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Meet the Author Marti Pieper

Photo.Marti.Getting the Story_Pieper (2)

Marti Pieper’s passion to read, write, and pray has yielded all kinds of adventures. In 2005, her involvement in a prayer project led her to assist Brent and Deanna Higgins as they told their son’s compelling story. The resulting memoir, I Would Die for You: One Student’s Story of Passion, Service, and Faith (Revell, 2008), became a young adult bestseller that the publisher has called a “missions classic.”

Today, Marti continues to use her gifts as author, collaborative writer, and editor. Her latest release is Escape the Lie: Journey to Freedom from the Orphan Heart (Randall House, 2014) written for Dr. Walker Moore, President and Founder of Awe Star Ministries, a student missions-sending organization. This is their third book together.

In addition to her work with nonfiction books, Marti writes and edits for popular Christian teen girls’ magazine, Sisterhood. She also serves as Director of Prayer and Publication for Awe Star Ministries and writer for the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, sponsor of the National Bible Bee.

Marti’s passion for mission service has been reflected in her work. She has had the privilege of traveling to Mexico and Panama with Awe Star Ministries and to Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and (this July) Costa Rica as the writer for the Never the Same missions trip co-founded by Susie Shellenberger, founding editor of Sisterhood. Last summer, she climbed several hundred steps in the slums of Lima in pursuit of a story and also had the privilege of joining teens in sandboarding down dunes more than 200 feet high.

Marti is a popular speaker at writers, homeschool, and missions conferences where she shares the wisdom gained from her experiences in writing, editing, homeschooling, and serving on numerous short-term mission trips. Marti also speaks for churches, women’s retreats, and young adults on topics related to missions and prayer.

Marti holds a B.S.Ed. from The Ohio State University and M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is wife to Tom, a worship pastor, and mom to five young adults. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at http://www.martipieper.com.

Check out Marti’s novel, ESCAPE THE LIE

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Satan’s deceptive tactics block most Christians from the lives God intended. We hide behind rules, masks, and manipulation. We preach the gospel, but our lives proclaim destruction.
Escape the Lie provides answers for the deep-seated problem known as the Orphan Heart. Through powerful, biblical teaching and compelling true-life examples, the book unlocks the door to help you escape the wounds of the past and move into abundant life.

Purchase Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Lie-Walker-Moore/dp/0892656859/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/escape-the-lie-walker-moore/1119464716?ean=9780892656851
Christian Book Distributors: http://www.christianbook.com/escape-journey-freedom-from-orphan-heart/walker-moore/9780892656851/pd/656851
Randall House: http://www.randallhouse.com/shop/escape-the-lie/

July 7, 2014

The Elements of an Eye-Catching Fiction Proposal

In your writing and publishing venture, you might be asked to submit a proposal to an editor or agent once you’ve caught his/her attention. So what is a proposal?
Other than asking someone to marry you, a proposal in the publishing world is quite the complex project. Of course, the first thing you want to do is check the publishing houses’ guidelines. They might have them outlined for you on the website or if an editor asks for a proposal, then you ask him/her for their guidelines. If there are no guidelines, then follow a standard format that all editors will accept to get to know you and your project better.
Let’s look at the basic elements of a good proposal for a fiction manuscript. In later blog posts, we’ll look at samples of each of these (if applicable). One word of caution is merited here. Be careful to spend quality time on your proposal. Depending on how many sample chapters you send, your proposal could easily be 40 to 60 pages long. It’s not something that should be taken lightly because your proposal will either earn you a contract or send your manuscript back to you to try again some other place.

Basic Elements of a Good Fiction Proposal

1. Cover page – includes title of your work, your name, address, phone number, email, website, and to whom you’re sending the proposal
2. Table of Contents – list all the sections included in your proposal and their page numbers
3. Synopsis -  a one-to-two-page synopsis of your entire manuscript, including the climax and resolution. Don’t keep the editor/agent guessing how it’s going to end.
4. About the Author – a one-to-two-page bio of you, including a photo, a little background, and your writing credits and awards won; include your involvement with social media, i.e. Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, blogsite, etc. with all URLs.
5. Character Sketches – a one-page description of your main characters (one or two main characters, no more); include time period, personal appearance, quips, goals in life.
6. Market Potential (this one takes the most time) – spend quality time in bookstores and/or online, researching the other books already published in the same genre and age group. Include these elements: Layout and Audience, Competitive Works, Marketing Ideas, and Date of Completion.
7. Chapter Outline – this is not a I, II, III, A, B, C “outline.” It’s a one-to-two-paragraph summary of each chapter in your book. If your work is not finished, just write the outline up to the last chapter you’ve written.
8. Sample Chapters – the publisher’s guidelines might indicate chapter one, two, and the last one, maybe chapters one, the chapter in the middle of the book, and the last one. If not designated, send the first three chapters.

Well, there you have the basic elements of a proposal that will catch that editor’s or agent’s eye.
Why is the proposal so important?
If an editor or agent reviews a well-done proposal, he/she will recognize that the author already has good writing and organizing skills, has a goal set to finish a project, and can meet deadlines. All these qualities are essential in maintaining a good relationship between the author and editor.
Write an eye-catching proposal, and you’re one step closer to reaching that unreachable star: publication!

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Meet the Author Max Lewis
A Former Green Beret and Lawyer Now Shares Fourth of July Thoughts

Happy Fourth of July!

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Imagine how the signers of The Declaration of Independence feel while looking down from heaven and listening to their critics. The thought never occurred to me until my publisher asked me to write a fictional short story relating how John Hancock experienced the 4th of July. Before starting, I read Herbert S. Allan’s even-handed biography of Hancock. Yes, the founders were all human: Hancock was vain and a clothes horse, for example. But when you study the founding of America from the perspective of a founder, the greatness of these men staggers you.

“But they didn’t free the slaves and women and blacks couldn’t vote!”

Guess what? No one could meaningfully vote and everyone, everywhere, was in some form of bondage. The English themselves were “subjects.” Except for royalty and a small number of men in a handful of tiny Greek city states, no one had ever controlled their destiny.

Writing in the first person forces you to see things through the eyes of the character or historic figure, to imagine what they felt, wanted, and thought. The founders were operating on uncharted waters, laying the foundation to free all mankind and making things up as they went. They were doing it while at war with the most powerful Empire on the face of the planet. On January 1, 1776, George Washington discovered he had only 8,000 enlistments instead of the 20,000 planned. Georgia and South Carolina announced they would not sign if slavery were denounced, let alone outlawed.

As I imagine Hancock saying, “The hard truth is we will not free the Negro slaves . . . not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t. The southerners would revolt . . . freeing the black man will require a war and the forces of liberty are barely able to fight one war, let alone two.”

On July 4, 1776, the founders were almost to the man well-educated, affluent, and doing quite well as subjects of Britain. In the 18th century, traitors were hung from a gibbet with their hands tied behind their back. Rather than breaking their necks, the traitor took about ten minutes to strangle to death. Traitors’ property was forfeited, so their families were left impoverished. While the founders were signing their own death warrant, Benedict Arnold was trying to keep his army from disintegrating as he retreated from the disastrous Canadian campaign. “I have often thought how much happier I would have been,” said Washington, “if, instead of accepting a command under such circumstances, I had taken up a musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks.”

They were great men; yet, consider the petulance with which they were treated. While reviewing “The Price they Paid” e-mail about the founders, the left wing site “Snopes” called it part true, part false. Why? Here’s an example: “Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.” Snopes – “yeah, well . . . she was already sick.” Seriously. I paraphrase, so check it out for yourselves. Part of the disdain appears to be petty racism, sexism, and anti-Christianity.  The founders were white male Christians, but there may be something deeper. Writing about an attack on the the framers, Professor Walter Williams wrote, “If I believed in conspiracies, I’d say (Time’s) article is part of a leftist agenda to undermine respect for the founding values of our nation.”

Hancock might have said, “No doubt, those who hate liberty and embrace hate amongst the races will use this against us not only now, but far into the future. We can only trust this and future generations will be wise enough to detect the charlatan, understand his aim, and reject his deception. That battle is for another time and will be fought by other men. We must fight the one in front of us now.”

“This is a column of opinion and satire” Max Lewis says then adds that he knows of no undisclosed facts. Contact Lewis, the author of John Hancock, in Remington Colt’s Revolutionary War Series, and visit him at josephmaxlewis.com then click on Rimersburg Rules. © Joseph M. Lewis

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The Amazon Kindle link to “John Hancock” is: http://www.amazon.com/Remington-Colts-Revolutionary-War-Independence-ebook/dp/B00KND49O2/ref=la_B008ZHHUBW_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404224548&sr=1-5

To link to listen in on the blogtalk radio show with Joseph Max Lewis discussing “The Declaration of Independence”: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gelatisscoop/2014/07/03/joseph-max-lewis-discusses-the-declaration-of-independence

To stop by Mr. Lewis’ website and connect with him: http://www.josephmaxlewis.com

Lewis.Dec.of.Indep.Vol.4.Cover

June 23, 2014

The Editor’s Viewpoint
That Important Query Letter

As a published author for the last 20 years and as an acquisitions editor for the last year, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of writing a good query letter to catch the eye of that key person at the publishing company.
I’ve known more than a handful of newbie writers who didn’t do their homework, some not even knowing what a query letter is, and contacted editors in a very unprofessional manner. A few writers (right off the bat) sent their entire manuscripts to publishing companies in hard copy (even in this electronic age), and when they heard nothing from the editors, they were perplexed, some insulted to the core that they had been ignored.
Well, folks, that’s not how it’s done! (Their manuscripts probably landed in File 13!)
Editors are extremely busy, and it only takes one of them with years of experience to read a paragraph of anything a writer submits to decide whether to read on. A writer who sends more than a query letter at first decreases his/her chance of even being considered, let alone being read. A well-written query letter will get the attention of that editor, nothing else. So let’s take a look at the components of a good query letter, which should be no longer than one page long:
1. Introduction of your work. (Include any awards or credits the work has earned if submitted to any contests and placed)
2. Short synopsis of the work, including the main character, the plot, the time frame, the genre, and word count.
3. Explanation of why your target audience would like the work.
4. A list of your related credits (If you have a long list of publications in genres not related to this project’s genre, delete them.)
5. Thanks to the editor for considering your work.
6. Closing and signature
Now, let’s look at an excellent sample query letter (compliments of

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-the-perfect-query-letter)

*****************************************************************************
Dear (Editor’s name, if at all possible):
According to your agency’s website you’re actively seeking middle-grade fiction, so I’m pleased to introduce my novel, A Smidgen of Sky. This novel won me a scholarship to attend the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. It was also awarded honorable mention in the Smart Writers W.I.N. Competition. A Smidgen of Sky is the story of ten-year-old Piper Lee DeLuna, a spunky, impulsive dreamer, whose fierce devotion to her missing father is threatened by her mother’s upcoming remarriage.
Everyone else has long accepted her father’s death, but the fact that his body was never recovered from his wrecked plane leads to Piper’s dream that he might one day reappear and free her from the secret guilt she harbors over his accident. Her stubborn focus leaves no room in her affections for her mother’s fiancé, Ben, or his princess-like daughter, Ginger. Determined to stop the wedding, Piper Lee schemes up “Operation Finding Tina”—a sure plan to locate Ben’s ex-wife and get the two of them back together. But just as Piper succeeds with step one of her plan, a riot breaks out at the prison where Ben works, and suddenly nothing seems sure.
Since middle-graders care deeply about things and people and love to daydream about their future, I think readers will identify with Piper Lee and find her an appealing heroine as she learns that you can both cherish the past and embrace the future. This story, set in the coastal region of Georgia, runs about 33,000 words and is somewhat similar in tone to Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie.
I’m a 1990 graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, and my work has been published in U*S* Kids, Child Life, Columbia Kids, True Love, Guide and StoryPlus.
Thanks very much for your time. I have included the first ten pages and look forward to hearing from you.
Yours truly,
(Signature)
******************************************************************************
I have two closing thoughts. If you’ve submitted queries to other companies, list those companies and the dates you sent the queries. Also, although this query letter sample suggests sending ten pages of the manuscript with the letter, I beg to differ. I believe that’s a little too presumptuous on the part of the author. I’d submit the query letter only and wait for feedback from the editor. If he/she wants to consider your work, he/she will ask for a proposal or the entire manuscript.
So, write a good query then be prepared to wait. Sometimes it takes three to six months to hear from a publishing company. Unfortunately, some companies have the policy that if you don’t hear from them at all, they’re not interested. And that’s a hard pill to swallow, but that’s the way the publishing business is.

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Meet the Author Tanya Stowe

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Novelist Tanya Stowe has had an Eclectic Career:
Working as a freelance writer, Tanya’s profiles have featured celebrities such as Fabio and New York Times Bestselling authors LaVyrle Spencer, Shirlee Busbee, and Heather Graham. Excerpts from Tanya’s reviews have appeared on the book covers and the promotional material of publishers, and her articles have appeared in diverse national publications. Tanya wrote grants, participated in a collection of women’s survival stories and collaborated on a full-length Christmas musical that sold out its performances. She also worked as a marketing assistant and as an event coordinator doing a stint with the American Cancer Society.

How About Tanya’s “Other” Life?

Tanya has been married to her high school sweetheart for thirty-nine years. They have four children and nineteen…soon to be twenty…grandchildren. Recently her husband retired from government work after living in the Middle East for two years.

More Details about her Writing:
Tanya writes inspirational romances with an unexpected edge. She fills her stories with the unusual…gifts of the spirit in Tender Touch and spiritual warfare in Haunted Hearts. In Never Ending Night she explores the horrors of a Civil War battle and unravels a mystery. Tender Trust treks to the Old West. Leap of Faith brushes wings with an angel, and White Christmas wraps romance in the traditions of a small town holiday. No matter where Tanya goes…on a journey through the past or contemporary adventures in new lands…be prepared for the extraordinary.

Something Not Many People Know…
Tanya says, “I wanted to be an Egyptologist when I was in high school. When I realized I could just write about ancient Egypt and not dig in the dirt, I changed directions.
Thanks, Tanya, for allowing us to take a peek at your interesting life and career today.

*****
Please check out one of Tanya’s excellent books:

WOUNDED GRACE

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June 9, 2014

From an Editor’s Viewpoint

(Working with an Editor)

For about the last year, I’ve been working as an acquisitions editor for Helping Hands Press, Levittown, PA. We’ve done a nice series of holiday stories entitled MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS STORIES and a compilation for equine lovers, MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING HORSE STORIES. We’ve also published a few excellent tween/YA/adult novels and a few supplementary educational materials for kids on the elementary level. Right now I’m on the lookout for Easter stories, novels, and more excellent educational stuff. But that’s not the reason I wrote this blog post.

For awhile we’re going to discuss the basics of working with an editor. For almost twenty years, I’ve been on the other side of the editor’s desk as an author working with editors. Although I’m still published regularly, the editor’s table is turned, and I’m also on the receiving end of the editor/author relationship. I now see how important it is for an author to be diligent in their efforts to work with an editor on a professional level. After all, that editor is an author’s lifeline to the published market. So, let’s look at some important points for authors to embrace as they seek publication at a royalty publishing company.

Contacting an Editor:

I’m amazed at some of the emails I’ve received from writers who want me to look at their work. (That’s called a “query letter.”) Either the folks are so green, they have no clue how to approach an editor, or they are not determined in their hearts to make a good first impression on that editor, who could possibly give them one or more contracts or delete the email without a second thought. By the way, hardly any submissions are done via hard copy anymore. Everything is done electronically, and I mean everything.

Let’s examine an example of a “query letter,” (content and name modified to protect the guilty) I received about six months ago:

Cutiepieauthor@downer.com

Hi,

Thanks for taking a look at the pages of my novel. They are attached. It was nice meeting you at the conference.    Sarah

_____________________________________________________________________________

Okay, so I had to take a deep breath and decide if I wanted to even look at this writer’s sample pages. So what’s wrong with this submission?

  1. How about a nice greeting like “Dear Mrs. Hubler:” The writer was “applying” for a job, not writing to her best friend.
  2. What novel? What’s its title? What genre is it? Where’s the synopsis?
  3. What’s attached? The entire novel? Three chapters?
  4. What conference? When? Many editors are on faculty at least two or three times a year at different writers’ conferences.
  5. Did I meet one-on-one with this writer in a private conference? Or did we discuss her project at lunch? How about a few more details to refresh my memory.
  6. Sarah? Sarah who? I know about six Sarahs, and I usually meet another one at any writers’ conference I attend. Full name missing? How about a phone number? Email address? Home address? Website? If I delete this email by mistake, I have no idea how to get in touch with “Sarah.” The contact is lost and, possibly, a book contract.
  7. And last but not least, did you notice the email address? It tells me nothing concerning who this Sarah is. So how important is it to include all contact information with that first very, very important letter to the editor?

Next time, we’ll review the basics of writing an excellent query letter.

May 26, 2014

Today’s Writers’ Tip

DEVELOPING A GOOD STORY ARC

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If you’re interested in writing any kind of fiction—short stories, novels, or a book series—you must be aware of the fundamental elements of a story arc, the progression of action the characters take through the story.

The basic story arc is quite simple, which includes just four elements:

  1. Introduction of the characters and plot
  2. Conflict: the progression of plot toward the climax
  3. Climax: the turning point in the main character’s life that changes his/her behavior
  4. Resolution: usually a positive or satisfying conclusion that pleases the reader (but can be a negative resolution that prompts the reader to evaluate his/her own life.)

    Now, how simple is that?

    However, if you need more depth to developing a best-selling novel, let’s take a look at eight points developed by author Nigel Watts in his helps book, Writing a Novel and Getting Published.

    The eight points Watts develops are:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution

As we take a look at these eight points, evaluate which of them you need to incorporate into your fiction.

Can you write a good story or book manuscript without incorporating all of these points? Sure, but if you want to improve your writing skills to produce that best-seller, it might be worth your while to use these elements as you write. Let’s have a look at the eight points:

Stasis

This is everyday life in which the story is set. Think of Meg Ryan putting books on her shelves in her little shop around the corner in YOU’VE GOT MAIL or Jo in her cozy home with her mother and other sisters in LITTLE WOMEN.

Trigger

The trigger is the event out of the main character’s control that sets the story in motion. Tom Hanks is putting all the ma-and-pa bookstores in NYC out of business with his FOX mega-stores OR Jo’s dad’s away for a long period of time, so the mother and four girls must make it on their own.

The Quest

The trigger results in a quest. An unpleasant trigger: Meg Ryan does everything to keep her little bookstore open, but she knows she’s going under; a pleasant trigger: Jo and her sisters find love along the way as they strive to mature into responsible young ladies

Surprise

This element may involve not one but several points and comprises most of the middle of the story. Surprise may include pleasant events but more often means obstacles, complications, and conflict for the main character.

Watts insists that surprises shouldn’t be too random or too predictable. They need to be unexpected but still explainable. The reader should be able to say, “I should have seen that coming!” Tom finds out that Meg’s his email buddy or Jo and Laurie part their ways.

Critical choice

At some stage, the hero needs to make a crucial decision: the critical choice. At this point in the story, the reader finds out what kind of a person (or animal or alien), the hero is, revealed at moments of high stress. Watts stresses that this has to be a decision by the character to take a particular path, not just something that happens by chance. In many classic stories, this critical choice involves choosing between a good but hard path and a bad but easy one. Meg chooses to forgive Tom; Jo continues writing but comes home and then finds love.

In tragedies, the sad resolution often stems from a character making the wrong choice at this point, such as Romeo poisoning himself on seeing Juliet supposedly dead.

Climax

The critical choice(s) made by the hero need to result in the climax, the highest peak of tension. In YOU’VE GOT MAIL, this climax comes with only one minute left in the entire story, that of Meg discovering that Tom had been her “e-mail buddy” the whole time. In LITTLE WOMEN, you could point to several climaxes: when Dad returns home, when the younger sister dies, or when Jo’s true love shows up at her doorstep.

Reversal

The reversal is the consequence of the critical choice and the climax, changing the status of the characters, especially the hero. Although Meg starts changing her feelings about Tom about half way through the story, she doesn’t admit to anyone, including herself, that she really loves him until that last minute. And Jo? All the way through the story, the reader is led to believe that she and Laurie will hook up, but both fall for someone else.

An important note here: The story reversals should be inevitable and probable. There has to be a reason, and changes in status should not fall out of the sky. The story unfolds as life unfolds: relentlessly, implacably, and plausibly.

Resolution

The resolution is the start of a new life, one in which the characters should be changed, wiser, and enlightened but where the story is finally complete.

And…if you’re working on a series? You can always start off a new story, a sequel, with another trigger.

 

*****

Want more details about the story arc?

http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Yourself-Writing-Novel/dp/007147806X/ref=ed_oe_phttp://www.amazon.com/Writing-Novel-Getting-Published-Yourself/dp/0340648074/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221675975&sr=1-1

Happy writing!

Marsha

 

Interested in a different kind of Amish fiction?

LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN

Volume 3

The Loves of Snyder County Series

LoveSong.KindleFire

Twenty-five-year-old Amish Louellen Friesen finds herself falling in love with forty-year-old Englishman Dr. David McAndrew, a widower with two children, for whom she cleans house regularly in Mapletown, Snyder County, Pennsylvania. There’s only one problem. Louellen is already married. Well past the “marrying age” at twenty-two, Louellen Bidleman had wed Amish man Eli Friesen three years prior, mostly because of pressure from her family. Eli, also in his mid-twenties and in danger of being “passed over,” had married Louellen for one main reason, to have sons. Louellen has some love for Eli, but because of her church vows, sets out to be the best wife and mother she can be, especially when God blesses them with little ones. However, after three years, there are no children. Louellen is devastated, and Eli becomes bitter, feeling trapped in a marriage that has produced no offspring even though he knows that he has the medical problem, not his wife. Although he treats Louellen civil in public, at home he ignores her needs, and their wedded life is nothing but a disappointment to both. What should Louellen do? Turn her back on her husband and her Amish Ordnung? Should she leave, become “English,” and marry Dr. McAndrew, a man who has promised her the moon?

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