Tagged: publishing

FIRST DRAFT IS IN THE BAG

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here – but that’s because I’ve been busy writing! The First Draft of the Fourth Book has come forth! Editing will commence immediately. In the meantime, I can use help from loyal fans and disinterested bystanders who like my posts only so I’ll like them back: I would like you to help me choose a title.

Here is my rough draft of the book’s description:

>>>>>It is generally considered bad form to visit a brothel during your honeymoon, and it’s even worse when you’re a pastor. Even so, at the time, it seems to Jonah Borden like the right thing to do. Besides, it only happened twice.

It all starts innocently enough, with a big tip to an undeserving waitress. Her efforts to thank Jonah and his new bride, Leyla, backfire ridiculously, and soon they have lost their passports in a scam, and are stranded in Greece.

As they try to extricate themselves they find they are only in deeper, and soon the newlyweds are battling hardened criminals just to survive. When they find out that they are not the only ones, the stakes get even higher. <<<<<

Here are some thoughts:

Superior Getaway

Superior Honeymoon

Superior Vacation

Superior Absence

Superior Stakes

Superior Scam

Superior Smuggler

Superior Morality

I’d love your comments, votes, or suggestions for something else. Use the comment section below. If that doesn’t work, or if you don’t want to use the comment section, you can email me here: tomATtomhilpertDOTCOM. The reason I spelled it out like that is avoid scammy-robots. Put in the symbols – don’t use the spelling like I did.

Thanks for your help. Hope to give you something in time to occupy your holidays this year!

Tom

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A KILLER BOOK DESCRIPTION

SuperiorSecrets_BookCov2

SUPERIOR SECRETS is almost ready! As you can see, we have a cover!

As we put the finishing touches together, I am reminded again of the need for a killer book description to lure in new readers.  Here’s what we have for Superior Secrets:

It’s wintertime on the North Shore and the snow is thick on the ground. Jonah Borden, the coffee-guzzling, wisecracking, gourmet-cooking man of the cloth, is about to tie the knot with his sweetheart, Leyla Bennett. But before they do, Leyla joins a cult, ostensibly in order to complete an investigative report. However, Borden is worried: there are signs that her commitment to the new religion may have become more serious.

When Borden confronts the cult leader, he is rebuffed. Meanwhile, mysterious hunting accidents begin happening around the town of Grand Lake. Assisted by his friends, Jonah tries to find a way to get Leyla out. What he uncovers is bigger than any of them had guessed. Now, he’s in a race to save his own life, and those of his friends, before a powerful enemy snuffs them out.

Superior Secrets is set amidst the wild beauty of Lake Superior. Featuring a cast of unique, memorable characters, this is part of the Lake Superior Mystery series, but none of the books have to be read in order.

I could use a little help here. I’m wondering if there are any of you, who have not read any of previous Lake Superior Mysteries, who could evaluate this description for me? If you haven’t read the books, does this description get your attention? Does it tell you enough? Does it say too much?  I deeply appreciate your feedback!

If you have read any of the previous books, I welcome your feedback too, but try to be objective: would this description interest you if you knew nothing about the series?

Thanks so much!

SUPERIOR JUSTICE FOR NOOK– $0.99 TODAY AND TOMORROW!

I’ve gained quite a following among Kindle users. Amazon has been very good to me. Even so, when my contract was up a few weeks ago, I thought I’d see what the “other half” has to offer. That’s right, I mean Nookies!  So, without further ado, go find Superior Justice for Nook, today and tomorrow, only $0.99.

Superior Justice for Barnes and Noble Nook

SuperiorJusticeFrontSmall

PICK THE TITLE OF MY NEXT BOOK, AND WIN A FREE COPY!

OK folks, I’m looking for feedback here, and I’ll even sweeten the deal.

I’m about 20% in to the next Superior Mystery. My problem is, I don’t have a title yet. So I thought I’d seek a little help from my readers. Below is my *rough* blurb/description of the book. Hopefully, I’ll polish it more before the book is published, but I’ve got to finish writing it first. Read the rough blurb, and what I say about the book after the blurb. Then, give me some title suggestions. The title must begin with “Superior” and I think I’d like to stay with just one other word after that. So your title suggestion should be “Superior [your suggestion]”

If I choose *your* suggestion, I’ll send you a free signed copy of one of my books – whichever one you choose. If you choose the new one, bear in mind, I’m still writing it, so it will be many months before you get your copy. Otherwise, pick Superior Justice or Superior Storm, and I’ll mail you a signed copy.

I’ll announce the winner in my next blog entry, and on my Facebook Author page.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s wintertime on the North Shore, and the snow is thick on the ground. Jonah Borden, the coffee-guzzling, rear-end-kicking, wisecracking, gourmet-cooking man of the cloth, is about to tie the knot with his sweetheart, Leyla Bennett. But before they do, Leyla joins a cult, ostensibly in order to complete an investigative report. Borden is worried: there are signs that her commitment may have become more serious.

When Borden confronts the cult leader, he is rebuffed. Meanwhile, mysterious hunting accidents begin happening around the town of Grand Lake. Assisted by his friends, Jonah tries to find a way to get Leyla out. What he uncovers is bigger than any of them had guessed. Now, he’s in a race to save his own life, and those of his friends, before a powerful enemy snuffs them out.

Some further thoughts: I think this one is going to surprise some people with a twist or two. It’s set in the wintertime.

Okay folks, go to it!

2011 The Year of the Ebook

I recently bought myself an ebook reader.

One of my best friends, an IT guy, said, “What’s that?”

You can imagine how encouraging this was to me, because I had figured I was buying into the technological wave of the future. But in case, like him, you don’t know, an ebook reader is an electronic device with a screen for reading digital books. The most famous ebook reader is probably the Kindle. The Ipad also reads digital books, but it isn’t designed primarily or solely for that purpose.

I’ll have another post soon reviewing the specific brand and model of reader that I purchased. In the meantime, I thought I’d share why I bought any such thing at all. After all, I am a bibliophile. I love books, libraries and bookstores (more or less in that order). I am an author myself.

I also love technology, so the combination of books and a new electronic gadget was pretty strong temptation.

I think ebooks, and readers to read them is the future of books and publishing. It simply makes too much sense not to become the dominant paradigm. It eliminates many complexities and negative impacts associated with paper books.

A digital book eliminates the environmental destruction of killing trees for paper. It eliminates the manufacturing process for the paper. It eliminates the printer ink, the printing presses, the binding processes, storage, shipping and all kinds of other energy-intensive, expensive, complicated things involved in producing books.

Digital books also carry positives. The process for producing and selling an ebook is immensely simple compared to traditional publishing. The environmental impact is minimal. The cost of production is minimal. And for the consumer it makes so much sense. It is ridiculously portable compared to regular books. It takes almost no storage space.

The only reason ebooks aren’t dominant yet is because the powers-that-be in the publishing industry haven’t yet figured out how to make money with them. The truth is, ebooks are a threat to publishers, because they [the publishers] are not necessary in the current paradigm of e-publishing. They’ll figure out a way to own a big piece of the pie, however.

Some people claim they just love the look, feel and smell of books, and so, could never get used to an ebook reader. In one way, I get this. I like flipping through books at stores and libraries. But in another way, it reminds of some people back in the 80’s when answering machines were first used. They used to say “I can’t stand the thought of talking to a machine.” They seemed to think this made them sound cultured and noble. I always thought it made them sound like they needed some kind of therapy.

IS IT TIME FOR CHRISTIAN FICTION TO DIE?

*Note. This is a guest blog reposted with permission from best selling novelist, and my dear friend, Eric Wilson.

A Challenge to Readers, Writers, and Publishers

By Eric Wilson

As a child, I was taught not to complain about a problem unless I was willing to be part of the solution. I was also introduced to the literature of J. R. R. Tolkien, John Bunyan, C. S. Lewis, Daniel Defoe, Flannery O’Connor, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not one of these world-class Christian writers worked within the parameters of a “religious fiction” market.

By the time I was 19, my own faith had faced more obstacles than I found in most “inspirational” novels. I hunted for stories that dealt with real issues from a Biblical perspective, but found offerings that were mostly trite and poorly written–with Bodie Thoene’s books being an exception. Did it have to be this way? Even those who love Jesus struggle with doubts, depression, sexual and financial issues, addiction, and disease.

If the Bible truly offered the Answer, I wondered, then why did these stories seem so afraid to ask the questions?

Hoping to be part of the solution, I read, read, read, and wrote, wrote, wrote. I studied the craft of fiction. I earned a Bachelor’s degree with honors from an accredited Bible college, got married (faithful for 20 years now), and published my first novel in my mid-thirties. I have since written nine more novels, with over a million words in print. One of those books spent four months on theNew York Times bestseller list.

Trying to be part of the solution, I have also reviewed and endorsed hundreds of novels—the majority of them by Christian brothers and sisters. I’ve done my best to open doors for up-and-coming authors. I’ve invested the past decade in broadening the reach and readership of this market, and in reclaiming genres that had been hijacked by immoral and/or humanistic worldviews. Despite my efforts, and many incredible yet relatively unknown writers who have bettered them (W. Dale Cramer, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Tosca Lee, Robin Parrish, Claudia Mair Burney, Mike Dellosso, Steven James, and Sibella Giorella, to name a few), this market’s recent influence and parameters seem to have narrowed.

The late 1960s and early ’70s saw the rise of young Christian musicians who helped spearhead the Jesus Movement. As the number of listeners grew, a few entrepreneurial sorts saw an opportunity to spread the Word even further; yet with success came the need—initially uncorrupted—to keep “churning out the hits” to keep this baby rollin’. The moneychangers stepped in, the Spirit moved out, and for a long time Christian music became a cloistered, “safe” alternative instead of a vibrant, world-changing entity. I believe the same has happened in today’s Christian fiction.

Why, as Christian novelists, have we removed ourselves from a place of influence in the “marketplace” of the everyday reader? Do atheistic authors put their books in the “Atheist Fiction” section? Does Stephanie Meyer label her books “Mormon Fiction”? Aren’t we actually “selling out” if we write what will sell to a certain church demographic instead of writing what God puts in our hearts?

In years past, the works of Tolkien, Lewis, and O’Connor glistened in the unrestricted air of “real life.” That is not to say Middle-earth is real or Puddleglum still survives in some swamp—though I would be the first to pay him a visit if he did. I am saying the weight of Frodo’s ring (a powerful symbol of sin) and the cynicism of a pessimistic swamp-dweller were presented poignantly, without polish or affectation. They felt real. They captured emotions and experiences with which we can all relate.

In the same way, an ultra-gritty (and beautifully poetic) book such as James Lee Burke’s Jolie Blon’s Bounce still lingers in my thoughts, due to its spiritual and redemptive arc. John Dalton’s Heaven Lake and David Maine’s The Preservationist won awards in the mainstream market, while tackling Biblical themes with remarkable skill.

If our own writings fail to also wrestle honestly with life’s difficulties, it seems to me that we gloss over the bloody, earth-shaking war that Jesus fought on the cross—and we undermine the triumph of His resurrection.

True, the publishing number-crunchers feel the need to meet profit margins. Yes, we writers of the faith are called to honor God in our storytelling. Does this mean, though, that we should censor all the raw elements? Isn’t the Bible itself filled with depictions of violence, sexual misconduct, deceit, and bigotry? Some of its stories have happy endings. Some are dark cautionary tales. Few, if presented as modern fiction, would make it past the industry’s “gatekeepers.”

It seems to me that most “religious” storytelling has taken the place of relational, incarnational works of literature. I know there are authors who desire to write more than scrubbed-clean, rose-scented fiction. Must all Christian novels be “inspirational,” or can’t some be challenging, daring, even ironic and unresolved?

In my own novels, I don’t want to regurgitate platitudes. I want to allow Christ to enter the muddy, messy settings of my own life and those depicted in my stories. He is a redeemer. He has a way of calling the dead from their graves, the sinners from their prisons, and the pharisaical busybodies into glorious freedom.

Yes, God is the Creator. We are created in His image. When we write fiction, when we create, we have the opportunity to reflect a sinful world in such a way that the glory of the risen Lord is that much more astounding. No, not all writers are called to this, and maybe this market will never make way for those who are. Nevertheless, Jesus gave us an example to follow, stepping into the muck of humanity instead of calling to the street dwellers from lofty mountaintops.

I believe fiction has the ability to change minds, shock us from complacency, and soften hearts. (Paradoxically, those Christians who question the validity of Christian fiction are often those who rant about the evil power of fictitious Harry Potter.) I believe at least some faith-based novels should serve as more than “moral” alternatives. But are there publishers still willing to offer that chance?

Consider these words from one of Russia’s greatest novelists. Over four decades later, they still rattle the bars on artistic cages.

    Outstanding manuscripts by young authors, as yet entirely unknown, are nowadays rejected by editors solely on the ground that they “will not pass.”

    Literature cannot develop between the categories “permitted”—“not permitted”—“this you can and this you can’t.” Literature that is not the air of its contemporary society, that dares not pass on to society its pains and fears, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers, such literature does not deserve the name literature; it is only a façade . . .

    Our literature has lost the leading role it played . . . [and] now appears as something infinitely poorer, flatter and lower than it actually is . . . If the world had access to all the uninhibited fruits of our literature, if it were enriched by our own spiritual experience, the whole artistic evolution of the world would move along in a different way, acquiring a new stability and attaining a new artistic threshold . . .

    –Alexander Solzhenitsyn,

    Letter to the 4th National Congress of Soviet Writers, May 16, 1967

The Christian-fiction market, if it remains myopic, could very well die. I hope it does not. It has done many good things and produced some quality novelists, both commercial and literary in nature. Before we settle into mediocrity, I pray we’ll see godly writers of all genres, all ages, all races, ready to raise the bar even higher and impact the world around them. Some are already published but struggling. Others are waiting for their opportunity. The question isn’t whether the market will die, so much as whether it will push aside fear and allow its authors to live.

If not, Christians who are writers should be publishing well-crafted, honest, and thought-provoking novels in the general fiction market. When Jerusalem’s Christians lingered too long in first-century AD, the Diaspora and hardship pushed them from their comfort zones. They spread far and wide, sharing the Good News.

Maybe today is the beginning of an artists’ Diaspora. Maybe literary life will yet rise from these ashes.

Characters: A life of their own

So, we’ve established, that if I have to, I choose character over plot. This makes my writing process interesting for two reasons. First, I am continually worried that what I write doesn’t move fast enough, and is not exciting to the this generation, which was raised on thirty-second TV and movie scenes. You’ll have to read my writing yourself to judge if it is fast enough or not (see how I worked that shameless plug in there?), but it is something that I am never quite settled about.

The other thing that is interesting, is that because I give them some room to grow, my characters do and say things that surprise me. In fact, they change the story a little bit as it goes along. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t change the entire plot, and never the final ending, but they do put twists and turns and things into it that I didn’t expect. It’s kind of fun. In fact, sometimes the thing that keeps me writing is the desire to see what my characters will do.

Now, if you aren’t a writer, you might be inclined to find out where I live, and call a psychiatrist here and have me evaluated. But I’ve talked to other book-length authors, and they report similar experiences. Either we all take the same mind-altering drugs, or maybe there is something to this idea that fictional characters can take on a sort of life of their own, even to the surprise of the author. Since I don’t take any drugs at all besides aspirin, it must be the second thing.

So have you experienced this in your writing? Or do you think I’m nuts?

IS “VANITY” FAIR?

When I started thinking about writing books, there were two ways to get published:
1.Find a “regular” publishing company, which would pay you an advance, and undertake the cost of publishing, marketing and selling your book
2.Publish the book yourself. You would pay to have the cover designed; to print the book; you would store thousands of copies yourself; you would undertake to market and sell it.

Generally, the second option was called “vanity” publishing. I think that was for two reasons. First, the thought was, if a publisher didn’t want it, it probably wasn’t very good anyway. You would be paying to fulfill your own ego. Second, the whole effort would likely be “vain” in the sense that it wouldn’t really pay off, either financially, or terms of recognition. Continue reading