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By Mary Lou Cheatham

An author, who is incapable of practicing generic purism, has tried one more time to write a romance. Each time in the past, she has not abided by the guidelines. Every book she has written up to now contains a romance, but they are not true romances. This time she hoped to succeed.

Referring to manuals about how to write a romance, she planned her novel with care. The synopsis and outline, adhering to the rules, though soon they became irrelevant to the story. The characters refuse to act the way the outline requires.

In the novel, a beautiful young woman, who is a pastor of a church, falls in love with the son of a wealthy rancher. Conflicts and separations occur. In the meantime, the author has found the perfect picture for the cover. In every book the author has written, she’s emphasized the plights of downtrodden elements of society. The young woman looks slightly Hispanic. Perfect. The problems of immigrants—some illegal—crop up in the church community.

How can anyone write about such people without including strong conflicts with the legal authorities? Oops, there goes the author into the genre of a thriller. Not a complete thriller, just a slice in the pie. Suspense is the natural outcome of the situation.

Since the main character, Alison, is a minister, who works in a traditional male role, another wedge of the story makes it read like women’s fiction. How can she gain acceptance from her congregation?

The writer cannot—does not seem to be capable—of writing just a romance. She has heard from writing conference speakers to give the readers reasons to turn the page. She knows that the love element is enough as it flows from some authors’ pens to keep the readers engaged, but this writer needs suspense to fuel the plot. If she’d started from the angle of writing a thriller or a detective story, she’d still need a big portion of the story to involve romance.

She creates the characters and lets them act the way that is natural in their situation. All the characters she invents have multiple personality traits. They’re not simply lovers.

Here’s another problem. In a romance, somebody or something always must be left out. Nobody likes to be in that position. The writer shows how that person acts. He isn’t merely a spurned lover, who sweetly steps aside so the man and woman who truly love each other and deserve to live happily ever after can be together; he’s a neurotic villain, downright scary. When he chases Alison and she barely escapes, the novel leaves the romance genre again. Who knows what the villain may do by the end of the book?

Mary Lou Cheatham (Mary Cooke) began her life near Hot Coffee in Mississippi. Now she lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, with her husband, a talking cat, and three chiming antique clocks. Long ago she taught English, and not so long ago she retired from her career as a registered nurse. She loves to write.

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By Ane Mulligan

When I first started writing, I did what most new writers do. Believing the reader couldn’t understand my story or like the heroine without knowing her back story, I loaded the first chapter with all that information. It didn’t take too many critiques to learn the error of my ways.

But why is it not necessary? I’m so glad you asked. Okay you didn’t, but here’s the scoop anyway. Are you ready? Because the reader doesn’t care about the character…yet. But isn’t that why we want to tell them the back story? So they’ll care? Nope. The reader opens a book with expectations to be drawn into a story. They don’t want that forward movement stopped to be told back story in the beginning.

Another way to look at it is like this: let’s say you’ve walked into a party and you’re hoping to meet some new friends. A woman walks toward you, but the minute names are exchanged, she launches into her life history and that of all her eleven first cousins. Your smile wanes, and you inch your way toward the door. Anything to get away.

That’s what back story within the first 40-50 pages is like.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t slip in a tidbit or two, but do it a way that whets their appetite for more. Mystery in a book draws readers onward. A short reference within dialogue works. Something like this:

Jane twisted her hankie. “I’ve decided I’m going home.”

“You’re running away, again. Just like you did in St. Louis.”

Jane raised her chin. “I am not.” She turned her back and stalked off.

Now you want to know what happened in St. Louis and is this a trait of Jane’s? Is she repeating her history? But if the author stops the action to take us back to St. Louis before you are invested in the character, the reader will close the book, and most likely never pick up another book by that author.

After the reader has had time to get to know the character by what happens in the here and now of the story, then they will be ready to learn bits and pieces of her back story. But dole it out a bit at a time. Too much too soon will give away the end.

Back story has a place…but where is that place? #ACFWBlogs @AneMulligan #amwriting #writing #pubtip
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Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She’s an award-winning novelist and playwright and resides in Sugar Hill, GA. You can find Ane at her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

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By Loretta Eidson

Hebrews 11:1 is called the faith chapter in the Bible. The New International Version (NIV) states that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The passages following that first verse go on to expound on people in the Bible who exercised their faith in God.

  1. By faith, Able offered God a better sacrifice than Cain.
  2. By faith, Enoch was taken from this life so that he did not experience death.
  3. By faith, Noah built an ark to save his family.
  4. By faith, Abraham obeyed God and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
  5. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age, and Sarah, his wife, was barren, became a father.

And the list goes on: By faith Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the people, and the prostitute Rahab.

Need I say more?

The Message Version of this opening verse reads like this: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

Look at the New American Standard version. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Why expound on faith?

Faith is what drives us to pursue God’s plan for writing, and writing is another avenue of witnessing. It’s our faith in God’s ability to use us regardless of other people’s opinions or how we see ourselves. We know the call God placed on us. Therefore, we have responsibilities, and we must take heed and fulfill them to succeed.

Faith requires action.

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14

So, what do we do? We obey the Scripture.

  1. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
  2. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Colossians 3:23 (NIV)
  3. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” Revelation 2:3 (NIV)
  4. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1 (NIV)

Imagine our names among those listed in the Bible—by faith Loretta or by faith Dana or by faith Roger trusted God. They studied writing techniques, character building, story arcs, plots, and deep POV. They attended writers conferences and learned more about writing. They heeded correction and made adjustments. They didn’t give up when rejections turned them away. They kept the faith and pressed forward even when they couldn’t see what the future held.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have such a description follow our names into the publishing world? To be known as trustworthy and dedicated not only to our readers, but to our agents, editors, and publishers as well? To be known as team players in a world of uncertainties? To be known as encouragers and mentors and that we loved God and lived—by faith.

By Faith, we pursue God’s plan to write. #ACFWBlogs @lorettajeidson #amwriting
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Loretta Eidson writes romantic suspense. She was a double finalist in the 2017 Daphne du Maurier contest, won second place in the 2017 Catherine, first place in her genre in the 2014 Novel Rocket Contest, a 2013 and 2015 semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest, and finalist in ACFW’s 2014 Genesis.Visit Loretta on her Facebook page, Twitter or Website.

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By Christa MacDonald

Pain, the emotional sort, is a killer of creativity. It’s hard to get the words out when your heart is breaking. Grief, angst, fear, whatever it is, nothing shuts off the faucet of inspiration like suffering. It’s tough to get motivated to write a light-hearted romance when your heart is broken. It’s equally challenging to write about God’s Providence when you’re facing a financial disaster. But if there’s a deadline to make (And isn’t there always a deadline to make?), you’ll be stuck at the keyboard anyway. Part of being an author is writing when you don’t feel like it.

C.S. Lewis said “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures…but shouts in our pains.” He also said “Pain plants the flag of truth in the rebel fortress.” Truth can set us free, it can shine out in dark situation, and it can hurt. Sometimes, it needs to hurt to get our attention. When we’re stubbornly walking in the wrong direction, it can take a painful event to steer us back. Other times there’s no sign of any purpose in our suffering. It can seem capricious. That’s when I try to remember that God is the Author of the Universe and that even if I don’t know why I know He does and I try to be content with that. Whatever the source or the purpose, pain can consume our thoughts like a fire burns through the oxygen in a closed room.

It’s tempting to take a few days off when pain is killing your creativity, but there’s a bit of danger in taking too long of a break. It becomes easier to give up entirely. Instead, I say use that pain. Write it out. Take a blank page and spill your heart onto it. There are no rules for this kind of writing. It’s like brainstorming, put the words down in whatever order they come to you. After the page or pages are filled, you might start finding gems in the dirt, bits of insight, parts of the message that’s in this experience. Or you might just have dirt, lots of angst with no insight in sight. That’s okay. The purpose is to get it out of your head so you can go back to writing what you need to. Gleaning any meaning from it is a bonus.

Now that the pain has been pinned to a page leave it there while you work on other writing. Don’t abandon it if you feel you can’t, but let it stay there and wait for you. Pick up your work in progress and get writing. If you start to feel the drag back to the pain, think of it as an actual piece of paper stuck with a tack to a cork board. Acknowledge that it’s there and that it can wait. It may take some practice but stick with it. This works for anxious thoughts as well. Pin them to the board too and only let yourself look them over (i.e. think about them) when you decide you’re ready.

Life as an author is often like a long trek through rugged country. Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down. The key is to keep walking.

I say use that pain. Write it out. Take a blank page and spill your heart onto it. #ACFWBlogs @CricketMacD #amwriting
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Christa MacDonald is a 2017 Carol Award finalist. The Broken Trail, published by Mountain Brook Ink, was her debut novel. When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England.

 

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By Davalynn Spencer

When we hear that people have experience in a particular field or endeavor, we often equate that experience with success and only success. However, if that were the case, their experience would not be genuine.

Experience bleeds.

Last month at a multi-author event for the local college, I met a woman who is a licensed pilot. She’s logged many hours in the cockpit as the PIC – Pilot in Command. However, her knowledge of aerodynamics and her skill at breaking gravity’s grip often cause her great fear when she flies on commercial airlines.

I expected just the opposite.

As a frequent international flier, she explained that she always pays close attention to the pilots for her flights. The young ones make her nervous, she said. Not because they’re less qualified to fly the massive commercial airliners, but because they are less likely to have experienced the many things that can go wrong several miles above terra firma.

She is most comfortable with pilots who have a military background. Their level of “been there, done that” usually involves mechanical failures, life-threatening weather conditions, and calls for split-second decision making.

She draws comfort from their hard times. I drew conclusions from her comments.

As believers in an omnipotent and loving God, we know that nothing is impossible when He is involved. We know that He is always with us, working everything out for our good. But we are less comfortable with reminders of the turbulence and trials that await us.

We may not be aware of others observing our troubles, but when we’re slammed against the wall and Jesus squeezes out through the cracks in our lives, people see it. Because we suffer as they suffer—yet survive, even thrive—they find hope that they can too.

Similarly, when commanding situations from the cockpit of my author’s desk, I’m sometimes reluctant to let my characters fail. I like them. I want to protect them, keep them from hurtling through emotionally turbulent air. However, that’s unrealistic and impractical.

It’s also boring.

Every reader alive knows failure is part of the deal, and they want to see our protagonist hit the wall and get up again. They want to observe our characters overcoming challenges similar to their own.

Yes, these people know they’re reading fiction, but truth leaks from the cracks in our characters’ lives the same way it does in our own.

Author and literary agent Donald Maass tells writers to find the worst thing that can happen to their protagonist and put it in the book.

That idea makes me shiver. It also makes for good story.

Our characters must stumble, fall, and bleed along their developmental pathway. Authentic experience with any endeavor involves imperfection, failure, and growth. Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordon are exceptional examples of this truth.

It’s the fall down, get up principal. Both sides of the equation are necessary.

Success comes when the latter outnumbers the former.

Fall down, get up. Again. #ACFWBlogs @davalynnspencer #amwriting
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Davalynn Spencer writes Western romance set along the Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and an award-winning rodeo journalist and former crime-beat reporter who caters to Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect at http://www.davalynnspencer.com.

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by Christa Kinde

Whenever I’m invited to talk about the Threshold Series, one question keeps cropping up. How do you pick names for your characters? While it might sound like I’m dodging the question, the honest answer is … it depends! I don’t have one set rule. But I do have four different approaches. I’ll even throw in some bonus tips at the end.

  1. Your name is your reputation.

Sometimes, I choose a character’s name because I want to give the reader a hook. The obvious example from the Threshold series is my protagonist, Prissie Pomeroy. She always wears dresses. She has excellent posture. She corrects her brothers’ grammar. In a word, Prissie is … prissy! Tying your character’s name to a fundamental personality trait can help your reader remember who’s who. This approach happens to be a classic, employed by authors like Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

  1. Names can have deeper meanings.

I find word origins fascinating, so I’ll often choose a name because of its meaning. And by often, I mean most of the time. For instance, Pomeroy means “apple orchard,” and Prissie’s family lives on one. Milo Leggett is one of the series’ angels; his day job is local mailman extraordinaire. So it’s entirely appropriate that Milo means “cheerful,” and Leggett means “messenger.” Researching the meanings behind names can help you find one that suits your character right down to the twinkle in his eyes.

  1. Blending in can be a good thing.

In many cases, I’ll pick a name because it’s ordinary. I don’t know about you, but when I was in grade school, three girls in my class were named Jenny. To keep them straight, the teacher referred to them as Jennifer, Jenny, and Jen. So when it came time to name Prissie’s girlfriends from school, I tossed a Jennifer into the mix. Simply because I consider it commonplace. If your story is set in a specific time and place, dig a little. Find out what’s normal. Naming trends are your friends, and every place has them.

  1. They’re my characters, not my kids.

I was one of those little girls who kept a list of names that I planned to bestow on my children one day. Looking back, inflicted may have been a better word. When it comes to my characters, I regularly pick names I don’t care for. On purpose. For instance, I’m not all that fond of “Jayce” or “Ransom.” But Prissie’s dad’s a gem of a guy, and Ransom’s all kinds of fun to write. I don’t hold their names against them. By the same token, I didn’t name Naomi Pomeroy’s children. She did. So their names hold special meaning to her and Jayce. Not to me.

Once in a while, I’ll wish I could take back a character’s name, but that rarely works out. Names stick. And that means I’m stuck. In the Threshold Series, I have a Nell and a Neil in the same household. Their names are so easy to mix up at a glance. Also, I have a pair of guardian angels whose names both start with “T.” I recommend making things easier on your readers.

Every story has its own ambiance, and details definitely add oomph. Names are inherently personal, so you’ll have to deal with them on a case-by-case basis. Your characters will let you know if they’re willing to live with a name. And even if they’re less-than-thrilled with whatever you inflict, you’ll know if you’ve found a good fit. Because it’ll stick. And they’ll be stuck.

Bonus Tips:

  • Choose something your audience can pronounce. (People often ask me how to say Tamaes)
  • Remember family ties. (Prissie’s middle name is her great-grandmother’s first name)
  • Mix up how many syllables are in names. (Pearl, Derrick, and Amberly Matthews)
  • Pick names with appropriate meanings. (Taweel means “tall,” Koji means “friend”)
  • For better or for worse, nicknames happen. (Miss Priss, Goldilocks, Uncle Lou)
  • Names can be tied to idiosyncrasies. (Myron Baird prefers to be called by his last name)
  • Introduce a “rule” for certain names. (All yahavim have four-letter names that end in “i”)
  • Make room for classics. (Paul, Naomi, Peter)
  • Chase era-appropriate fads (Gavin), but also toss in throw-backs. (Margery)

How do I pick character names? The honest answer is…it depends! I don’t have one set rule. But I do have four approaches. #ACFWBlogs @ChristaKinde
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Christa Kinde writes studies, stories, and devotionals that bring truth into focus and give faith a practical spin. Her angel-filled Threshold series is complete in four volumes from Zonderkidz. She also publishes family-friendly fantasy under her maiden name, C.J. Milbrandt. More at CJMilbrandt.com and ChristaKinde.com.

 

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by Donna LH Smith

Envy—according to Webster’s, it means feeling of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc., resentful disliked of another who has something that one desires.

This goes back to Commandment #10: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…etc.

It’s natural to want things for ourselves. When we’re unpublished, we want to be published. When we’re published, we want to be an award-winning, best-selling author. And yes, we know it will take time to “get there.” But in today’s culture, we want it now!

One thing I love about Christian writers is the lack of competitive spirit. And yet, I still feel envy sometimes. I want what they have. However, I don’t dislike them for having it. I want them to be blessed. But I want those blessings, too.

I never used to think I was envious, but a few years ago, God showed me I was. About seventeen years ago, I figured out what was “wrong” with me my whole life. I was adopted, introvert to the umpteenth degree, and extremely sensitive. God revealed to me that I had a root of rejection. Or otherwise known as rejection syndrome. The “clinical” name is Avoidance Personality Disorder. I’m healed of it now, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect.

I’m not, but the rejection is like a healing scar. When it’s bumped, it hurts.

My first book is published, but because of my inherent introversion, it hasn’t sold enough to qualify for certain contests. I found others.

I still wish I could have qualified, but I saw someone do that once. Shamelessly almost beg on social media for people to buy their book just so they could qualify for that contest—that they eventually won.

I’m not built that way.

The Bible says we’ll reap in due season if we don’t give up. Life is a process. Let’s enjoy the journey. Who knows if down the road God will give us what we want, if we seek Him first.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be an award-winning, best-selling author, but I know that God is for me. I follow Him. No matter what.

Life is a process—let’s enjoy the journey, envy free. #ACFWBlogs #lifeisaprocess #enjoythejourney #freefromenvy @donnalhsmith
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Donna L.H. Smith lives in Lancaster County, PA, originally a Kansas prairie girl. She holds two college degrees in communications and certificate—CWG Craftsman. She is ACFW’s Mid-Atlantic Zone Director and Managing Editor of www.almostanauthor.com. You can find her at www.donnalhsmith.com, Facebook, and https://twitter.com/donnalhsmith. Her first novel is Meghan’s Choice.

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By Kathleen Y’Barbo

April 1, 2018 is the book birthday for my swashbuckling historical romance, PIRATE BRIDE. As with traditional births, this book was approximately nine months in the making, give or take. So happy birthday to the book of my heart, the book I whose story people first came to me more than twenty years ago.

The book that survived a hurricane.

Yes. A hurricane.

Flash back to August 25, 2017—my birthday and the day that Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas Gulf Coast. Suffice it to say the birthday celebration was postponed as the category 4 storm blew in with winds up to 130 mph.

As the rain fell and the waters rose—a year’s worth of rain in less than a week here in Houston—the September 1 deadline for completing PIRATE BRIDE loomed. Not so fun fact: so much rain fell on coastal Texas during that storm that the National Weather Service had to update their weather maps with new color codes for rainfall because there was no precedent (or color) to show that.

Never have I been so grateful for our decision to downsize to the top floor of a midrise building with third-floor interior parking even as I worried about friends and family who weren’t sitting as high and dry as we were. While the television played the unfolding drama of lives lost, families rescued, and even a news crew that was forced to evacuate their own newsroom while on camera, I continued to write the chapters that would form this book.

Maribel and Jean-Luc have been with me for more than two decades, and I would not miss the opportunity to tell their story. As I typed page after page, outside my window real heroes were saving lives. If anyone had a question as to whether there are still heroes in our midst, look no further than those who waded into chest deep water; who came from out of state with boats and all-terrain vehicles (thinking of you, Cajun Navy!); who opened stores and restaurants to feed, clothe and offer refuge (look up Mattress Mack Mackingvale for starters); and who swooped in after the waters receded to dig in (literally) to begin the long process of recovery.

So as I hold my copy of PIRATE BRIDE in my hand, I think of the torrents of rain that blew past my window as I typed this tale of heroes and privateers and villains who sailed the Gulf of Mexico. And while I hope that you’ll buy a copy of this book and enjoy it, especially given the fact I have wanted for so very long to tell this tale, I also hope when you hold it in your hands—or open it on your e-reader–you’ll also stop a moment and offer up a prayer for those who are still recovering from this storm.

And I hope you’ll keep writing…no matter what!

Thank you and God Bless! #TexasStrong

Hurricanes, pirates and heroes, oh my! Writing through the storms. #ACFWBlogs @KathleenYBarbo #amwriting
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Bestselling Kathleen Y’Barbo, winner of Romantic Times Inspirational Romance of the Year, is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee with than two million copies of her more than eighty books in print. Find out more at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

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By Nora St. Laurent

Authors want them because it helps sales and readers are not sure what to say in them so many don’t write them.

Where do you find readers that will write reviews? We’ve heard of some creative ways authors have found new readers. They’ve thought outside the box. One author told us that she sold more books at quilt and art shows then she ever did at conferences and book signings.

So, check out local festivals, where you can sell your book and/or have a small basket they can enter to win by giving you their name and email address. This helps you create a mailing list to add to your potential street team. Make your book free on the same days of the festival so that you can point people to your book, gain verified purchases and possible reviews.

The best reviews come from the author’s relationships with readers. A Street Team: A group of readers/ Fans with a shared goal, to inspire others to read their Author’s book. Grass roots/ word of mouth/ Ambassadors.

When you read a book that blows you away, you can’t stop thinking about it, and didn’t want it to end! This motivates you to tell anyone that will listen about what you just experienced. Telling your friends and family they just must read this book. People will listen to you because of your excitement and how you describe the story. Nothing does a better job of getting books into readers hands than word-of-mouth recommendations! Creating a buzz about the author and the book. Finding and establishing a relationship with readers, who become fans, is the essential, first step, to an effective, grassroots marketing plan.

Writing Reviews.

Reviews don’t have to be long. I found it very helpful when an author requested that I review their book and mentioned that even one or two lines would be a blessing. The author gave me a note with examples of one-line reviews I could write, as a reader: “I enjoyed this fast-paced action adventure novel. I couldn’t put it down.” Or “After reading this book I had to tell my friends. There was so much in this book I couldn’t stop thinking about.” Or “The characters in this book became my friends. I hated when the book ended. They felt so real to me.” Short and simple reviews can be effective, and it encourages the author to continue to produce more books!

Once the reader has read the book give them suggestions about where to post the book/rating such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, CBD, Book Bub, Books a Million, Indiebound, AppleIbooks etc.

If you self-publish and use KDP Select you can make your eBook free on Amazon for 5 days, once every 90 days, and this will increase your readership as your street team will tell family, and friends and other Social Network friends about the book being free. This is the most effective way to get a verified purchase. Even though the book is free it counts as a verified purchase and stays on the Amazon website. Non-verified purchase reviews disappear after a while. If you are published by a publisher, query them about releasing the book on Kindle, exclusively, for the first 90 days, to be able to do this? A verified purchase, review, is worth the extra work!

Once you have the review done on your blog you can put a link on Twitter, Instagram, etc. You can provide sharable posts/tweets/graphics to make it easy for your team to talk about the terrific book experience they just had. They can also use hashtags; # example hashtags for that specific book title, author, genre etc.

Good luck with your marketing plan, and always work to find more readers!

Marketing is a big part of being an author!

Book Reviews and Marketing #ACFWBlogs @TBCN2 #amwriting
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Nora St. Laurent is the COO of The Book Club Network Inc.  You can read author interviews, reviews, learn about book signings and about TBCN giveaways on the blog she created called The Book Club Network blog, http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com. Nora also does author interviews and reviews for Book Fun Magazine http://www.bookfunmagazine.com. Nora has also run book clubs face to face and online with more than 100 members. She enjoys working part-time for the Public Library as a CSA.

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By Rondi Olson

My laptop made a grinding noise. I held it up to my co-worker, and asked if she could hear the sound, but before she could answer, the screen went blank. I wasn’t worried, at first. I restarted the computer, hoping that whatever was wrong would fix itself, but instead the grinding resumed, and an error message flashed on the screen. No hard drive found. Still, I didn’t panic. Yes, my hard drive was dead, and it was sad to lose my faithful electronic friend of five years, but I had backups. I was good. Or so I thought.

I opened my usual cloud storage to find that while many of my files were secure, my most recent, almost completed manuscript, hadn’t been backed up in six months. I was in shock. I was sure I had backed it up only a few days before, but despite searching from cloud to cloud and on multiple thumb drives, six months of work on my manuscript was gone.

Yes, this is a sad tale of hard work lost, and a gut-wrenching reminder to back up your work every day, but it’s more than that, because a miracle happened.

Maybe you think I’m going to tell you the hard drive recovered long enough for me to access my data.

It didn’t.

Maybe you think I’m going to tell you that after a heart felt prayer (I offered up many) I found my lost manuscript in an email file, or on one of my other computers.

I didn’t.

In fact, things didn’t go so well for a long time. I didn’t write for weeks while I attempted to resurrect my hard drive. When I finally admitted defeat, I hated everything I wrote. I’d been happy with the work I’d done, the work that was lost. Nothing new could compare. Finally, I stopped trying. I didn’t even want to talk to my writer friends about my discouragement, because, honestly, everyone knows you need to back up your work every day. How had I managed to let months pass? My mistake was embarrassing to admit. Maybe this whole writing thing wasn’t for me. Maybe it was a sign from God I should stop.

So I did stop writing, and I wasn’t happy about it, but I had a lot of other things to do that kept me busy and I didn’t think about it much.

Then I started to notice something in my daily devotions. The same theme kept popping up. You are called. You are chosen. I have given you a work to do. Now what you have to understand about my devotional time is that I write in a journal and use the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, which, if you’ve ever used it before, is pretty random. You’re hopping all over the Bible reading different chapters, but nothing is random with God. I was called to write, and by doing other things, I wasn’t being faithful to my calling.

The miracle in this case wasn’t an amazing reversal of fortunes, or an easy solution to a difficult problem. It was the change in my heart, the ability to be positive again, and to get to work.

Does God encourage you in your writing? How?

What losing my manuscript after my hard drive crashed taught me. @rondiolson #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #backup
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Rondi Bauer Olson is a reader, writer, and animal wrangler from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her debut novel for young adults, All Things Now Living, was a finalist in the 2012 Genesis Contest and is available at major online retailers. Visit Rondi at www.rondiolson.com and www.7thdaughter.com.

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