WordServe News: October 2012

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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A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson)

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Finding God in the Hunger Games, by Ken Gire (eChristian)

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In the Twilight, In the Evening, by Lynn Morris (Hendrickson)

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Still Lolo, by Lauren Scruggs, with Marcus Brotherton (Tyndale)

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A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California, Erica Vetsch (Barbour)

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Resolve, by Bob Welch (Berkley-Caliber)

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Christmas in My Heart #21, by Joe Wheeler (Pacific Press)

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New WordServe Clients

Christy Johnson: www.christyjohnson.org working on women’s non-fiction, spiritual growth

Angela Strong: http://angelaruthstrong.blogspot.com/ working on romantic suspense fiction

Dr. Wintley Phipps http://www.christianlifemediacenter.com/wintleyphipps.html working on Christian Living non-fiction, Spiritual Growth

Laurie Myers and Betsy Duffey, affectionately known as “The Writing Sisters.” Together they’ve written 30 children’s books in the general market that have sold 1.2 million copies. They’re writing both children’s works for the Christian market and Women’s Fiction. http://www.writingsisters.com/WritingSisters/Welcome.html

Cristobal Krusen, a film maker, screenwriter, novelist and collabortor. Recently had a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly for writing Undaunted, Josh McDowell’s memoirs. http://www.33hope.com/team/crist%C3%B3bal-krusen  and http://www.messengerfilms.com/

New Contracts

Wayne Cordeiro signed with Zondervan Publishing House to write and edit the NASB Leadership Bible. (GJ)

Deb DeArmond signed with Kregel Publishers for a book titled Related by Chance, Family by Choice. A book for moms and the daughters-in-law they love. (BS)

Jo Ann Fore signed with Leafwood Publishing House for her first book of nonfiction called When a Woman Finds Her Voice: God’s Healing for the Women Who Have Been Wounded, Controlled, Abandoned, and Silenced. (GJ)

Denver pastor and missional thought leader Hugh Halter signed for two books with David C. Cook. The first titled Flesh, a book that shows how to allow Jesus to live His life through you in daily living, the second untitled. (GJ)

Henry McLaughlin signed with Gateway Church to write a book on stewardship for one of their pastors. (SF)

Joe Wheeler signed with Howard Books for Great Christmas Love Stories. In every Christmas in My Heart book (21 straight years), Joe writes his own heartwarming Christmas story. This book will have the best of these love stories around Christmas. (GJ)

What We’re Celebrating!!

Excited for Rachel Held Evans, whose book A Year of Biblcal Womanhood has been getting some nice PR. She’s already done “TheToday Show,” “The View,” and will do “Inside Edition.” People magazine confirmed they’ll review it.

What can we help you celebrate?

WordServe News: July 2012

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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Something Blue by Dianne Christner

Publisher: Barbour

Agent: Greg Johnson

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One Big Thing by Phil Cooke

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Agent: Rachelle Gardner

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Serving God and Country by Lyle Dorsett

Publisher:  Berkley Caliber

Agent: Greg Johnson

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The Well-Lived Laugh by Rachel St. John-Gilbert

Publisher: Barbour

Agent: Greg Johnson

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Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf

Publisher: Eerdmans

Agent: Greg Johnson

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A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gywn

Publisher: Barbour

Agent: Rachelle Gardner

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Shrewd by Rick Lawrence

Publisher: David C. Cook

Agent: Greg Johnson

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Desperate for Hope by Bruce W. Martin

Publisher: Revell

Agent: Rachelle Gardner

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The Soul Saver by Dineen Miller

Publisher: Barbour

Agent: Rachelle Gardner

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The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

Publisher: Baker Books

Agent: Greg Johnson

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Central Park Rendezvous by Marylu Tyndall and others

Publisher: Barbour

Agent: Greg Johnson

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DawnSinger by Janalyn Voigt

Publsiher: Harbourlight Books

Agent: Barbara Scott

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New WordServe Clients

Dave and Claudia Arp and Peter and Heather Larson. The Arps started “Marriage Alive” 25 years ago. Now the Larsons are transitioning into leadershp roles for their ministry to marriages.

Dr. Dave Stoop, a longtime Greg Johnson client when he was at Alive, has rejoined Greg at WordServe.

New Contracts

Marcus Brotherton to collaborate on Austin pastor Matt Carter and NFL quarterback Colt McCoy’s book on BIBLICAL MANHOOD, to be publsihed by WaterBrook Press.

Leigh Ann Bryant sold her book, IN MY DEFENSE. It’s the true story of a life of shame and abuse with a husband she finally had to kill in self defense to protect herself and her small son. Soon after, she came to faith and has built a life as a pastor’s wife and a minister to those in prison (though she served no prison time). Our first sale to the new publisher Authentic Publishers. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Roberta Kells Dorr was a Christian novelist who wrote biblical fiction in the 70s and 80s. Though she died several years ago, her family and estate wanted the books back in print, especially as e-books. We were able to do a 5-book deal with Moody Publishers for an unpublished work of biblical fiction and four previously published and out of print books. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Ken Gire to collaborate on Chrissy Cymbola Toledo’s memoir of her prodigal life. Published by Tyndale House Publishers. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Caesar Kalinowski, pastor and thought leader in the missional movement for the Soma Communities network of churches, a book with a working title of TRANSFORMED. A new way of seeing who we are in Christ and what a foundational difference that makes as we attempt to represent Jesus well to our network of friends.  Sold to Zondervan Publishers. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Amy Sorrells debut novel CANARY SONG and another untitled work to David C. Cook Publishers. Synopsis: Tucked into the groves of a pecan plantation near the coast of Mobile Bay, secrets deep within the Harlan family simmer until they boil over one long, languishing summer. Will Anna Pearl Harlan, her family and friends seek hope in the midst of unbearable pain, or allow it to destroy their lives? Inspired by Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, Canary Song combines one girl’s coming-of-age with another woman’s redemption to show how God heals the hearts of the broken, and how crooked branches can one day provide the best shade. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Shellie Tomlinson, our All Things Southern Belle (www.allthingsouthern.com), sold to WaterBrook Press, LORD, I WANT TO LOVE YOU MORE, a book for those who have ever wondered how to get from “belief” to “passion.” (Agent: Greg Johnson)

What We’re Celebrating

Jan Drexler‘s Amish novel slated for publication by Harlequin’s Love Inspired line (titled  Love Bears All Things) placed second in the Inspirational category of the The Fool for Love contest sponsored by the Virginia Romance Writers. 

Bestsellers

Rebecca Alonzo’s book The Devil in Pew 7 reappeared on the New York Times Bestseller lists after her episode on Dr. Phil re-aired:

#4 – Primary e-book best seller list

#14 – Primary combined print & e-book list

#26 – Extended paperback non-fiction list

Karen Witemeyer’s book Short Straw Bride made it two months in a row on the list, moving up from #13 (July) to #10 (August).

Mike Yorkey’s book Playing With Purpose: Tim Tebow (Barbour) debuted #32 on the ECPA Top-50 list for July (May release). (Sorry we missed this last month, Mike.)

Carol Award Finalists

Though these authors are no longer with WordServe, we’re so very proud of their accomplishments and their books that were contracted under the WordServe banner. Rachelle, of course, had a great eye for good writers and good stories, so the kudos goes to her, as well.

Roslyn Elliot is a finalist both for “Debut Novel” and “Long Historical” for her book Fairer Than Morning. (Thomas Nelson)

Lisa Jordan is a finalist for “Short Contemporary” for her book Lakeside Reunion. (Love Inspired)

Erica Vetsch is a finalist for “Short Historical” for her book Light to My Path. (Heartsong Presents)

Karen Witemeyer is a finalist for “Long Historical Romance” for her book To Win Her Heart. (Bethany)

What writing celebrations do you have?

Using a Plot Board to Plot Your Novel

Way back in Mid-August, I posted here about how a Plot First Novelist Builds Character(s). I admitted to being a plot-first writer and a dedicated ‘Plotter.’ Boy howdy, if you want to divide a room full of novelists quicker’n Shergar won the Derby, ask who is a plotter and who is a ‘pantser.’

But, though novelists fall mostly into two camps, each side often wonders about how the other manages to write books using their method. I thought I’d give you a peek into my plotting method.

I use a plot board. I first came across this idea on the Seekerville blog where a guest had a photograph of her own plot board. Since I’m a visual person, I glommed onto the idea and created a board of my own to see if it would work for me too.

And it sure does! There are so many things I love about using my plot board. The plot board allows me to see at a glance how many scenes I have, who is the point-of-view character, and the characters’ Goals, Motivations, & Conflicts. It forces me to write out, however briefly, the internal and external goals of the characters and really think about what it is I’m trying to say with the story. Oh, and I get to play with post-it notes. 🙂

One other thing I love is that it’s easy-peasy to change your mind about something. You just move the post-it to a new place or throw it away and write out a new one. I found this particularly appealing, especially since I tend to change my mind a lot while plotting.

The top half of my plot board is divided into 20 equal sections and numbered across the rows. Each of the numbered boxes represents a chapter in the story.  (Twenty is just a starting point. I lengthen or shorten the story based upon what is needed. But there is only room for about 20 boxes on the plot board. If I need more, I have to scrunch things and overlap.)The bottom half is divided into two parts with six equal sections in each part. These are for the characters.

Prior to writing anything out for the plot board, I’ve researched, ruminated, and spent days and weeks reading and thinking about the story. I’ve got a few high points of the plot in my head, and I have a fair idea of setting, time period, etc. I have a rudimentary idea of the characters, too. This pre-plotting prep is necessary for me. If I dive into plotting too early, before the story has had a chance to marinate in my subconscious, I find myself staring at the blank plot board the same way I stare at a blank screen if I haven’t plotted beforehand.

When it comes time to begin filling in my plot board, I start at the bottom of the board with the two six-chambered grids. On each side, one column is labeled External, and one is labeled Internal. This is where I put the Goals, Motivations, and the Conflicts for each of the two main characters. Since I write romance, this means the hero and the heroine. What do they want, why do they want it, and what is keeping them from getting it? I decide what personality types my characters are (click on the first link in this post to see how I do that) and start plotting the story.

 
Then I grab my smallest post-its, about 1.5 x 1 inch. I write the major plot points out and stick them to a notebook page. (Things like Avalanche hits Train, or Finds Out He’s Adopted.) As fast as the ideas come to me, I jot them down, keeping it brief and fairly broad. When I think I’ve got the big ideas of the story set down, I start arranging them on the plot board. I keep them in chronological order, but I don’t sweat too much whether they are in their final position or not. I know it’s probably going to change as I go. When I have the bones of the story down, I start making logical connections with scenes. What has to happen in order to get the character from major plot point one to major plot point two?  I use the next larger size post-it for these in various colors. Pink for the heroine’s POV and blue for the hero’s. Orange, yellow, purple, chartreuse…those are for secondary characters’ POV scenes. By color coding the post its, I can see at a glance if I’ve kept a good balance of his/her scenes and if I’ve lost anyone in the shuffle.

One thing I mustn’t forget to mention is that the whole time I’m doing this, I’m talking. Usually to my daughter. (When we finished plotting the last novel, she crashed on her bed and I had to take a picture.) By talking it out and letting someone not as familiar with the story ask “Why?” kinds of questions, I minimize the plot holes as much as I can up front. My daughter is great at this, and I plot much better and quicker when she’s involved in the process.

When I get all the scenes filled in, I tell the story once more aloud, making sure I have it the way I want it. Then I use the plot board to type out a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene synopsis, including what I want to accomplish in each scene. I know without a doubt that when I have that road map in my mind and in my hands, I write much faster than if I’m feeling my way around with no idea where I’m supposed to be going.

So there you have it. My plotting system. It works for me, and it’s been tweaked and refined each time I go through the process of plotting a new story. I hope you can glean something that will help you.

Question for you: Plotter or Pantser? Does the thought of using a plot board excite you or make you want to run screaming to the nearest bag of chocolate chips?

Post Author: Erica Vetsch

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

How A Plot-First Writer Builds Character(s)

Don't be put off by the Jim Morrison/The Doors album cover look of this book. It's really great, I promise!

I am a plot-first writer. My story ideas emerge when considering events, real and imagined, and only after all the events are in place do I try to figure characters. While my mind races happily along forming the plot, my brain comes to a standstill when it’s time to zero in on a character to carry the story.

That is, until I found this handy-dandy little book: The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders.

There are dozens of books on character-creation out there and lots of helpful resources online to aid in creating the perfect characters. I know because I’ve tried many of them. Most of these methods involve making endless lists and exploring everything in the character’s past from shoe-size to perfume preference. For some authors this is vital to the writing process, but for me, it is tedious, boring, and keeps me from writing the story.

So I was happy to find a resource that was different. Here are a few of the things from Sixteen Master Archetypes that I found helpful:

  • With only 8 Hero types and 8 Heroine types, this book narrowed my initial character questions to only a few possible answers. Yet the types are broad enough to encompass lots of individual quirks while being distinct enough that your character will fall into a category quite easily.
  • There are multiple examples from books, tv, and movies to illustrate the different archetypes. I’m a visual person, and I love being able to pinpoint who my character is like from a pool of characters I already know. (Example, is your character a Free Spirit? Think Dharma from Dharma & Greg or Phoebe Buffay from Friends. Is your character a Professor-type? Think Sherlock Holmes or Columbo.)
  • This book gives examples of possible professions for each of the character types, as well as what in their history might’ve contributed to the people they’ve become.
  • And most valuable of all to a romance writer, this book gives examples of how the various heroes and heroines both clash and mesh, their points of conflict and their points of commonality, as well as how the characters change when forced to be together.

You might be worried that the choices are so narrow as to make all characters in that category seem the same, but consider this: Harry Potter and Mr. Spock are in the same category (Professor.) Thelma Dickenson from Thelma and Louise is in the same category as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (Waif.) Plenty of room to maneuver there.

If you’re like me, a plot-first novelist who has a rollicking story to tell but searches for just the right person to inflict all this conflict and disaster on, I encourage you to check out The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes.

You can find the book on Amazon.com by clicking the title above.

How do you feel about character worksheets? Love ’em or hate ’em?

Post Author: Erica Vetsch

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

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