Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Genres, genres, genres

The more I typed the title of this post, the weirder the word looked. Genres. Almost like "grenade' at first glance. I guess some of them can be a little explosive at times!

I digress. Sorry! lol

Okay, so Monday Erynn talked about writing Romance, and how it can be challenging...what genres do you find challenging?

Are they a good kind of challenging, as in "I want to learn how to do this right because I really love this genre so much!" or a bad kind of challenging, as in "I feel like I"m supposed to be writing this genre becaues that's where the market is hot, but man I can't do it well and it sucks!!"

If it's the former, grab some Starbucks and keep trying! :)


Seriously, we've talked a hundred times here on Scribble Chicks about NOT writing for the market, but this is especially true if you don't know what you're doing and even worse, you don't even enjoy it.

If you're busting your booty trying to write a thriller when you hate even the pretense of being scared, or are trying to compose a beautiful historical when you know absolutely zilch about the time period, or are trying to write a YA when you're eighty-nine years old and have zero access to teenagers anymore... PLEASE, stop wasting your time.


1. Write what you know!

2. Write what you love!

3. Write what you like to read!

It's really that simple.

Any questions? :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

You Never Close Your Eyes...

Sorry guys. My dad is a Righteous Brothers fan and I've had that song stuck in my head for DAYS. It's warring with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song in my brain.

Conditions like these do not merit well-worded blog posts. Consider yourself forewarned.

But, it did get me thinking about the ever popular genre of Christian romance. (Don't ask. I have no idea where the Connect-The-Dots in my brain were for that one.) While my books are more "Lit" style, they do, technically I guess, fall under the "romance" umbrella.

What are your thoughts on Christian romance? How many of you write it?

I tend to shy away from writing actual romance. When characters in my books fall in love, I like to show the fun and thoughtful side of it. Writing romance is hard work. You have to convey a certain amount of chemistry without sounding cheesy and at the same time figure out how to have it come across to the reader without sounding sappy.

I think we've probably all read books where we've gagged through half of the scenes featuring the hero and heroine together. If you want to write Christian romance, here's two little exercises:

First, find a Christian romance where you just loved the story. You really felt like the characters were in love and everything just worked without sounding goofy. Then read back through it slowly. What adjectives did the writer use in the scenes were the hero and heroine were together? What descriptions were used? Why did it feel real to you?

Next, take a book where something about the character's romance just bugged you. Then, rewrite the scene. Figure out how to show chemistry without telling. Think of original descriptions without getting too "flowery", like I can be sometimes. None of this, "His hair was like a flowing, brown river of chocolate with the occasional thin ripples of caramel." ;) (And can I just say, EW.)

Ha! While we're at it, get all your cheesiness out here. Got a sappy analogy you need to get out of your system? Leave it in the comments!! :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Marketing 101

I thought we'd chat about marketing today, as that's been on the forefront of my mind lately. I have a new Love Inspired novel releasing August 1st, FIREMAN DAD, and I've been trying to think of fresh ways to promote it.

So far, I've spread the word on Facebook, my blog, and this blog, gathered influencers to read early copies and spread the word/post reviews on their FB/blogs/Amazon, etc. and have a booksigning set up for Friday night, August 5th at 6:30 at Barnes & Noble here in my hometown. I'm fortunate that the store CRM wanted to help promote me, and she's turning the entire store that night into a fireman theme - children's story time in the back with books and crafts, and she even contacted the city fire department to come out and do demonstrations with equipment :) I also prepared a big giveaway basket, all fireman themed or red in color, to have a drawing for during the signing.

But I need to go outside the box a little more - because it's fun, and because that's where you reach people. Thankfully, Love Inspired has an amazing book club and do a lot of marketing for their authors, but this isn't always the case and I want to do my part, besides. So I need to find my audience - where are the firemen? Where are their wives and moms and aunts and grandmas and kids? How can I reach them with word of my book? These are the questions someone in marketing needs to ask.

Since my hubby IS a fireman, this is a little easier for me - I've spread the word at his station and with his captain and fellow firefighter friends who have promised to tell their families and help get word out. (though most of them refuse to read a romance for themselves! lol)

Oddly enough, I have a bunch of ideas of what to do for my YA releasing January 2012 with Barbour, because it's an entirely different niche. (will reveal these ideas later!) I'm trying to market to teenagers rather than adults, and for me I think that's actually a little easier. lol Go figure.

What do you think? Do you have any fresh marketing ideas? What have you done that works, or what have you pictured yourself doing once your book got published?

And on the other hand - what are you TIRED of seeing as a reader? What turns you off instead of makes you want to pick up the book?

For me, I think there's a fine line because exposure and overexposure. I've seen books mentioned so much everywhere I go, it actually makes me want to avoid it because I'm annoyed by seeing it. That is when marketing backfires!

What do you think? :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Budweiser Girl

The office has plywood walls, oil-stained carpet, and grease thicker than a corpse's makeup. There is one purpose to this place: function.

Men come here every day to design and build things out of metal. From a woman's perspective, though, the walls need paint, the carpet needs replaced, and the hazmat team needs called before it's suitable.

There is one office-item in pristine condition, though: the Budweiser girl. She is tacked up squarely without a wrinkle or a stain. (Clearly the guys who work here have their priorities straight.)

I am 7.5 months pregnant. Looking at that bronzed, flat-ribbed girl makes me want to do something drastic... like draw stretch marks on her perfectly-shaped boobs.

I'm not gonna lie. I'm never gonna look like that again. (As if I ever did.)

But it won't stop me from subconsciously measuring myself against the airbrushed standard. I may not even realize it, may not have coherent thoughts about it. But it's there... the comparison.

The same thing is true about writing. We may not realize it, but some of us have immeasurable expectations of ourselves.

Can I encourage you today to push through that feeling? Lower you expectations just a little. Forget the idea that anyone's perfect. They're not. It's just a show.

The truth is, you are the only person who can write your story. It might come with a few stretch marks in the beginning, but are your readers really going to care?

Honestly... nobody likes the Budweiser girl anyway.


B.J. Hamrick writes for you and for teens at

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Why I Missed My Post Yesterday...

We had a crazy weekend that involved a lot of this:

Ha! I'll catch up next week! Enjoy a cupcake in honor of the Nater Tot turning one! :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How do you celebrate?

There's lot of celebrating this week! :)

(in no particular order...)

First, while I did not win the ACFW Book Club November slot, it was an honor to have my chook chosen to be in the running!! The votes came in with my novel in second place. Not bad! I'll take it! :) (FIREMAN DAD, releasing August 1st)

Also, today...drumroll please...we are getting a driveway! YAY! I told my coworker that you know you're an adult when you get downright giddy over pavement. ::wink:: We live in the country on 3 acres, and had a gravel drive put in when we bought our land and put our house in 3 years ago. MUCH cheaper and what most people on our street did. (it understandably gets expensive taking wooded acreage and clearing it to put a house down, then putting in a well, and drainage ditches, and sewer system, etc.) We saved up some money and are finally getting an asphalt driveway, double carport, parking pad, boat pad, turn-around area...I'm stoked. No more wobbling around on high heels on the gravel, no more rocks skinning Little Miss's knees, no more flat tires from rocks piercing them, no more backing out of the LONG driveway in the pitch black at night, and of course - now Little Miss can ride her tricycle :)

Speaking of, next on the celebration list - tomorrow is my daughter's 3rd birthday. Can you believe that??? I'm still trying to. In some ways it seems like yesterday, in others, it seems like she should be atleast 13. haha. She definitely has the occasional sass of a teen. ::wink:: But you know what? She's a downright sweetheart, so generous and loving and precious. I love her more than I can almost bear! She had a fun party last Saturday (pics on my FB page) but we're celebrating tomorrow's actual birthday with cupcakes and Chick Fila. (her fav) PS - She's showing her southern roots - earlier this morning, when she spoke the word "mad", it had at least three syllables. ha! Happy almost birthday to my Little Miss!

And last but not least, I finished my book. Yep! HER FAMILY WISH, releasing April 2012, is now in the inbox of my fabulous editor at Love Inspired, and I'm giddy about that too. I made my deadline 6 days early, which is nothing short of a miracle and God's grace.

All of the above celebrations lead me to one serious, deep, emotional conclusion...


Let there be cupcakes!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Questions and Answers :)

A couple of weeks ago, a loyal reader asked me a few questions, so I thought I'd address those now! :) I'd mentioned that I had written two suspense novels prior to Miss Match that were never published.

Did you try submitting your first two novels at all?

I tried submitting one of them. I proposed that one to a few publishers at a writer's conference, had a couple of VERY sweet editors and multi-published writers sit down with me and show me exactly what I could do to make my book even better. I so appreciated the time and attention they gave me! I went home to rewrite and then came up with the idea for Miss Match. At first, MM was just a fun way to spend my time when I wasn't working or rewriting my "real" novel. Then MM took over and I found I had a lot more fun writing that one.

Did you have a feeling with Miss Match it'd be published?

Nope! I knew I really enjoyed writing it! Compared to the suspense novels that I had been writing, Miss Match was super relaxing and fun. I had an agent for a very short time before she decided to pursue other things and before she quit, she handed Miss Match to an editor at NavPress. A whole year went by and I didn't hear anything. So, I just assumed that nothing was going to come of it.

Then, I got a random email from an acquisitions editor who said the editor who had been given my book had left and they'd found my manuscript and thought it was very good and wondered if it was still available.

All goes to show that sometimes God uses very unique circumstances! You never know what His will for your life and your writing will be - so keep at it. Keep talking to people, keep proposing your work. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Plots and Themes and Concepts, oh my!

Last week, a loyal reader asked a great question - what is the difference between plot, theme, concept, etc. in a novel?

By definition:

Plot: the storyline, plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.
Theme: what the author is trying to convey, the central idea of the story, woven all the way through. The characters' actions, interactions, and motivations all reflect the story's theme.

Concept: is used at the beginning of the process. It’s the statement that keeps you focused as you write.

(the above Concept is typically used for screenwriting, but the idea still applies to novels)

Okay, so are you even more confused now? ;)

Let me try to sum up/clarify in my own words.

Basically, concept and theme can be considered the same thing, in my opinion. It's the higher, overarching message of the story. Such as: redemption, forgiveness, salvation, finding true love, letting go, taking risks, living out a's what you want your reader to feel and experience and hear from the story without actually telling them word for word. It's subtle and subconscious. It's not a sermon, it's not pointed out through the actual text of the story. It's deeper than that.

The plot is the more literal timeline of events, where the characters go from point A to point B. It's what HAPPENS during the story.

Let's use an example of my first Love Inspired novel, RETURN TO LOVE. The plot consisted of high school sweethearts finding each other once again in New Orleans, many years later, and finding themselves working together on a fundraiser project for the penguins at the Aquarium of the Americas. The theme of the story was forgiveness, healing, and second chances because throughout the story, that is what the characters sought out/desired.

In another example, RODEO SWEETHEART (my third LI novel): The plot consisted of a cowgirl trying to save her family horse farm by reluctantly running a dude ranch on the property and training to bull ride, then meeting and falling for a city boy who was actually there under false pretenses, and had the opposite goal as she did. The theme was sacrifice, the struggles of family relationships and love.

So in essence, you can think of the plot as what your characters do, and the theme/concept as the reasons why your characters do what they do.

Make sense now? :)

Fellow Scribblers, what do you have to add to this?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's Your Heart?

There’s something I just can’t shake – the image of a 95 lb, skinny, green-hued teen. Yup folks – I’m making a personal confession here. That girl was me.

Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly at the top of the 10 Hottest Girls List. In fact, when the guys at camp made the list, I wasn’t even on it. Ten girls, and I was the eleventh one at camp.

But I can’t blame the guys. I’d spent most of that summer hunched over the porcelain bathroom fixtures (whichever ones were available… I wasn’t picky… toilet? Shower? Sink?) puking up the medicine my body somehow thought was poison.

I don’t say all this to make you feel sorry for me. I say this because that girl, although better now, will always feel a little bit of that skinny, scrawny teen deep inside.

My heart aches for other girls who know what that feels like. Not just the physically unattractive ones – but also the ones who are living in the nighttime for other reasons. Other ones who know what it’s like to have the lights go out suddenly. Other ones who ask, “Where is God in this darkness?”

Several years ago I set out to reach those girls in the form of a book. The response from publishers? “Hurting teens aren’t shopping in the Christian bookstore.”

And they were right.

But years later, I can’t stop that scrawny girl from reminding me. I can’t stop her from aching for the teens around me who hurt. I can’t stop her from longing to share more thoroughly her story of God’s redemption and healing… but mostly of how He met her in the dark.

Am I writing other, more saleable projects at the same time? Absolutely. These more saleable projects are also heart-books that I think will reach broader audiences.

But I can’t ignore the girls who cross my path every day. So I talked with my agent. We cleared up the whole breach of contract thing. And she agreed… it was time for me to write a resource for these girls, while still writing my more saleable projects.

So I write, knowing these specific words may not reach millions. I write, knowing that this project is for a select few.

I write… because it is what my heart tells me to do.

Real Question: What’s your number one heart-project?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Yes, I'm post-dating this. Bad Erynn!!

We were so busy celebrating the 4th that I totally forgot it was Monday and my day to post! I hope you all had a safe, happy Independence Day!

And, in honor of firecrackers, how about we spend a little bit of time polishing our 60-second novel pitch this week?? :) I'll talk more about this on the 11th!