Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Putting the "Motion" in Promotion

As authors, we are faced with the ongoing challenge of promoting our books. Publishers do a lot to help out, true, but the lion's share is left to us. There are a number of methods that can be used in this process, such as blog sites, reviews, interviews, book signings, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

 A method I have used, in addition to the ones mentioned above, is making a float (that features my latest book) and entering it in local parades. With the help of family members, we decorate our truck with hundreds of pom-poms. A large mock up of the front cover is mounted on the back, and signs are placed on the vehicle's doors, advertising the book signing I hold after the parade.

Throwing candy to the crowd is a local tradition. So as my wife and I drive along the parade route and wave to the cheering crowds, we toss candy to the anxious children, who have come prepared with plastic shopping bags. Invariably, the shopping bags fill to rival the bounty collected on Halloween night.

Making the float is a lot of work, and not that many people see it in comparison to the numbers that can be reached through social media. But it is a lot of fun to drive along the parade route and have people shout and applaud in encouragement. Sometimes I'll hear, "I read your book. Loved it!"

 Putting the "motion" in promotion has been a rewarding experience. But I am always looking for more ways to promote my books. Any suggestions?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fun of Being a Writer

One of my most favorite things to do as a writer is attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference held every year in September. I’ve met so many of my writing friends at this conference, and I’ve learned a great deal about the writing profession and how to be a better writer.

Whenever an aspiring writer asks me about how to get started in writing, I tell them:
1.      Join a writing group/club in your area.
2.      Find a national organization to which you can belong
3.      Attend writing conferences and even one day workshops with a published author
4.      Find a critique group or a critique partner
5.      Read books on writing, especially about the genre of writing you do.
6.      Write

One would think number 6 is a given if one wants to be a writer, but I’ve met so many people who want to be writers, but they don’t write. They have notes about the topic, and some ideas about what they want to do, but they’ve tried to organize their thoughts and actually write their story.

Even at the age of 77, I am still learning. That’s one of the reasons I attend the ACFW conference. I want to learn more and be a better writer. Being a part of a group at a conference or in a writing club near home, an unpublished writer can learn so much about the world of writing. At conferences writers have the opportunity to meet and interact with editors and agents in attendance as well as pick the brain of other writers.

Christian writers care about each other and want to help others to be good writers. Christian non-fiction has always sold in the stores when the subject matter touches a place the reader needs in his or her life. Christian fiction can do the same, but many times readers have to be convinced Christian fiction is worth the time to read it. That being the case, it is up to those established writers to stand up and make a difference with the best possible writing they can produce.

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at ACFW conference in Indianapolis, Indiana in September, but before that I will be a part of the Texas Christian Writers Conference to be held next Saturday, August 3, in Houston, Texas.

What are your favorite things to do as a writer?

Thursday, July 25, 2013


What is your definition of success?



Connecting with readers

Balancing writing and home/family

As Christian writers it’s a given that sharing our faith through our writing is on that list, but what about the rest?

I’ll be honest in saying I want a big following of readers first and foremost. There’s nothing more gratifying than hearing from a reader that they enjoyed reading one of my books. And readers who spread the word about our books is where it’s at. No matter what social media, publicity etc. it all comes back around to readers. Do I want the rest on that list? Of course.

Sales, it make everyone happy if the numbers are good, but I’ve learned it doesn’t do any good to try and keep up with the ups and downs. I pray and wait that all is well and most of the time it is, and when it’s not I just work harder.

Money is always a good thing, especially to get paid to do something we love to do. But for me it’s probably the last one on the list, because if those don’t come to fruition the money isn’t there.

Validation has become important to me, simply due to the fact that people don’t understand the literary industry. But I get that because I had a lot to learn when I was first published. There’s a lot that goes on before that book is on the shelf.

I’d never had writers block until this summer when we moved, and our son came home from college. Too much change and work distracted me from my writing. It’s been hard to slip in and out of my characters when I’d left them alone for long periods of time. Balancing time to get our new house in order and spending time with my son kept me juggling my time. As you can guess, I spent any time my son had with him. That time is just too precious, even though I heard little voices in my head reminding me they were there and waiting. 

Best-seller list? It’s always good to dream!

What does success look like to you?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Story Characters are People Too

As a reader, when I pick up a book, the first thing I look for is at least one character in the cast that I can relate to. They don't have to be like me, but I do want to have some point of reference that I understand. It can even be something basic, like a woman who puts her family first, and the conflict involves the outside world telling her that other things are more important. Or it may be a person who shares the same interests as me.

As an author, I like to dig deep and get to know the people in my stories. I often do extensive character interviews to find out what happened in their past to motivate them to do the things they do in the story. This is generally where I find my conflict that creates the foundation for everything else. Doing this helps me write the proposal that my agent uses to sell the book to a publisher. Occasionally, the people in the story do something unexpected as I write, so I may even change things a bit, but I do my best to keep them (mostly) on track, or I risk going off on a self-indulgent tangent.

Even though I've lost most of my southern accent, I'm still a southern girl deep down. I love grits, fried okra, and hot buttered biscuits, and I think with a southern accent. 

In Missing Dixie, the first book in my Uptown Belles series with Charisma House, I've taken an Alabama girl out of a small town in the South and planted her in New York City. I think that alone offers a healthy dose of conflict. I've added a powerful reason for her to stay away from her hometown for a while and a born-and-raised-in-New-York man as the hero to add more ways to expose the heroine's vulnerabilities and nuances.

I enjoy reading other books set in the South, but I also like getting to know people from places I've never visited. The key is to find some common ground so I can feel what the characters feel and care enough to go on this 300-or-so-page journey with them. Although I prefer a female main character who loves the Lord, I'm willing to give a guy a chance if he loves his cat. And for me to pick up that author's next book, I need to see character growth with the main person in the story learning something that matters to me.

What character traits do you look for in stories?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Shapes the Shapers?

Writers can make a difference.

Writers have always been at the forefront of social change; of challenging the status quo; of asking “why not” instead of just “why”. Walter Wangerin, Jr. has a wonderful essay on the origin of poets. The “shapers” of medieval times. These shapers as they were called took the events of the day -- mostly tragedies such as a failed battle -- and spun the words and the names into song and verse. In so doing, the shapers fashioned a story that carried remembrance and truth. These stories changed those who heard them. That legacy has been passed down to us.

Let’s face it. If you are reading this blog, then you are most probably a Christian interested in writing. Creating. Art. Those of us who write these blogs have the privelege of being “published authors”. It is also a burden and can be a curse. But, to whom much is given . . .

How then should we as Christians react to the recent events in our culture? How do we respond to the gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court? Or, the abortion debate in the Texas legislature? Or, the recent decision in the Zimmermann trial?

I wrestled with some of these issues in my own blog but my son, Sean, age 28, wrote a piece that moved me so I wanted to share it with all of you who are creative; who shape truth into story. For, our stories point to a Kingdom and a King!

Here are my son’s words:

"You place your vote, misplace your hope in men
Who will let you down with empty dreams
And broken promises
It's hard to keep from giving up
It's easier to just fold up your arms" - Derek Webb

For some people of faith, this week has been a week full of bitter disappointments. They see a moral arc of their universe bending towards corruption and ruin. They hear wars and rumors of wars on the borders of everything they hold dear. They feel threatened, neglected, discounted. 

They feel like the world that created and sustained an environment amenable to the presence of God is passing on, and they worry that the world coming has little room for Him, much less His people.

They fear the consequences of a world that rejects their Savior so fully.

I don't think they're wrong to be concerned, because salt and light has always been challenging to the systems of the word and men have always rejected light for their love of darkness. To the people of Jesus, these things are not new. They rejected Him andthey will turn away from us, too.

However, I believe that the above is only part of the story. 

Christianity has always operated in an uneasy truce with the empires that govern the world around them. Throughout history, the people of God have lived as strangers and sojourners among the kingdoms of the mighty men of old, and to varying degrees found peace and coexistence with them. Very rarely have they been a kingdom of their own, and the times of kingdoms were marred with infighting and born of a desire to be like the other nations surrounding them. The kings frequently struggled to preserve their reigns, and the most prosperous kings in Israel's history were judged by God for doing evil in His sight. God eventually led them into exile, a defeat of such magnitude that it forced  His chosen to be a people again, set apart and strange. His subversion extended even to their well-meaning messianic dreams, which embellished God's deliverance into a military conquest and return to the kingdoms of old. When God finally fulfilled the kingdom restoration they dreamed of, He hung their mighty ruler to die on an empire's cross. The victory of God was not over His people's temporal enemies but their final enemy: death itself. God's messiah changed the calculus governing the affairs of men, their rules for authority and kingship and power. Jesus inaugurated a kingdom of open peoplehood, a culmination of the promise that God would be King over His people, and they would grow to gather from and convey blessing to the whole world.

There is an uncomfortable truth at the heart of God's story that we must reckon with now: we long for kings when we believe that God's headship is not enough.

The American church of the last 100 years has often flirted with political power. America itself has always been a land of immense promise in our imagination, a place where the divine right of the old kingdoms was democratized, where divine blessing manifested not as enforced rule but as a popular consensus. In the 20th century, full of technology and war and the energy of the Great Awakenings, the church was a place of common cultural grounding, a shared quasi-nationalistic identity. Religious belief was a guiding consensus element of national identity, expected of men of influence and injected by government fiat into currency, classroom and national pledge.  Jesus became the border guard of our kingdom, separating us from the Axis and the godless Communists and the Muslim powers of the East. 

In the last 35 years, the American church has become particularly aware of its power as a voting block. People of faith have gathered to voice their opinions on a number of social and political issues that have been reshaping the cultural and political landscape of the country. We especially oppose the pluralism inherent in the shift in national consensus identity from Judeo-Christian Enlightened Man to inclusive, post-religious Enlightened One. We have become a potent voting bloc and a fervent and well funded special interest group in American political life.

I believe that is wrong.

What I fear is that in the course of our political engagement we have started seeking kings so we can be like the other nations. For every David we find (if we find him at all) we are plagued with ten Sauls, men disingenuously consulting ghosts and forging bad pacts to win victories in conventional terms, hoping to be retroactively blessed because they pursued it in the name of God's kingdom. We align ourselves with political leaders who claim to be like us, but who all too often exploit our fear and discomfort to accrue power to themselves and to pursue their own political ends. 

We do it because we believe that we have no choice. We do it because we are convinced that if we don't follow the rules of presiding empires then we will be cast aside or persecuted. We want to protect what we love and store up the rich blessing that God provides  and we see no other way to do it but through a king.

The trouble with Jesus is that His kingdom, a kingdom of people, transcends nationhood and call us to radical love and sacrifice. God's Messiah is the fulfillment of Saul and Solomon and Caesar — the God-king whose kingdom is one of wholeness and unity and everlasting peace. He speaks of purchased fields and mustard trees and unfair wages and forgiveness, and He does not idly assent to defend the political fortunes of particular nation-states. His kingdom and people overcome by story and blood, not might or power, as He patiently asserts His reign over the world. When the end comes, He will conquer with a sword in His mouth,  it His powerful right hand, and He will judge the nations alongside and through His people.

What temporary power we might hold to enforce our faith through political action is tempting because we believe that we will exercise it fairly. We see our political will as a rare blessing from God to legislate His kingdom into the world, not as a political enshrining of His redemption but as its agent of enforcement. While the government plays a role in protecting from evil and promoting justice and general welfare, we hope it to go further to enforce the particular ethics of our peoplehood on others. We hope that governmental enforcement of the outcomes of our transformation will somehow lead people, in reverse, to their Cause.

We become convinced that we must act because our way of life will be dismissed otherwise. And in defense of conscience and of kingdom, we relive the sins of Saul and David and all the kings who trusted in their own power above the Lord's, even when they thought they were acting in service of His work. We count our armies and ask Him to bless that work while He beckons us to be His people and desires to be our King. He jealously guards His loving dominion over us, and He shares that dominion and worthiness of worship with no one but His Son.

At our best, at our most true, we are a peculiar people in the world, people who have no home apart from the one we create together with Him and with each other. He works through us to preserve and shape our communities and our culture through radical, sacrificial love. His kingdom work transcends social morays and political boundaries. He is not limited by the boundaries of our expectation and He does not take kindly to the notion that there are places He cannot go. His Spirit wind blows where it pleases and He does need us to take Him there by force. 

Ultimately, we are His and He is our king. Ours is the task of loving and serving and living out — His is the finished-but-still-finishing work of His kingdom's rule. The kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdoms of our God and King, and  we are His children when we like Sarah call Him lord and do not fear anything that is alarming. We persevere through love not into violence and scarcity but into abundance, rest and victorious peace.

When Jesus walked the earth, He resisted the temptation of Satan and of the crowds and even of His disciples to fulfill the militaristic, messianic Kingdom dreams of His day. As His servants-turned-friends, we should expect no less a temptation, and no less a calling, for ourselves.

“One day you'll wake and the curse will break
And even you won't be the same.
Your hope is not wasted on a day when everything will change.”

What do you think? How should we as Christian writer’s engage our culture?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Awards and Rewards

Jillian gets her Selah Certificate for Chameleon
Awards are few and far between for most writers. They are fun to receive as you can tell from the smile on my face, but it's not something you can expect and if you put all your hopes and dreams into receiving awards you are bound to be disappointed. Yet it's hard not to hope. 

I think there may be writers out there who don't enter contests because they don't want to be crushed. It can feel like another form of rejection when you don't final or win. I like to look at it from another perspective. In fact if you're going to enter contests you have to have another perspective other than winning.

When you enter a contest you are doing several things:

  • You are putting your published or unpublished work in front of others. Whether the reader likes your work or not it is getting read and discussed and evaluated. Not everyone will appreciate your words. Just like reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. You'll have critics and fans. 
  • You wanted to be a writer and this gives you the opportunity for feedback. That's good!
  • Even if you don't final or win you are marketing. Contests are a form of marketing. Yes, you have to pay to enter contests if your publishing company doesn't do that and the dollars can  add up, but if you want to market this is one reasonable alternative. There are contests all over the country and if you strategically pick places you want to get others to read your novels you can do that by entering different contests throughout the United States.
      So how do you find these contests? Do your homework.

Most of the big conferences have a contest. 
The Selah Award is sponsored through The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Here's all the festivities at the Awards Banquet if you care to watch. 

Romance Writers of America has a contest for published and unpublished writers.RWA 
If you are unaware of them and you write romance you might want to visit the page. RWA has many chapters and different chapters offer different contests. I'm thrilled that Chameleon also made it to the finals for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award this year for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. You can learn more about the Daphne and the Kiss of Death chapter at RWA Mystery and Suspense. There are contests for both published and unpublished writers.

The Christy Awards  recently took place.You can read about how these awards work and just how special they are for authors.

The 2013 Carol Finalists have already been announced and the winners will be announced at conference in September.

That's a start for you and there are many, many more but I'll let you do some more footwork. Remember to develop a good attitude about awards. Be happy for others when you don't win. There will always be other opportunities. Try not to fall into the trap of the green-eyed envy monster. It's not always easy. I found this article that you might be interested in if envy is a trap for you. It's called, Killing the Green-Eyed Monster  I've never read this book. I just Googled envy as it relates to Christians.

Okay, so what do I do if I don't final or win in a contest? I pray that I can be a good sport and that's not really a problem anymore. In my earlier writing days before I had gained some self-confidence it was painful when I got those critiques back, and hurtful when I got rejected. I used to think, "What is so good about this or that book?" I learned that I had to be honest with myself about my skill level and that skill and awards don't necessarily match up. Bottom line is don't let awards go to your head, but enjoy the moment and look for a way to help others in their writing careers. 

Keep a healthy attitude and perspective and then go ahead, enter a contest.

What do you think about contests? Have good news you want to share?

The 3rd book in The Ravensmoore Chronicles

Want to connect? You can reach me at these places.               

Twitter @JillKentAuthor
I also write and coordinate The Well Writer column here:

Friday, July 5, 2013

This Summer Read Realms!

Later this month the winners of the IRCAs will be announced. IRCA stands for Inspirational Readers Choice Award and it's sponsored by Romance Writers of America's inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love (FHL). I'm so honored that my novel Threads of Faith (book 2 in my series) is a finalist in this year's competition.

What makes this contest different from many others is that entries (aka Christian novels) aren't judged by authors' peers. The books are judged by real readers of inspirational fiction. 

Readers like you!

So what are readers saying about Threads of Faith?

 "I like the way Ms. Boeshaar writes. She is an accomplished author who knows how to deliver true to life dialog and create characters that you fall in love with. The love story between Julianna and Daniel is a lot of fun and this book is filled with plenty of action to keep you turning the pages. This is an excellent read! I recommend it." VicG

"I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am excited to find a new historical Christian writer." Jodie A Wolfe

"This was a wonderful book that takes readers on a journey from England to America, and invites you to witness the adventure that is made to get there. This was my first book by Andrea Boeshaar, and I was very pleased with everything about it. Her pacing is done well and she has a knack for really making her readers care for the characters they are reading about!" Chelsey Lynn

Book 3 in my series Threads of Love is now available also. Out of all the 30 novels that I've
written, Threads of Love is one of my favorites!

Many of us Realms authors have had our fiction final or we've won awards which says that the authors posting on this blog are top notch. This summer read Realms. If you can't find the title you're interested in at the bookstore, ask a clerk to order it for you. Or purchase the book online. 

As a reader, you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebrating The Independent Writer

Image courtesy of feelart /

If you're a writer or know someone who is, you've probably heard the clichés describing the creative personality type: quirky, moody loners, head-in-the-clouds daydreamers, take your pick. Some of those descriptions may apply at times, but more goes on behind the notebook or computer screen of that lone figure you see at Starbucks. In light of the upcoming 4th of July, let's take time to celebrate the independent spirit of the writer.

For those drawn to the pen, independence can represent:

I- Individual

Writing is similar to track and field. You have to run your own race. No matter how much help or feedback you receive, no one can write your story for you.

N- Necessity

Whether they write for others to read their work or keep it to themselves, writers have a deep and profound personal need to express themselves through this medium.

D- Dedication

Books aren't written in a day. That finished manuscript represents months, if not years, of plotting, researching, drafting, and critiquing. Not to mention sweat, tears, and countless pots of strong coffee.

E- Effort

It's easy to find alternative things to do besides writing. However, very often on sunny weekends, free afternoons, or quiet nights, writers make the decision to park themselves in a chair in front of the laptop. Could they be doing other things? Always, but the desire to bring words to life somehow trumps that reality show premiere or that basket of laundry. That's why DVR was invented. Now maybe someone could make a robot to do the chores...

P- Patience

There is no such thing as an overnight success in a writer's world. Even authors whose books hit the bestseller lists during the first week of launch will tell you that the road to success had its twists and turns.

E- Endurance

Drafting. Editing. Querying. Waiting weeks or months on publisher responses to submissions. It's enough to make any sane person tear her hair out. What does a writer do? Start another book. Figure that one out next time you hear Einstein's definition of insanity.

N- Never Say Never

Rejection slips show up in writers' inboxes all the time. Publishers report lagging sales. Doom and gloom reports come flying in. Yet writers go on, believing that one day their book will find a home.

D- Daring

Throughout history, people have used the written word to do away with conventions, expose lies, and change society for the better. Or at least regale us with tales to make the world we live in that much more genteel to inhabit.

E- Entertaining

To venture into the inner world of a writer is to explore the depths of human imagination and emotion. If you've ever read a book and were swept away by a hero's knowing smile, held captive by an army's siege, or escaped from a pursuing villain, then you understand the lasting impact of a good story.

N- Novelty

Writers constantly come up with interesting and unusual ideas. Those themes of love, vengeance, justice, or redemption may be classic, but that doesn't mean they can't be given a new coat of varnish and displayed in a new light.

C- Character

It sounds scary, but writers have multiple personalities. Just read their WIP. Chances are, the protagonist, bad guy, love interest, ally, nemesis, etc., all bear one or two traits of its creator. This is one of the few vocations where switching identities is accepted and, dare I say, very often encouraged.

E- Excel

Stagnation is unacceptable. Good writers strive to improve upon their work, no matter what their goals for writing are.

Bottom line? Writers have discovered a freedom that is inexplicable and hard to find. I'm willing to risk the occupational hazards to take part in this journey. If you're a writer, I hope you also remain steadfast. Friends of writers, stay supportive. We may be independent, but that doesn't mean we don't love you or cherish your company.

Happy Independence Day!

How will you celebrate your freedom this July 4th?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Making a Living as a Writer

I'm always amazed by the fact that some people assume all published authors are rich, live in mansions, have chauffeurs, travel to exotic places, and can take as much time off as we want. People have actually come right out and asked me how much money I make. I try, in the nicest way possible, to let them know I'm doing fine, but it's really none of their business exactly how much money I make. I think there's something about putting our work out there for everyone to read that gives them the impression they have the right to know what color underwear we have on.

One thing I will admit is that I do more than just write novels. Granted some people are able to make a nice living doing nothing but writing one book a year, but I'm not one of them. Fortunately, I've managed to string together a bunch of things to generate an income close to what I made working a regular day job. One of my gigs is being the Etiquette Guide at Do you see the irony in this? I actually wrote an etiquette article about how to answer rude questions

I know quite a few authors who are also editors, publicists, agents, and professionals in other publishing type jobs. I've done a little bit of freelance editing, but it's not something I enjoy. Some of the writer friendly jobs I can think of off the top of my head include mystery shopping, freelance data entry, medical records coding, and e-book design and formatting.

What are some other things writers can do to generate enough income so we can continue to pursue our passion of telling stories?