Monday, September 30, 2013

Balancing the Business Side of Writing With the Joy of Writing

I have written several novels over the years. Some of them target young readers and others are intended for adults. But all of them, except one, were written before I ever received a publishing contract. My most recent novel—which I just completed last week—is the only one completely written under contract.

 And I noticed a difference. With my other novels, I was immersed in the joy of writing. I got up a few hours before school and wrote because I wanted to. No expectations. No timeline. The books were finished when they were finished, and they arrived in the format that I wanted them in. They didn’t have to please anyone, nor did they have to sell. Family and friends were given complimentary copies and they appreciated them.

With my latest novel, I felt the pressure of the business side of writing. It was no longer a matter of finishing the book when I got around to it. There was a deadline. It was not a matter of writing the story to satisfy my taste. There were expectations from my editor and readers. It was not a matter of simply writing a good story. There were and still are expectations for financial returns. The publisher has invested time and effort and hard, cold cash in my books, and they want a return on their investment. Suddenly it matters what other people think and how my books are selling. There’s a bottom line, and I have felt pressure to meet it. And because I haven’t been able to do so yet, the pressure has grown.

So how can authors who are under contract balance the business side of writing with the joy of writing? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter because, frankly, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Friday, September 27, 2013

THE PREACHER'S WIFE Blog Tour and Giveaway

Tuesday, October 1 is the official release day for my debut novel The Preacher's Wife. I am very excited and couldn't be happier that the day is getting closer and closer. Less than a week away!

Earlier this month I had a very joyous and happy moment when the Fed Ex delivery man dropped this little bundle on my doorstep.

Seeing the advance copies really solidified the reality of my book being published. Not to sound cheesy or overly philosophical, but there are few comparisons to holding a physical manifestation of your hard work and perseverance in your hands. I'm so glad to be on this journey.

And I hope you'll join me! Starting next week on my blog, I'll be launching The Preacher's Wife Blog Tour and Giveaway. I'll be on other blogs guest posting and interviewing, as well. There will be a drawing where the winner will receive a signed proof copy of the book. See you next week!

October is upon us. Have you bought your pumpkin yet?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Great Writing Spoils You

I'm still in overdrive from all the wonderful information from conference. Picked up several new books and I'm looking forward to reading them.

With all the talk around different writing loops, workshops on the topic, and great articles, why is head-hopping still being seen and used? I'm not talking about old books, but recently published ones. After reading so many great writers, I shudder when I run across head-hopping.

I started a book the other day and the first few chapters were fine, the story moved along and it caught my interest. Then the head-hopping began without anything to denote the change. It just happened. I kept going back to check in whose point of view the chapter had been written and why suddenly the POV switched back and forth between the two characters in the scene. Also, instead of stating the thoughts, the author is putting them in italics. One or two sentences may work, but whole paragraphs may stop my reading of the book.

May be it was just that book, but then I picked up another one by the same author. By the third chapter, the head-hopping had started again. This time the story didn't appeal to me all that much, so I set it aside. I may or may not finish the first one as I've now lost interest in it.

I asked a friend of mine about this and explained the term to her. She thought a minute and commented, "Oh, that's where I have to stop and check to see what happened to the other character." She grinned and said, "If I have to stop too often, I usually don't finish the book. I think some of the books you've loaned me by...(she named several authors) have made me more aware of what makes a really good book."

Poor use of POV and using participial phrases that have a character doing two things at the same time that are impossible are two of my pet peeves in writing. They can really turn me off to the writing.

Do you have any "pet peeves" about writing that make you stop and reconsider finishing the book?

Monday, September 23, 2013

American Christian Fiction Conference


The conference this year was probably the best I've been to. Keynote speaker Robin Jones Gunn was wonderful. James Scott Bell held an all day workshop that was the most informative of all I went to. What I enjoyed most was networking, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Frank Peretti came to the awards gala to accept his lifetime achievement award which he humbley accepted. I'm already looking forward to next year! Below is a picture of me with my dear friend Shelley Shepherd Gray and Amy Clipson.

If anyone went to conference share your experience...

Friday, September 20, 2013

All Joking Aside, I Am a Writer

I've noticed that when people ask what I do for a living, and I say that I'm a full-time writer, they often smile—as though they think I'm joking. Or they take a step back in case I'm crazy. I'm always a little uncomfortable at that point in the conversation because I'm not sure if I should try to convince the person I'm actually doing okay as a writer or just let it go. These people probably knew someone—a cousin or uncle—who tried to write a book once but came into contact with that brick wall so many of us are familiar with. In other words, they gave up before they found success.
Photo courtesy of Dave/

Most of the time, I turn things around and start asking the person questions about her life. However, the discussion often comes back to my writing, with the person saying something like, "No, really, what do you do? Like what's your job?"

And I repeat, "I'm a writer."

Another few seconds of silence before, "What do you write?"

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. "Christian fiction, devotionals, health articles, and etiquette tips."

"Christian fiction, huh?" A puzzled look followed by a polite smile. "What's that?"

"Fiction from a Christian worldview," I reply. When I see that the person still doesn't get it, I explain, "Many of the characters in my books are Christians, but some aren't. I have a lot of the same issues in my stories that you see in general fiction, but the Lord is at the heart of the theme. I also avoid foul language and anything that's sexually explicit."

At this point, the person either nods and asks more questions or backs away and starts nervously glancing over her shoulder. Some folks are uncomfortable when it comes to discussing faith. But I think every subject can make people squirm if they're unsure of it.

As a Christian writer, I try to share some of the many themes we write about: Christ's unconditional love, redemption, and dealing with various types of adversity. I answer questions to the best of my ability, but I often don't know the answers. When this happens, I recommend authors that I think she might like based on her interests. If we're near my stash of books, I'll even give her one of mine.

Sometimes, if I feel that the person is still uncomfortable, I'll tell a joke to lighten things up. Even if it's a lame joke that makes her groan, most people will still smile before backing away and finding a more "normal" person to talk to.

Speaking of jokes, here are a few about writers:

There was once a young man who in his youth professed his desire to become a great writer. When asked to define "great," he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level. Stuff that will make them scream, cry, and howl in pain and anger." He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.
~Bill Gates

Question: How many writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Recently edited writer: Why does it have to be changed?
~Author unknown

Did you hear about the pregnant woman who went into labor and began to yell, "Shouldn't, couldn't, didn't, wouldn't, can't"? She was having contractions.
~Author unknown

Have you ever encountered people who doubt your profession? How do you respond? Heard any good writer jokes lately that you'd like to share?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Supernatural Obstacles!

Can writing be dangerous to your health?

There are a number of reasons for either answer to this question. But, here is a more interesting question.

Can writing a Christian based work attract the attention of the enemy and will our adversary try to stop you from writing?

I’d love to hear if other authors have had “incidents” designed to stop us in our writing. I’ve written about such incidents on my own personal blog regarding my writing week in the “demon house” at this link. This was during my completion of the final manuscript for “The 11th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” that would have been my third book with Charisma.

But, there is one incident that I have only shared with a few people. You hear these kinds of stories and you instantly scoff at them. They sound too fantastic to be true and you are instantly convinced the storyteller is lying, or at the very least exaggerating. I’ve had more than one encounter in my life with the minions of Satan. And, those encounters have never been for the faint of heart. But, there is a brief encounter I will share.

It was 2001 and I was working on the rough draft for my second book, “The 12th Demon: Vampyre Majick” as it was entitled at the time. I re-edited this book and gave it a new subtitle for release by Charisma as “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”. I have always been intrigued by vampires. And, my latest experience with apologetics, the defense of the Christian faith, led me down the historical path. I wanted to understand the genesis of the vampire legend. I wanted to look into the truth behind the fiction.

I was at work in the hospital safely tucked away in my office. It was mid morning and there had been a break in my work. I had a 20 minute window with nothing to do so I logged onto the internet to do my research. In 2001, vampire stories, movies, and books were on the wane. It was that period of time after the Anne Rice years when vampires were still mildly hot and popular. In the aftermath of Rice’s books, vampire “clans” had sprung up over the world. But by the turn of the century, people were just tired of blood suckers, I guess. There just wasn’t much in the popular sites about vampires.

However, there was a huge sub-culture of these vampire clans given over to the role playing game “Masquerade”. Clans all of the country had their own website with rules and rituals and hidden secrets. These sites were alive with photographs of people who had transformed themselves into vampires. Skin coloration, contact lenses, implanted fangs, clothing, and recipes for how to prepare real blood for consumption. I found videos of clans sharing each others’ blood. It was both repulsive and fascinating at the same time.

Now, here comes the strange part. On one search engine I found an obscure site with a long, tedious address. It was obvious to me that no one would be able to put in this address without an insider knowledge of the site’s location. This wasn’t an easy address to remember. That alone intrigued me. Also, it was on the fourth or fifth page of search results. So, I clicked on the link.

Immediately, the sensation of total dread and anxiety engulfed me. My heart began to race. My mouth became dry. What was happening? It was as if every bad thought, every sad moment, every bitter disappointment I had ever experienced all resurfaced from my memory in one click of the trackpad.

The screen on my laptop went totally black. A tiny red dot appeared in the center of the screen. At first, I thought I had an equipment malfunction. Then, I wondered if this was one of those sites where a scary face would pop up and make me wet my pants. 

The screen went blood red and blood began to pour across the image. Suddenly, the curtain of blood parted and a hideous, demonic face came OUT of the screen toward me. Did you get that? It wasn’t two dimensional. It came OUT of the screen, into the space between me and my computer! I know you don’t believe me. I have on witnesses. But, I know what happened. The presence of pure evil leered at me.

I remember shoving back in my rolling desk chair as the face of this demon came at me. I slammed the laptop shut and it disappeared. I unplugged the laptop, took out the batter and let the thing completely power down. And then, I called my pastor.

My heart was racing and the air was still rife with the echoes of the evil voice that had accompanied the image. Had the thing been real? Was it possible someone duped me with a fake 3D image? I doubt it. My pastor was stunned but fully understanding. He told me that Satan was determined to stop me from writing my books. If anything, he said, this is affirmation you are doing the right thing. Finish the book.

Later that day, I turned my laptop back on. I checked the history on my browser. The site wasn’t listed. I returned to the search page. The link did not exist! It was gone! In the weeks afterwards, I searched in vain for any remnant of this website and I never found it again. I went on to finish that second book and it is out there right now with a compelling story centered around the history and the myth of the vampire. It would take me eleven years to get the book released by traditional means. I did not let Satan stop me.

I have been amazed at how many unbelievers and vampire enthusiasts have been touched by my redemptive story of unconditional love, forgiveness, and the shedding to the only Blood that truly will give eternal life.

This is why I continue to write my series. I may have moved on to a new publisher, but the chronicles of Jonathan Steel will not end until the last demon is defeated!

What about you? Have you ever experienced supernatural or spiritual opposition to your writing? We would love to hear your story!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013




Thought it would be fun to find out what you're reading. When I attend book signings I always ask the question that fascinates me the most and that's, WHAT ARE YOU READING?

I’m currently reading, The Anatomist's Wife (A Lady Darby Mystery).  It’s a debut novel by Anna Lee Huber and includes all the same kinds of things I love in the novels I write: a mystery,  a romance, it’s a historical set in Scotland which I also love but I’ve chosen to use England’s historical backdrop for my novels. It's not Christian fiction. Although I’m only at about chapter five the author has done a good job of hooking me. Be warned though that this novel is not for the squeamish. 

In the non-fiction department I’m reading Lucille Zimmerman’s, Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. This is a great book about taking care of ourselves. As counselor I love exploring new ways of taking care of myself and then passing on what I’ve learned to the college students I counsel.

So share what you’re reading with us today. Everyone who leaves a comment will be put in a drawing for one of my three novels: Secrets of the Heart, Chameleon, or Mystery of the Heart. The choice is yours. You can leave comments today and until Thursday (9/12/13) at midnight, Pacific time.  I’ll pick a winner via and post it sometime Friday.
So let me hear from you. 

So, what are you reading? I've also got a new page called Jill's Quill appearing soon at my website.

Twitter @JillKentAuthor

I write articles and coordinate the team of writers for The Well Writer at -

Monday, September 2, 2013

From Pineapples to Pumpkins

A last glimpse of summer at the beach
Image courtesy of foto76 /

Most people enjoy the Labor Day Weekend for its three days of relaxation. They simultaneously feel a sense of fleeting wistfulness as this is the last holiday of summer.

Goodbye hot days and pineapple freezes. Hello autumn breezes and pumpkin-flavored everything.

Even if you want it to be summer forever, fall still has things for you to look forward to, especially if you're an avid reader or writer.

1. More Books To Read

Those great summer bestsellers were a treat to read at the beach, but more releases are coming out from September to November. Just in time for snuggling up on a chilly autumn night or stocking up on Christmas presents.

2. NaNoWriMo

Every November, seasoned and aspiring writers alike participate in this event. Want to jumpstart that idea for a suspense thriller that's been kicking around in your head all summer? Want to finish last year's project? Or do you just want to know if you can finish a 50,000-word novel in 30 days (That's if you write on Thanksgiving and ignore Black Friday and Cyber Monday)? It's a challenge, but the results are rewarding and you'll be in good company.

3. Writers' Conferences

ACFW will be hosting its annual writers' conference this month, drawing industry professionals, authors, bloggers, and readers all across the country. Other writers' and book organizations will be getting in full gear for their conferences, too. If your time and resources allow for you to attend, they're an excellent way to learn about publishing, mingle with your favorite authors, and receive motivation and support for your own creative projects.

4. Tighter Schedules

This can be a good thing. You can actually plan a time to edit those final chapters or catch up with your reading without feeling guilty about passing up a warm summer afternoon.

5. Pumpkin-flavored Everything

Oh, yeah. I already said that.

Have a great Labor Day! What are you looking forward to this fall?