Friday, June 19, 2015

The Best Advice I've Received on the Road to Publication.




In a writing career that now spans nine published novels, including the latest Love's Rescue, and 15 years of preparation, I've received a lot of advice. Some so-so, some good, and some absolutely essential. I wish I'd come up with these pearls of wisdom on my own, oh, 15 years earlier, but in hindsight I realize that God's timing was absolutely perfect. 

Here are my top five, in reverse order: 

5. Read. Read. Read. 

I'm a slow reader. I read every word and stop to savor particularly amazing word pictures, laugh at humorous passages, and have a good cry when a story hits just right. So when published authors suggested I needed to read widely in my genre, my first thought was that I should have started this whole process twenty years earlier since it was going to take that long to catch up. 

Fast forward to the moment of desperation. For many pre-published writers it's that all-or-nothing moment when we lay it all on the line, prepared to walk away if it doesn't work out. Every great venture has a key moment. Will I press on to the top of the mountain? Will we keep looking for the lost gold even though everyone doubts us? It's true for writers too. The mountaintop or treasure chest seems beyond reach. That's when we need to dig in and just maybe try some of that advice. I began to read intentionally. 



What do I mean by intentionally? I paid attention to the author's voice, the overall tone of the book, and that impossible-to-put-a-finger-on quality that makes a book special. If those came somewhat close to what I was writing, I noted the author's publisher, editor (if specified) and agent (if listed) into a notebook (I'm old-school. You could use a spreadsheet.). Then I looked for other books in my genre put out by that publisher until I had a sense for that house's style. 

If that sounds like a lot of work, don't forget that it pays rich dividends. Aside from learning the house's style, you also see how the author handles different writing situations. Two for the price of one! 


4. Join a writers association.

This was the first advice I received, and some of the best. Whether American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America or other groups, these associations offer an incredible wealth of information. The conference workshops and online classes through these organizations taught me so much that I tell people it was like getting a second Master's degree. Writers are incredibly generous with their knowledge and time. I am so very grateful to those who shared what they learned on the journey. 


3. Cultivate writer friends 

Nothing can top the support of friends who share your writing journey. They stand by you, encourage you when you're down, cheer your successes, and give you honest feedback. That last one might sting sometimes, but you need honesty in order to hone your craft. Family and friends won't do. If I ask my hubby for an opinion, I can see the wheels turning in his head as he tries to decide how he can get out of answering. No one knows the ups and downs more than another writer. They are pure gold. My small cadre of three pulled me through rough times and good. They urged me to persevere when it would have been easier to roll up the carpet and crawl into my cave. Though we all reached our goals at different times, we walked that journey together. That's the kind of friends you need. You can find them through local writer's groups, the associations mentioned above, or even by divine appointment. However it happens, bless those friends with your very best. 


2. Learn the market. 

Ugh. I avoided this one for years and years. That meant I happily sent out my submissions shotgun-style, hoping one pellet would hit a target. Needless to say, none did. Only after taking an amazing online class through RWA did I learn how to study the market. In those days, traditional publishing was the only route, and that is the path I still follow. Thus I can only speak to traditional publishing, but I hope some of this might help those taking the indie route. 

First, I had to take the knowledge I'd gained from #5 about the publishers in my genre and then find out who was most likely to publish a writer who had zero publishing credits to her name. That meant investing in Publisher's Marketplace for a couple months. I checked all the debut authors and noted which publisher, editor and agent (if any) each had. Fairly quickly I got a feel for which publishers would publish a new author, and which agents sold to which editors. 

Taking that list, it was time to check the publisher's guidelines. Was an agent required? If so, what were my other options besides the dreaded slushpile? Did the editor ever judge the final round of a contest? If so, those were the contests I needed to enter. (By the way, that is the way I sold.) Could I pitch the project to that editor at a conference? Does the publisher have online pitch sessions or contests that might lead to a contract? 

Armed with clear targets, my manuscript could be tailored to fit the publishing house's style and requirements. I know, I know. That sounds like it would crush the artistic life out of the story, but I found just the opposite to be true. The story ended up both clearer and more publishable. 


1. Submit your work to the Lord

Every single day. If you're like me and fear and doubt linger beside your computer, you need God on your side. He gave you the story. Give it back to Him. Let Him guide your thoughts and your fingers. Amazing things will happen! Best of all, fear and doubt will retreat to the closet where they belong. 

Are you a writer? What's the best advice you've received along the way? A reader? Have you ever wanted to write a book? What holds you back? Let's chat. 

I will be giving away a copy of my current release, Love's Rescue. (Winner announced in the Weekend Edition).


ABOUT LOVE'S RESCUE: 

When her mother dies, Elizabeth Benjamin heads home to Key West, determined to transform herself into the perfect Southern belle her parents always wished her to be. But nothing goes according to plan. Her brother resents her, the servants do not obey her, and Rourke O'Malley, the dashing man she vowed to forget, refuses to relinquish his hold on her heart. Worst of all, it becomes painfully obvious that her father is not the man he appears to be. 

As family secrets come to light, Elizabeth is faced with a difficult choice: to perform her duty and abandon her dreams, or to leave her life of privilege behind to chase the man her father sees as little better than a pirate. 




ABOUT CHRISTINE: 

Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God's majestic creation. She and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys. Learn more at http://www.christineelizabethjohnson.com



117 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Loved your latest novel, Christine! Looking forward to reading more of your novels!

Melissa Jagears said...

I second the "join a professional organization" advice as being the best I got. Are they perfect entities? No. But the serious writers congregate there, and that's who you learn off of, in a group that requires professional dues, you'll likely find a large group of people serious enough to really be working. (Or they have a lot of cash to burn....I wish I had a lot of cash to burn....)

Mary Preston said...

I am a reader & happy to remain just that. I've never had the inclination to write.

Keli Gwyn said...

Great tips, Christine! I've heard every one of them--and heeded them. They work!

I was slow to understand the value of reading others' work for more than enjoyment. I feared I would inadvertently copy their ideas or ways of saying things. The day I realized that studying the stories written by talented authors and figuring out why what they did worked so well was a turning point. Now I read for enjoyment and education.

Cindy W. said...

I read voraciously and the more I read the more I realize I am trying to figure out how or why an author did something the way they did. I also find the small errors that were somehow missed through final edits. I am a poet and yes, I aspire to be a writer. I feel the Lord has me in 'study' mode right now and I am studying books on craft.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Pam Hillman said...

Well, Seekerville found the treasure in this post today, Christine. Those five tips are spot on. I've practiced each and every one of them at one time or another. Networking (love my Seeker friends), studying the market, dissecting books and scouring the net for author/agent/editor relationships. And always, always praying for guidance from God.

Oh, and yep, joined writer's organizations. I've been a member of ACFW since the beginning. Literally. I was like the 12th person to join! lol

BTW, I'm living on the wild side tonight and taking a break from sleep. Isn't that refreshing for a change.

Mary Hicks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Hicks said...

Blogger Mary Hicks said...
Really good advice, Christine. Reading a lot is the one I like best—and do the most.:-)

Joining a group of professional writers or whatever it is you're interested in is always a good idea—that's where you get the most help.

I remember learning to read—it opened a whole nother' world then and it still does.

Just yesterday, while visiting two elderly ladies in a local nursing home, one of them ( soon to be 99 ) asked me if I traveled much and I said, 'Yes, a lot.' Knowing they both pass their days reading, I reached and picked up a book from the bed next to me and held it up saying, "This is my favorite mode of travel." They both laughed and appreciated that.

Kav said...

Great list! Love #1 the most. Especially the way you phrased it -- "Submit your work to the Lord." For years I didn't get that. Now I'm trying to be more intentional about it.

Hmmm...the best writing advice I ever received? "Check out Seekerville." from Lorna Seilstad.

Guess what I am just about to start reading? Love's Rescue. So no need to enter me in the draw.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Christine! Welcome to Seekerville and you are spot on in my humble opinion. I think it's huge, especially for aspiring authors, to examine all of these seriously. I found my beloved critique partner Sandra Lee Smith through Faith, Hope and Love, a chapter of RWA. I learned from some of the best of the best and eagerly studied what they did right, and listened when they shared what went wrong.

Now we've turned all of that learning into Seekerville, a place where authors/writers/readers can gather at no cost, hear from and share with experts, and cheer each other to success. The maverick in me (read: RULE BREAKER!!!!) likes the freedom of exploring multiple types of publishing and helping people without constraint.

So while I like to color outside the lines, I love to help others reach their dreams, in and out of the established norm. Seeing folks sail off the island to the mainland of publishing is cause celebre in Seekerville.

I brought coffee! Up early here in upstate, so having the Keurig fired up and ready to go is clutch!!!



Jackie said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for sharing your top 5. I like your contest advice. Tina is always great to help us find contests to enter.

What a beautiful cover on your book. It sounds like a great story.

I hope you all have a great day!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Melissa Jagears, laughing!

Rose said...

Great advice, Christine.

Loraine Nunley said...

Great advice, Christine. As a newer writer, I am going to take it all to heart. I am looking forward to reading your book which is on my TBR list. Thanks for the advice and giveaway!

Kelly Bridgewater said...

I have tried all of your tips, Christine. The hardest one is number one. Sometimes I feel like I can write the story on my own, than God metaphorically smacks me upside the head, and I return to my knees in prayer and worship. I couldn't do any of this without him. Thanks again!

Christine Johnson said...

Good morning! I'm thrilled to join you today on Seekerville. Sorry I'm late. Early Friday mornings I co-lead a small group Bible study session on Women's Bible Cafe. Now I'll put on my writer hat and read through your comments.

Christine Johnson said...

Thank you, Marianne! What a lovely comment to read first thing in the morning.

Mary, I love readers and thank God for each one of you, or rather us. I'm a reader too!

Janet Dean said...

Christine, great to see you in Seekerville! Thanks for your savvy pearls of wisdom. I especially appreciate #1. I know I'm not up to the challenge of writing a book for God without turning the story over to Him each and every day.

I'm impressed you're writing for two publishers. Love's Rescue sounds terrific! I've only been to Key West once but I loved the color, the tropical lush flowers and the gorgeous sunset. Especially fun to tour Hemmingway's home and Truman's winter getaway. I want to go back. Traveling within the pages of your book will be way faster than that long trek south.

Janet

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Christine, reading is my favorite pastime. Just as you recommended in #5, I pay a lot of attention to writing styles and topics. This helps me narrow choices to authors who "speak to me" through their writing.

I love the written word so much on occasion I think I want to dip my toes in the writing pool. However, I ask MARRY CURRY, New LIS author last week if writing effected reading enjoyment and she said for her it did. I just can't take that chance, so reading it is for me.

Loves Rescue sounds good and the cover is beautiful. I'd love to read it.

Christine Johnson said...

Ha ha, Melissa, on the cash to burn. But you are right. Writers organizations offer so much. Make sure you tap into everything you can.

Christine Johnson said...

Good for you, Keli! I know they're working because I'm holding your fabulous book in my hands!

Christine Johnson said...

Cindy W, enjoy study mode. I realize now what a blessing and gift that time was. It is a period filled with grace. Soak it up like a sponge. As for those small errors that get missed by countless sets of eyes, I think of them as little reminders that only Our Lord God is perfect.

Janet Dean said...

I found my first critique partner Shirley Jump through our local RWA chapter. We met often and critiqued each other's work, but also chatted about the business of writing. I met my second cp in Seekerville. I love having feedback on my work.

Christine, do you write alone or work with a cp?

Janet

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Pam! ACFW has been such an incredible blessing for me. Thank you for being one of the first on board. No sleep? Wow, I can't imagine.

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Mary Hicks! Love that story and so agree. Books are tha absolute best way to travel. No security lines or delays. Just pure enjoyment.

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Kav! Great advice! Seekerville is an amazing treasure. I hope you enjoy Love's Rescue.

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Ruthy! Seekerville is a huge resource and community. And you are always such an encouragement. Thanks for bringing the coffee. :-)

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Jackie and Rose! Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Christine Johnson said...

Loraine Nunley, enjoy this wonderful time of learning and growth. Sometimes it can feel difficult, but truly it is a joyous season.

Christine Johnson said...

Kelly Bridgewater, you are so right. It's tough for me too. That's why submitting my work to Him has to occur daily. Yep, and some days I get caught up in to do lists and deadlines and just hop in ahead of Him. Bad idea! Those are the worst writing days. Without Him, there is no story.

Christine Johnson said...

Waving hi, Janet Dean! Hemmingway House (built by Asa Tift long before Hemmingway) and the Little White House used a lot by President Truman are two favorite spots of mine to tour. Of course neither existed in 1850 Key West, but there are many buildings that do still exist. Those familiar with Key West will be able to find some of the locations today that I mention in the book.

Christine Johnson said...

Tracey Hagwood, Mary is right. Writing can change how we read. Earlier in my writing life, my critical eye took the fun out of reading. Thankfully that has changed over time, and I can now enjoy stories and get swept away by them again. But yes, those years when it affected reading were so disappointing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning CHRISTINE, Thank you for joining us today in Seekerville. My, my what great pearls and so spot on.

The best thing I did was join RWA back in the day. ACFW came years later and I joined it also. Networking with other writers is key for me.

And yes, RUTHY and I connected in RWA and that was a big jump in my writing career.

PAM, # 12. Now that is impressive. Go girl.

Christine Johnson said...

Janet, my two wonderful critique partners have been with me for the long haul. We have made the journey from unpublished to published together, though we all took different routes. I would not have made it without them. Early on we critiqued each other's work heavily. These days we do much less of that, generally because we are on different schedules, often with very tight deadlines. We still love to brainstorm and hash out problem areas.

Sandra Leesmith said...

KAV how sweet of you to say that about Seekerville. We love sharing what we learn. Back in the day, everyone was so secretive about the publishing business. Everything is better when we have knowledge. Thanks to all of you for sharing with us. We learn as much from you as you learn from us.

And thanks again for being a part of that learning today, CHRISTINE.

Sandra Leesmith said...

MELISSA, I'm laughing with RUTHY.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Christine! All this advice is spot-on--thank you!

Naturally, your #1 point, turning it all over to God, is vital. Two things you mentioned that have also had a huge impact on my writing career are membership in writers organizations and developing close friendships with other writers. I couldn't do without the support of my Seeker sisters and a few other dear writer friends I stay in touch with. They have kept me going when discouragement was at it worst, both pre- and post-publication.

Christine Johnson said...

Good morning, Sandra! Thanks for adding your experiences to what I've observed over the years.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Christine! What a treat to have you back with us. I have scrambled eggs and biscuits for the West Coast morning Villagers. For the East Coast..it's already nine am. Ready for more coffee??

Sandra Leesmith said...

I like that you've put turning it over to God as Number One, CHRISTINE, I was writing for years before I had developed a relationship with the Lord. But it really makes a difference in what you write, doesn't it?

I am so thankful now. I"m glad you put that as number one. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

I'll take some scrambled eggs, TINA. And some coffee. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Love. Love your cover. Absolutely stunning. How fun is it to be doing every author's dream, working for two publishers who are both top of the line and marvelous.

What's your strategic plan for juggling those two?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Hey, and good morning to Sandra Leesmith. Passing the plate. And the coffee.

Tina Radcliffe said...

haha! Thanks to Jackie Layton for mentioning the Contest Update (coming again next Friday) and the slave driver who posts them.!!! Love me some contests!

Janet Dean said...

Christine, what a blessing it is to share the journey with long time cps, who are always in our corners.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Tina, thanks for the scrambled eggs and biscuits! A great way to start my day.

I'm off to shop with my granddaughter for her birthday gift. Always a fun time!

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Christine! What great tips. I agree heartily with all of them. The one I need to work on most is to read (believe it or not). I tend to spend time watching TV with my daughter lately. But last night I made time to read! It's so nice to do that.

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy W, I love to read books on craft!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruth a rule breaker????!!! NO WAY!

;)

Sandra Leesmith said...

HA HA HA MISSY, I'm laughing at that comment RUTHY made also.

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Myra! Writer friends are invaluable, and Seekerville provides such a supportive environment for sharing. Thank you!

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Tina! Thank you to the Seekers for inviting me here. I always love a trip to the seashore. More tea for me! Now that it's ten o'clock Eastern time, make that iced tea.

Christine Johnson said...

Amen, SANDRA Leesmith. Putting the Lord number one makes all the difference!

Christine Johnson said...

HAhaha, TINA. Strategic plan? Pray. I did not plan to write for two publishers. The Lord placed that in my arms when I didn't feel I was ready. He has been teaching me to rely on Him and let go of wanting to do everything myself. It's a slow process. After all, I spent decades ramping up the reliance on self, but the Lord is faithful, and He is gradually changing me.

I love the cover too! When I learned late in the cover process that they were adding a sailing ship to the cover, I had a hard time imagining how it would work, but the art department did a fantastic job. It has precisely the right flavor for the story.

Christine Johnson said...

Missy, I totally understand how reading can fall to the side. After the eye strain of all that close-up computer work, it's additional stress to pick up a book. Television is mindless and relaxing. Except I'm completely hooked on the series A.D.. I can't believe this Sunday is the season finale. They're going to leave us hanging, I just know it.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Oh Happy Day! I checked out your other books on Amazon and realized I already had a copy of A Groom by Design in my TBR pile, so I'm putting it on the weekend line up! Like finding hidden treasure :)

Debby Giusti said...

Great pearls of wisdom, Christine!

I need to allot a portion of my week to reading...actually give myself permission to sit down and read a good book during the work day. I wait until bedtime. Often, I've stayed late at my computer and am too tired to get more than a page or two read before my eyes become so heavy I have to turn off the lights! Not good.

Thanks for reminding me that reading is part of the writing process!

Your hubby is a ship's captain! How fascinating. And you spend part of your life in the Keys. I would love to visit all of them someday.

Thanks for being with us today and for sharing your pearls. Your latest sounds intriguing. Congrats on your success!

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

My family is visiting for the weekend...be still my Mama and Grandma heart! I've brought baked ham and potato salad for lunch! Iced tea, anyone?

Debby Giusti said...

Christine, I kept a small notebook in my purse in my pre-pubbed days. Whenever I passed a shelf of books in the grocery, I'd check the dedications for editor and agent names. That list made me aware of agents who were selling and editors who were buying.

You mentioned submitting your work to the Lord! So important, in my opinion as well. Any story I write comes from Him. Often I tell Him, He should have chosen a better writer to be on His team! :) We both laugh. He knows it's true! :)

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Debby! I love to read before bed, but fatigue (not the book!) often puts me to sleep before I've read too long. My favorite summertime activity is to grab a book and lounge on the porch reading. Ah!

You are so right about the stories coming from the Lord. I'm glad He understands that I'm bound to mess up some of the details in the telling. I love the image of Him laughing!

Christine Johnson said...

Tracey, you made my day!

Kathryn Barker said...

Thanks for sharing, Christine. And I love the cover of your new book...the ship creates a mysterious element...and oh my, who wouldn't want to read a book with a hero named Rourke!

No one advised me to join a writer's group, but I was so hungry for like-minded crazies, I went in search of help. I found the most amazing group of Christian writers...Quills of Faith. We meet monthly. We are more than writer friends. We are prayer partners. And when life hits one of us with a huge whammy...we're there for one another. Within this group, I have received wonderful guidance. Like you, #1, "Let Him guide your thoughts and fingers" is the BEST advice I've ever taken to heart. Also, to Trust The Lord in all things.

Have a delightful day...I'm off to refill my tea cup!!

Anna Labno said...

Hi Debby and all,

I'm here to comment on another post by Debby. I don't know why I get these posts delivered to my mailbox so late.

I'm from Poland. When you go there, shop for amber. Many people don't know that amber is found in Baltic Sea. You won't find it anywhere else in the world. All ember is brought from Poland.

I have been raised in Warsaw before I made my home in Illinois. Poland has changed after the fall of Communism. I was there to see all changes taking place.

Now, Poland is a beautiful country rich in history. (And yes, I'll use some of it in my work.)

My husband wants to go there every year. We live close to Chicago now. We're surrounded by a large population of Polish people. I do miss those beautiful churches!

I taught Americans Polish. It's very hard language for them to learn.

Myra Johnson said...

Christine, we've been watching A.D. too. I thought originally it would be a limited series, but it's sure looking like it'll be back with more next year.

I'm with you about using TV in the evenings to unwind. Hubby and I have several favorite programs, and for me, they have to be about story. Intriguing characters, interesting premises. And I much prefer dramas over inane sitcoms.

We do read for half an hour or so before turning out the lights. That's when I get to enjoy novels by some of my favorite writer friends! Just finished TINA RADCLIFFE's Safe in the Fireman's Arms--so cute!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Kathryn, you have your own Seekers. That's how we started. We all began way before publication and before the blog. It sounds like your group is a GOD THING as well!!I love it.

Anna Labno said...

I would tell people to finish the whole book before seeking any critiques. Many never get to the finish line. Getting too much too soon can freeze some writers.

You will get to know encouragers as well as people who can discourage you from writing. And yes, these people can be Christians. Have faith and do your work. Hard work pays off. You can't edit empty pages.

Find at least one conference you can attend each year. It will keep you in line. :)

Anna Labno said...

If you watched the last season of the Voice, you might remember Dana. She's very talented. But she was so insecure. Many new writers are the same way. They want approval before they believe in themselves. People like Dana can't beat that wall. They fall before they stand up on their feet again.

Believe in yourself first! If you trust God, that's what you should do. Then do your homework. That's all there is to it. Nothing comes easy.

God can do amazing things. Like a protagonist you need to overcome all obstacles to reach your goal, have your black moments, then embrace your big moment at the end. (Shhhh...you never reach the end. There is always something new to learn or write.) :)

Connie Queen said...

Love your advice Christine.

Seekerville and writing friends have be the best for me. My husband really appreciates it too. I don't know what the poor man would do if he was the only one I had to discuss writing with.

I need to read more.

Thanks for the reminders.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Pearls of wisdom indeed! I have to confess that I've let the "read, read, read" portion slide as I got busier with my writing. I've tried now to culture a habit of reading again. Going back to my first love. The reason I started writing.

As for the best pieces of writing advice - pretty basic. Just get words down on the page. As my friend Linda Ford told me this morning, I need to remember the magic of beginning. Starting in the morning and getting the words down. I tend to resist it even after all these years and all the books. That never goes away, but I've made myself get those first few words down. Keep going and, eventually, it starts to flow. Even if those first few words or sentences or paragraphs or pages are dreck, they often get me to where I really want to be or need to be in my story. I am comforted by the fact that all writers face resistance. ALL! I just have to acknowledge it and then get typing something. Anything. Even if it's "And then Vic got up and walked out of the door."

Blessings on your writing and writing journey. Thanks again for sharing.

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Kathryn, you reminded me of another tremendous benefit of writer friends - prayer partners. Priceless!

Christine Johnson said...

MYRA, sounds like the perfect, relaxing evening. :-) I had the same impression with A.D., that it was a limited series, but there is no way they can wrap up everything in just one episode.

Christine Johnson said...

Good point, Anna. I was that insecure writer for a long time. Some "slam the writer" sessions in college put a huge dent in my dreams, but the dream never died. Over time (a long time!), I learned to judge critiques and determine what was useful and what was not. Praise God for that journey and His patience with my doubts and insecurities. Now He is my strength. For any writer struggling with doubts, put your work in the Lord's hands and trust Him. Your dream might not happen on your schedule or in the way you imagined, but His plan for you is marvelous and well worth the struggle.

Christine Johnson said...

Ha! Connie you made me laugh. Hubbies are such patient souls. When I start talking writing, my hubbie's eyes glaze over. I might as well be speaking a foreign language.

Christine Johnson said...

Carolyne, that is such a valid point and a huge hurdle that never goes away. I foolishly thought that once I published, the resistance would vanish. No. Every day the computer keyboard looms like a monster ready to bite my fingers off. Write another chapter? Even one word seems impossible. Beyond prayer, which is absolutely essential for it turns the resistance over to One better able to fight it off, I use a timer set for a small amount, like 20 minutes. Surely I can do ANYTHING for 20 minutes. Lo and behold, once the twenty minutes end, I keep going. As you noted, that first sentence is the key. Give yourself permission to write dreck!

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Christine!

Great advice!

I remember the best advice I ever received, and it fits right in with your Number Five: "To learn to write well, you need to read well." I count my reading time as part of my work day...and if I'm reading a good book, that means my work day can last until after midnight! LOL!

But I do try to read widely - not just my genre, but other popular fiction and literary classics. I also read A LOT of non-fiction for research.

I'm so thrilled for your release from Revell, too! I'm looking forward to reading it!

Sandy Smith said...

Great tips, Christine. I am a writer with many published short stories to my credit but trying to work on a novel now. I definitely agree with reading anything similar to what you want to write. I have thoroughly dissected the stories from any magazine for which I want to write. I am now trying to do the same thing with books. I became involved with Seekerville almost exactly a year ago and find it a great place to share with other writers.

Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Jan! I like the idea of making reading part of the workday. If it's on the schedule, it gets done. Even better when it's so enjoyable. Thank you for stopping by.

Christine Johnson said...

Best wishes, Sandy. It sounds like you are on a solid path toward your final destination.

Lyndee H said...

Hi Christine,
Really solid tips and I like that you put reading on the schedule. You're so right about that step. I find if I write it down on my calendar, it gets done. Thanks for sharing your advice.

Missy Tippens said...

Carolyne, I agree with what you (and Linda Ford) said! I need to do the writing first before email and everything else, do it while I'm still fresh.

Missy Tippens said...

Anna Labno, I agree. I think maybe I've done a blog post on that before. I used to get frozen for a month or more after heavy duty critique. Now I either send half the book or the whole book for critique. I found that really helps me.

Missy Tippens said...

FYI! I just saw on Inspired Reads that Melissa's second book is on sale!

Mary Connealy said...

I've long believed that the best 'How To Write' books are novels, well written novels.

I've read very few 'how to write' books. But it took me ten years to get published so I may be a bad example.

Mary Connealy said...

I did study in other ways, though. I was in a critique group online. That really helped me.
I took online classes.
I entered contests and learned a LOT from the critiques.
So it's not like I never studied at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

AFTERNOON COFFEE ARRIVAL!!!

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Lyndee! I'm putting reading on my schedule right now.

Barbara Scott said...

Christine, thanks for sharing your pearls of wisdom today. As someone else said, they are spot on. I wish somebody would have come up with this list a looooonnnnngggg time ago...too many years to count. I had to learn the really hard way--as an editor.

Your latest book sounds great! Please throw my hat in the ring for a copy.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Kathryn, the choir I belong to and the Seekers are like that, too. We are there to help one another, we're joined for a like purpose, to sing or to write, but we're prayer partners too and that's where the focus of loving one another stays.

I love that you found that with Quills of Faith!!!

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Mary! We all learn differently. I got the most out of online classes and seeing how other authors write. Others do great with books on the craft of writing. And 10 years is lightning speed compared to my 15!

Christine Johnson said...

Oh Barbara, I am awed by the sheer quantity of work that editors do. The editors I've been privileged to work with have had wonderful insight into the story. They manage to catch every single thing that faintly crossed my mind as a question mark while writing. Amazing!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Well said! I'm amazed at how many authors don't seem to study the market at all. If you want to sell more books - seeing what's selling seems like a good place to start ;)

Christine Johnson said...

True, Sherri. It took me a long time to do it simply because I had no idea how. When another author shared her method, it felt like the fog had cleared. I'm so grateful to those authors who help others along the journey.

Chill N said...

Writers are incredibly generous with their knowledge and time . . .

. . . as shown by your 'pearls' post today, Christine.

Thanks for sharing! That book cover will attract a lot of readers :-)

Nancy C

CatMom said...

Hey Christine!! (waving from Georgia) :)
Wonderful advice that I am adding to my Keeper File. I really like your no-nonsense
suggestions (yes, true pearls of wisdom).

I was so happy to get to know you better last year at ACFW, and only wish we didn't live so far apart. I love your books too, and that cover of LOVE'S RESCUE is beautiful. But I plan on purchasing it, so no need to enter me in the drawing!

Hugs, Patti Jo

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Nancy C! I'm glad for the feedback on the cover. It's nice to know that it's eye-catching.

Christine Johnson said...

Patti Jo! I love seeing your babies (cats) on Fb. Even if I don't comment, I enjoy their friendly faces as I do yours! I really enjoyed getting to know you at ACFW last year. A real highlight of the conference. Hugs back at you!

Sarah Claucherty said...

I've wanted to write since 3rd grade, the earliest memory I have of writing my own story and being told how good it was. Reading has been my favorite hobby since my parents read me stories and I learned to read in kindergarten.

What holds me back right now from writing is the lack of time to study craft and to really put my whole heart's effort into my writing. I'm in the last stretch of my university studies, so between classes, work, my studies, internships, and other responsibilities (i.e. my family, friends, and church), there's not much spare time, unfortunately.

Christine, your newest book sounds fantastic! I'd love to read it, so please add me to the drawing!!

Jeanne T said...

I've been trying to stop by all day, but it's been kind of crazy. As most summer days are when kids are home from school. :)

I loved your five tips, especially the one about studying the market. I need to do more of that. But, I've found some great information on blogs like Seekerville that have shared super information.

And trusting God with my writing journey? The best way to find peace in the midst of the uncertainty this writing journey guarantees. :)

Great post!

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Sarah! Sometimes we need to wait on those dreams. I certainly didn't write when I was studying for my Master's degree. No time! But the dream remained. Hold on and nourish the well with all you're learning. Some of what you experience today might finds its way into a story later.

Christine Johnson said...

Talk about perseverance! Thank you for stopping by between all that's going on, Jeanne T.

Christine Johnson said...

Hey all, I need to take a supper break. Even better, hubbie and I have been invited over to a friend's house, which means I don't have to cook! Doing the happy dance! I'll answer any questions when I return later this evening.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Christine, not having to cook ROCKS. We all agree on that!

The Artist Librarian said...

Thanks for sharing these "pearls" of wisdom!

As a reader, I've always thought it'd be neat to write a book. I'd love to see more medieval fiction and more Asian or Asian American characters in Inspy fiction. =) The research has always daunted me --especially if it were a historical! I feel like I would be researching, or want to research, every little thing (that's happened to me in the past with creative writing projects). Ironic, since I'm studying to be a librarian now ... =P

Walt Mussell said...

To The Artist Librarian, I'm doing my best on Asian characters. Just no luck yet.

Christine, sorry I'm so late today. You are definitely one of my favorite authors. I absolutely love your work., Reading in my genre is probably the hardest thing I deal with, as Japan-based historicals tend not to have a Christian element (outside of Shogun and a couple of novels written by Japanese Catholic. I sort of have to mix what I do.

Great to see you here!

Julie Lessman said...

CHRISTINE!!! Welcome to Seekerville, my friend, or should I say my "Revell sister"?? I'm reallllly anxious to read your book because your dashing hero somehow sounds a wee bit like Rhett Butler to me, which definitely reels this GWTW freak in! :)

LOVE your list, and I concur completely with each and every point, especially #1! :)

And #5 is one of my absolute favorites because I LOVE reading in my genre. I manage to reach about 6-8 books a month just by carrying a book with me wherever I go, including the restroom and at night in bed. It's my therapy and down time, plus it gives me a peek at other authors' styles and what's going on out there in my world.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KAV SAID: "Hmmm...the best writing advice I ever received? "Check out Seekerville." from Lorna Seilstad.

LOL ... YAY KAV AND YAY LORNA!! :)


SHERRI SAID: "Well said! I'm amazed at how many authors don't seem to study the market at all. If you want to sell more books - seeing what's selling seems like a good place to start ;)"

AMEN TO THAT, Sherri, and it's fun too! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Artist Librarian! I'm a librarian too, and LOVE to research. It would be easy to get lost in the hunt for answers, but a writer has to know when to get the writing done. It's a fine balance. Enjoy library school and best wishes on your career!

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Walt! I thought of you at once when I read the Artist Librarian's post. Great to see there's a demand for that subgenre. One day... Hang in there and thanks for stopping in when you could.

Christine Johnson said...

Waving hi, Julie! It's exciting to join you and the other fabulous authors at Revell. Rourke as Rhett Butler??? Hm, never considered that, but there could be some similarity in looks...

Deanne said...

I am an avid reader. I have been my whole life. I have wanted to write a book for a long time but I just don't now where to start. I guess it's my shy personality coming through saying I wouldn't be good enough. I am at the library at least once a week and I absolutely love to research. I love the cover of your book. The story sounds amazing please enter me in the drawing for it. Than you for the wonderful writing tips !

Deanne Patterson
Cnnamongirl(at)aol(dot)com

Walt Mussell said...

Christine, thanks for thinking of me. I do have my one Japanese historical work of fan fiction, though it's not in spy. Still, it seems like there is some interest in the sub genre

Christine Johnson said...

Hi Deanne! Hey, I'm a shy girl too, so that can totally work for a writer. Write the story you would want to read and write it just for yourself. That's a great way to get your feet wet. Forget about the selling and the publishing and all that. It can wait. The first step is to have a blast writing a story you enjoy. Then you will know that you can do it, and that's a huge, huge hurdle to leap over.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Ruthy you said, Not having to cook rocks.
I'm happy for your family that you aren't cooking rocks.
Makes me think of a book I read my kids called Stone Soup. Anyhow, I knew what you meant, I just had to give you a poke from up here in the Great White North - which is hopefully a bit greener now that we've gotten some much needed rain. Could use more but we'll take what we get.

bonton said...

I enjoyed your interesting post, Christine - thanks!!

I am a reader, a slow reader - as with you, I love to savor the words. I only discovered Christian Fiction a few years ago, previously reading primarily bio's and auto-bio's, self-help books, and bible study related helps, etc.. God led me into encouraging/influencing/praying for Christian Fiction writers/authors about 3 years ago, and a whole new world opened up to me - I love Christian Fiction and am so blessed by it.

Three years ago - I was unaware of all that is involved in writing, publishing, promoting a book etc., my eyes have been opened. I write reviews and occasional encouragement posts for a blog, and am praying about proceeding further in the field of writing. The last 2 years have brought numerous serious health issues to 3 close family members, as well as myself - I haven't felt that nudge from God to fully immerse myself, yet know that I will if that is His plan for me and the timing is right.

I love the story line for Love's Rescue - please enter my name in the drawing.

Edwina said...

Christine, Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Please enter my name in the drawing!

Blessings
Edwina

Christine Johnson said...

Thank you for stopping by, bonton and Edwina. Have a blessed weekend.

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