f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Making Your Submission Better

Whether you're submitting a contracted draft to your publisher or a proposal in hopes of being published you should (hopefully) want to turn in the best work you can. So I have two practical tips for doing that.

1. Have two or three other writers you know, respect, and trust critique your work in-process. This doesn't have to be every chapter (though I know writers who find that helpful), but perhaps at 1/3 done, 1/2 done, and then after first-draft. Always take what they say with requisite grain of salt, but this should help you avoid any massive structural/narrative problems before they become unsolvable.

These need to be people who understand story, craft, and writing because they should be responding in part to the mechanics of the story. They don't need to love your genre--they just need to know how a novel goes together.

After you've completed that draft and are satisfied, you need to find readers.

2. I recommend a minimum of three different kinds of readers, though you can obviously have multiple readers of each type.

A.) Someone who loves you unconditionally. This is generally just for your morale, though if they hate the book, you might be in trouble.

B.) Someone who has liked your work in the past but isn't a great friend or a blood relative. This person is on your side. They'll go in optimistic. They're your "ideal" reader in some respects.

C.) Someone who has never read you before. They're the agnostic/skeptic you need to convince.

B. and C. should be well-read folks with opinions to share. It's best if they do like the genre you're writing in. You're basically just getting "market feedback." The sample size of opinion will be small, so again you need to take critique with a grain-of-salt but hopefully there will be feedback that helps you refine and tighten your novel.

At that point, your story will be better than it was at first-draft. Guaranteed.

Next time, we'll talk about the role (or lack of role) of editors in the life of your book.

Download of the Week

Heiruspecs "5ves".

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Some Writing Advice

Not from me. From people who write. As compiled by the Atlantic.

I like John Kenneth Galbraith's words on page 2...though I wish he'd used the word "cobbler" rather than "shoemaker." We don't see it enough in that definition. The word has simply by tyrannized by proponents of fruity desserts. (That is: desserts made with fruit, not desserts with stereotyped homosexual mannerisms.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Where It's At?

Unlike Beck, I have neither two turn-tables nor a microphone. I've got this blog and about six tons of work. So let's just say I'm back in body if not yet in mind here.

I'll try to get to something soon or at least post interesting links to things around the web that relate to our topic.

A Nice Honor for a BHP Author

Beverly Lewis' The Preacher's Daughter was selected as one of five finalists for the 2006 Quills Award for Romance. This is a general market award so, in theory, every book is a potential candidate...so it's a nice distinction.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Does Speed Matter?

Athol Dickson asks the question of whether speed of writing--sometimes imposed on authors by CBA publishers--affects quality.

Athol Dickson, you ask? He's the author of the Christy Award-winning River Rising, a book you should really check out if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Peter Leithart on Why Evangelicals Can't Write

Not to show my utter lack of church history comprehension, but Zwinglians sounds far more like a race of extra-terrestrials from a Douglas Adams novel than an actual subset of the church.

Anyway, Peter Leithart explores the lack of a grand literary tradition among Protestants.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cover Weirdness: Design Echoes

If this cover and this cover had a child, it would look like this.

Am I right?

(credit to NYTimes Book Covers for linking the Kalfus and Lethem covers.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cover Weirdness: CBA Garden Edition

Patti Hill's Always Green

Annie Jones' April in Bloom

If there's any consolation, our cover came first.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Multnomah Acquired by Random House

Here's the (expected) conclusion to this news. (From the Christian Etailing newsletter.)

After almost a month of industry-wide speculation, Random House Inc. announced it has purchased Multnomah Publishers. The Sisters, Ore., publisher will become Random House's second evangelical Christian imprint, following the 1996 creation of WaterBrook Press, an editorially autonomous division of Random House's Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group.
Multnomah will be “integrated operationally with WaterBrook,” and will relocate to WaterBrook's offices in Colorado Springs, Colo., Random House said in a statement. The two imprints will together form a new WaterBrook Multnomah division within Doubleday Broadway, with each imprint “maintaining its distinct editorial identity,” the statement said.

I wish those of my colleagues at Multonomah (and Waterbrook) the best as things shake out.

Why the Word "Sucks," Rocks

Slate defends the intransitive verb "suck" from detractors and those who say its vulgar.

It's actually quite an interesting little piece and explores our apparent discomfort with such straight-forward, unabashed verbs.

There's times for erudition, the author explains, on why something fails to please, and then there's times when economy of phrase rules the day: "Yankees suck."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Ascendance of Message-Driven "Art"

Mark Cuban, a man I find fascinating, is a billionaire who blogs. He's got his hands in quite a number of pies these days (owns the Dallas Mavericks, HDNet, etc) and one of those pies is the movie industry. A week or two ago, he put forth a challenge: Figure out a way to GUARANTEE 5 million people show up at a movie and he'd give you a job.

His challenge got 800+ responses. (If you're in the promotion game at all, I encourage you to read some of them because the ideas of how to get people to a movie are not unlike, in the end, getting people to buy a book. The basics are all the same.)

Cuban's post today analyzes those responses and offers some rationale why many of the solutions don't quite work. One of his points was interesting:

(Here he's talking about rewarding people somehow for going to a movie. And all errors in spelling, punctuation, etc are his. He's the one person on the net who self-edits less than me. Or "less than I." Whatever.)
This has been done before, but isnt done often enough, including by our film companies HDNetFILMS, Magnolia Pictures and 2929ent. The perfect examples are religious, political and social groups who drove viewers to Passion of the Christ, An Inconvenient Truth and other movies that entertain or try to educate with a message that supporters of that message go out of their way to support.

Its interesting to me how supporters of the various messages feel they are having their message reinforced with boxoffice success of the movie they are promoting. That desire to do well at the box office as a message itself, often leads to a lot of hard work by the groups organizers and followers to get people to the theater. In fact, the grassroots efforts of these groups can actually bring millions of viewers to a movie. The problem is that this doesnt apply to every movie. Only a select few. Its an approach we will use with a new Mag Pictures movie we have coming out called Jesus Camp, but wouldnt apply to 90pct of what we do.

So many of the calls today (admittedly here and elsewhere) are for "less propagandistic message" and "more craft." But Cuban points out that there's real strength, real usefulness in having such a one-sided message. And that usefulness is that others will come alongside and say, "This is what I feel, too. And I want others to know I feel that way so I'm going to support this "art" with my dollars.

I don't really have any point here. I guess it just seems like another example of how we're all shouting at each other in various and sundry ways. "Christ is Lord!" "Our planet is doomed!" "Cowboys can be gay!" "$#&%# Bush!" "We love penguins!"

Is there even any room for conversation amid the din?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Virtual Merger

The Ankeny Briefcase, a literary magazine that doesn't officially exist, has merged with Relief: A Quarterly Christian Expression, another literary magazine that doesn't officially exist yet either. You can read about it here.

In related news, unicorns are now mating with hippogriffs.