WordServe News: May 2013

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

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IslandoftheInnocentIsland of the Innocent by Lynn Morris, number 7 in the repackaged “Cheney Duvall, M.D.” series.

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drivenbythewindDriven by the Wind by Lynn Morris, number 8 and the final book in the series.

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DavidandBathshebaDavid and Bathsheba by Roberta Kells Dorr (Moody). This is the first in a series of biblical novels that are being repackaged by Moody for a new generation of readers. Roberta died several years ago, but her novels were so well written and well-researched, they were deserving of a new life in e-books and the trade.

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workingwomenWorking Women of the Bible by Susan DiMickele (Leafwood)

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CatchAFallingStarCatch a Falling Star by Beth Vogt (Howard)

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New Contracts

Joe Wheeler has signed 3 new books with Pacific Press to continue the “Christmas in My Heart” series. These books will be numbers 23, 24, and 25…the longest running series of Christmas stories ever published.

Cheri Fuller has signed with Bethany House Publishers to write What a Daughter Needs in a Mom. This will compliment her recently published book, What a Son Needs in a Mom.

Mike Yorkey signed with Destiny Image to write the next health and wellness book for Jordan Rubin.

Jonathan McKee has signed with Barbour to write a book for teen boys, The Wise Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and Google.

What We’re Celebrating!!

Jan Drexler’s The Prodigal Son Returns is #37 of 100 romances through RWA. This is Jan’s second week on the list; her book debuted at #95, so it is definitely moving on up!

Jillian Kent has her second novel in The Ravensmoore Chronicles, Chameleon, getting some noteworthy buzz. It finaled in the Fiction-Romance Category in the Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense category. And it’s also finaled in RWA’s Daphne du Maurier Contest. Congratulations, Jillian!

 

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A Writer’s Life: Waiting for Vizzini

When things go wrong along the writing road, what do you do?

  • When you face writer’s block as formidable as Fezzik (and please, no debate on whether writer’s block exists) …
  • When rejections attack you like a pack of shrieking eels
  • When your plot collapses like Vizzini’s battle of wits with the Dread Pirate Roberts

What’s your go-to plan for getting back on course?

In the much-beloved movie The Princess Bride, Vizzini was the brains, Fezzik the brawn, and Inigo was, well, the swordsman. (Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a “b” word for the guy wielding the sword.) Despite the fact that Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were all morons compared to Vizzini — or so he said — his plan to kidnap and murder Buttercup imploded.

Inigo: bested.

Fezzik: beaten.

Vizzini: plain ol’ dead.

Remember what Inigo did when the plan went south — well, besides drinking himself into a stupor?

He went back to the beginning … and waited for Vizzini.

Smart man, Inigo.

What do you find when you go back to the beginning?

“This is where we got the job, so this is the beginning.”

Inigo may not have been able to see clearly — heck, he couldn’t even stand up straight — but he remembered a fundamental truth: When a plan fails, go back to the beginning.

Are you discouraged? Did that long-anticipated yes turn into an unexpected no? Walk away from it — but don’t abandon who you are. Go back to the beginning and remember your purpose: You are a writer. You have a job to do. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. You get bested. Beaten. A dream dies.

Catch your breath, renew your heart … and then dream a new dream.

Who do you find when you go back to the beginning?

“I … am … waiting … for … Vizzini.”

Inigo was waiting for someone. For better, for worse, Vizzini was Inigo’s leader — the one he followed.

Going back to the beginning, waiting, doesn’t mean wasting time. Did you round the bend in the writing road and hit a dead end? Don’t be too proud to back up, turn around. Go back to the beginning and remember who you are as a writer. Answer this question: What makes your fingers fly across the keyboard? What keeps you up late and drags you out of bed early because you can’t not write this story?

Can’t remember?

Who is your Vizzini? Who first mentored you (maybe mentors you still)?Who helps nurture your dream? Who believes in you when you don’t? Go back to the beginning and ask them to help you remember.

It’s been fun talking about a writer’s life and the Cliffs of Insanity, the Fire Swamp, the Pit of Despair — and now Waiting for Vizzini. Everyone’s comments have made this more than a blog post — it’s become a conversation. So tell me, what lessons have you learned by going back to the beginning? 

*Just for fun, here’s a YouTube clip of Inigo waiting for Vizzini.

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

A Writer’s Life: Resolved — Ban New Year’s Resolutions

I failed at New Year’s Resolutions.

For years I prioritized my dos and don’ts for forward motion in the new year. I was eager. Determined.

And I always lost my meticulously prioritized list by mid-February.

Sigh.

Now I am all about one word.

One.

The Why of One Word

I’m repeating myself for those of you who have read my other blog posts about my now-seven year commitment to selecting one word for each new year. Pardon the re-run. I want others to discover the benefits of concentrating on a single word for 12 months — or as a friend pointed out, the 366 days comprising 2012.

The How of One Word

I start mulling over my word for the next year in early fall, usually around September. It’s woven into my faith journey. My prayer time and significant Scripture verses play a vital role in directing me to my word for the new year.

I know some of you reading this would say faith isn’t part of your life. At all.

Can we pause for a moment, sit on the opposite sides of the supposed chasm that separates us? What I’d like to whisper across that great divide is this: I respect where you are. I’m not shoving anything at you.

Your “how” will be different from my “how.” Consider the circumstances of the past year. Can you distill down to one word the forward motion you’d like to experience in 2012?

The What of One Word

In previous years, my words were:

  • 2006: gratitude (a gratitude journal revolutionized my glass-half-empty attitude)
  • 2007: simplify (severe illness morphed this word into survival)
  • 2008: content (being content with what I had — and yes, I bought a lot less)
  • 2009 & 2010: forgiveness (had a lot to learn & unlearn)
  • 2011: hope (choosing hope no matter the depth of my heartache)
  • 2012: trust
My words are examples to consider, not a mandatory list to choose from. If you remember nothing else from this post remember this:
Life is complicated enough. We’re writers. We deal with deadlines and word counts and reviews and real life people and imaginary ones (and both are frustrating.) The New Year’s Resolutions habit/guilt trip/expectation is another unneeded complication.
 
Think like a journalist. Or an editor. Or a novelist instructed to cut “x” number of words. Distill your dos and don’ts down to one word and then focus on that for the next 366 days. You’ll be changed when 2013 rolls around. Guaranteed — or your money back!
 
Are you ready to walk away from resolutions and focus on one word in 2012? Are you a one word believer? Have you already pick your 2012 word? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
 

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

A Writer’s Life: The Waiting Room

Today I’d like to invite you to join me someplace most, if not all, writers are familiar with. Where’s that, you ask?

The Waiting Room.

Oh. My. Word. Your groans probably registered on the Richter scale. Stop it right now and come on in. Yeah, the Waiting Room is crowded. And the magazines are out-of-date. But we’re here to talk, not peruse the 2005 issue of Bowhunter magazine

If you’re a writer, the Waiting Room is unavoidable. Truth is, if you stay the course, you’ll make repeated trips to this room where the hands on the clock never seem to move and you languish forever, wondering when someone will call your name and say, “We’ll see you now.”

Aren’t I just the messenger of all things light and breezy today?

Why, you ask, why the Waiting Room? It’s such a waste of time.

Is it really? 

What can you learn while you wait? (Yes, I know you’d rather get seen and get out of here. But stick with me.)

  1.  Understand attitude is key. If I expect to wait then I avoid the “Woe is me” attitude — or at least succumb to fewer attacks of self-pity. If I get into my appointment on time or — gasp! — early, then I celebrate. Translation: No one is an overnight success. If some author tells you that they were, they’re lying. (You can tell them I said so.)
  2. Come prepared to wait. Do I want to waste time thumbing through magazines I’d never read even if I was stranded on a desert island? Translation: What are you doing while you wait for “the call”? Are you counting time or making time count by revising your manuscript, attending conferences, connecting with other writers — maybe even encouraging other writers?
  3. Realize everyone hates waiting. Medical professionals hate being behind schedule as much as you hate waiting. Translation: Editors wait too. And agents. And publishers. (Side note: Please, no comments with “waiting for my doctor” horror stories.  Not the point of this post. If you really need to vent, email me at beth@bethvogt.com. I’m married to a doctor. I can take it.)

Time for me to sit back and see what y’all have to say about time spent in the Waiting Room. Tell me how you handle waiting for feedback from your critique group. Or from your agent. Or for the “sign here and would you like an advance with that?” phone call. How do you make waiting worthwhile?

 

*Photo credit: That’s me and my daughter. In my husband’s waiting room. With a copy of author Jody Hedlund’s latest release, The Doctor’s Lady. The sleeping pose is for the sake of the column — not a statement on Jody’s writing. I loved reading The Doctor’s Lady!

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

A Writer’s Life: The Pit of Despair

Whenever I watch The Princess Bride, I skip the Pit of Despair segments. Popcorn, anyone? Maybe rewind to the Fire Swamp?

Sure, the Albino with the needs-to-cough-up-a-hairball voice is a bit of comedic relief before discovering our hero Westley is in the Pit of Despair. His future? Torture — attached to a life-sucking machine. His only escape? Death.

Am I the only one who skips these scenes?

As writers, there are days we are trapped in our personal Pit of Despair, without even a somewhat friendly Albino nearby. Life — our passion — is being sucked out of us, bit by bit.

What does Westley’s trip to the Pit teach us? Consider two truths:

  1. Truth # 1: Enemies get you into the Pit.
  2.  Truth # 2: Friends get you out of the Pit.

What about those enemies?
Inconceivable, isn’t it, how both success and failure dump us in the Pit.

When you succeed as a writer — land an agent, sign a contract — you think: Other people have expectations for me. What if I fail? Overloading yourself with the real or imaginary expectations of others tumble you into the Pit faster than the Dread Pirate Roberts can scale the Cliffs of Insanity.

And then there’s the slippery slope of failure: never attaining your goals, never quite grasping whatever spells “victory” for you. The root problem is the same: expectations. Fear you won’t meet others’ expectations or disappointment in yourself for not fulfilling your own. The bigger question? How do you navigate both success and failure?

At last! It’s time for the friends.
Westley didn’t rescue himself. The heroes? Fezzik and Inigo, who found a “mostly dead” Westley in the Pit. But that didn’t stop his friends from hauling his body out to go looking for a miracle.

When you can’t see the faintest hope of a miracle for the forest of despair surrounding your writing dreams, who searches for you? When you no longer believe in yourself, in your story, who believes in it for you? And — perhaps even more importantly — who do you go looking for when they’ve been dragged off into the Pit of Despair?

We’ve peered over the Cliffs of Insanity, survived the Fire Swamp, and now find ourselves at the Pit of Despair. Which have you found to be the greater enemy: success or failure? How have friends rescued you? Like Miracle Max, I believe it takes a miracle sometimes for changes to happen … so if you have any of those to share, please do!

For Fun: The Princess Bride 25th Anniversary cast reunion

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

A Writer’s Life: Surviving the Fire Swamp

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't believe they exist...

After hanging out at the Cliffs of Insanity, I’m doing a bit of rumor control today before negativity infiltrates the Water Cooler crowd. The report is this: “We’ll never survive.”

Survive what, you ask? The journey–wherever it takes us–along the writing road.

Never survive? To quote Westley, our hero from The Princess Bride, when he faced the Fire Swamp: “Nonsense.”

Many writers survive–even thrive. Sure, at times the Brute Squad hammers our egos, but consider a pounding an occupational hazard. Westley and Buttercup conquered the flame spurt, the lightning sand and Rodents of Unusual Size (R.O.U.S.’s). Like our hero and heroine, writers must overcome terrors specific to the writing world.

  • Expect the expected. Flame spurts were predictable. Listen for the popping noise, move, and you won’t get burned. Hang around the writing world long enough and you’ll recognize probable pitfalls. Listen for oft-repeated refrains like:
  1. Show don’t tell. (Unless you’re Erin Healy, who’s teaching a class at ACFW titled “Sometimes It’s Better to Tell than Show.” I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued.)
  2. Know the rules before breaking the rules. (See bullet #1.)
  3. Writers need a platform. (Or a brand. Or, at the very least, an engaging plot.)
  • Don’t travel alone. You don’t survive a solo encounter with lightning sand. Buttercup would have suffered a tragic death but for Westley’s daring dive into the sand to rescue her. And despite writer Jessamyn West’s oft-quoted assertion that “Writing is a solitary occupation,” I’m thankful for my writing comrades. They’ve saved me from death by over-writing. Death by over-editing. Death by over-thinking why I decided ever to set foot on the writing road to begin with.
  • Realize the reports may be true. I’ll disappoint some of you by not drawing an anology between R.O.U.S.’s and editors. Or agents. Sorry, not going there. (I’m an editor too, after all.) Remember Westley’s response when Buttercup asked about R.O.U.S.’s? He said: “I don’t think they exist.” And right after that–OOOF! An R.O.U.S. took him down. We’d like to think we’re exempt from the tough times writers face: Bad reviews. Low sales. Dissatisfaction with critique groups. Let me be frank: Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to R.O.U.S.’s in the Fire Swamp or very real problems along the writing road. Saying “It ain’t going to happen to me” only accomplishes one thing: You’re unprepared when low sales take you out at the knees.Or when your crit group pummels your work-in-progress (WIP). Or when your elevator pitch plummets to the basement.

What about you? Any survival techniques you’d care to share with the rest of the group gathered ’round the Water Cooler today?

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

The Writer’s Life: On the Edge of the Cliffs of Insanity

BeingThe Cliffs of Insanity a writer can make you crazy.

Think about it:

  • Your literary heritage? A long line of creative alcoholics and drug users: Ernest Hemingway. O. Henry. Tennessee Williams. Dorothy Parker. Edgar Allen Poe.
  • Betting your life on a maybe, dependent on the kindness of others–agents, editors, publishers–for your success. And, really, their decisions have nothing to do with kindness.
  • Balancing your hopes on the seesaw of contradiction: Write your passion. Write what the market wants.
  • Hearing voices. The fictitious ones in your head that you tell what to do–and then you wreak havoc on them when they don’t. Meanwhile, the ever-present voices in the real world–your boss, your spouse, your kids–demand you focus on the here and now. The business meeting. The bills. The moody pre-teen inhabiting your daughter’s body.
  • Facing unending emotional upheaval. Waiting. Rejections. The mixture of joy and jealousy when a friend earns “the call.” (Not that you’d ever admit to even a passing acquaintance with the green-eyed monster. Inconceivable.)

Being a writer can push you to consider changing your name to Poe or Hemingway. The craziest part? You chose this life. You’re committed to this insanity. Here are a few suggestions for managing the madness:

  • Pick your mentors wisely. Just because writing drove others to indulge in mind-altering escapes doesn’t mean you must. I admire my mentors for their lifestyle choices, not just their writing skills.
  • Don’t let all your dreams be based on maybes. I have limited control over my success as a writer. Writing, however, is not all of my life. I’m pursuing other dreams with both short and long-term goals.
  • Choose between your passion and writing for the market. Or not. Maybe you’ll be the lucky author who hits the market when your passions collide with what “they” want. (Romantic-Amish-Vampire-Time-Travel-Steampunk-with-a-moral, anyone?)
  • Jump off the seesaw. The whole “balancing the writing world with the real world” challenge? I may never master that. Sometimes my mind seems full of shrieking eels, all screaming, “If only these people (husband, kids, friends) would leave me alone, I could accomplish the more important goals!” Then I know it’s time to shut down my computer and connect with family.
  • Admit you experience emotions. If emotions are good for our fictional characters, why are they bad for us? Sometimes we’re conflicted: over-the-moon-happy for our friend who landed a contract and also disappointed we’re not the one signing on the dotted line. That’s reality.

I’m curious: Am I the only writer pushed to the edge of the Cliffs of Insanity? How do you keep yourself from leaping off? (And can anyone tell me where the Cliffs of Insanity exist?)  ;o)

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.