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What Could Be More Important Than Being Published?

“…on days when I look at my publishing career and acknowledge that I am still not a NYT Bestseller and that I’m still trying to make it as an author, there are many things that have come from being a published author that are worth more than money and fame.”

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Look What I Found When Looking Through Old Picture Files:

That time when my parents and I had dinner with the publicists (Wynn-Wynn Media) who worked on my very first novel, Ruby Among Us.

From the pictures I found, it might look like our families became friends after I was published, born out of a friendship between an author and a publicist, but the truth is, we connected because of an existing friendship between our dads that my publisher didn’t even know about when they connected us together. In fact, my publicist Jeane and I didn’t know about it either.

Real quick, let me explain something to you about the industry. Most readers don’t know how traditional publishers and outside publicists work together, but it is important to note for this story that publicists and authors don’t get to pick each other. At least not when the publisher is the one hiring the publicist, which was the case with my first novel. What happens is that the publisher assigns who they want and while it is not unheard of for an author to have heard of a publicist on a professional level, this was my first novel, so I barely knew what publicists did, let alone who any of them were.

It turns out that my publicist, Jeane Wynn, and I were always meant to be friends. We just hadn’t had a chance to meet each other before. Little did I know when I nervously waited for my first phone call from Jeane, I would immediately feel like we’d met before. She just reminded me so much of people from back home, which was the last thing I expected from a phone call with a publicist.

Long story short, I liked Jeane from day one, which came as a surprise to no one who knew her. Who could not love Jeane? She’s just that kind of person. What did come as a surprise is learning that our families already had a history together, and that it started before I was even born, decades earlier in a tiny little Oklahoma town.

At first, when Jeane mentioned that she lived in Oklahoma, it made perfect sense. I remember thinking, no wonder we seem to have a lot in common. She has that friendly way about her that people have in my hometown. It made sense that she might seem familiar to me. However, when Jeane mentioned that her family had actually once lived in Colcord, Oklahoma, the small town I grew up in, I was shocked. How in the world could my publicist have even heard of my town, let alone lived there?

Well, there is no way someone could have ever lived in Colcord and gone unnoticed. Everyone knew everyone else, so the first thing I did was call my parents. Our families had to have known each other, and it turns out that they did. In fact, not only did they know each other, but our dads knew each other quite well since before we were either one born.

That’s when my dad told me that Jeane’s dad had been his best friend.

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When I told Jeane, we started comparing stories. We figured out that a long time before Jeane was assigned by my publisher to work on my book’s campaign, her dad was my dad’s beloved Boy Scout leader, as well as his teacher. That’s how my dad, as a young boy, started looking up to Jeane’s dad and considered him his best friend. Isn’t that cute? Further, we learned that our dads have been fishing buddies ever since.

It turns out that even after my dad was grown and Jeane’s dad had already moved away to another small Oklahoma town, they would still run into each other at favorite fishing holes. As my dad shared his stories of Jeane’s dad, it didn’t take me long to realize that I’d been hearing about Jeane’s dad for years. Her dad was THAT guy, my dad’s favorite fishing buddy, and his kindness, faith, and wisdom had an impact on my dad’s life a long time before Jeane and I came along.

Jeane and I are pretty sure we never met before our publisher and publicist put us together, at least that we know of. Since our dads mostly kept in touch over the years through fishing, our families didn’t have joint dinners or hang out together, but now that Jeane and I have met, we share a common bond.

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I guess that to some people, this might not seem like such a big deal, even though I think the chances of an author and publicist being put together and learning, unbeknownst to them, that their dads were already the best of friends, is pretty serendipitous. To me, to Jeane, and certainly to our dads, it is special, kind of like a great big hug from God.

I am grateful for the friendship of our dads and our families, and I am so grateful for my friendship with Jeane. I love that God brought us together in such a special way, and on days when I look at my publishing career and acknowledge that I am still not a NYT Bestseller and that I’m still trying to make it as an author, there are many things that have come from being a published author that are worth more than money and fame. Friendship is one of them.

Tina

Blog · publishing · women's fiction

A Publishing Confession at Women’s Fiction Writers Blog

I have a newamy-sue-nathan post over at Women’s Fiction Writers, and I have to tell you that when I first approached Amy Sue Nathan with the post, I was a little bit nervous about how transparent I’d been in the piece. For one thing, my friend Amy Sue Nathan is an editor (she’s edited a few of my books, as well), a writer and instructor for Writer’s Digest Magazine, and an author in her own right of The Glass Wives and The Good Neighbor, not to mention that she runs the award-winning blog, Women’s Fiction Writers. Her opinion matters to me for obvious reasons.

The importance of sharing my piece with Amy aside, I was mainly nervous about the audience of the piece. Would other writers rally around the idea, or would they ask, why in the world is this author putting these ideas out there for the public to see? And of course there was the fear that maybe I was the only one struggling. Thank goodness, I was wrong.

When I first wrote the piece called “A Publishing Confession: I Want to Make Money,” I directed it at other writers and had not planned on sharing it here. It has been posted for ten days now and the response has been great. Many of my readers found it anyway and shared it, so I decided to share it here, after all. I want to be honest with my wonderful readers about what being an author is really like. Here is the link to the post on Women’s Fiction Writers:

A Publishing Confession: I Want to Make Money

I hope a little bit of the article makes sense, and that after reading it, you’ll know just how much I, and all authors, really love writing stories for you. Thank you for being such great readers of my books, and of all books. You are appreciated more than you know.

Happy Reading!

Tina

 

 

Blog · Book News · Books · publishing · writing

Book Contracts: They Do Exist

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A peek at my contract with Tule.

Over the past few years, my readers have asked when my next book is coming out. Well, I’m thrilled to let you know my third novel is coming out later this year. Yesterday I received my copy of a signed contract from Tule Publishing Group. I’ve included a picture above for curious readers, and I just want to assure you writing souls out there that no matter what you hear, book contracts still happen.

I couldn’t be more happy about having Tule as my newest publisher. Their authors are all fantastic writers and Tule publishes commercial fiction ranging from romance to chick-lit to compelling women’s fiction. That last part is where I come in. My novel from Tule will be in the Women’s Fiction genre, the same as before, so in case you were wondering, I’m not changing anything about how I write. I’m still me and I’m still writing novels about the complexity of families, intergenerational relationships, hope, self-acceptance, and of course a love story  for good measure.

I’ll let you know more details as I receive them from my publisher, but right now it looks like  my third book will be releasing in October of 2014. The only thing different about this one is that it’s going to be available exclusively as an eBook, so if you don’t have your eReader yet, you might want to  put that on your Mother’s Day Wish list. And if you want to learn more about my previous novels from Random House, they are still available. You can find information here on the site or just look them up on Amazon.

Thanks everyone, I have lots more to share with you, but it won’t all fit into one post. Until later, happy reading.

 

-Tina

 

Blog · publishing · writing

When You Get Thrown Off: A Writing Lesson

One of the many truths about being a writer is that eventually everything ends up in a book. No matter what adventure, success, or failure we go through, it’s all potential novel material. I’m not any different, so definitely look for a novel in my future about a woman who learns how to ride a horse. 🙂 
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Lizzie and I getting a work out at my friend’s place in CO Springs.

Living in Wyoming and having grown up in northeastern Oklahoma, one might think I would be a full-blown horse woman by now. Sadly, not true. My mom, bless her sweet protective heart, felt the same way about horses that she did about motorcycles. I wasn’t allowed to ride them. When I finally did give it a try, I failed miserably and gave up. Sometimes it feels like my writing career is similar to my luck with horses.

Since I’m published, you might think I don’t have anything to complain about, but the insecurity of writers exists at all levels. Sometimes when I set out to tackle a new story or take a new turn, my horse won’t go or it throws me off. Have you ever known anyone who got bucked off a horse? They can’t walk for weeks and the trauma of being catapulted through the air and landing on your backside can create fear in some riders, especially if you’re relatively inexperienced. It can feel exactly the same way after suffering a failure in your writing, only imagine instead that you’re trying to sit your sore backside in your chair and tackle a novel. Ouch.

Maybe it’s happened to you as you’ve struggled to finish a particular story, your books sales have fallen, or you’ve received your twenty-seventh rejection. At times it’s difficult to get back in the saddle again, but you have to do it. You have to sit down, put your fingertips to the keys, and start writing again. Start submitting your work again. Start going to writing conferences again. Re-learn the world of publishing. Climb back in the saddle. If you don’t get back on the horse, you might as well take your spurs and go home.

That’s the lesson I’ve learned since my first publishing deal with a major publishing house in 2008. Since then I’ve had two novels published, but like my readers, I’ve been wondering when my third novel would finally be published. Waiting is hard. Sometimes it has felt a lot like my horse took off and left me standing in the dust. Thank heavens things are starting to change. Not only has my best friend taught me how to ride a real horse correctly (I didn’t leave the corral, but hey, I was really riding a horse, which was something I’d been afraid of doing for years.), but I’ve also signed a publishing contract with the wonderful Tule Publishing Group. You know what that means. Finally, a new book! I’m so excited. Maybe I’ll take up trick riding. (Note: I said maybe.)

If you happen to be in a tough writing situation, and almost all writers have been in one way or another, just remember that you have to be willing to get back in the saddle when you’re down and afraid of failing. Find some friends who really understand the fear or disappointment that all writers eventually face and instead of seeing your journey as a failure, see it as a change to be embraced.

Just look at me. I’m not a NYT bestseller yet, and I’m never going to be a rodeo queen, but at least I know how to write a good story and I now have a skill that not all writers have. If I were stranded on a research trip somewhere with only a horse as transportation, I would know how to ride it back home!

So, what about the rest of you? Have you overcome fears in your writing or in your life? How did you do it?

 

-Tina

authors · Blog · Books · Faith · publishing · Random House · Waterbrook Press Author · women's fiction · writing

Liz Curtis Higgs On Reaching Readers Through EBooks And A Word About What Mary Magdalene Has To Do With Her Latest Release

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As we gear up for Easter, I thought it would be nice to feature a novel that follows that theme. MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT by Liz Curtis Higgs is a contemporary retelling of the Biblical story of Mary Magdalene. I started reading MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT the moment I saw it had appeared on my EReader, and I can already tell you it is a wonderful read. Another cool feature of Liz’s latest book is that it is available exclusively as an EBook, so there is no waiting. You can read it as soon as you finish reading this post!

I am so excited to share my interview with the author of MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT, Liz Curtis Higgs. Enjoy!

It’s a pleasure having New York Times Bestselling novelist Liz Curtis Higgs here with us today to talk about her latest book from Waterbrook, Mercy Like Sunlight.

Me: What is MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT about?

Liz:  A little history first. Back in 2001 I wrote a nonfiction study of Mary Magdalene called Mad Mary A Bad Girl from Magdala, Transformed at His Appearing. For the other three books in my Bad Girls of the Bible series, I created modern counterparts for all the biblical Bad Girls, opening each chapter with a short story that paralleled the one in Scripture. So, Delilah became Lila, a hairdresser from Dallas, who cut the hair of Judge Sam Nazar—you get the idea. The fictional stories, only about 2,500 words long, prepared readers’ hearts for the nonfiction studies that followed.

Since Mad Mary (later retitled Unveiling Mary Magdalene), explored just one woman, her contemporary story turned into a 42,000 word novella—half the nonfiction book!

As a novelist, you know how we fall in love with our characters and want to introduce them to as many readers as we can? Well, all these years I’ve longed for my fiction readers to meet Mary Margaret Delaney from Unveiling Mary Magdalene. An eBook exclusive with just the novella seemed the best way to do that.

So, faithful readers who own my nonfiction book on Mary Magdalene don’t need to purchase Mercy Like Sunlight—they’ve already read it! But for fiction readers, who might easily have missed this story tucked inside a nonfiction book, Mercy Like Sunlight offers an easy way to meet this unlikely yet remarkable heroine, who completely captured this storyteller’s heart.

Now, to the story itself… 

Mary Margaret Delaney hides in the shadows, her arms scarred, her heart wounded by grief and weighed down with regret. Adrift on the streets of Chicago, she is surrounded by strangers and hounded by demons, both real and imagined. Her neighbors in Lincoln Park call her Mad Mary—until a fearless young pastor dares to call Mary his friend. Just as winter slowly turns to spring, Mary gradually warms up to Pastor Jake and his ragtag congregation in Lincoln Park, an eclectic neighborhood along the shore of Lake Michigan. Through the course of the novella, Mary moves from darkness to light, from lost to found, from rejected to redeemed. It’s a journey many of us have made, especially this Former Bad Girl! Especially as Easter draws near, Mary Margaret’s story gives us a fresh way to look at the Resurrection. 

Me: How does this story differ from your previous novels?

Liz: Well, it’s not set in Scotland, for starters! :>) Nor is it set in the 18th Century. But just as I based my Scottish historicals on biblical characters, in Mercy Like Sunlight the parallels are as close as I could make them without twisting the plot in a convoluted knot. My novels tend to have a good bit of drama, with the occasional need for a tissue. Mercy Like Sunlight definitely includes some dramatic scenes, and I found myself teary at several points in the story. This is women’s fiction, rather than a romance, but the ending is definitely joy-filled!

Me: I already know you have an EReader, so how has your EReader changed your reading habits?

Liz: I never imagined myself saying this, but I love my eReader! When I’m buying books simply to enjoy reading themnovels, devotionals, inspirational booksI usually go the eBook route. If I’m purchasing a book for research, then I need a physical book because it’s easier to work with and I can footnote the page references properly. Of course, I adore the feel of a book in my hands, so you’ll still find tons of them lining the shelves around my house and writing office, and I never come home from a bookstore without a bagful.

Me: Some authors worry that the digital age is a threat to traditional publishing as we know it (or maybe I should say as we ‘knew’ it), while others are excited about the change. What are your thoughts about the new ways published authors have to reach readers?

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Liz Curtis Higgs, Author

Liz: Whatever way we can meet the needs of our readers works for me. I love learning new things (well, most of the time), and I especially love the immediacy of digital publishing. It doesn’t change the writing process one bit. It simply changes the delivery method. The key for writers is to invest just as much energy into our manuscripts, just as much editing, just as much passion, so that however the book is produced, it’s worthy of our readers’ time and resources.

I’m grateful my publisher, WaterBrook Press, said “Yes!” when I suggested offering Mary Margaret Delaney’s story as an eBook exclusive. At $3.99, it’s less than a Starbucks Chai Latte, and will stay warm longer too!

Thanks for this visit, Tina, and continued blessings on your own writing efforts!

Me: Thank you, Liz. I am starting to love EBooks, too. I appreciate your words to writers about meeting the needs of our readers and how EBooks do not change the writing process. Also, giving up a Starbucks for a good book sounds like a good trade. I think some of us could do without the extra caffeine. I know I can! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I’m already loving MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT.

About the Author: Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 30 books, including her nonfiction bestseller, Bad Girls of the Bible, and her newest fiction release, Mercy Like SunlightAs a speaker, Liz has presented more than 1,700 inspirational programs in all 50 United States and 14 foreign countries. You can get to know Liz better at her website, blog, and on social media.

Website: http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com

Bible Study Blog: http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com/blog

Facebook:  http://www.Facebook.com/LizCurtisHiggs

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizCurtisHiggs