Friday, February 26, 2010

Sure-fire Twelve-point Strategy to Procrastinate Writing

You'd think that we full-time novelists would happily run to our keyboards every morning, eager to open our book files and start writing.


In fact most of the time we'd rather do anything but write. Most likely this has to do with how hard the craft is. Many other things are just so much easier. So if you're looking for ways to procrastinate, here's a sure-fired approach for how to sit at your computer all day and never open your manuscript file.

1. Start with e-mails. Well, duh. Most of us computer nuts are on at least a hundred e-mail loops. There are the family loops, the friend loops, the professional writing loops (dozens and dozens of these), the sub-loops of the professional writing loops, the sub-loops of the sub-loops of the professional writing loops. Not to mention the daily e-mails we get from subscribing to blogs, newsletters, and on and on. If you open your e-mails in the morning and see less than 200, there's something clearly wrong with your strategy. Put yourself on more loops. Subscribe to more blogs.

2. Proceed to Twitter. Make sure you're following and are followed by at least 7000 people. Make groups in your TweetDeck so you can keep tabs on what special people are saying. Respond frequently. If someone tweets, "I'm starved!" send them a series of tweets with the recipe for your favorite sandwich with homemade bread and mayo. When someone sends a link to a "hilarious video" watch it. A link to a news article? That's certainly worth reading. Got to keep up on what's going on--it's all fodder for the writing. Don't forget to find twenty new people to follow. Check to see who is new to following you.

3. Jump to Facebook. Check your home page to see what all your friends are doing. Comment on their updates. Find ten new people and request them to be your friend. Check your inbox and answer all messages. (Sound familiar? It's just like e-mails!) Check your notifications to see who's tagged you in a photo. Go see the photo. Comment on the photo. Recheck your notifications to see who's talked about you while you were commenting on the photo. Go to your wall and clean up all the stupid bling people have sent you. Ooh, eight new FBers want to be your friend! Check each one out and decide yay or nay. For those you accept, write each one a private message. That way you'll receive messages back. If you're lucky, they'll respond immediately. Then you can get a conversation going.

4. Check emails again. After all, the Twittering and Facebook activity has taken a long time. Dozens of people have emailed since your first pass.

5. Break for lunch and a walk around the block. Who can write on an empty stomach? And physical exercise gets the brain going.

6. Back at the keyboard with a full tummy, read all the blogs you follow. Comment on all the posts. Read all other comments and comment on the comments.

7. Choose your favorite blog post, hop over to Twitter, and send out a tweet about it. While you're on Twitter--my goodness, how much has happened since you were last there! Read the new tweets and respond. Check for new followers.

8. Time to oversee Facebook again. Refer to #3.

9. Wow, how the day is passing! Without leaving your computer, pull out a how-to book on fiction and read a chapter. Maybe two. Or three. You're learning about the craft. This is time well spent.

10. You have kept your inbox open while you were reading, right? And now e-mails have piled up again. Read each one and respond.

11. Egad, you nearly forgot! You need a blog post for tomorrow. And you haven't a clue what to write about. Surf the net, looking for ideas. When you don't find one, write a post about how to procrastinate writing.

12. Position your cursor over your manuscript file. Check your clock. Criminy, it's time for dinner!

No worries. Tomorrow is a new day.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The God Hater

"This one will be talked about for a long time." --Jerry B. Jenkins

The ever-creative supernatural suspense author
Bill Myers has a novel releasing this fall titled The God Hater--with a fascinating premise worthy of the Bill Myers moniker. Here are some words from Bill about the novel--and with an offer for you until it releases.

Today there are very angry and influential men trying to convince us that Christians are not only stupid, but are actually a threat to our society. That's pretty serious, which is why I wrote The God Hater. In it I've presented the Gospel from God's point of view . . . literally putting the haters in God's place and asking what they would do. For a brief description and to see who's endorsing it,
click here.

When I was researching the novel, I stumbled on so many facts proving God's existence that I wanted to share them in a way that was easy to grasp. So every other week I'll be writing a quick, easy to understand blurb that anyone from children to adults can read and use in defending their faith. Here's a simple, little example:

Isn't it interesting that in the wilderness, when Jesus and Satan were fighting, they didn't use guns, guided missiles or even nukes? Instead, the Creator of the Universe and the most evil force in the Universe fought with what they both knew to be the most powerful force in the Universe . . . God's written Word. Satan would attack, Jesus would defend and counter attack. Back and forth they went, using only the Word of God, and with nothing less than Christ's entire mission (and our survival) at stake. If those two thought God's Word was so awesome and powerful, who are we to think any differently?

Of course the next question is, "Just because the Bible said it, how do we know it's true?" More on that the next time.

If you would like to receive these bi-weekly notes, please
sign up here. And if you have a friend or two who might be interested, let them know, as well. My prayer is that the information be both interesting and helpful.


-- Bill

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can "Viral" Be Created?

I found this post on the blog Real. Life. Conversation., written by author and radio personality Tim Sinclair. I liked what Tim had to say. He's allowed me to run the post here for you:

"Pants on the Ground"
Susan Boyle
"Evolution of Dance"
That music video with the guys on the treadmills

Millions of people have watched these videos on You Tube, shared them with their friends, and posted them to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. In several instances, well over 100 million people have checked them out online!

By our modern-day definition, they're "viral".

Have you ever tried to CREATE something viral? Maybe a parody video, a wacky song, or a cleverly-written email? Who wouldn't want to reach millions of people (almost instantly) with their message? I'll admit...I have, or at least been a part of a few radio stations and church groups that have. In fact, some of the world's largest companies pay MILLIONS attempting to create something viral.

Well, guess what? It rarely works...if ever.

If you look closely, nearly everything "viral" has two things in common:

1. It was never intended to be viral in the first place.
2. The person/group involved was simply being themselves and doing what they felt 'called' to do.

The moral of the story?

When it comes to sharing your faith, don't try to reach the whole world at once. Be yourself. Do the things that God has gifted you to do. Follow your calling.

The world tends to notice those things.


What are your thoughts on Tim's post? If you're an author, how can you apply his words to your writing? Or apply it to the marketing of any product?

Tim is the co-host of "The Morning Show with Tim and Pam, heard weekday mornings from 5:30 to 9 CST on WBGL in Illinois, Indiana and online. You can find Tim on Facebook and on Twitter (@timjsinclair).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New "Clash Entertainment" Site for Teens

This month Clash Entertainment, a large and beautiful Web site for teens, officially launched. Clash Entertainment is "dedicated to bringing excellent, enlightening, even edifying entertainment to Christian teens." The Web site is updated daily with fresh content that includes:

~ news
~ reviews
~ interviews
~ comics
~ music
~ videos
~ games
~ career information

~ contests
~ style
~ sports
~ life stories
~ links to other Christian Web sites of interest to teens

In short, there's a lot to see and do on this site. I'll only mention a few here. Parents, teens, and youth pastors alike need to head to the site and take a look around.

Teens are encouraged to send in photos for the Verse of the Day feature. They can also design a masthead for the site, receiving a credit line for their contribution. And there's a discussion forum on the MyLife page.

Teens--interested in media arts? How about
applying to be an intern at the upcoming Gideon Media Arts Conference.

Contests are an ongoing thing on Clash Entertainment. The site just gave away an iPod Touch. Right now there's a contest to win a TobyMac CD. Details

Authors of books for teens: see the site's
FAQ page to submit your books for review.

Check out movies and DVDs on the
Christian Cinema page.

If you're interested in advertising on Clash Entertainment you can request a media kit here.

I encourage you to link to this post, tweet about it, Facebook about it--whatever method you can use to tell others about Clash Entertainment. There's a lot of negative out in the world for our teens. This site represents the best in the positive.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Style of Couch Are You?

This is a guest post by author and speaker Jim Rubart. Jim also owns Barefoot Marketing. His first novel, Rooms, hits shelves in April.

When my wife and I shopped for our first couch many moons ago, I asked our salesperson, "What style of couch do you personally like?"

"Oh, you wouldn't like it. Because I deal in couches all day long, I don't like the same things a typical customer does."

When I pressed him to explain what he meant he said, "I guess my tastes are a bit more sophisticated than the average person."

When I lead fiction marketing workshops I often ask the attending writers, "What's your favorite movie?" It's a fun way to get to know them and tells me a bit about their stylistic leanings. None have ever answered:

1. Avatar
2. Titanic
3. The Dark Knight
4. Star Wars
5. Shrek 2
6. E.T.
7. Star Wars- The Phantom Menace
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
9. Spider-Man
10. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

(The current top ten movies of all time.)

Readers certainly want Dan Brown, Stephenie Myer, Paul Young, and John Grisham. But their work may not be touted as examples of stellar literary craftsmanship.

My point? We in the publishing business are likely jaded by being editors, agents, and professional writers. What the average reader thinks is original, we've seen many times. Our receptivity to a great story might be clouded because the craft used to tell the story is poor. And what we think should sell millions often doesn't.

I'm not saying we should write stories without excellent craft. But to understand the marketplace we might need to work harder at getting inside the head of the average couch buyer.


What do you think about Jim's words? Agree, disagree?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ah, Those Readers

The myriad opinions of readers never cease to amuse me. Reactions to novels vary widely for two simple reasons: (1) personal taste in story and characters, and (2) personal experience. Both points are powerful, but point two is the dominant one. To a large degree, personal taste in story is built from one's past experiences. And since we've all lived different lives there's no way to please everyone.

Take a look at these excerpts from my reader reviews--all for the same book. (I'll let you figure out which one.)

This "book" is absolutely terrible. I could not even force myself to finish it.

This book has you on the edge of your seat. I loved it!

Very dissapointing (sic) book! ... drags along.

Wow! Page turning suspense.

Annoyingly dramatic with weak female characters. lack (sic) of character development.

The story is very fast paced and keeps you really interested.

Addictive read.

Grabbed me at once. If I were still teaching mystery writing, I'd require my students to read this one.

Kept hoping for a twist in the plot, something, ANYTHING.

Has a surprising twist.

This is terrific storytelling.

Exciting, intriguing, and fascinating twists.

The author chose non-traditional spellings for Kaitlan and her grandfather Darell. It was distracting.

Fast-paced and gritty. The book flows so fast some readers may overlook plot subtleties.

The obvious thrill ride really got to me. But it was the more subtle lines that got my blood pumping.

Characters have never been one of Collins' strong points. She seems especially fond of creating main characters with oatmeal for brains. [Brandilyn note: I love that last line! It's one of my favorites.]

The characterization is deep and multifaceted.

In-depth descriptions into the criminal mindset ... high octane, quick-paced storyline.

Deliciously scary, completely engrossing.

... born again Christian anti-abortion hard sell ... complete pap. [Abortion is barely mentioned. There is a character who finds herself pregnant and desperately wants the baby.]

So many opinions! And then there are those readers whose opinions are the only ones that matter. Everyone else is just ... uninformed:

I don't understand all these five-star reviews. Those people must not read a lot of suspense.

And finally I leave you with this one in its entirety, typed just as it appears.


Readers. Gotta love 'em.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bestseller Lists for January '10

Here is the CBA "March" list and the ECPA "February" list, both reflecting sales in the month of January. CBA just put up its list yesterday, so let's take a look at the comparison. Books appearing only on one list are highlighted in blue.

For a reminder of how these lists are put together by ECPA and CBA, please refer to the first few paragraphs of this F&F post.

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect book's standing on CBA's Top 50 list, which includes fiction and nonfiction. By the way, take a look at that Top 50 list. Interesting that five of the top ten sellers have Love in the title.)

1. (11) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (14) Shades of Blue, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (25) Burn, Ted Dekker & Erin Healy, Thomas Nelson
4. (33) The Hidden Flame, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke, Bethany/Baker
5. (41) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
6. The Silent Governess, Julie Klassen, Bethany/Baker
7. A Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
8. The Choice, Suzanne Fisher, Revell/Baker
9. The Missing, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
10. Amish Gathering, Beth Wiseman & Kathleen Fuller, Thomas Nelson
11. Kelly’s Chance, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
12. Beguiled, Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand, Baker
13. Intervention, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
14. White Christmas Pie, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
15. Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
16. Never Far From Home, Mary Ellis, Harvest House
17. The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis, Zondervan
18. Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
19. Lightkeeper's Daughter, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
20. The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke, Bethany/Baker

ECPA (Numbers in parentheses reflect book's standing on ECPA's Top 50 list, which includes fiction and nonfiction.)

1. (6) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (11) Shades of Blue, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (27) Burn, Ted Dekker/Erin Healy, Thomas Nelson
4. (29) Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale House
5. (31) Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
6. (35) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
7. (38) The Missing, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
8. Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
9. The Hidden Flame, Davis Bunn/Janette Oke, Bethany/Baker
10. Intervention, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
11. The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
12. The Choice, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Revell/Baker
13. Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
14. The Silent Governess, Julie Klassen, Bethany/Baker
15. Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis, Zondervan
16. A Bride Most Begrudging, Deeanne Gist, Bethany/Baker
17. Kelly's Chance, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
18. Jessie, Lori Wick, Harvest House
19. Amish Gathering, Beth Wiseman/Kathleen Fuller/Barbara Cameron, Thomas Nelson
20. Silent Gift, Michael Landon, Jr./Cindy Kelley, Bethany/Baker

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Psalm Against Spiritual Attack

Are you facing a spiritual attack? There are many psalms to be prayed for those who are being oppressed. Here is one: Psalm 27. Pray it aloud for yourself or for someone else who needs it. (This is in what I call the BPV—Brandilyn’s Prayer Version, which is taken from the New American Standard.)

Lord, You are my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
You are the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evil comes upon me, looking to devour me,
My adversaries and my enemies will all stumble and fall.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear.
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this, I shall be confident.

One thing I ask you, Lord. One think I seek—
That I may dwell in your house all the days of my life,
To behold your beauty
And to meditate in Your temple.
For in the day of trouble You will conceal me in Your tabernacle.
In the secret place of Your tent, You will hide me;
You will lift me up on a rock.
Now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me.
And I will offer in Your tent sacrifices with shouts of joy.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to You, Lord!

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My Face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, Lord, I do seek!”
Don’t hide Your face from me,
Don’t turn Your servant away in anger.
You’ve been my help;
Don’t abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
Anyone else might forsake me,
But You, Lord, will lift me up.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Don’t deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries.
For evil has risen against me,
Breathing out violence.
Lord, I would despair if I didn’t believe that I will see Your goodness
In the land of the living.
Lord, help me to be strong. Help my heart to take courage.
I wait for you, Lord. Yes, I wait for You.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Five Reasons Why the Unpublished Can Stop Writing

This is for aspiring authors, the not yet published. Perhaps you are one. Perhaps you know someone to whom you can send this message. They need to hear this.

It's okay to stop writing.

1. A halt to writing is part of the journey. I stopped writing numerous times during the ten years I worked to be published in fiction. Once I even vowed I'd never go back. Sometimes life gets in the way. Children are sick, you're sick, you just got married, you have a new grandbaby--whatever. Or sometimes discouragement arises and saps all creativity from you. It's not the end of the world if you put your writing aside for awhile. Doesn't mean you're not a writer.

2. Taking time off is the luxury of an author not yet contracted. For you unpublished folks when life gets in the way you're able to take time off. Embrace that. Realize that once you're contracted you have no choice but to write. That sickness, the new marriage, the new grandbaby, that complete lack of creativity--sorry, no excuse. The deadline will loom.

3. The brain continues to "cook" even when you're not writing. Are you reading? Living life? Studying the craft here and there? All these things work in your subconscious to improve your craft. When you do return to writing you're likely to discover new insights, better use of technique.

4. Pushing aside your writing is no cause to beat yourself over the head. We authors are our own worst enemies. We beat ourselves up over everything and nothing. If we're writing, it's terrible. If we're not writing, we're fakes. STOP IT.

5. The real writers always return to writing. If indeed those filled pages were just a passing fancy, maybe you'll never get back to writing. But if you're driven, if you have to write--which is what it takes to become published--you will return to the craft. Just like I did after I swore I'd never write again. If you're meant to write, one day your brain will start popping with ideas, your fingers will itch for the keys. You'll dream plotlines, think up characters. Even hear their voices in your head. This may happen after a week, a month, a year or more. But if you're meant to write it will happen.

Has life and disappointment caused you to shove your writing aside? Enjoy your time off. It's all part of your journey.

Winner of this month's Photo Friday is Wendy Hamilton, with this caption: With the new healthcare plans in place, area hospitals replaced their "H" signs with one more fitting the level of care patients could expect.

Congrats, Wendy. Please e-mail me with your choice of one of my novels.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Amazon to Give Free Kindle to Prime Members?

Last Friday Michael Arrington at Tech Crunch reported that a "reliable source" at Amazon informed him the online bookstore is considering giving a free Kindle to every prime member. Rumor or true?

Prime membership in Amazon costs $79 per year and entitles members to free two-day shipping, regardless of the amount spent. Clearly prime members represent Amazon's most loyal customers. So the question is--would putting a Kindle in each member's hands make them buy even more books?

I'm assuming that a free Kindle would mean one unit per paid membership. When you sign up for prime, you can have a total of four people per household share the membership.

According to Tech Crunch, Amazon first has to figure out how to give away all these Kindles without losing a ton of money. Which led me to wonder--how much does one Kindle unit actually cost Amazon?

The market research firm iSuppli last year figured that each Kindle 2 costs about $185 to make. The firm's analysis involved taking a unit apart and identifying each part's supplier and cost. iSuppli estimated the display to be the most expensive part at around $60. The second most expensive is the data module from Novatel Wireless, costing about $39. But of course these are merely manufacturing costs. Marketing, product development, etc. would be in addition. guesstimated Amazon's total costs to be between $210 to $250 per unit. At that time, however, the Kindle 2 sold for $359. Its sale price has now dropped to $259. Perhaps Amazon has already made back much of its product development costs and so could afford the price drop.

At any rate there's much more to be considered for such a freebie promotion than mere cost per unit. Amazon clearly wants to be the leader in ebook sales. More Kindles in the hands of more readers = more sales. And prime members, already being in the top percentage of book purchasers, would be all the more likely to order ebooks. It's just so easy. You can decide you need a book to read, and have a new novel in 60 seconds--without even leaving your chair. So surely Amazon is running such numbers as--for each free Kindle, how much more can we expect in book sales? How long would it take us to make back the cost of the Kindle? And what happens when we figure in the saved shipping costs for those prime members when they order ebooks instead of hard copies?

If this is a mere rumor leaked by Amazon--hey, look at the free publicity they're getting on the Internet about their prime membership program. My guess is, membership will rise just because of the rumor itself.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite caption for Photo Friday. Winner announced tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Photo Friday!

Here we are with the second Photo Friday of 2010. PF runs monthly on Forensics and Faith. For you new readers, here's the scoop: Write the best caption, win your choice of one of my novels. Enter as many captions as you like. Come back over the weekend to read all the captions and vote on your favorite. Winner will be announced next Tuesday. Facebook friends--make sure to leave your captions here, even if you put them on Facebook.

This photo was submitted by
Donna Carraher. Donna also wins a novel of her choice.

If you've submitted a picture for Photo Friday, I may still use it for another month. If you'd like to submit a picture for possible use, please send it as an attachment in an e-mail to: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com.

All right, we're off with our crazy photo. Bring on your captions.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying -- Or Not

Today I am traveling from my Mom's back to California. At least that's the plan. It was also the plan yesterday. Until a storm came and wiped out Kentucky, Ohio and Chicago. I don't think anything flew in Chicago yesterday, including birds.

Mom was happy. We got an extra day together. Same thing happened when I visited last winter. An ice storm moved in--and nothing else moved for two days. My first day's flight home was cancelled. My second day's flight home was cancelled. Finally on the third day I got out.

Not bad being stuck visiting the best mom in the world. The downside is--I've got the best
husband in the world waiting at home for me.

Okay, go ahead, tell me it sounds sappy. Also happens to be true.

Now if only I could say I have the best novel in the world sitting in my computer, all written ...

CFBA Tour--Hunter's Moon

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Hunter's Moon

Bethany House (February 1, 2010)


Don Hoesel


Don Hoesel was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but calls Spring Hill, TN home. He works as a Communications Department supervisor for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal.

Don and hopes to one day sell enough books to just say that he's a writer. You can help with that by buying whatever his newest novel happens to be.

He lives in Spring Hill with his wife and two children.


Every family has secrets. Few will go as far as the Baxters to keep them. Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades. Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past. With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money. There are wounds even time cannot heal.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Hunter's Moon, go HERE.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ten Ways to Create Character Empathy

Want readers to empathize quickly with your main character? If they don't, no matter how brilliant your plot, they won't care what happens. They have to care about the protagonist. Here are 10 ways to build that necessary empathy:

1. The character highly displays a valued trait such as loyalty, love, or courage. This is especially important if the protagonist soon makes a bad or questionable choice. It’s far easier to create empathy for a character right away than to erase negativity. Better to start at zero than minus ten. So before any negative choice, show the protagonist helping a child, tending a sick loved one, standing up to a bully for a friend, etc.

2. The character is ...

Read the rest at my column, Making a Scene, in the Feb. issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Halftime Who?

Circa 1972: The Who were coming to Lexington, Kentucky for a concert. I was 15, maybe 16 years old, and excited as all get out. I wanted to go.

"Mom, guess who's coming to Lex?"


"The Who!"


"The Who."


"I said it, the Who."

She looked disgusted. "Well, who are you talking about?"

Oh, good grief. "Mom, it's the--" My older sister walked in. I gestured toward the ceiling. "You tell her."

Fast forward, superbowl 2010 halftime. I'm in Kentucky, visiting my mom. And I'm waiting for that halftime show. Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend don't look or sound like they used to. But it's still a great medley, plus the lights look way cool.

"Look who's playing, Mom!"


"The Who!"


"The Who."


"The. Who."

She points to the TV. "No, I mean who are--" She stops. Turns a knowing look on me. "Oh. I get it."

Ninety-three years old--and you still don't put anything over on my mom.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ten Sources for Blog Post Ideas

Ever face blogger's writing block? Here are ten places to go for an idea when you're against a wall. All ten as listed may not be appropriate for your blog, but you can tweak each one into a version that fits your site.

1. Teach something. For me that something is the craft of writing. I've gathered those posts under "Craft and Industry" in the archives here. What knowledge do you have that would help others?

2. Tell a story. Perhaps a story with a take-away value. Or maybe something purely entertaining from your own life. People like to be entertained. They like to laugh. I took over 60 posts telling the story of my 10-year journey to publication in fiction. I've told the story of jogging by a house one day and seeing a huge gray gorilla watching TV. I've talked about my escapades with the dentist (I'm the world's worst dental patient), and the time my husband got the bright idea of throwing hundreds of mothballs beneath the deck to chase away skunks. I could go on. (Some of the stories are listed in the archives under Popular Posts.)

3. Run a favorite quote or a line from a book. Talk about why you like it, what it means to you. What the world might look like if that quote were always true.

4. Talk about news/a hot topic in your field. For Forensics & Faith, that would be news in the publishing industry. What about your field or your hobbies? What's new and exciting? What are your prognostications for the future?

5. Write about a problem you're facing. If you're facing it, someone else is too.

6. Use a guest poster. These have to be set up in advance. So keep an eye on your colleagues. Who has something new and interesting to share?

7. Tell news about you· We talk a lot in social media about how blogs should help others, give readers information they need. I agree with that. At the same time if someone reads your blog regularly they're interested to a certain extent in you. Let them know what you're up to from time to time.

8. Make people laugh. Have you seen a really funny video lately? Read a humorous news story? Especially if it pertains to the subject of your blog. Use the link as a springboard to conversation.

9. Do a giveaway/contest· People love the word free. I choose to give away books.

10. Impart an insight. Have you read a passage in the Bible or some other book that spoke to you? Your readers may find it helpful as well.

And one extra idea: Establish monthly posts that fit your blog. I do three here on F&F. First, the monthly CBA bestseller lists--with my own comparison of one list vs. another. Second, Photo Friday. This is a contest giveaway, in which people write clever captions for a crazy picture. The best caption wins a book. Third, the list of all the words in Today's Word run the previous month. A lot of people read Today's Word on Twitter and Facebook. These monthly lists give them a place to come when they just can't remember that word they really wanted to remember ...

Do you have other sources for blog posts? Tell us about them.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Happy Fifth Birthday to Us

This week Forensics and Faith celebrates its fifth birthday.

Five years ago my editor, marketing director, and an outside hired marketing consultant flew across the country to meet with me and my husband in our California home. We spent the day talking about my career management and marketing. My editor said, "You need to start blogging."

I groaned. "Oh, please. Like I need more to write."

Next thing you know, I was blogging.

After a couple weeks I began telling the story of my journey toward publication in fiction. I didn't intend for it to take so long. But soon readers were really into the story. Of course I told it as a suspense author should--with fiction techniques and hooks at the end of each post. We began laughingly calling it the NES--Never Ending Saga. Some 60+ posts later it was finally finished. I laid it all out in that recounting--the 10 years of working, working, with not a dime to show for it. The rejections, all the highs and lows. The "How I Got Here" posts begin here.

When I started blogging I never considered I'd still be at it 5 years later. But here I am, and here you are. And I thank you all so very much for following Forensics and Faith.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

What Bigfoot and I Have in Common

You never know who you're running past.

On my jogging route through a neighborhood I often pass a man out walking--and talking on his cell phone. I have never once seen him when he's not on that phone. One day late last year as I passed, I quipped, "Just wonder--can you walk without talking on the phone?" He guffawed, and we both kept going our separate ways.

Fast forward to last week. I passed him for the first time in 2010. For some reason we stopped to say hi and Happy New Year. We'd never stopped to talk before.

"My name's Tom Biscardi." The man actually stopped talking on the phone to concentrate on me. "Let me tell you who I am. Ever heard of Bigfoot?"

"Uh, yeah." Not quite sure where the conversation was going.

"I'm the Bigfoot Searcher." Tom mentioned his
Web site and his weekly radio show, Bigfoot Live, and the documentary movies he's done on Bigfoot. "You hear about that case in ..." Tom went on to tell me about a big national story of a so-called Bigfoot, which he'd been called in to debunk.

We talked a little while longer. I told him I'm a suspense novelist. He said he needed someone to write his book for him--was I good enough to do that? I apologized that I simply wasn't available. I'm already contracted for novels. We parted ways and I ran on. After circling a block, I passed him again--on the phone, of course. He stopped me and asked for my Web site. I gave him the URL, which he spoke into the phone to someone. A few hours later in my office I received an e-mail from Tom. He wanted me to be on his weekly radio show--that night. Why, I wondered? What did I have to do with Bigfoot?

Well, nothing. But Tom has people on his show sometimes that he simply finds interesting. What made me so interesting? He'd gone to my Web site and read the story of my
miraculous healing. He wanted me to tell his listeners in 38 countries the story.

And that is how I came to appear on Bigfoot Live.

You can listen to the show
here. Scroll down about halfway and look to the left for the archives. It's the show for January 27. After a couple minutes of "shout-outs" to people at the top of the show, I'm on. Tom was great. He just asked me what happened, then let me go with the story. His listeners got an earful about God, prayer, and healing.

That person you pass on the street? You just never know ...

Monday, February 01, 2010

January '10 List of Today's Word

Great words for the month of January. AMBAGIOUS, GALIMATIOUS, ASPERATE, MEIOSIS, RECRUDESCENCE, WAMBLE, EMPERY and many more. The monthly lists of Today's Word provide an easy way to find a unique word when you need it. Archives of Today's Word are under "Craft and Industry" on the right. One monthly list links to the next.

Join the Today's Word gang on Facebook every day for some fun in using the word of the day in a sentence. Some sentences are just plain fabulous, some are funny. Some start interesting discussions. Today's Word goes out on Twitter/Facebook at 7 a.m. Pacific time.

And no--I don't use these words in my books. Most are far too esoteric. I just think it's fun to learn new words. I choose words that are unusual but have meanings that could easily fit into an everyday conversation.

While you're here, I challenge you to write a sentence using at least six of the words below.

PLUVIAL(PLU-vee-ul) adj.--relating to rain; characterized by abundant rain.

RECRUDESCENCE (re-kru-DES-unts) noun--return of an undesirable condition/illness/bad idea after a time of quiet.

COMSTOCKERY (com-STOK-uh-ree) noun--prudish concern in hunting down immorality in books/pictures.

PLEIAD (PLEE-ud) noun--a group of illustrious or brilliant people or things, usually seven in number.

ADIAPHORISM (AD-ee-AF-or-iz-um) noun-indifference regarding religious or theological matters.

MICROPSIA (my-CROP-see-uh) noun--a vision defect in which things appear smaller than normal.

STENOTOPIC (sten-uh-TOP-ik) adj.--able to adapt to only a small range of changes in the environment.

PATROCLINOUS (PAT-roh-KLIH-nus) adj.--inherited from the father or paternal line.

PICKWICKIAN (pik-WIK-ee-un) adj.--marked by generosity or naivete; not to be taken literally.
REPRISTINATE (re-PRIS-tuh-NATE) trans. verb--to restore to an original state or condition, to revive.

VILLATIC (vil-LAD-ik) adj.--of or relating to a villa or village.

WAMBLE (WAM-bul) verb--to feel nausea; to move unsteadily or with a weaving/rolling motion.

EMPERY (EM-puh-ree) noun--absolute dominion, sovereignty.

SPOLIATE (SPOL-ee-ate) trans. verb--to thoroughly despoil.

OTIOSE (OH-she-os) adj.--at leisure; without profit; lacking use/effect; re: a deity--remote/aloof.

GRANGERIZE (GRANE-juh-RIZE) trans verb--to cut illustrations from a book, esp. to use in another book.

RUBICUND (ROOB-uh-kund) adj.--inclining to redness, ruddy.

POLYSTICHOUS (puh-LIS-ti-kus) adj.--arranged in two or more series or rows.

AMBAGIOUS (am-BAY-jus) adj.--roundabout, circuitous.

ASPERATE (AS-pur-ut) adj.--somewhat rough or harsh to the touch.

HYPAETHRAL (hi-PEE-thrul) adj.--having a roofless central space (in a temple); open to sky, outdoor.

SAXATILE (SAK-suh-TILE) adj.--living or growing among rocks.

DECREPITATE (dee-KREP-uh-tate) trans. verb--to roast something until it crackles or stops crackling.

RIGOLET (RIG-uh-let) noun--drain, irrigation ditch, canal.

DEXTRALITY (dek-STRAL-uh-tee) noun: right-handedness.

GALIMATIAS (GAL-uh-MAY-she-us) noun--confused, meaningless talk.

MEIOSIS (mih-OH-sus) noun--an understatement.

SYNCOPE (SING-kuh-PEE) noun-temporary stop of breath/circulation, with part or full unconsciousness.

COSTATE (KAH-state) adj.--having ribs; having ridges on the surface.

REBOANT (REB-uh-wunt) adj.--to resound; reverberating.

RETORTION (ruh-TOR-shun) noun--act of retorting; a turning, twisting, bending, or throwing back.

Read February '10

CFBA Tour--Beguiled

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Bethany House March 1, 2007)


Deeanne Gist
J. Mark Bertrand


Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.

J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota.


In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her... Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of , go