WordServe News: October 2015

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 released this month along with a recap of WordServe client news.

Welcome, Nick Harrison

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Greg Johnson is pleased to announce the hiring of Nick Harrison as a new literary agent for WordServe Literary. Nick has been an author and collaborator on multiple books, but the last 15 years he has been Senior Editor at Harvest House Publishers responsible for acquisitions of both fiction and nonfiction.

“Nick will add a depth to the team that the whole agency will appreciate,” says Greg. “He’s worked with top authors for many years, has seen first-hand how the industry has changed, and is well-equipped to serve new and established authors to help them meet their ministry and personal goals.”

Nick adds, “WordServe Literary was my first choice to work with after I knew my time at Harvest House was nearing its end. Their reputation in the industry, the broad list of authors they’re working with, and the company mission ‘to serve authors of faith in all of their creative endeavors,’ made this the right decision.”

Nick will continue to write and edit on occasion, but will be primarily building a client list of established and up-and-coming authors to represent. If you know of someone ready for representation, have them contact him directly at nick@wordserveliterary.com.

 

In Memoriam

51ODJUNvR9L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_It’s not often a literary agent gets the chance to represent a real American Hero, but Jerry Parr certainly was. He died this month at age 85. After President Ronald Reagan was shot, Jerry was the Secret Service agent who shoved him into the car and checked the president for wounds. He made the split second call to get him to a hospital. Those split seconds saved the President’s life. He wrote a book that WordServe represented called In the Secret Service (Tyndale).  To read more, check out this link.

 

New Releases

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Terry Brennan released The Aleppo Code with Kregel. It is the third book in The Jerusalem Prophecies series, following Tom Bohannon’s band of adventurers as they gather again in Jerusalem to examine a copy of the tenth-century Aleppo Code, the oldest complete text of Jewish scripture. Unfolding against the backdrop of an Israeli/U.S. strike against Iran and the planned economic overthrow of the European Union by the sinister head of the international Muslim Brotherhood, The Aleppo Code  is an epic conclusion to Brennan’s heart-pounding series.

 

41vFxYzYBNL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Greg Johnson released 101 Family Meal-Time Devotions with goTandem.

Each of the 101 five-minute readings in this book helps bring family devotions to life so families can make more of their time together at the dinner table. Relevant scripture passages and thought-provoking questions are included to spark meaningful family discussion and help children (ages 6-12) develop important Christian values.

 

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Paul Kent released The Real Force: A 40-Day Devotional with Worthy Publishers.

Many of the themes central to the Star Wars story reflect the same beliefs and core values of Christianity, as Paul Kent reveals in this engaging devotional. Each reading discusses a scene or character from the Star Wars universe, relates it to a contemporary life challenge, and connects it with relevant scripture.

 

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Pam Ovwigho released Better Relationships, Better Life: Encouragement & Hope for Improving EVERY Relationship with goTandem.

Guiding readers through Colossians 3, Pam Ovwhigho helps readers put relationship builders into practice to help change the way we relate to others in every part of our life.

 

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Wintley Phipps, with James Lund, released Your Best Destiny: Becoming the Person You Were Created to Be, with Tyndale Momentum.

Vocal artist and pastor Wintley Phipps unlocks eight secrets that reveal readers’ unique characters and help them grow stronger, overcome obstacles, and achieve what God has in store for their lives.

 

 

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Tiffany Ross released A Servant’s Heart: 180 Encouraging Thoughts for Church Volunteers with goTandem.

Filled with 180 encouraging scriptures, prayers, and quotes that honor the ordinary heroes in our churches–volunteers–this book is an ideal gift, the perfect way to celebrate volunteers, and maybe even recruit new workers to step up and accept God’s call to care!

 

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Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley released God & Churchill with Tyndale.

God and Churchill tells the story of how one man, armed with belief in his divine destiny, embarked on a course to save Christian civilization when Hitler and the forces of evil stood opposed. It traces the personal, political, and spiritual path of one of history’s greatest leaders and offers hope for our own violent and troubled times.

 

419PszQMIqL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Susie Shellenberger released 40 Days to Complete God Confidence with goTandem. Complete God Confidence shares forty engaging stories that illustrate the liberating assurance of 1 John 5:13-15: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” Regardless of our struggle, we can have confidence in Christ.

 

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Karen Witmeyer released Brides of Texas with Bethany House.  A 3-in-1 collection, this volume brings together Karen’s bestselling and beloved books A Tailor-Made Bride, Short-Straw Bride, and Stealing the Preacher. Offering the best of inspirational historical romance, each story is set in a different location in Texas and contains plenty of adventure and humor with feisty heroines and rugged cowboy heroes.

 

 

New WordServe Clients

We’re pleased to announce that Bertram Hayes-Davis and Mark Affleck signed with WordServe Literary this month.

New Contracts

Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop signed a contract with Tyndale for 3 books: My Side of the StreetMy Side of the Street 365-Day Devotional, and Recovery of the Soul. The books will focus on moving towards relational health and on helping people in recovery find the spiritual strength they need by focusing on the four absolutes of soul recovery: honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love.

Jim and Lynne Jackson signed with Bethany House for their new book, Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart, offering a Biblically informed approach to corrective disicpline that puts God’s purposes for parents and their kids at the forefront.

Jordyn Redwood signed a contract with Love Inspired Suspense for a new book, Fractured Memory, to be published July, 2016.

Kara Powell, Jacob Mulder, and Brad Griffin signed a deal with Kregel for the publication of Current Church, a research-driven book exploring how churches can effectively assimilate and attract younger-generation Christians.

Kara Powell also signed a second contract with Baker for an untitled non-fiction book to be published in 2018.

Angela Strong signed a 3-book deal with Mountain Brook Ink for her “Finding Love In” series. Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho will publish in early 2016; Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana will publish in fall 2016, and Finding Love in Park City, Utah will publish in spring 2017.

Janalyn Voigt signed a 3-book deal with Mountain Brook Ink for her new series, the Montana Gold Series. Tentatively titled Hills of Nevermore, Cheyenne Sunrise, and Stagecoach to Liberty, the books will be published in 2017 and 2018.

 

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What We’re Celebrating!

God & Churchill  by Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley reached #1 on Amazon in religious leader biographies!

Too Blessed to Be Stressed Cookbook by Debora Coty was named a 2015 Fall Okra pick, an honor given by SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) for “Great Southern Books, Fresh Off the Vine.”

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WordServe News: May 2014

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

Rebecca DeMarino released her debut novel A Place in His Heart with Revell publishers.9780800722180_p0_v2_s260x420

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Doug Fields released 7 Ways to Be Her Hero with Thomas Nelson publishers. 920563

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Kathi Lipp released I Need Some Help Here! with Revell publishers.9780800720780_p0_v3_s260x420

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Jonathan McKee released Get Your Teenager Talking with Bethany Hou9780764211850_p0_v3_s260x420se Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spencer Moses released his suspense thriller with Revell publishers, Network of Deception.9780800722562_p0_v3_s260x420

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Gilbert Morris released the third book in his Western Justice series with Barbour 9781616267605_p0_v2_s260x420books, Raina’s Choice

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Dr. Arnie Cole and Michael Ross released Worry Free Living with Authentic.9781780782263_p0_v1_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Karen Witemeyer released Full Steam Ahead with Bethany House Publishers. 9780764209673_p0_v2_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New WordServe Clients

Mark Atteberry, pastor and multi-published author, signed with agent Alice Crider.

Larry Dugger, pastor and Christian counselor, signed with agent Alice Crider

John Merritt, founding pastor of CrossWinds Church in Dublin, California, signed with Alice Crider

Bill Sanders, award-winning journalist, signed an agency agreement to be represented by Alice Crider.

New Contracts

Jan Drexler signed with Love Inspired to release A Home in Deadwood. Sarah Freese, agent of record.

Anita Agers-Brooks signed with Barbour for her non-fiction book, Getting Over What You Can’t Get Through. Alice Crider, agent of record.

Angela Strong signed with Ashberry Lane for her YA novel, The Water Fight Professional. Alice Crider, agent of record.

What We’re Celebrating!!

Jennie Atkins is a semi-finalist in the Romance category of the ACFW Genesis contest for unpublished authors!

Carol Barnier made the awards list in both humor and evangelism for two of her articles for the 2014 EPA Higher Goal Awards!

Debora Coty (Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolate), Jo Ann Fore (When a Woman Finds Her Voice) and Jordyn Redwood (Poison) all made the shortlist for the 2014 Selah Awards!

Wounded Women of the Bible by Dena Dyer and Tina Samples is a finalist in the AWSA Golden Scroll Awards!

Leslie Leyland Fields was featured on Christianity Today as the cover story. You can read it here!

Adam Makos’ A Higher Call hit the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and Washington Post bestseller lists!

Jordyn Redwood’s Poison and Julie Cantrell’s When Mountains Move are on the short list of Inspy finalists!!

Kimberly Smith wrote an article for Time magazine. Read the full story here!

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?

WordServe News: June 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

Will Davis, Enough, Revell (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Katie Ganshert, Wildflowers From Winter, WaterBrook Press (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Ken Gire, Relentless Pursuit, Bethany House Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Lisa Jordan, Lakeside Family, Love Inspired (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Maureen Lang, Bees in the Butterfly Garden, Tyndale House Publishers (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Kathi Lipp, Praying God’s Word for Your Husband, Revell (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Gilbert Morris, The River Rose, B&H Publishing Group (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Jordyn Redwood, Proof, Kregel Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Beth Vogt, Wish You Were Here, Howard Publishers (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Karen Witemeyer, Short-Straw Bride, Bethany House Publishers (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Mike Yorkey, Tim Tebow, Barbour Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Mike Yorkey, Linspired (Kids Edition, too), Barbour Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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New WordServe Clients

Caesar Kalinowski is one of the thought leaders in the missional church movement and a trainer and founder of the Soma Communities in the Tacoma, Wash, area. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Gillian Marchenko is a small town girl from Michigan who has spent the majority of her married life in big cities: first Kiev, Ukraine and now Chicago, Illinois where she lives with her husband, Sergei, and their four daughters. Gillian writes and speaks about parenthood, stumbling faith, adoption, and special needs. Gillian has written a memoir about the birth of her third daughter, Polly, and her diagnosis of Down syndrome in the former Soviet Union. Her writing has appeared in MomSense Magazine, EFCA TODAY, Four Cornered Universe, CHICAGO PARENT, Story Bleed, and CHICAGO SPECIAL PARENT. Check out Gillian’s website at www.gillianmarchenko.com. (Agent: Sarah Joy Freese)

Laurie Polich-Short, veteran youth speaker and author, is making the leap to adult non-fiction for women. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

New Contracts

Marcus Brotherton signed with Zondervan Publishing House to collaborate and write DiscipleShift with pastors and authors Jim Putman and Bob Harrington. The book will be the lead book for the April 2013 Exponential Conference. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Julie Cantrell has signed with David C. Cook for two more untitled novels. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Jan Drexler, a debut author, has signed a contract with Harlequin’s Love Inspired line of Christian fiction for her Amish book Love Bears All Things. With her Anabaptist upbringing and ancestral ties to the Amish church, Jan brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions, doctrine, and theology to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish immigrants to Pennsylvania, fleeing intense religious persecution in Europe in the 17th century, and then continued west, arriving in northern Indiana in the mid-1800’s. Their experiences are the basis for her stories. Jan holds a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from Kalamazoo College in Michigan. She lives with her husband and two of her four children in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Pamela Binnings Ewen, an award-winning fiction author, signed a contract with B&H Publishing Group for the second edition of her non-fiction apologetics book titled Faith on Trial: Would the Testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Stand Up in Court? The first edition of Faith on Trial was published in 1999 and was listed on many best-seller lists and even used as a textbook at Yale University in a course on Law and Religion. Pamela practiced law for twenty-five years in Houston before retiring in 2004 to write full time. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Denver Pastor Michael Hidalgo signed with IVP for two books. The first is called Unlost, a book about stopping our search for God and standing still long enough for Him to find us. The second book is untitled. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Amanda Jenkins recently signed a contract with Tyndale House Publishers for her memoir tentatively titled Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist. Before life as a homemaker and mother of four, Amanda worked in sales and marketing for a number of Christian retailers, as well as in visual communications and advertising. She spent ten years in L.A. alongside her film-making husband Dallas Jenkins, son of bestselling author Jerry Jenkins. Amanda attended Northwestern Bible College and graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies and Communications. She has taught Bible studies for women of all ages for the past fourteen years and is passionate about communicating truth in a culturally relevant and humorous way. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Our own Becky Johnson and her daughter, Rachel Randolph, have signed a two-book contract with Zondervan Publishing House. The first book will mirror the title of their food blog, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.  It’s a book of vignettes about mother-daughter life up to and after the birth of Rachel’s first child.  The second book is tentatively titled Getting Momma Fit, Getting Daughter Relaxed. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Jerry and Carolyn Parr signed with Tyndale House Publishers to write their memoir. Jerry was a Secret Service Agent for 25 years. Jerry was the agent who pushed Ronald Reagan into the limo after he was shot by John Hinckley and then made the decision to immediately go the hospital, a decision that saved the President’s life. After retiring, he went to seminary, and he and his wife spent more than 15 years serving the poor and homeless of Washington D.C. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Debut author Amy Sorrells signed a two-book contract with David C. Cook. Her first novel is tentatively titled Canary Song and was the winner of the recent Women of Faith writing contest under the title of Comfort and Salvation. As well as an author, Amy is currently a registered nurse for Indiana University Health North Hospital in Carmel, Indiana. Her professional writing has been featured in numerous national journals. She lives with her husband, three boys, and three golden retrievers in central Indiana.  (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Mike Yorkey and Jesse Florea have signed with Barbour Publishers to do a shorter book on New York Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Mike Yorkey signed with Barbour Publishers to write a “Playing with Purpose” book on a broad range of NFL stars. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Mike Yorkey signed with Harper Collins Publishers as the collaborator for the Eric LeGrand story that will be published this fall. Eric was the Rutgers University football player who suffered a spinal cord injury and yet has inspired millions with his courage. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

What We’re Celebrating!!

Jordyn Redwood received a starred review from Library Journal for her debut medical thriller Proof. Their Verdict: Strong writing, terrific plot twists, and a great premise make this debut medical thriller a must-read. Recommend it to fans of Richard L. Mabry and Robin Cook.

Dave Runyon was featured in the June 2012 issue of Christianity Today. It highlights Dave’s work in the Arvada, Colo., area pulling churches together to be better neighbors. His book, written with Arvada pastor Jay Pathak, The Art of Neighboring, will be releasing in August. (www.artofneighboring.com)

Karen Witemeyer’s book Short-Straw Bride was #14 on the CBA Fiction list for July (May sales).

What can we help you celebrate?

Perfecting Prose – What I learned from being a RITA finalist

Earlier this year, I received a thrilling phone call notifying me that my debut book, A Tailor-Made Bride, had finaled in the RITA®  category for Best First Book. Was I ever excited! Then people started asking me about why I thought my book made it to the finals. My first reaction was – How can I possibly know? Contest judging is so subjective. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that even though I didn’t have direct feedback from the RITA judges, I had feedback from other judges—readers. So the tips you’ll find here today, are based on what I have gleaned from the comments of readers and reviewers.

Characters impact readers more than plot.

“What amazing characters… I loved Jericho and Hannah. It was as if they were real people.”

“Her characters live and breathe, not only within the pages but long after the cover is closed.”

“Her characters were flawed in ways that made them endearing and gave you a vested interest in their individual quests for happiness and fulfillment.”

My goal in designing main characters is twofold: have every woman who reads my story fall in love with the hero, and have every female reader wish to be the heroine. In order for me to accomplish this, as an author, I need to do exactly the same—fall in love with my hero and live vicariously through my heroine. If the characters aren’t real to me, they won’t be real to the reader either. So what makes them real?

  • Use Deep POV  Spend time in the character’s head. Express his thoughts directly using language that matches his personality. Show his reactions and emotions instead of explaining them to the reader. Give him a distinct narrative voice.
  • Use Contrast – My hero is a grouchy, set-in-his-ways livery owner, but that crusty exterior hides a soft heart that leads him to perform acts of kindness when no one is looking. His words might sound arrogant, but his actions show his inner goodness.
  • Give them flaws to make them real. Give them quirks to make them unique. Give them noble motivations to make them likeable – Hannah was living her dream of opening her own dress shop, but she struggled with her lack of business savvy when customers were scarce. Her quirk – she’s a 19th century fitness maven with a daily exercise regimen that most folks scoffed at. As for motivation, she wanted to have a successful shop, but not at the cost of being a stumbling block to others. Her ultimate aim was to use the gifts God had given her to serve her community, not simply to support herself by making a good living. Giving her a more noble motivation increased her likeability even when her stubbornness and pride led her into trouble.
  • Have well-developed secondary characters – Many readers have asked me about turning A Tailor-Made Bride into a series because they found themselves so attached to the town and its characters that they wanted more. What a fabulous compliment! Even though secondary characters don’t have their own POVs, make them memorable and real to the reader. Make them quirky and fun, or have them tug on the reader’s heartstrings. Use them to open the eyes of your main character when he/she is struggling to come to grips with a specific truth. But remember, their purpose is to enhance the story of the hero and heroine, not to steal the show.
  • Use dialog as a romance tool – Witty dialog is something I greatly admire in novels and strive to incorporate in my own. My favorite way to use it is between the hero and heroine as they fight against their attraction. Let them tease, flirt, and spar with each other as a way to build romantic tension. Sometimes having a character be audaciously honest can be a delightful surprise. One of my favorite scenes from A Tailor-Made Bride uses this technique. Hannah has learned Jericho’s true name and is teasing him about it.

He prowled forward, jaw clenched so hard, his facial muscles ticked. “The name’s J.T.”

“No,” she said, tapping her chin as if pondering some great mystery. “Those are initials. Your name is Jericho.”

Wiggling his fingers to keep them from curling into fists, J.T. reminded himself that she was a woman.

“Are you purposely trying to rile me?” His voice rumbled with menace, warning her against such a dangerous path.

An all-too-innocent smile stretched across her face. “Why, yes. Yes, I am. Is it working?”

Deepen Your Spiritual Theme with Layers

“Besides a beautiful romance, this story has take-home value in it that made me stop and reflect…The characters grew not only as individual people, and as a couple, but as children of God as well.”

“…you will also find the Lord’s “thumbprint” on every page. Her words ministered to my spirit in such a deep, penetrating way.”

“…while the book is highly readable and enjoyable, it is also thought-provoking. I found myself pausing time and again to reflect on my own life, particularly as it relates to God’s purpose for me.”

  • More than skin deep – On the surface, the key spiritual message of A Tailor-Made Bride seems to entail the issue of beauty vs. vanity. However, if you look deeper, you’ll see that the true message is about balance, unity, and opening yourself to God’s truth even when it goes against long-held beliefs based on personal experience.
  • Complicate things – Another aspect that I believe made my theme unique was that I allowed both characters to be right. Both had a biblical foundation to back up their position, and as I wrote their story, I found myself agreeing with both sides. The true issue is not who is right and who is wrong. The true issue is how can we treat each other with love, even when we disagree? And can we set our dogmatism aside long enough to see if there is any truth to be gained by pondering the opposite perspective?
  • Sprinkle other spiritual truths throughout the story in addition to the main theme – In real life, we rarely deal with one issue at a time. So in addition to the beauty-vanity theme, I also sprinkled in thoughts about running a business as a person of faith, using gifts to serve others even when the service goes unnoticed, and reaching out to the outcasts among us. Remember, however, that story rules. Never incorporate a spiritual thread simply to teach your readers a truth. Everything has to spring naturally from the characters and the plot, otherwise it will come across as preachy.

Question for you: So when you think about your favorite books, the ones that linger in your mind long after the last page is turned, what is it about them that impacted you most? If you were a contest judge, what would you be looking for?

Creative Marketing – Try Something New

Marketing. The dreaded M word that makes introverted authors like me shudder. It’s a good thing I am contracted with a major publisher. They’ll take care of all that marketing stuff, right?

Pop! Say goodbye to that delusional bubble.

Even though I’ve been blessed with a fabulous marketing and sales team, I’m not immune to the pressure of marketing my books. Publishing is a partnership, and I’m expected to market as much or more than my publisher. After all, they have an entire catalog of new releases to sell. I have only my own.

So when I first waded into the marketing waters, I looked around to see what other authors were doing and followed their example. I had my website professionally designed, I got involved in Facebook and Goodreads, I set up guest blog appearances and interviews to correlate with my release dates, I had a launch party, I offered giveaways and hosted contests, I handed out bookmarks, did book signings, and spoke to groups any time I was asked.

Did any of it make a difference? I think so. It’s nearly impossible to measure the impact of marketing, but occasionally I’ll get reader feedback from someone who mentions that they found my books because of an interview I did on a particular blog, or that they bought my previous books after winning my latest one in a drawing and enjoyed it so much they wanted to read more from me. These little glimmers give me hope.

But now that I’ve gained a year of experience, it’s time to branch out from the crowd. It’s time to aim my creativity brain cells not just at my WIP but at my marketing as well. So when it came time to launch my third novel this spring, I decided to try something new. Something that would engage readers on a more personal level and hopefully entice new ones to give my book a try. I sponsored a fan fiction contest.

I write historical romance, and knowing that romance readers live for happy endings, I thought to give them a chance to create their own. I can’t tell you how many times as a reader or movie watcher I have mentally re-written an ending or continued the story in my mind, imagining how the characters’ lives would play out. I thought it would be fun to give my readers the same opportunity.

Now in To Win Her Heart, my main characters had a very satisfying happy ending, but the secondary love story was left with a little more ambiguity. Therefore, the fan fiction contest challenged readers to create an epilogue specifically for secondary characters Chloe and Duncan. I enticed readers with generous prizes like a $40 gift card from Amazon, an autographed book of their choice from my list, and the privilege of having their winning entry displayed on my website for all to see and enjoy.

I advertised in my newsletter, on Facebook, and in blog posts on sites that catered to writers. I was hoping to snag some readers from the writing crowd who might not usually read historical romance or who hadn’t tried my books before, but who were interested in competing for my prizes.

To Win Her Heart released May 1st so I ran the contest through the end of June. I didn’t have a flood of entries, but I ended up with a wonderful collection of about a dozen epilogues to choose from. More valuable than the number of entries, though, was the amount of personal interaction with readers this contest produced. I even had one lady say that she didn’t realize how powerful a marketing tool the contest was for her until she found herself in a bookstore buying my book just because she wanted to enter my contest. I’m hoping others experienced the same sensation even if they ended up not entering.

In the end, there’s no telling how many actual sales this contest generated, but I’m hoping the effects will continue to ripple. The lady who won has her epilogue on my site, and she’s no doubt sharing that story with all her friends. The quality of her writing was wonderful, and she captured my characters so well, that I was proud to display her work and to point other readers to it as bonus material.

Whether or not this attempt at marketing generated many sales, I’m glad I did it. It was fun to try something different and to interact with readers in a new way. It gave my stale marketing practices a much needed shot in the arm, and I would gladly do it again.

Question for You: What is the most inventive marketing strategy you’ve ever employed or seen employed? What marketing ideas have you toyed with that you’d like to try? What have you seen other authors do that caused you to find yourself in the bookstore buying their book?

To see the winning entry, visit the fan fiction page of my website at: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com

Surviving My First Year As A Published Author

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a published author for over a year now. My first book (A Tailor-Made Bride) debuted in June 2010, and last May my third book with Bethany House, To Win Her Heart, hit the shelves. What an exciting whirlwind adventure this has been!

For those of you who are not yet published, I thought I’d share a few of the myriad lessons I’ve learned during the transition from hopeful writer to published author. Believe it or not, signing a publishing contract is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is just the beginning of another journey, one that will take you through unfamiliar territory with a whole new set of obstacles and pitfalls to navigate.

Learning to work with an editor

Most of you have probably worked with a critique group or received feedback from contest judges on your manuscript. Some of you may have even invested in hiring a freelance editor to go over your book. All of this is wonderful for helping you perfect your craft, and I highly recommend it. I still work with my critique group on every book I write. However, making the switch from critique group to publishing house editor is like switching from working with a high school baseball coach to a major league manager. The expectations placed upon you increase and the time to make improvements decreases. Thankfully, the editor wants you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed, so it can be a marvelously rewarding partnership.

In learning to work with an editor, attitude makes all the difference. Here are some tips for making this process a blessing instead of a trial:

  • Trust your baby to the care of another. You are no longer simply a passionate writer, creating the story that best pleases you. You are now a professional writer who must please a publisher and readers. Don’t forfeit the passion, but temper it with professionalism. I often hear unpublished writers say things like, “If an editor ever suggested I change X about my manuscript, I’d find a different publisher.” I strongly caution against this attitude. Publishing is a team effort. Be a team player and remember that the publishing world is a small one. Don’t make things harder on yourself by gaining a reputation as a diva.
  • Editors are allies, not enemies. It might not feel true when you get that 12 page, single-spaced substantive edit letter, but keep your defenses in check. Remember that your editor is there to help you create the best manuscript possible.
  • Approach conversations with humility. Editors know the market better than you do. They know what their readers like. Submit to their mentoring and heed their advice, but don’t be afraid to respectfully speak your mind if you have a strong aversion to one of their suggestions.

Dealing with deadlines.

Everyone writes differently. Some pour out their stories unchecked then go back and add layers, weaving in editing as they work through multiple drafts. Some outline extensively before ever writing a word. Some spend weeks delving into research. I’m one of those odd ducks who uses both sides of my brain at the same time, editing as I go. This makes my pace slow as I constantly edit as I create, but I essentially write only one draft.

The key to dealing with deadlines is to know your writing pace and plan accordingly. Set realistic intermediary goals. (For example, instead of a daily word count, I choose to set weekly goals. I try to write one polished chapter a week.) Then be sure to budget a cushion into your schedule to allow for unforeseen circumstances. Illness, family vacations, work duties—many things can pull you away from your writing. Don’t add to your deadline stress by cutting things too close. I try to pad my deadline by 2-4 weeks to give myself some flexibility. Plus it’s cool to get brownie points by turning in a manuscript early.

Handling Reviews

Good reviews can send your spirit soaring, and bad reviews can send you plummeting into a pool of doubt and insecurity. You must learn to find balance. Some wise authors I know choose not to read reviews at all. I have to admit that I can’t seem to resist the lure. I check my reviews on Amazon every day and eagerly await news from my publisher about trade reviews. Publisher’s Weekly tends to give me great write-ups, yet the ones from Romantic Times are usually a bit lackluster. The inconsistency can be frustrating, but I constantly remind myself that reviews are subjective. That fact became very evident when my publisher decided to offer my debut novel as a free e-book download in May. I was pleasantly surprised by all the new 4 and 5 star reviews, but then there were the 1 star reviews that came with them. Ick.

  • Not everyone will love your book, so gird your loins in advance.
  • Enjoy the pleasure of positive reviews, but don’t let them puff you up with pride. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. ~Proverbs 11:2
  • Learn what you can from a harsh review. Look for ways to improve your craft for future projects. However, don’t dwell on the sour words. They will destroy your confidence and steal your passion. Glean what you can, then walk away.

This publishing journey can be a long and arduous one, but it is rich with rewards as well.

For those of you who are still seeking publication—what makes you the most nervous about making the transition to published author?

And for you published authors—what other advice would you share with upcoming writers regarding what to expect after the contract is signed?