Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Conference update!!

I just got back from the 2012 ACFW Conference and...I wanna go back!! :)

Next year. And you must join me then too! ( September 14, in Indianapolis, 2013. WOOHOO!! (keynote speaker will be ROBIN JONES GUNN!!! EEEEK!!!!) I can't wait. I love Robin and was given the honor of having a one on one lunch with her a few years back when she attended ACFW conference and taught classes. It was a highlight of my life :)  She's the vessel God used to inspire me to write Christian Fiction in the first place when I was about 12 years old.

So you have to come.

Anyway, the conference was amazing in so many ways, especially in heart-ways. I learned about the craft of writing and a lot on marketing and web presence and all those helpful things, but God spoke to me and that means so much more.

I also had a blast fellowshipping and spending time in the prayer room with dear friends and enjoying steak and potatoes at every meal (yes even breakfast in some form! haha we were SOOO in Texas), taking a million pictures, watching my client and friend Anne Prado win her category in the prestigious GENESIS CONTEST, dressing up fancy for the banquet night, laughing hysterically in the bar each evening with other authors who were silly from sleep deprivation and too much potato starch, worshipping with Rachel Hauck and the praise team, meeting new friends, passing notes during class like a school girl, meeting with fabulous editors from well respected houses in the industry, drinking a ton of Starbucks, attending the big Love Inspired author dinner at an Italian restaurant, chatting in person with my agent(s) who love me and want the best for me, and on and on and on.

I need a nap.....

But I want to share something I learned in Susan May Warren's marketing class. She was talking about building your readership and your "tribe", which is essentially those close loyal readers who deserve extra perks and attention because they're the ones who support your books and care the most. She had some great tips on how to make your website/blog LOOK like how your books make your readers FEEL. (yeah read that twice, I had to think it twice) But how cool is that? Susie's website represents romance and chocolate and whimsy - like her novels. She used the example of Rachel Hauck's website, which is white and airy and has a pic of a dock and water - perfect for Rachel's southern romance stories.

Jim Rubart (awesome author!!) also said in a class "It's hard to read the label from inside the bottle".  WOW. All of this applies to our writing careers and are lives in general as Christians, guys. What impression are you giving your readers? Your family? Your friends and teachers? Does it match who you are inside? And how can you go about making it genuine/sincere? What needs to change there?

Here's the link to my FB album of pics!   Anyone have any questions about the conference? :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The M Word

There were days I thought she would never come. Days I watched women exit the grocery store, red faced, sweating, veins throbbing in perfect timing to the song of, "Mom, can I have?" and "he hit me," and "I just wanted oooooooone mooore coooooookieeee..."

No person in her right mind would envy that grocery-store woman. But after years of longing for a child... I was no longer in my right mind.

It only fed my mother-obsession to watch kids trash the waiting room at my infertility appointments. I made silent, ugly promises to myself, like, My Child Will Never Act Like That, and, My Kid Will Never Watch Television Just So I Can Have Some Peace.

There is no punch line here because anyone who is a parent is already snickering.

Now the Tiny Human, the one I waited for, the one I thought would never come... is here. And she's one year old.

And that's really all I need to say about that.

I love her. The one who squeals when she runs out of Cheerios in the checkout line. The one who is pacified by the Sesame Street puppeteers that live in my iPhone and are on-call at a moment's notice.

I wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe giving her a sibling. Because really, in the deepest part of my heart, if I'm honest with myself, I must be... a masochist.

Which is honestly just another word for, "Mother".

Q4U: if you have kids, how do you balance parenting with writing?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Proposal, part five

Great news for those of you out there who hate to plot!

There's more coming up in your proposal. :P

By this point, you are pretty much done with the worst part of the proposal. You've got the synopsis done (BIG SIGH HERE) and things are looking good.

Most publishers like when authors offer to make their books into a series - apparently, it ups the sales when people know they aren't going to be investing in your characters' lives for just one book. So even if you're not into writing series (like I originally was), you might want to at least make it an option for the publisher.

In my proposals, I have a section called "Potential Series Options" and underneath, I write a very BASIC sketch of two more books (one paragraph each) with two more potential titles. For example, in my proposal for Paige Torn, my book releasing in May, I listed two more books - Paige Rewritten and Paige Turned - as potentials for a continuation of the series. NavPress, my wonderful publisher, liked the idea and I've now got two more deadlines. ;)

After you wrap up that section, the only thing left is your sample chapters!! You need to include three and I always, always, ALWAYS recommend that you put the first three chapters in there. They need to be SPOTLESS, particularly if this is your first novel. Read, re-read and re-re-read them. ;) By the time Miss Match was published both my mom and I had memorized almost the entire book. During copyedits, my editor would say, "Oh and that section with this particular scene...where is it...?" and I'd say - without looking - "I think that's on page 132."

Pitiful, but true. ;)

And THEN.... give yourself a big drumroll because you are DONE.

Now what do you do with this pristine proposal??

I'll cover that next week. ;)

Got any questions?? Leave them in the comments!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Importance of Secondary Characters

Ever spend so much time focusing on your protagonist that you forget to put interesting people around him/her?

I don't know about you, but I think secondary characters can be some of the most important—and interesting—people in a story. Take "Seinfeld," for example. While the show may have been named after Jerry, wasn't it the oh-so-crazy Kramer who stole every seen with his epic entrances and one-liners?

Or if the "Seinfeld" reference feels a little dated to you, think of "The Office." You know, back in the era of Michael Scott when the show was still watchable. Again, Steve Carell's character was clearly the person steering the proverbial ship. But without Dwight and Andy and yes, even heinous Angela having their own dynamic characteristics, the show would've just been about an incompetent boss. In a word: B-O-R-I-N-G!

While a secondary character may seem like nothing more than a best friend for the leading lady or a love interest that's around for a couple of dates, it's important to devote your energy to really making them pop, too. While you don't want to devote thousands and thousands of words to someone who may be essentially making a cameo, you want to make sure he/she isn't just there without a purpose. Make them multi-dimensional, witty, interesting because who knows? They may end up being that character that your readers can't get enough of.

Speaking those illustrious secondary characters, I'm going to be participating in "The Girly Book Blog Hop" next Thursday, September 27th. Not only will I, along with a bunch of fabulous female authors be talking about secondary characters in greater depth, but there are prizes involved, too. So be sure to check out my blog for all the details.

Now it's your turn, how do you come up with your secondary characters? Who are some of your favorites from literature, TV, etc.?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Short but sweet

Hey guys, getting ready today to head out to the ACFW Conference tomorrow! I can't wait. Prayers appreciated :)  And I really hope to see you there next year!

I have to go pack now, because, yeah - still haven't. Oops.

I'll be back next week with conference stories and tidbits! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Elusive Nap

Nap time wasn’t long enough. The Tiny Human gave me time to:

a) Take a half-shower (I’ll leave that to your imagination—did I skip the soap or the shaving cream?)

b) Eat half a grape

c) Write half a column

It’s true. Yesterday I tried to take a shower while the kid was up. I ended up spraying shaving cream in her eyeball while she threw the shower curtain open. Again. And again. And again.

I used to scoff at parents who claimed they didn’t have time to use the bathroom alone. Now I get it. I would rather change my shorts than listen to her whine through the door.

But hello—today’s a new day. I’m resolved to be in charge. This kid’s going to take a nap, and it’s going to be long enough for me to complete a sente

Bekah Hamrick Martin  can be reached at, unless she’s threatening a Tiny Human...

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Proposal, part four

Today we are going to be discussing the "S" word.

NOT that "S" word.

But this one: Synopsis.

Every good proposal needs to have a good synopsis. Remember that this is likely the first of your writing that anyone will ever read. It needs to be concise, it needs to be catchy and it needs to be interesting.

How's that for pressure? ;)

The most important thing to remember about synopsises (synopsi?) is that you need to tell the whole story. The ending and all. I know as writers we like to hold our cards close, but when it comes to editors, they like to know all. And you have to give them credit for that - they don't want to sign a 70,000 word book and then find out after all is written and signed that the ending is awful or predictable.

That being said, you can keep a few surprises. If you are like me, I don't plot out my books before I write them. I start with a very basic paragraph of what I want to write about and then go from there. So, I try to make my synopsis as basic and detail-free as I can. I don't want to spoil the story for myself either. ;)

Your synopsis should be two to three pages and introduce the main characters and detail the main plot. You can hint to the subplots, but don't feel the need to wrap those up in the synopsis - those are fine to leave hanging.

Any questions? Leave a comment! I'll try my best to post an actual proposal that I've written at the end of this little series!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

File Under: Typos, They Happen to Everyone, Apparently

So I've recently been reading a real page-turner that's currently featured on the New York Times' best-seller list.

And guess what?

I found a TYPO.

Yes, it happens to everyone, even best-selling authors, which makes everything in the universe seem right about now (yes, it's been one of those weeks).

How about you? Ever find a typo in an unexpected place that you never forgot?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To conference or not to conference (really, there is only one answer here)

Thanks for prayers last week. I ask you keep them up. God is at work and I am very hopeful but still ask for prayer, and for God to continue to move in my family's life! :)  There's been a few new hits of bad news since last week but also a lot of good news and I'm focusing on the positive and trusting God to fill in the rest. His love never fails, His promises never waver. "Lord I my unbelief."


Now back to writing.

The ACFW conference is ONE week and ONE day! I'm so excited :)  Is anyone out there going??? I love conference season. It conveniently always happens in the FALL which I blogged about the other day at (feel free to come say hi there) which to me, is a God thing. (you'll understand after reading that post there)

For more info on the conference visit and click the conference link. It's not too late to sign up at the door if you happen to live in Dallas area and have the money. Trust me, it's priceless what you receive from this thing. Not only is this conference an amazing opportunity to network with agents and editors and learn about the craft of writing, it's a time of fellowship with fellow authors, renewing friendships you typically have to maintain online only, drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, getting a slumber-party type experience with friends in the hotel, eating gourmet food, and encountering Jesus through fellowship with other Christians and amazing worship sessions.


I mean really.

If you can't make the ACFW conference this year, what conference do you hope to hit up soon? Which ones have you done before? And what is your favorite part?

Do you have any questions about how conferences work?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The "P" Word

One year ago tomorrow my life changed forever. And as with all big changes, I was so scared I peed my pants.

Okay, I didn’t pee my pants (for once). But convincing my doctor that I hadn’t peed, and was indeed, giving birth, was an entirely different challenge.

“I’m pretty sure I'm having a baby,” I said.

“Give it 36 hours,” she said.

Sure enough, 36 hours later, I had a 36-hour-old baby.

There’s a reason they call it “practicing medicine”.

I’ve been “practicing parenting” ever since.

Just when I think I have this kid figured out, she does something crazy.

If she sleeps for eight hours straight, the next night she wakes up every 15.5 seconds. If she devours green beans, the next day she spews them on the wall. If she begs to watch The Muppets, the next moment she cries at the mention of Miss Piggy.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m getting some mixed signals. And I hear it’s only worse as kids approach the age of two.

So excuse me while I say a little prayer, promise to do my best, and make a visit the restroom so I can change my shorts…

Q4U:  What's the most surprising part of "practicing" writing for you?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Year's Resolutions At the Beginning of September

2013 may still technically be a little less than four months away (!!!), but I decided to make a few resolutions know, why wait?

First up, was changing things up on the nutrition front. See, when you're a writer you spend an inordinate time on your bum. It's just part of your job. So, I decided that in addition to my daily exercise routine, I'd incorporate "clean living" principles into my life.

For the record, that means I've given up coffee, except on Sundays before church.

Now considering that every Starbucks barista in the greater Fort Worth area knows me by name and beverage of choice, I thought that was going to be a HUGE deal. But honestly, the more water I've drank, the better I've felt (so far), so I'm pretty excited about that.

Clean eating also means that I've had to start making a lot more of my own food. So far, I've tackled granola, P.F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps, chili and hummus (not all in the same meal, mind you), and that's been a fun little adventure, too.

In fact, my little foray into eating better has resulted in the birth of a new blog called "46 Days Until Our Family Reunion: A Jump Start Into the World of Clean Eating," so that's been exciting and inspiring. And because of all this newfound energy I've had, I've been dedicating it to my work in progress, which is never a bad thing.

All in all, I'm looking forward to this last quarter of the how about you? If you made a resolution now, writing or otherwise, what would it be?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Prayer request

Hey friends!

I'm not posting a craft piece today. I'm coming to you guys being very painfully real and asking you guys to pray for me and my family. I'm really struggling right now and I covet any prayers. Please pray that God will fill the people involved with His spirit and love, and restore the years the locusts have eaten. I appreciate it....will be back on my day next week with hopefully good news.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Moody Much?

How do your moods affect your writing? How do you get around your funk when you have a deadline?

I’ve been blessed to write a weekly column for the local paper for almost seven years now. I’m not gonna lie—a lot of cr*p has happened in that time.

Did I mention it’s supposed to be a humor column?

(Try writing a laugh a minute when your family members are sick… your husband’s job is uncertain… or--you fill in the blank.)

When it came down to it, I had to push through. And honestly, it was good for me. Because two days before I got my first book contract, I pushed a baby out of my body. A colicky baby. And I was so grateful for seven years of practicing meeting deadlines.

So I encourage you to push through today. If you don’t HAVE deadlines, make some (reasonable ones!). And do your best to always, always meet those goals.

In the long run, your practice might be your salvation.

Q4U: How do your moods affect your writing? How do you get around your funk when you have a deadline?