Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June '09 List of Today's Word

Who's gonna tackle using at least six of these in a sentence? The highly creative will use at least eight...

EPIGONE (EP-uh-gohn) noon--an inferior imitator of a distinguished writer, philosopher, musician, or artist.

CHIMERICAL (ki-MER-uh-cul) adj.--unreal, existing only as the product of wild, unrestrained imagination.

SIMULACRUM (sim-uh-LAKE-rum) adj:--a representation of something, an image; a superficial likeness.

PECKSNIFFIAN (PEK-SNIFF-ee-un) adj.--marked by unctuous hypocrisy; selfish & corrupt behind seeming benevolence.

CONTUMELIOUS (kon-tuh-MEE-li-us) adj--insolently abusive and humiliating.

BOMBINATE (BOM-buh-nate) verb--to buzz or drone.

PERENDINATE (puh-REN-din-ate) verb--to put off until the day after tomorrow.

DELITESCENT (de-li-TES-unt) adj.--lying hidden.

GADARENE (GAD-uh-REEN) adj.--rushing precipitously forward; engaged in headlong flight.

POLYSEMOUS (puh-LI-suh-mus) adj.--having many meanings.

CELERITY (su-LARE-i-tee) adj.--rapidity of motion or action; swiftness, speed.

DARKLING (DARK-ling) adj.--uncannily or threateningly dark or obscure.

CONCINNITY (kun-SIN-ni-tee) noun--a studied elegance and ease in style of expression.

ACARPOUS (AY-car-pus) adj.--not producing fruit; sterile.

MOIROLOGIST (moy-ROL-uh-jist) noun--a hired mourner.

PELLUCID (puh-LOO-sid) adj.--permitting maximum light so one can see without distortion; very easy to understand.

LUCUBRATE (LOO-kyoo-brate) verb--to work, write, or study laboriously, esp. at night; to write learnedly.

OVERSLAUGH (O-vur-slaw) verb--to pass someone over in favor of another, as in a promotion.

SUBINTELLIGITUR (sub-in-tull-IDG-i-tur) noun--something implicitly understood but not stated.

COEVAL (koh-EE-vul) adj.--of the same age or duration; occuring at the same time/era.

VERTIGINOUS (ver-TIDGE-i-nus) adj.--afflicted with dizziness; tending to cause dizziness.

LACHRYMOSE (LOCK-ruh-mose) adj.--fit to bring tears or induce sadness.

DERACINATE (duh-RASS-un-ate) verb--to pull out by the roots; to remove from one's environment.

BORBORYGMUS (BOR-buh-RIG-mus) noun--intestinal gurgling.

CHTHONIC (THAWN-ick) adj:--dwelling in or relating to the underworld; relating to hellish spirits.

THROTTLEBOTTOM (THROT-tul-BOT-tum) noun--an innocuously inept and futile person in public office.

ACULEATE (uh-KYU-lee-ut) adj.--marked by incisiveness; pointed, stinging.

CADUCITY (kuh-DYU-si-tee) noun--perishableness, transitoriness; a feebleness from age, such as senility.

IMPUDICITY (im-pyu-DISS-i-tee) noun--shameless, immodest.

SACCADIC (suh-KAH-dic) adj.--characterized by sudden movement; jerky.

Read July ‘09

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ending Throes

I am in the throes of trying to finish a book. At this point in a manuscript I drive myself and everyone around me crazy. I'm glaze-eyed, I stare out windows. I forget things.

It becomes particularly bad (as in for the past three days) when I get stuck. I have no time to get stuck, understand, but I do it just the same. Plot points I expected to come together aren't quite making it. Or I can't figure out how to make them happen. Or happen at their best. I wouldn't have this problem if I didn't have Character A doing this, Character B doing that, and Character C doing something else, all going around each other, all with their own motivations, which mess up someone else's plot line. A can't do what I thought she'd be doing right now, because she's with B, and B wouldn't let her, and C ...

Aayyo, as my grandmother would say.

The thing that really gets me is--when it's all finally, somehow, who-knows-how-I-managed-it written, and I read it over, the story all looks so natural. Of course it had to happen that way. Everything just dovetails and works, and why in the world was it so hard? Why didn't the writing just flow from my fingers?

My wonderful husband's patience really gets a work-out during these times. He tries to be supportive and stay out of my way. But good husbands require a certain amount of care and feeding, and he's certainly lacking for my attention of late. Oh, I feed him. My mind's just ... not all there.

I have a few days this week to try to get unstuck and hammer out pages--before the hordes descend for the fourth. I still don't know where we're going to sleep everyone, and what I'm going to feed everyone, and right now I don't have time to think about it. These things have a way of working themselves out.

This post is now done, and I can only hope I've made half a lick of sense.

In my next life I'm a secretary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomorrow is Not Promised to You

It's been a sobering week.

First 26-year-old Neda Agha Soltan's fatal shooting in Iran last Saturday. The
video of her final moment on earth has etched itself into the memories of millions around the world. (If you haven't yet seen this short clip, please be advised it's a graphic depiction of death.) Neda's tragic murder, now a symbol of the Iranian revolution, is a grim testament to humanity's thirst for freedom. This nineteen-minute interview with the doctor who tried to save her life shows the emotion that surrounded the scene. By speaking out, he now knows he will pay a price.

Then on Tuesday came the death of Ed McMahon at 86. And on Thursday, two more. Farah Fawcett, losing her battle with cancer at 62. And the sudden death of pop icon Michael Jackson at age 50.

Neda's and Michael's deaths are stunning because they were young, and their passing so unexpected. As our pastor often says, "Tomorrow is not promised to you."

As I mourn for these people and their families, I can't help but turn inward and remind myself that tomorrow is not promised to me. The thought leads me to Psalm 90:12. It's a prayer we should all be praying, one by which we should live our lives. A prayer most appropriate after this week's events.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Stab Someone at a Dinner Party and Get Away With It

You can dress up a suspense author, but you really shouldn't take her out.

I have burning questions. And they need answers. Now.

I know I come across as strange. I know a certain hot tub repair man (young, cute guy) from years ago will never forget my animated questions about dead bodies and bubbles from the jets in their lungs ...

This time it was a dinner party. Five couples and I. (Hubby couldn't attend due to a meeting.) Everyone having a good time, eating appetizers before the main course and talking in small groups.

I hone in on the retired doc. "Have a medical question for you."

He gives me a look. This guy knows what "medical question" means in my dictionary. "Shoot."

"Actually I'm not shooting, I'm stabbing. I want to kill this woman by getting to her heart. But I'm coming at her from the back. With a long carving knife. How do I do that?"

Doc doesn't even flinch. What a great guy. "Hm. I'm used to seeing messed up patients in the ER and fixing them. Don't usually think about the other side of things..." He ponders a bit. "Well, you'd have to miss shoulder blades and ribs. If you ..." He launches into where to stick the knife and at what angle. A lengthy discussion ensues. He calls his wife over (a nurse). She gets to play victim as he demonstrates.

By this time our other friends are looking up from their conversations and caviar and Alaskan crab. "Sorry." I draw up my shoulders. "I'm just ..."

They're used to me. Some of them watch the enactment. Others go back to eating. Some do both. Imported cheese and a stabbing. Double the entertainment.

Our fatal conversation finally winds down. I've got my scene. Doc stares off into the distance as if not quite satisfied. He clearly enjoys this stuff as much as I do. "But she's not going to die right away," he says.

"Yikes." Hadn't planned on that. "How long will it take?"

We discuss how long it needs to take for the scene to work. Which is ... not long.

He comes up with a brilliant idea, a twist on the stabbing technique. It's not the knife going in that kills her. It's the knife coming out--from some not so medically savvy folks who are trying to help after the stabbing.

Love the ironic touch.

We launch into a new discussion of how this would work. By the time we're done our hostess is calling us to the table. Doc's wife--the victim--has long since managed to wander off.

"By the way," Doc says. "Does this person deserve to die?"


He winces. "I just killed an innocent person."

I grin. "You're the best, Doc."

Later hubby asked if I'd had a good time at the dinner party. "Oh, yeah. It was quite the killer event."

He knew better than to ask me for an explanation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tangled in the Eyes of a Mixed Metaphor

I am a great fan of the mixed metaphor. Especially when I'm on a crunch to finish a manuscript and need some serious distraction (like now). There’s something so fresh, so invigorating about blending two wildly disparate bits of description. Oh, the visions that arise. The provocative new understandings of our world.

“You’ve buttered your bread; now lie in it!” (Jiminy Cricket.)

Sometimes such phrases slip from one’s mouth unintentionally, craftily created by the subconscious. (You’ve got to wonder about the subconscious. Methinks they’re sleeping giants ready to explode.) One of my faves blurted from a friend of mine during a discussion of a decision she faced: “But that would be putting the cart before the egg.”

How profound. Can you envision the scene? The little red cart, the bridle lines, the dragged egg, now worn and cracked? 'Tis the ultimate picture of poor planning.

Then there’s this one: “I’m going to stick my neck out on a limb.”


And others:

“If that were true, why are such sanguine voices shrugging it off?”

“This job is a real albatross around my neck.”

“Yeah, yeah, but an open mind can be a double-edged sword.”

“That’s a lot of baggage for a sitting duck.”

Other times mixed metaphors slip into writing—and unfortunately, past the editor’s eye.

In the chasm between them, his belated apology made not a single dent.

The bonfire of his desire could not quench the fear in her heart.

In the sea of life, there are many crossroads.

Hey, even Shakespeare managed a mixed metaphor: "... take arms against a sea of troubles."

When I need some serious procrastination, I’ve been known to make up a few mixed metaphors of my own. In fact, such pursuits can entertain me for hours. (Somewhere along the way the budding wires of my emotional development must have knitted when they should have purled.)

The tracks of her empathetic tears cemented their friendship.

That politician is too lame-duck to take this hot-button bull by the horns.

Her cheeks blossomed with color, erasing the fire in her eyes.

He’ll take you down a rosy path, then turn it on its head!

That white elephant in the family living room is the ball and chain of his existence.

The stain of his guilt sank talons into his soul.

The sputtering engine of his wild choices hung him on the wrong side of the fence.

A diamond in the rough can’t afford to spit into the wind.

Okay, enough already. I’d better cut this off or I’ll be at it all day. The call of my manuscript gestures for my attention. And the weight of my responsibilities smoke-signal me back to work.

Oh, no, too late. A caravan of mixed metaphors now sails through my head, lifting me to greater nonsensical heights. I ride the wind of their Siren song, drift their ocean of tempting word morsels. Their magnetizing power pulls the rug out from under me. I am awash in their blazing hypnotism, captive to the tide of their fiery darts, crushed beneath the heat of their—

Agh! Fingers of panic scream at me to stop.

Somebody. Please. Help.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Does Twitter Link Authors With New Readers?

Winner of Photo Friday: Karen Barnett. Her caption read, "I thought the scripture said the lion will lay down with the lamb, not the moose will sleep with tiger!" Congrats, Karen. Please email me with your address and choice of one of my books.

On an author's e-mail loop we've recently been discussing the pros and cons of Twitter/Facebook for authors. Is the time you put into such social media worth it in terms of return on investment (ROI)? I have certainly connected with new readers through T/F. I think the investment will pay off even more down the road. Although I'm on Twitter and Facebook every day, it really takes very little time. The same tweet on Twitter feeds to my Facebook page. I'll jump on one site or the other for a minute or two at a time throughout the day just for a fast break from writing. I spent more time on T/F in the early stages, setting up my account and profile, building followers/friends. Now that's behind me, and my account numbers grow on their own.

I posed this question on T/F: "Readers--have you discovered a new author on Twitter/Facebook? Writers, have you found new readers through T/F? Tell me!" Here are some responses:

I have discovered a number of great emerging & established authors through Twitter (not so much Facebook), including your work.

I bought Coral Moon because of your tweets. Too scary for me, but still an awesome read. :-) Passed it on to mom who's not as easily freaked out.

I have bought: Moriah Jovan, Carolyn Jewel, Tessa Dare, "Moira Rogers", Anne Frasier, Nalini Singh because of Twitter.

Yes, on both accounts. I've sold books because of tweeting and facebooking.

Yes, I discovered Mary DeMuth and Megan Dimaria, and bought a book by each of them. Have also bought bks. recommended on Twitter.

I've found lots of new writers through Twitter. FB not so much.

Not FB as much, but I have discovered new authors and books on Shelfari- lots of librarians on that site. I joined some similar interest groups, and they suggest and discuss books...did hear about Francine Rivers there.

YES! I've discovered many authors on FB and Shelfari. I was following Robin Lee Hatcher's blog for years before I finally read her books. Silly me! Better late than never!

Oh yes, thanks to all the book bloggers on Twitter i've found tons of new authors outside of the genres I've normally read. For example, I had never heard of Suzanne Collins before Twitter, now i can't wait to read The Hunger Games or Catching Fire.

Yep..that's how I 'discovered' you :)

Yes, I have discovered authors by seeing who other people follow or retweet.

I've gained readers through Facebook.

The best FB aspect I've found as it relates to other authors is to keep track of what they're working on and get to know them a little better.

I did find the terrific Steven Clark Bradley on FB.

I enjoy seeing new blog post with a teaser to read on twitter, interaction with authors on both T and FB. I have added some new authors to my list of reading. And its fun to get to know the author behind the story. I really enjoy your tweets and interaction on facebook.

Wendy Lawton twittered about Tosca Lee's Havah: The Story of Eve when she was reading it. Love Wendy, so I followed the link. Bought the book, loved it, bought her other book, & met Tosca at Mount Hermon.

Karen Kingsbury really got me hooked on reading. She sent me a message saying she was on facebook. I like tolook her up see where she is going and I was fortunate to be able to meet her at an Extrodinary Womens Conference. Since then if a book catches my interest I like to look up the author on facebook. Yes I will buy their books, not on facebook, but at at a local book store. It gives me a better idea of what I like to read.

I have found many Christian authors here on twitter and then after ward on facebook, including yourself. Others include @cjDarlington @adamblumer @CathyBryant @TriciaGoyer just to name a very few.

Yes - actually author @travisthrasher & @jasonpinter thru Twitter!

I had known Keith Snyder as a cyclist but learned of his novels after I friended him on Facebook.

I'm losing track, quite honestly. There are writers now on my TBR list because of Twitter/FB. Essential ingredient: interaction.

Well, sure. I'd never heard of you! Or Adam Blumer! Or Sam Batterman!

I "discovered" Kathleen Poppa due to a Tweet by Tricia Goyer ... and I'm not even on Twitter!

Yep, First I found Stephen Bly and after that I started searching for my favorite authors. It has been a lot of fun.

Yes on both.

Yup, you. And Andy Andrews, Rachel Hauck, Lisa Samson, and Colleen Coble.

What about you? Have you found new writers (new to you) or readers through Twitter and Facebook? If you're an author, are you finding your time investment worth the effort?

Related posts: Ten-point Twittequette; A Day on Twitter

The Firstborn

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Firstborn

Realms (May 5, 2009)


Conlan Brown


Born in 1984, Conlan Brown was functionally illiterate until the fifth grade, when he learned how to read and write, as well as a love of story, from his grandmother. Conlan went on to start college at the age of sixteen, and now holds a Master's degree in Communication, which taught him the academic principles needed to write Firstborn.

Conlan lives on Colorado's Front Range where he is working on his next book. He enjoys video editing, film scores, and developing high octane, thought provoking fiction that turns pages and excites the senses.


Three supernatural gifts. Two thousand years of division. One moment of truth.

Hannah's head hung, long brown hair in her eyes. Her face felt pasty with cold and fatigue and pain. Arms behind her back, she sat in a chair, wrists and ankles tied to the wooden frame, chair legs bolted to the floor. A cold car. A gun. Horror. Pain. Grief. Screaming. A windshield blistering with holes. Darkness.

It all came over her like a flood. A pouring out of pictures in her mind. But then there was one more thing. Not an image, but a feeling--that half a continent away someone else had felt it all happening too.

The Firstborn, those gifted with Foresight, Hindsight, and Insight at the time of Christ's death are divided between themselves. And when an Islamic holy man is murdered outside of his mosque it becomes apparent that one of the Firstborn was to blame. Now, with the threat of a terrorist attack on an unspeakable target the Firstborn are spiraling out of control. Leaders are dying, members are being kidnapped, and unity is being forced. Three heroes, differently gifted and divided must work together to thwart those who would go too far.

Their breakneck race against time plunges them into a world of danger and through a gauntlet across the United States. From the Riverwalk of San Antonio, where Devin Bathurst, John Temple, and Hannah Rice must protect one another from assassination, to the gritty streets of Washington DC, a paramilitary compound in Pennsylvania, and ultimately back to our nation's capital, the Firstborn must unite to prevent an impending atrocity from becoming reality.

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of The Firstborn, go HERE.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Path to a Villain

Recently on an author's e-mail loop, Jeff Gerke, editor at Marcher Lord Press, wrote this (used with permission):

I have been struck lately by the things people will do to not lose something they feel they need.

Whether it's power or freedom or wealth or an addiction, when the flow of goodness they've come to rely on is threatened, even the most moral people are capable of crossing any boundary.
Perhaps it's a political leader in Iran or elsewhere willing to go to any extreme to hold on to power.

Perhaps it's a sex addict who could lose his family over his addiction and can't allow that to happen.

Perhaps it's a man so afraid of losing his driver's license and going to jail that
he's willing to murder a young boy.

In our fiction, we can use this dynamic to our advantage. People who would normally never even jaywalk, much less commit a felony, can be moved to embezzlement, fraud, or even murder if something vital to them is threatened.

I love studying the path a good person might take to become a villain.


Me too, Jeff. The psychology of crime fascinates me, whether I'm watching true crime shows on TV or creating plots for my novels. People you'd never believe could murder--do. What drives them to it? How does the murderous passion grow so large that it blankets their rational thinking, especially when it comes to the possibility of getting caught?

The great thing about writing suspense is that I get to portray humanity in all its range of colors. And that is a vast spectrum, indeed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Photo Friday!

Okay, we're off again. Give the picture your best shot at a clever caption. Or two, or three. The photo will be up all weekend, so do come back at some point and vote on your favorite. The winner gets his/her choice of one of my books free.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Amy Awards--for Article Writing

Yesterday I received the following information from Jim Barrett, Executive VP of The Amy Foundation. If you are an article writer, keep this worthwhile award in mind as you submit your work in 2009. You just might win a nice cash prize next year.

The Amy Writing Awards is celebrating our 25th year of the program. Last year more than 600 articles were submitted. Cash prizes totaling $34,000 were presented to fifteen authors in May for articles published in 2008. These include the $10,000 first prize award, $5,000 second prize, $4,000 third prize, $3,000 fourth prize, $2,000 fifth prize, as well as ten $1,000 awards of Outstanding Merit. For articles published during 2009, prizes will be awarded in May, 2010.

The Amy Foundation Writing Awards program is designed to recognize creative, skillful writing that applies in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner the biblical principles to issues affecting the world today, with an emphasis on discipling.

To be eligible, submitted articles must be published in a secular, non-religious publication (either printed or online) and must be reinforced with at least one passage of scripture. Each author may submit up to ten entries.

There is no entry fee. A submission form is available on
The Amy Foundation website. Past Amy Writing Award winning articles are posted on our website as well as printed in our annual booklet of prize-winning entries.

Entries must be postmarked on or before January 31, 2010 to qualify for the 2009 Amy Writing Awards. Please note that January 31, 2010 is a Sunday. Entries must be postmarked by that date.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

May Bestseller Lists

The CBA bestseller's list for May was just posted online, so we can now look at our monthly comparison between the CBA and ECPA lists for Christian fiction. For you new readers, a recap: The lists are titled differently. The CBA list title is always two months ahead of the month it's representing. Therefore its "July" list shows bestsellers in the month of May. The ECPA list title is one month ahead, so its "June" list reflects sales in May. (Although sometimes the ECPA list cuts off a little early in the month.)

Titles appearing on one list and not the other are highlighted in blue.


1. The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House/Baker
3. Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
4. BoneMan's Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street
5. Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson
6. A Love to Last Forever, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker
7. Beyond This Moment, Tamera Alexander, Bethany House/Baker
8. This Side of Heaven, Karen Kingsbury, Center Street
9. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
10. Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
11. A Claim of Her Own, Stephanie Grace Whitson, Bethany House/Baker
12. Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
13. Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan
14. A Cousin's Promise, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
15. Plain Pursuit, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
16. Showdown, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
17. Real Enemy, Kathy Herman, David C. Cook
18. Every Now and Then, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan

19. Kiss, Ted Dekker/Erin Healy, Thomas Nelson
20. Yesterday's Embers, Deborah Raney, Howard Books

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect placement on Top Fifty list, which includes nonfiction and fiction)

1. (2) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (8) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (15) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House/Baker)
4. (19) BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street
5. (39) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson

6. (43) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
7. (47) A Widow’s Hope, Mary Ellis, Harvest House

8. Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
9. Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan

10. The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke, Bethany HouseBaker
11. A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist, Bethany House/Baker

12. A Dream to Call My Own, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker
13. A Love to Last Forever, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker

14. Cry in the Night, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
15. A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan

16. (tie) Sweetwater Gap, Denise Hunter, Thomas Nelson
16 (tie) Plain Pursuit, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
18. This Side of Heaven, Karen Kingsbury, Center Street
19. The Apothecary’s Daughter, Julie Klassen, Bethany House/Baker
20. A Promise to Believe In, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lying to the Reader

Last week when readers responded to the question, "What annoys you most when reading a novel?" one answer caught my attention. The reader said this:

When you get to the end, and the author has lied to the reader. It's one thing to pull the wool over my eyes (ala Murder of Roger Ackroyd), it's another thing to make me feel betrayed by the writer.

I agree. Surprising the reader without lying to her is a fine line that writers should not cross. The more twists you put into your stories, the more you need to toe that line. Since my Seatbelt Suspense® is all about twists, this is an issue I'm very aware of when I'm writing. A good twist fools by causing commotion elsewhere--sort of like one actor upstaging another. Once the twist is revealed the reader should be able to go back, see the foreshadowing, and say, "Ah, yes. I should have known."

So--when exactly does a writer lie to/betray the reader?

When he tells the reader something in an author narrative passage that later is revealed not to be true.

Author narrative are the key words. This is when the author is speaking directly to the reader, as in describing a character:

He stood six-four and muscular, a solid wall of a man. Women loved his masculinity;men were intimidated, many jealous. His face looked hard and worn, lines around his mouth, etching his forehead. But his eyes were gentle, true windows to his soul. This was a man who would hurt no one, lie to no one.

However, anything outside of author narrative is fair game for misleading the reader--because it's in the POV (point of view) of a character. And characters' perceptions can be inaccurate, no matter how right they think they are. This is a true protrayal of life. We can believe something or someone very sincerely, and turn out to be very wrong.

Let's say we're in the POV of the protagonist, a woman who's known the described man for ten years. They're having a conversation. She's thinking things as they talk. In the middle of their conversation, runs a similar passage.

He stood six-four and muscular, a solid wall of a man. Women loved his masculinity;men were intimidated, many jealous. His face looked hard and worn, lines around his mouth, etching his forehead. But his eyes were gentle, true windows to his soul. Stacy knew this was a man who would hurt no one, lie to no one.

Stacy may "know" it. And she may be very wrong. Of course the story would need to include foreshadowing as to the truth about this man. And when the truth is revealed the protagonist should be reeling.

But it gets a little more tricky. If an author writes in deep POV--that is, a point of view so deeply inside the character's head that everything is described as that character would perceive the world--there obviously will be no passages of description in which the author pulls back into his own narrative voice. All description will be as the character sees, feels, believes it. My books these days are always in deep POV. In the deep POV of my protagonist, in the middle of the conversation between these two characters, I could run the passage above just as it was first written:

He stood six-four and muscular, a solid wall of a man. Women loved his masculinity;men were intimidated, many jealous. His face looked hard and worn, lines around his mouth, etching his forehead. But his eyes were gentle, true windows to his soul. This was a man who would hurt no one, lie to no one.

If it turns out the man is a liar, I wouldn't be lying to my reader. I didn't tell the reader that. The character believed it. And characters can be wrong.

Readers need to understand deep POV--how to spot it, and how it works. It's easy to spot. In deep POV, when there are multiple points of view, every one will sound different, according to how that character perceives the world. The same scene would be described in very different ways, using different metaphors, depending on whose POV you're in.

Deep POV works well because it helps characterize--you hear a different voice for each character. It also gives the writer great lattitude to present thoughts to the reader that may or may not be true. This is the heart of the fun for suspense readers--trying to figure out who's right and who isn't.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writers' Rants

Last Friday I posted readers' rants as they answered the question, "What annoys you most when reading a novel?" Plenty of readers responded. The list, although obviously representing personal opinions, is helpful to writers as we see what readers are thinking. Over the weekend I decided to flip the question and posed this one to writers: "What annoys you most about reader feedback (via e-mail or review)? I posted this on Twitter/Facebook and through an e-mail loop of published novelists.

Writers weren't so quick to respond. After all, we love our readers and find constructive criticism and insightful reviews helpful. And we certainly understand that no book is going to be liked by everyone. No author wanted to sound ungrateful or defensive. However, given a chance to answer anonymously, quite a few authors ended up responding. As writers learned from the readers' rants, I hope you readers will find something helpful in this list, even if you don't agree with all the comments.

"What annoys you most about reader feedback?"

E-mails that criticize without spelling anything right or showing grace.

As long as it's thoughtful and well-reasoned, nothing people say bothers me much. People have their own opinions. The only time I was ever really annoyed was when a reader classified me as pacifist because one of the main characters struggled with using violence, even when it seemed the only upright answer. That reviewer was not thoughtful about the character's motivations, which were fairly complex. And clearly he had no business making assumptions about the author based on that one character.

When they get more upset about animals being hurt than people (esp. children).

I'd have to say it's the ones who seem to have nothing better to do than rip apart an author or a book. They nitpick and insult then say they'll never recommend you to another living soul. If you hated it that much, why tell the author? Then, there are the ones who didn't really read the book but they were somehow involved in a tour of it and post to say the author didn't stand a chance with them because they don't read "those types of books." Again, why are people so quick to spell out the negative and hesitate when sharing something positive or constructive? Readers, we LOVE getting feedback, even if you disagree. Just please be respectful. We're people too and having feelings.

When [the book] isn't "Christian" enough.

If everyone likes my books not enough people are reading them. Still, it seems if someone loves my work then they send a private note, and if they don't like it, they post it online somewhere. So more sharing the good stuff publicly wouldn't hurt ;)

Comments directed at my character's allegedly wrong motivations. I do try to see if I can find something worthwhile when a reader makes a negative comment, but in the case of character motivation, since I created her, I think I understand her motivation better than anyone else.

When reviewers read outside their preferred genre, then don't "get" it.

When school kids are doing their school reports on me, and expect me to do their homework. They'll say, "I'm doing my class project on your books. Please tell me about yourself, how you became a writer, how you write your books, and what your books are about. My project's due next week." All of that is available on the internet or in my books, and I don't have time to write their report for them. I have deadlines of my own!

I find it frustrating that some readers seem to expect all books to be written for them. They either don't understand preference in genre and style or they don't care. Is it a slow plot line or simply a slower paced genre? Is it too much internal monologue or a genre that is given to this style of writing? I agree that flat characters are abhorrent, but an action adventure is more plot than character, and a wise reader understands this. A wise reader selects her books carefully and is saved much of the frustration mentioned in the comments.

When they write very long emails that tell me things about their lives that have no relevance to the reason they're writing me. Short and concise gets answered most quickly.

I think what cuts the most are the reviews from so-called fellow writers. Whether they are self-pubbed, e-pubbed, pubbed with traditional publishers or not pubbed at all, just the fact that a fellow writer would say awful things and discourage readers from picking up a book. I don't expect everyone to say pretty things all the time about my stuff, but gee whiz use a little tact. I read a twitter update the other day from a reviewer who touts herself as "edgy" and she absolutely hated a book by [a certain writer] because of the edginess of the book. She trashed it and she admittedly wasn't even finished with the book. That bothers me so much. If I don't care for another writer's book I might not glow about it, but I would find something good to say. We reap what we sow whether we want to believe it or not.

I think we can't possibly understand the baggage our readers come to books with -- I remember in high school the venom I felt reading The Bell Jar. I HATED the author and being immersed in that dark place for so long. Over time I've come to see I can't be in dark places, it's against my nature, so I don't like anything about the Holocaust (haven't seen Schlinder's List), etc. But I really did blame Sylvia Plath for taking me to that place I didn't want to go. (Understanding now she committed suicide, I still wonder why we have to read the book of a madwoman in high school.) I've been accused of being anti-adoption, not understanding the plight of infertility or the pain of losing a pregnancy (been there, done that) and that opened up my eyes that people are angry. And if you touch that nerve, you will suffer the wrath. It has nothing to do with you usually. It's the emotion you stirred. Feel proud. : )

When reviewers criticize some element of the story without thinking through how changing that element would change so many other elements in the book. Sometimes it seems reviewers just go from the gut--"I didn't like that"--without any real insight as to how many other plot points, character motivations, etc. (that they did like) intertwine with that element and would fall apart without it. I suggest they go through an exercise: if they don't like a part or some technique of the book, how specifically would they have changed it? Would that change indeed make the book better, or would it unravel other necessary parts? So many reviews just seem to skim the surface. Reviewers don't like it when they think we're writing shallowly. Yet often their critical reviews are just that--shallow.

When they report errors on a fifteen-year-old book. If the book is newly released, I'm always happy to get those reports so we can fix them. But if they got an old copy of a first-printing book with an error that was fixed in later printings (a decade and a half ago), I get a little irritated. It's frustrating having to answer those same questions over and over again.

When a person writes to me asking a favor (will you read/endorse my manuscript, will you recommend me to your agent, will you write me a treatise on how to get published), when they've never read one of my books. Why do they expect me to do all that for them, when they haven't even taken the time to familiarize themselves with what I do?

When the reader takes an issue with something in the book, and it was something the editor made me write that way. GRRRR.

When people leave snarky, they-know-better comments. If they know better, why didn't THEY write the article?!?

Reviews that border on insulting.

People who dis a book based on a title or cover in the name of piousness—without even checking into the message or what the book is about or the reputation of the CBA (Christian publisher) imprint that put it out.

Those who are really looking for sermons or Bible studies rather than a novel. And then admonishing readers of even Christian fiction to use great discernment in choosing books, as even Christian fiction may not be truly Christian. I wish readers like that would simply examine whether or not they are suited for fiction—some people aren’t.

Reviewers who critique the cover and/or back cover copy--which many times I have no say in. One review was absolutely scathing about an alleged mistake in my nonfiction book, saying I'd made an outlandish claim that couldn't possibly be true. I couldn't figure out how the reviewer got that--I never said what I was accused of. Then I realized the claim came from one poorly worded sentence in the back cover copy that could be read two ways. I didn't write that copy, and had never even considered the meaning of that sentence that so set off the reviewer.

Readers who spend more time trying to look for what’s wrong (theological or otherwise) with a book rather than trying to give the story a shot. Or who assume authors approach their stories frivolously, or without great investment emotionally, financially, mentally and spiritually.

Reviewers who tell too much of the story. They should tell no more than what's on the back cover copy. Good reviews are about reader insights, not a telling of the plot. Other readers deserve to be just as surprised at the plot twists as the reviewer was allowed to be. When a reviewer gives away too much of the story, he cheats the reader!

When a reader finds something he/she doesn't agree with in the story or is offended by, then shuts the book in judgment, not trusting me enough to keep reading to see WHY I used that plot point, and how it may play out in the faith thread of the story. It's not fair to judge a book unless you've read ALL of it.

Readers who attribute the beliefs of a character (including the protagonist) to the author. Then take us to task for our wrong beliefs.

Reviewers who attack the author personally. Some of these online reviews also are very generic and could fit just about any book. Makes me wonder if this person just hates Christian fiction and hasn't read my book at all.

Readers who want CBA stories to happen in a sterile vacuum—no violence, wars, divorces, gay people, etc. etc.—and shame on writers who reference any of these items even in passing. I’m always concerned for these folks when they open their Bibles—Holy Writ must burn their retinas.

A family member who doesn't like romance read one of my manuscripts, then said pretty snottily: "teenagers would love it," as if all romance is inherently shallow and immature. I really try to write romance with substance and realism. Had I known she didn't like romance, I would never have agreed to let her read it.

Someone liked my novel and said it was authentic and fresh, but then suggested changing all its authentic, fresh elements to make it fit a tight formula.

A couple of readers who are not very good line editors tried to give me line edits. I love line edits from good editors with a grasp of prose style. I'm irritated by bad line edits from people who don't know what they're doing.

I think there’s some armchair quarterbacking that happens out there—the sense that shortcomings in the author’s work are so obvious to the reader that the reader feels they could have avoided or overcome them. The thing about quarterbacking is that it’s much easier from the armchair than the field.

I hate reviews in which a little editing knowledge proves to be a dangerous thing. The reviewer may tout himself/herself as an editor, yet can't spell and does not understand such fundamental issues as deep character POV.

A request to reviewers: Don't write anything in a review that you wouldn't say face-to-face to the author at a booksigning, or when you met them at a conference. You don't have to say you liked the book if you didn't, and we wouldn't want you to. But you also don't have to eviscerate the author in public either. Believe me, we do enough eviscerating of ourselves in private. I'm not saying a reader has to lie and say they loved a book if they didn't. I've had readers write me and say they "liked my latest book okay, but not as much as the one before," and that's a very fair statement. Shoot, there are characters I've written that I liked far more than others. That's the nature of the beast.

I really really wish reviewers wouldn't give away the ending of a story or a major plot turn. That ruins the enjoyment of discovery for the next reader. I heard a "professional reviewer" say she never tells anything that happens beyond chapter 3. I think that would be a great practice for all reviewers. If you know the end, why read the book?

I always lift verses I use in my books right from the NIV at Biblegateway.com. I've had readers [of another version] point out to me that I got a certain verse wrong. One woman in particular accused me of changing God's Word.

(1) Don't review a book through the lens of certain denominational doctrines. Fiction is just that, fiction. It's to uplift and entertain, inspire, not teach, preach or define theology. If it lines up with the whole of the Word, let it be. Not every thing Christian has to be a sermon. (2) While it's not fun to read that my work is mediocre, I like honest reviews. If the book was slow in the middle or if the characterization sagged a little, let me know, but be nice. Writers are fragile people. Don't tear the book down because it was imperfect. Look for the good. (3) Read the story for what it is, not what you want it to be. If the ending isn't Happily Ever After, can you see the author's intent and purpose with the characters? Take time to think and ponder the story before tapping out a negative review. (4) Make the review match the number of stars given on Amazon or other sites. It's frustrating as a writer and reader to see a book with a glowing review, but only have three stars. What didn't work about the book for that reviewer? (5) Remember, you're one person. A book you don't like may inspire others. Don't knock another reviewer to get potential readers to see your side.

I remember being so annoyed back in the 90s, when I read [a certain book] that I almost wrote a scathing review on Amazon. My complaint wasn’t about the subject matter, which is rough enough to take—I was annoyed by her exhausting overuse of metaphor and simile, and by golly, I was going to give it to her good. Now that I’m a published author, I’m so glad I didn’t post my review. Now I know, as others have said, that she put her heart and soul into that book, and she never set out to annoy anyone. She set out to move them. As a writer friend of mine said, “Do they even realize we’re real people?” It’s the finger-wagging, head-shaking condescension (“Ms. [Author] should know better than to . . .”) that gets my goat. I don’t think that kind of reviewer even begins to think outside herself.

When a reader tells me she loved the book and then sends me pages and pages of Bible verses to prove that I'm wrong about something that our faiths view differently. Most often it relates to things like a woman dating a divorced man (secondary character) or a divorced main character, or something like saying in a prayer "God if it's your will, please. . . ." Usually my response is to say I'm sorry if we can't see eye to eye, but I hope that you can forgive me for the difference as Jesus instructs us to do, and I let it go. When I get another letter with a new list of Bible verses, I don't respond. I'm not writing to argue scripture.

My number one annoyance with reader feedback is the assumption that if I didn't do it the way they would have, I did it wrong. Most of the things that can be changed about fiction writing are optional. Fundamental issues such as POV, diction, syntax, grammar, character voicing, narrative tone, etc, are multi-faceted creatures, and there is almost never a clear winner among all of the choices that have to be made. The assumption that my way was wrong because it wasn't the reader's way is frequently found in conjunction with the assumption that the only reason a writer puts his or her work in front of another is because the first writer can't get it right, and the second writer can help make it better. Maybe all I wanted was to know if you liked it or not. Readers don't seem to have this problem, only writers. If I craft a novella told only from one carefully controlled POV, violently beating down every other voice that tries to sneak in, and then I'm told (by a writer who has read exactly nothing else of mine) that "you will stagnate as a writer until you learn to handle multiple POVs," that's not helpful or useful. If you didn't like the tightness of the POV, say so! Don't just assume that I don't know any better! Assume that I made a choice!

I wish readers understood how many things are out of the author's control. I don't get to write every book I want to (so please don't get upset with me when a sequel isn't forthcoming), and I don't print them in my backyard (so I can't make sure they find one on the shelf when they go to their local bookstore). Those kinds of questions make me feel as if I've let them down somehow. I know that's not the intention, but I feel that way anyway.

Reviewers who have an agenda and personally attack authors for "violating" that agenda.

I'm a bargain shopper, so I understand the excitement of finding a good price on something I want. But since I make my living from the sales of these books, it doesn't make my heart go pitter-pat to know they found my most recent release on a bargain table. That can stay their little secret. lol

When readers attack my Christianity because of something in my book that they misunderstand or disagree with (or sometimes because of something I didn't include, like a salvation or baptism scene). I don't mind theological discussions when they disagree with something, but scathing attacks say much more about them than their letters say about my books. Criticism should stick to specifics about the book, not personal insults about me.

Finally, these two humorous answers on the e-mail loop:

I hate it when somebody hasn't read my books. Heh.

If there are any readers you guys are done with, I’d appreciate it if you’d pass them on to me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Readers' Rants

Yesterday on Twitter I posed the question: What annoys you most when reading a novel? Did I get answers. In the space of two hours, around 80 came in, and after that they kept coming. Readers, here are your rants. I chose not to categorize or consolidate, instead listing them as they came in on Twitter and Facebook. That way writers will see your actual words. Writers--beware. These readers are highly annoyed! And as you'll see, many couldn't refrain from listing more than one answer.


I can only pick one thing that annoys me? Probably the single greatest thing is cardboard characters. Or stupid characters.

When the main character has a strange/long name, like "Hummingbird", or using their FULL name every time they're referenced.

When there's TOO much bkgrnd info on characters, where it digresses altogether frm the story line.

When it's choppy and disjointed. Like going from one idea to another without a good foundation or setup.

When characters do things that make NO SENSE.

When the writer thinks I'm too stupid to know what's going on. Sentences like "Brad was mad."

An ending that leaves loose ends. I like closure. But I also don't want resolution to feel forced or rushed.

2nd most annoying: "Stilted dialogue," he gasped, "characters speaking as if they were writing their lines before speaking them."

No actual plot. Hard to read when the story is taking you every which way but where it should.

Lack of subtlety/assumption that reader is too think to figure it out.

Bad copyediting aside, the over use of proper names, as if author never heard of pronouns. Or is that the same thing?

Contrived plot, not enough character development, bad dialogue, a book that doesn't suck you in emotionally.

Mushy romance and slim, pretty characters, dainty women who's waist is smaller than a soup can (diameter) love at first sight.

Too many facts and figures! That's what annoys me. I want to get to the good stuff.

Predictability, poor sentence structure.

Carelessness on the part of the writer (& editor). Contrived story lines and emotions and experiences that don't ring true.

When charcters act way out of character and it doesn't make sense. BTW- I am a HUGE fan of your writing!

I'm only annoyed when writers pontificate like William Wordsworth. I like writers like Robert Frost, who let you see it urself.

Non linear storytelling.

Having to go back and re-read something because "who's Frank again? I thought He was Bob's roommate! Or was that the janitor?"

Too much detail.

Exposition in the dialogue/explaining to the reader.

When a novel is good but could be great with just a little better editing/rewriting. Disappointed when an author "settles".

Facebook Answers

Slow starts and predictability.

Slow start.... not enough action. I had a book to review and after 17 chapters I was still trying to figure out what was going on....

A main character I could care less about.

I HATE having to study a glossary, memorize a map and learn an ancient language just so I can keep up with a story line!!!!!

When the last 60 pages read like something the editor made the writer tack on to meet a word count when the story really has already ended. Or a mystery that resolves poorly.

A few...*head-hopping (aka: POV whiplash)*oft-repeated pet phrases or words *rushed or forced endings *detail-for-detail's sake (needs to have a purpose)... *characters with perfect lives *poorly-developed characters

Spelling mistakes. That's a huge pet peeve of mine. There are many novels that don't have proper spelling. In this day and age of computer spell checks, there is no excuse.

Getting interrupted when I'm trying to read! And too many characters with similar names. It gets confusing.

Over explaining everything. If you've ever read the novel "Howard's End" by E.M. Forrester, you'll understand!

When someone totally acts out of character!!

When the descriptions take away from the progression of the story.

Misspelled words. Really long chapters. People interrupting me while reading. :-)

Unbelievable plots.

Poor editing.

Ridiculous amounts of buildup with hardly any action to show for it. That's what really ticked me off about 3 out of the 4 Twilight books.

When I am forced to suspend reality. Fiction has to be believable. If it's not, there has to be an explanation as to why it's out of the ordinary.

When the author forgets details about their characters.

One element of Christian fiction that bugs me: when the character is down to their last crumb and a basket of food "miraculously" shows up on their doorstep!!

Tragic endings. It's not that I can't handle a well-done tragedy, but when I've invested and gotten so involved with a group of characters, I want it to work out in the end. Not necessarily the ending I was expecting -- I love a twist -- but a good ending, nonetheless.

Too much predictability. I love twists that I can't see coming!!

Another one - Christian books, where the non-Christian characters look at the Christian ones and say, "Why, they have something I don't have. They are so happy. I'm going to give my life to Christ right now. La ti da!" And happily ever after the way it never happens in real life.

Pages and pages of the characters feelings without any action at all and knowing exactly how the book will end after I read the first chapter.

When the flow stops and I have to sit there and try to figure out "where are they going with this?"

Needs to be a good balance between dialogue and no dialogue. Pages and pages without dialogue are hard to follow.

When I read something that seems inconsistent with something mentioned earlier in a novel.

When a woman is married to a guy she doesn't love, finds another guy that she does love but won't divorce the first. (Which I believe is the right thing to do.) But then, because she's "done what's right" God 'rewards' her by killing off her husband so she can marry the guy she loves. I think I've read 3 Christian romance novels like that lately.

When characters lack motivation for an action.

Definitely lack of motivation for an action, and a disappointing ending.

Being an author, my pet peeves are too much unnecessary filler (for length's sake), anti-climatic endings, and revealing the bad guy too early. I like grabber beginnings and endings. Love James Patterson's style -- page-turners, to-the-point, and short chapters, however, even his last two books lacked a WHAM ending. I like my beginnings and endings!

When I have to read a page of description...back to the story already! *too much pop culture *stagnant storyline.

A character I could care less about makes the book a yawner for me!

Predictable plots, wrapped-up-with-a-bow endings, lazy writing that lacks craft, artistry and emotion. I want literature.

Too much detail.

I can forgive almost anything if ending is juicy and satisfying. Rotten ending=book hitting wall, no matter how lovely before.

When a character acts out of character without a good reason *i don't mind sections of 'telling' once in a while, but when they're followed immediately by the 'showing' of that very thing just explained i think...um...just show me, then, k? *when the author doesn't respect the intelligence of the reader. i really dislike the "Plot Summary for Dummies" sections in novels. for me, the joy of reading is all about discovery...and if the author has done a good job of telling the story, i'll have all i need to figure it out for myself.

Author intrusion. I hate to pop out of the character's POV.

When a character in a sequal does or says something that goes aganist something they did or said in a previous book, without a reason.

I agree with everyone who said slow starts!!

One of my biggest pet peeves is character names. There is no way I'm going to identify with a female character set in modern times with the name, say, Winifred...especially if there's no good reason given for her to have such a name! (My apologies to all the Winifreds out there.) Nor do I like the super-trendy names that some people bat around today. If I can't stomach the names, I will not read the book, let alone buy it. The other biggie is a story that doesn't know how it's supposed to be told. I could not believe it when I heard that Harlequin/Silhuoette books (I confess, I read serial romances) was launching Red Dress Ink, which would feature a line of romance novels where the guy doesn't always get the girl, and the girl is always an empowered female. I don't have anything against female empowerment, but frankly, I read to escape. I like happy endings. I don't mind certain things being left hanging to stoke the tension in a series, but not resolving appropriately? Yuck.

Endings where the resolution is no resolution. I just can't handle that.

Obvious typos that should have been caught during the editing process... when story lines do not have enough conflict.

I agree on the typos, they drive me to distraction! Where are the proofreaders??

Ohhhhh -- not checking simple information. I read one book, from a very popular author that was set in Atlanta on Labor Day. Everyone was wearing coats. Coats do not come out until November, at least. Really bugged me.

When people use too much dialogue with a southern twang and it takes so much effort to try to read.

So many twists and turns that the story is lost.

When you get to the end, and the author has lied to the reader. It's one thing to pull the wool over my eyes (ala Murder of Roger Ackroyd), it's another thing to make me feel betrayed by the writer.

How about too many characters? If there is a list of characters at the beginning of the book, I know I'm going to be doing a lot of page flipping to remember who's who.

Slow-moving, lack of resolution, cardboard characters, major editing flubs that weren't fixed before printing or more than a few typos/mechanical problems not edited out.

When a author has the characters doing nothing but whining and being depressive through the whole book. YUCK!

TYPOS, TYPOS, TYPOS. Why don't you wonderful writers send the manuscript through to about 10 friends before it gets printed. We'd all catch the typos. I even wrote to a magazine once to offer my editing help FREE of charge because there were so many errors just in two articles! Never heard back from them. :>)

When the author obviously doesn't really KNOW the characters, so their "voices" aren't consistent; I can't grasp who they are.

Sllloooow pacing. Scenes or subplots that seem unconnected to the main plot or characters.

Such complex storylines-have to flip back a few chapters to figure names/places out. UGH!

Obvious character development flaws & typos missed.

Stilted or uncharacteristic dialogue. Or worse- "As you know." But my all time most annoying feature in too many books? "Then." As in, "he picked up the pitcher, then poured a glass of water" and "He walked through the door. Then he said 'blah bla'." 99% of the time, the word "then" can simply be deleted and only improve the reading.

When the author inserts themselves in the story -no lie. Clive Cussler inserted himself in a "Dirk Pitt" adventure. Dirk and his girl were stuck in a no-win situation with the bad guys bearing down on them, stuck in the middle of the ocean. And suddenly, out of nowhere, the "famous author Clive Cussler" (his words, not mine) comes sailing in out of the blue, in his fancy shmancy ship to rescue them and he is also carrying a big gun/missile launcher to blow the bad guys' ship out of the water. I laughed hysterically and figured that if he could get published, so could I.

Those written in past tense. I like to be in the moment, in the present.

I read a lot of romance, so I have a romance-specific peeve. To me the wall-banger moment is when the heroine decides to sleep with the hero based on physical attraction alone, without even liking or respecting him. Eew.

(1) Lack of originality. Some stories you read, and you know the outcome by the third chapter because it seems you've read a hundred times before. (2) Lack of boldness. Especially in Christian fiction. Sure, it should be a safe place for readers, but characters should still be characters. Are the players in our novels as complex as the real-life, folks? Fictional characters, I think, should be even more daring or problematic. (3) Boring. Super slow starts are a turn-off for me. Some of Perreti's works have slow-paced out of the gate but managed to soar into a finale. Not everyone can overcome monotone openings.

When the narrator tells us character X isn't stupid, but character X keeps on doing/saying stupid things.

Invented words because the author is too lazy to write out the correct verbiage.

Inappropriate cussing as character building. Some cussing, but make it meaningful.

Having different POV sections w/in chapters. I recently started a novel not knowing it was switching between two main female characters. Confusing!

When the plot is completely unrealistic. I recently read a book by a very popular author where the whole plot hinged on a letter that fixed the whole "problem" that made up the plot--and yet the character who read the letter decided to "save it for later, just in case". Um, NO. Sorry. You don't fight for 200 pages to get people to believe you, then find a piece of solid evidence that backs up your claim, and then NOT show it to EVERYONE, IMMEDIATELY. It made me really angry, to be honest.

A S....L....O....W.... moving story. You know, like when we all had dial up.

When the first few pages don't immediately get you interested in what is to come.

The use of the first person for the whole book. An author has to be really good to make a good first person novel. Third person is so much better, in my humble opinion.

In a series, when the author rewrites parts of each previous book over and over. If the reader wants to know what your referring to, instead of explaining, let them go buy the earlier book! Most people who read books in series buy them from the first book to the last. By the last book, you can rereading all of the prior books and that's annoying!

The Deliverer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Deliverer

Realms (May 5, 2009)


Linda Rios Brook


Linda Rios Brook, President of the RiosBrook Foundation, believes the answers to issues of social justice and righteousness lie in the proper alignment between the church, the marketplace and media and entertainment. She is a sought out speaker and teacher on matters relevant to cultural restoration. Linda worked as a media executive for over 20 years in the field of broadcasting serving as President and General Manager of television stations in Texas, Florida, and Minnesota and was President and part owner of KLGT-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

Linda has served on several national boards and community organizations and is listed in Who's Who of American Women. She is an ordained minister and has a Doctorate of Practical Ministry from the Wagner Leadership Institute.

Linda is also the author of
Lucifer's Flood.

Linda is also a teaching Pastor at Covenant Centre International in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Linda is married to Larry Brook, who is the Executive Director of the RiosBrook Foundation.


Ancient language expert Samantha Yale returns to translate a new batch of scrolls written by the fallen angel from Lucifer's Flood.

Samantha Yale has taken on a daunting translation project. A set of scrolls, delivered by a man she knows nothing about, tells a fascinating and frightening tale of what went on behind the scenes of biblical history. What is even more incredible is who is telling the tale--a fallen angel who immediately regretted his decision to side with Lucifer.

With The Deliverer, Linda Rios Brook brings new depth of imagery into the spirit world. It is a story about rebellion and consequences. It is about demonic strategy to disrupt and destroy the people of God. But ultimately, it is a story about the unrelenting love, grace, mercy, and determination of a sovereign God in pursuit of His children.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
The Deliverer, go HERE.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Facebook Study on Personal Networks

I found an interesting study by Facebook that set out to answer this question: Is Facebook increasing the size of people's personal networks? The researchers discovered that the answer was not so easy. First they had to define "network." On Facebook they found four types:

"1. All Friends: the largest representation of a person's network is the set of all people they have verified as friends.

2. Reciprocal Communication: as a measure of a sort of core network, we counted the number of people with whom a person had had reciprocal communications, or an active exchange of information between two parties.

3. One-way Communication: the total set of people with whom a person has communicated.

4. Maintained Relationships: to measure engagement, we took the set of people for whom a user had clicked on a News Feed story or visited their profile more than twice."

Regarding these maintained relationships, the study says: "Facebook and other social media allow for a type of communication that is somewhat less taxing than direct communication. Technologies like News Feed and RSS readers allow people to consume content from their friends and stay in touch with the content that is being shared. This consumption is still a form of relationship management as it feeds back into other forms of communication in the future. For instance, a high school friend uploads a photo of her new puppy and this photo appears in your News Feed. You click on the photo, browse through a host of other photos and discover that she has also gotten engaged, which may lead you to reach out to her.This type of communication is the core of the Facebook experience."

The study found that Facebook users have between 2 and 2 1/2 more maintained relationships than reciprocal ones. (It has a chart for easy visuals.)

I use Facebook for marketing--to reach out to my fans and to extend my readership. I've experienced what the study shows: my "maintained relationships" greatly increase my network. Yes, I keep active on my page, posting updates (through Twitter) and responding to comments. These are the day-to-day "reciprocal communications." But the quoted paragraph above on maintained relationships is right. My network is expanded by folks who, say, happen upon a picture of me--perhaps posted by someone else--and click over to my page or my picture gallery of book covers. They may not even talk to me, but they're absorbing information about me. Then if they want, they can click over to my page and leave me a note.

Once they get to my home page (fueled by the reciprocal network), when they they see it's active, with conversations throughout the day, they're more likely to want to be a part of that reciprocal relationship. He/she wants to get in on the action, so to speak. So one kind of network feeds the other. And the more friends I have overall (now at 1500), the more likely others are to find me and communicate with me.

Read the rest of the study here. Interesting information to absorb for marketing and networking purposes.