.
10. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.
11. The characters in tale be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Fun Pics for Fabulously Fun Friday!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Off-Line Marketing

By now, everyone should have online marketing down pat. Work Twitter, Facebook, and virtually every other social network out there on a regular basis and you're marketing. "Easy" as that, right?

What about marketing in person? How do you get started in that?

A friend recently told me what she and others in her vicinity have been doing. Each lives in a different town, buy they're all close to each other. They arrange group signings and other activities and market their books together, which proves the old maxim, "there's strength in numbers."

Belonging to a group of published authors opens doors not always available to a single, newly-published writer. Bookstores often consider hosting a panel of authors quicker than they do otherwise--and book signings aren't limited to bookstores. Having a booth at festivals works too. But I'll get back to that later.

A group could get a name for themselves by having a media kit ready and working local radio and television stations, running ads and articles in area newspapers, etc.

My friend really gave me some great ideas. Working together sounds like a terrific way to get yourself out there in person, and it sounds idyllic for the shy author.

If your friends don't live close together, next best thing to do is to exchange promotional material. I put my friends' bookmarks in every book I sell, and am fortunate enough to have some of my friends return the favor. Whenever you have bookmarks or postcards made, send several to your friends to send out to their contacts and increase your networking ability.

Back to the festivals: When Give the Lady a Ride debuted last year, I signed up for a couple of festivals for book signing opportunities. I'd seen one author try that at an earlier festival, and her booth was fairly quiet. What better way to stimulate traffic than to have a variety? I contacted some writer buddies and included their books in with my sale. I had traffic in my booth virtually all day--made some good sales, too.

That sparked the idea of The Canopy Bookstore. My husband and I take my books and those of other authors to area festivals, and have a blast meeting people, selling books, etc. I know what each book is about and can promote all of them. But since I'm the "author in person," mine tend to sell more at these events.

True, using these ideas won't make you famous across the nation, but they may garner you some local fans. With  strong, local fan base and a healthy internet following, your next book could be in prime shape!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top by Jeanette Levellie and TWO GIVEAWAYS!

About the Book
What do drive-by diaper stores and God have in common? When is blabbing an acceptable habit? Why should you beware of moths and sligs? In her entertaining, uplifting style, award-winning author and humorist Jeanette Levellie weaves 72 amusing stories with affirming Biblical truths. These soul-nourishing examples of God’s favor and grace will help you:
  • Laugh when you find cow patties in your field instead of daisies
  • Discover the bottomless heart of God
  • Grow in your acceptance of yourself and others
Welcome a vacation from stress as you discover the sweetness of Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.
You can buy the book here.

About the Author
A spunky pastor’s wife of thirty-plus years, Jeanette Levellie authors a bi-weekly humor/inspirational column, God is Bigger, a popular feature in the Paris Beacon News since 2001. She has published stories in Guideposts anthologies, stories in Love is a Verb Devotional with Gary Chapman, articles in Christian and secular magazines, greeting card verses, and poems for calendars.  She is also a prolific  speaker for both Christian and secular groups, and loves to make people laugh while sharing her love for God and life.
Jeanette is the mother of two grown children, three grandchildren, and servant to four cats. She lives in Paris (not the French one), IL. with her husband, Kevin. Her hobbies include dining out, talking baby talk to her cats, avoiding housework, reading, and watching old classic movies.
Visit Jeanette on her blog, On Wings of Mirth and Worth, at

Jeanette’s Giveaways
You can win one of ten free downloads of my debut humor devotional, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top for your eReader. Here are the very simple rules:
For each share of this post link on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, you will receive one entry.
For each like on Jeanette’s Author Page or my Two Scoops Book Page on Facebook, or follow on my Twitter page or this blog, you will receive one entry. If you already like and/or follow me, mention that and I will count it.
Please send me ONE comment at the end of this post to tell me how many times you shared, liked, or followed, so I can give you the correct amount of entries. I reserve the right to verify all information given me, and disqualify anyone from the drawing who falsifies information. (Do not leave comments here to be entered, you MUST go to Jeanette’s blog post for the giveaway.)
Contest starts today and ends midnight, May 10, 2012. Jeanette will announce the winners in a blog post Sunday, May 13, 2012.
….and a $100 Gift Card Drawing~~~WOWZA!!!
After you have read/reviewed Two Scoops, check out my blog at for a contest to win a $100 gift card by answering ten easy questions about the book! After I receive your entry, your name will go into the hat for a $100 gift card to one of the following places (your choice): Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, Wal-Mart, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or Ruby Tuesday. This giveaway will run until August 10, 2012 so there is PLENTY of time for you to enter!
The author sent me the above book for review purposes. She will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Jeanette Levellie. The entire blog tour can be found here.

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