Saturday, January 31, 2009

Publishing Insights

I've had a number of questions asked me this past week about the publishing world, so I thought I'd put them in a post in case there are other newbie authors or readers interested.

1) Does Love Inspired accept unagented authors? Did you start with an agent?

Because I live overseas where it’s hard to do some of the aspects of the business, even with the Internet, I use an agent, but there are still a number of publishers, like Love Inspired/Steeple Hill, who will accept manuscripts from unagented authors. If you are writing a certain genre and targeting a particular publisher, you can usually find out their writer’s guidelines by going to their website. It’s crucial to follow these guidelines precisely. Here’s the link for Love Inspired Suspense, for example if you would like to check it out.

2) About how many books do they print of a first time author?

This all depends on the publisher. Book clubs, like Heartsong Presents and Steeple Hill, will normally have a higher print run for a first time author.

3) Did you start with an editor of your own and then did Love Inspired connect you with an in-house editor?

All major houses have their own editors, both in house and freelance. Through the editing process, there will be a number of separate edits done, and then a final chance for the author to read over the manuscript before it goes to print.

Starting last year, because of my busy schedule and full time writing commitments, I started hiring a freelance editor on my own to polish all my manuscripts before I send them to my publisher. Editing is not my strength, but I still want to turn in the best possible manuscript that I can. I also have critique partners who are fantastic in catching a lot of mistakes and for brainstorming with. After they have gone through my story, the editor I hire then can read over the entire manuscript to ensure there are no storyline issues, etc. If you are looking for an wonderful editor who can polish your manuscript and charges reasonable prices, you can check out her website here.

4) Should I join an organization like RWA or wait until I sell a book? Is this where many of my questions would be answered?

If you are serious about writing, I would definitely join a writing organization like RWA (Romance Writers of America) or ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). The resources available from ACFW in particular (I know more about them because I am a member) are phenomenal. There are online resources and classes, yearly conferences, critique groups, and chapter organizations you can join on a local level. It’s well worth the yearly membership fee.

5.) Does Zondervan set the deadlines or do you have some say?

Typically an editor, when wanting to contract a new book, will come to me and ask me if I can get it done in X amount of time. If there did happen to be a problem on my end, my agent could negotiate a longer deadline. When Zondervan offered me a contract in September, the book was already written. My editor then gave me until this March 1st to make a number of changes we discussed in detail that would make the story (set in Africa) more marketable for an American audience. Each publisher is different, but they gave me about five months to make the necessary changes for them.

After this, the book will go through a number of different edits, including content edits and line edits that will take place over the next year until the book is released in March 2010. So as you can see, the editing process is a long and involved process. During this time, the marketing team and those involved in cover art are working as well.

6.) What's the process like for making a book cover? Does the author have any say in what it will look like?

Again, all publishers do things a bit different, but I've been able to give input on many of my covers. Most publishers have a form for the author to fill out. In this form they ask for information about the hero and heroine, setting, secondary characters, etc. They will often ask you for any cover ideas you have as well. The cover above is for a three-in-one historical romance with two other others that will be released this summer. I didn't have any say on that cover, though I think Barbour did a great job with it. The sketch below is for my third cozy mystery also being released by Barbour. They asked me for cover ideas and then have always shown me the preliminary drawing as well for my approval.

Feel free to contact me with any more questions and I'll try to answer them on a later post!



Friday, January 30, 2009


I thought I'd post a couple more photos of the market. I actually need to pick up some eggs, bread, and fruit, but with the heat index at 113--Believe me, I'm feeling every degree--I'm waiting until later this afternoon.

The heat has been pretty bad the past few days. I had to move a bunch of boxes this morning and literally could wring out my shirt when I was finished. It looks as if it's going to rain, so maybe that will cool things off a bit. At least I can always hope.:-)



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Figuring it all out. . .

One of the challenges of moving to a new country is figuring out the day to day life--things like language barriers, cultural differences, and discovering what goods are available. It can be a fun challenge--most of the time. :-)

For example, we've had a lot of visitors here since our arrival, so one of my biggest challenges has been making sure everyone is fed three times a day, something's that's not always easy when there is no quick take away or instant meals at the local store. This was further complicated when all the delivery trucks from the capital took off the month of December, which quickly emptied out the store shelves.

But in the process, I've met some neat people as I learn what I can buy here as far as food is concerned. Women, selling fruit and vegetable, sit in long rows in the open market with their goods scattered in front of them on wooden tables. Behind them, a row of Indian sellers, with various spices and canned goods, stack up their wares, while those selling tourist stuff lay theirs on the ground to catch the visitor's eye.

I've spent a lot of time visiting all the various shops to see who sells what. For example, I buy apples in the open market from Rebecca and tomatoes and onions from Ceceila. I can find yogurt, eggs and juice in the Indian shop near the market, and cheese and (clean) rice at Nersia's shop. Pineapples and mangos are plentiful from most of the sellers, as is garlic and ginger. So while I admit to missing a lot of the conveniences I'm used to, I've learned to roast my own peanuts (I'm going to try honey roasted this week), cook using coconut milk, and how much I love making curry chicken and prawns.

My internet is acting up, so I'll plan to post some more photos tomorrow.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tower of Giraffes

We stopped for a brief visit to Kruger last week on our way to drop of our Brazilian friends off at the airport. After two hours to get through the border in scorching weather and an emergency wheel bearing problem, we finally made it into the park for a few hours. It was actually out of the main park, though, where we saw these giraffe, standing in the road in the rain with no particular place to go. I had never seen so many, so close up, so it was an amazing experience for all of us. When I have time, I'll post some of the video footage we took.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you!

I've had a few computer problems as my wireless went out, but I'm up and working again finally. The past few days have been busy as we've started our new year of school here in South Africa and I've been working to finish up edits on my historical for Summerside Press. I'm getting excited about the story, one that deals with revenge and forgiveness, as I feel as if it is finally coming together.

Scott has had an amazing time at the conference he's attending nearby and has been encouraged to see David, one of our leaders, really catch the vision of discipleship training. We are so excited to see what God is going to do in the coming weeks and months. David was blown away to see so many Christian leaders gathered together in one place and to see that our vision reaches far beyond our small corner of the world.

I wanted to end by saying thank you to Ricardo, Melissa, and Julia for staying with us during these past few weeks and for the love and encouragement they were to our family. Not only were they a huge boost for my Portuguese, but I loved getting to know them better. We will continue praying for you as you seek God's will in your lives!

Coming next. . .an interesting roadblock outside Kruger. . .with nine giraffes.



Thursday, January 15, 2009

On the road again. . .catching up

We're back on the road again for a few days, and I've been off-line. We had to return to SA briefly to bring our Brazilian friends back to the airport, and then Scott will be participating in a discipleship conference near where we used to live starting Monday. He will be coaching David, one of our African leaders from Mozambique and is very excited about the opportunity.

I came so we could pick up the kids new school books and stock up on some supplies. I'm thrilled because the kids can't wait to see their new books later this morning. They will also get the chance to spend some time with some of their friends. I'll be busy reading through my galleys of my third cozy mystery (the final copy of a book before it goes to print) and finishing up another book deadline for next week.

I've got some great photos I'll be posting in the coming few weeks I think you will enjoy, but for now. . .it's off to work!



Friday, January 09, 2009

Inhambane Bay

We took our friends across the bay in one of the sailboats you can hire. One of the men started bailing water toward the end, but otherwise it was simply a relaxing and beautiful ride.

We took the fast boat home, a motorboat that is actually a lot cooler because you are sitting under a tarp instead of in the sun. The bay isn't very deep, but if you notice the life jackets in the video, well, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't help much.



Thursday, January 08, 2009

Day of Prayer for Rosie

This is Rosie, a sweet four year old that we've known since just after she was born. Her parents worked for us in South Africa and in the past few years we've seen God take them on an amazing journey of faith. When we first met her father, David, he wasn't interested at all in learning about Jesus, but I remember telling Scott, that one day he would become an evangelist his own people in Mozambique. It took over a year for God to change their hearts, but three years ago, he and his wife became Christians and have since then grown tremendously in their faith.

When God called us to Mozambique, we asked them to come with us. Emily had no desire to move to Mozambique and told us that. I told her that honestly, I didn't want to go either, but God had called us and because of that we were going. She stood up and said if you are going because God has called you, we will come as well. This has been their heart ever since, to reach out to the people here.

During the last few months since our arrival here, God has brought people to their doorstep who want to know more about the Bible. We firmly believe that it is our job to train up solid leaders, because they are the ones who will be able to reach the people here the best.

We've spent a lot of time praying for David and Emily's daughter during the past several years. She quit talking when she was two and has showed some signs of Autism. We went through the process of having her hearing tested along with several other things, and while she has improved with her interaction, she still isn't speaking. Resources are limited here, but we are in the process of making arrangements to take her to a neurologist in the next few weeks (six hours away) as well as a pediatrician we found nearby.

David and Emily are already praising God for the changes in Rosie, but she has a long way to go. We've set aside today as a special day of prayer for her and her family and will be gathering with several of the Christians this evening to pray over her. Please pray for this sweet family as they seek to follow God and raise their daughter.



Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Visit with the Orphans

On Sunday we visited the orphanage and took with us eight of the Christians. It was a moving experience to see these young men holding these sweet children on their laps and coloring with them. Ricardo, the Brazilian who's visiting with us, led them in songs which they loved. We'll definitely be doing this on a regular basis.

While it was a joy to see their smiles, it's also hard to walk away knowing that these children need love and family. It also made a huge impression on my kids, making them realize, at least to a degree how much they have. And not just in material things, but in having a mom and a dad, and a home of their own.



Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

It's hard to believe that another year has passed, and a new one has begun. I think we all love new beginnings which is probably why we love a new year. It's a chance to start afresh, to make new goals, and to dream of what we want for our future.

I spent this morning with my family, talking about the past year. We made a list of all the answered prayers and blessings God placed in our lives in 2008. It was important for me to see all the ways God worked in our lives, in spite of the many challenges and difficulties we faced. Here are just a few things we listed today.

1. Blessed us with new friends in Brazil and Mozambique
2. Found us a good house
3. Unexpected time with family in the States
4. No malaria!
5. Sold my African series
6. Survived our first year home schooling (and the kids did great!)
7. Watched our ministry begin to expand
8. Living here has given us more time together as a family
9. Growth in Portuguese
10. Saw the Amazon

What about you? I know that many of you have had times of celebrations during this past year, while others of you have faced tragedy with the loss of jobs and loved ones. My prayer for each one of you is that this coming year will be full of peace and joy, but even more importantly, a deeper understanding of our Heavenly Father and His will for you in your life.

Wishing you a very blessed 2009!