Thursday, July 29, 2010

From Honest Man to Thief

One of my favorite TV shows is Leverage because the characters are deep and multi-faceted. Nathan Ford was once an insurance investigator, specializing in art theft recovery. He’s now the reluctant “mastermind” behind the cons of a group of thieves. I say “reluctant” because he’s in cahoots with the very thieves he used to catch and put in jail. Why does Nathan do this?

Read the full article at Voices e-zine.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

is introducing 


Barbour Books (July 1, 2010)
Ronie Kendig

Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series begins in July from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

After a tour of duty in a war-torn country, embattled former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs finds himself discarded and alienated from those he loves as he struggles with war-related PTSD. His wife, Sydney, files a restraining order against him and a petition for divorce. Max is devastated.

Then a mysterious a man appears. He says he's organizing a group that recycles veterans like Max. It's a deep-six group known as Nightshade. With the chance to find purpose in life once again, Max is unable to resist the call of duty and signs on.

The team handles everything with precision and lethal skill...until they're called upon to rescue a missionary family from a rebel-infested jungle and avoid a reporter hunting their identities. Will Max yield his anger and pride to a force greater than

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nightshade, go HERE.

CONTEST: Right here, only on Kittens Come From Eggs! Leave a comment and one person will win a copy of Nightshade AND Dead Reckoning. Winner will be announced Friday so don't miss out!

Watch the trailer:

Monday, July 19, 2010

And the Winner is...

Lisa Jordan wins a copy of Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias. This book is a treasure trove for writers and a great compliment, I must say, to Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel.

Thank you for all your comments and for hanging out here last week! Hope your conference experience is spectacular. :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Part Four: The 3 C’s: Colors, Continuity, and Choices

So far we’ve talked about product identification, one-sheets and business cards. Today I’ll give you some basic tips about the 3C's to carry your imagery across the board to your website, blog, and future promotions. Consistency is key!

I touched on this briefly in part two of this series about the one sheet. Your colors should mesh with your genre. A color scheme of deep red, black, and white will bring across a sense of danger, suspense, and strength. Great for those thriller and suspense writers. Pastel tones give a sense of happiness and peace—a perfect choice for inspirational writers, some women’s fiction, and children’s books. Bold, loud colors are perfect for chick-lit and lively women’s fiction. I think you get the picture here. Choose colors that convey the theme of your stories. This holds true for your printed materials, as well as your web presence, and is another important aspect of continuity.

Creating a common theme between your printed and online materials is like writing a book series. There are elements that carry over from book to book and stay consistent. This will create strong reader identification (also why book series have continuity between covers in their design, colors, fonts, and imagery) and this also speaks a strong but silent message of professionalism.

If you started with your website, carry those designs and colors over to your business card, letterhead, and promotional materials. If you’re a published author and you’re using your current book as a guideline, then your materials to promote that book should match it. Again, this creates strong reader identification. Making connections between advertising materials to the product on the shelf (your book) is vital to a successful promotion. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. And your money.

Choices: Timely vs. Timeless
This is where your planning will pay off. Literally. Make choices now based upon two things. One, your immediate goal. Are you promoting a book? Then make a “timely” choice.” Design your bookmarks, postcards, and online materials to match in color, design, and even fonts. Order quantities of your printed materials based upon your need. It may be a great deal to spend that extra few dollars just to get 500 more bookmarks, but if you wind up not needing them, then it’s money wasted.

Two, your long term goal. Are you promoting yourself as an author? When making “timeless” choices for your printed and online materials, keep in mind that you will most likely keep this “identity” for two to five years. Can you live with that logo and color scheme that long? Making frequent changes will lose continuity and confuse readers. Choose colors and designs for the long haul. Take advantage of the price break between 250 hundred and 500 business cards if you you’re happy with your image and information, and you will make good use of them. The same can hold true for bookmarks, especially if they’re promoting a series of books, or your books in general.

I hope this series has been helpful. Leave a comment for another chance to win Writing for Emotional Impact. I’ll draw a name this weekend and announce the winner Monday. And feel free to leave any questions. I’ll answer them here in the comments section. See you at conference!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Part Three: The Business Card

Most of what I’ve covered for the one sheet applies to business cards as well. These are basic design concepts that apply across the board. And even more so for the business card, because it’s a very small area of advertising designed to impart your most important information.

When I first started attending conferences, I found it odd that writers would include their picture. Now I understand its benefits in the connections we make and helping agents and editors remember who we are. They meet with so many people over the course of three days. A picture is a great way to stay in their memory. I do recommend you spend the money, if possible, on a professional photographer. In fact, each conference, a photographer is contracted for this very purpose. And at prices you just can’t beat. Take advantage of this opportunity. Trust me, even cropping a family portrait will still scream family portrait. It’s not just the quality, but the pose as well that can make a difference. If money is an issue, exchange services with someone. Ask around your church, or perhaps you have a family member or friend who does photography as a hobby. Just try to make sure it looks as professional as possible.

For your business card layout, you need your picture, which should be a high resolution image—around 1 MB or more—your name, email address, phone number and your web address, if you have one. Optional but helpful tidbits are a tagline and a blog addy. Don’t use a tagline just to have one. If you’re not sure yet what genre or style you plan to write, better to leave this off. And if you’re not a consistent blogger or don’t really keep up with it well enough, better to leave this off for now as well.

Use a good card stock for your printing. Here are some online printers that offer good service and competitive prices. I’ve worked with most of these and have found they’re all pretty good. And they have templates to step you through your business card design without additional charges—a great alternative if you can’t afford a designer.
  • Print Runner
  • Vista Print
  • Printing for Less
  • Print Place
  • Got Print
Tomorrow we’ll finish up our exploration into conference materials with the 3 Cs and how they can fit neatly into your marketing materials for the future. Don’t forget to leave a comment for more chances to win Writing for Emotional Impact, and questions are always welcome! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Part Two: The One Sheet

Yesterday I talked about identifying your genre and/or niche so as to help you create your “mood.” Today let’s talk about the one sheet. Every year I see the questions start a couple months before conference. We’re gearing up and getting ready. We want to make a great first impression on those agents and editors we’re planning to meet. We want to make our stories shine.

The one sheet is an excellent tool to do just that. You can use imagery right along with your carefully crafted words to give a first impression as well. Just like a book cover gives a potential reader an initial glimpse of what your story is about, a one sheet can do the same.

The basic elements to a one sheet are: story title, a short synopsis, author picture and bio, contact information, and one or two images that portray what your story is about, either by story line, setting, or key elements. And make sure both your story blurb and your bio are polished and ready to go. Writing it along with your layout is a bad idea. Time and energy are wasted when a layout has to be redone because of major copy changes.

Let’s start with some basic layout hints to keep your one sheet looking clean and professional.

The temptation can be mighty strong to use some of those quirky fonts you just noticed came with your favorite software program. Resist it! A good rule of thumb is no more than two fonts to a one-page layout. Sometimes three will work if you’re careful, but keep in mind that using the bold form of a font face is almost like using an additional font.

Now that you’ve gone to all that trouble to determine the “mood” of what you write, choose fonts to match. Find a font that suits your story title and feel free to use a bold form here. If you write techno thrillers, a curly cursive font is not going to fit. Find a modern san serif font (no serifs—the little embellishments) to set off that title. If your genre is chick-lit, have a little fun and use something interesting and lively. The point is to make your title stand out, AND fit your story.

Next choose a good font for your body copy for both the story synopsis and author bio. Serif fonts such as Times New Roman are usually the best choice for readability. You can also use a san serif font like Helvetica if it’s not a large block of copy, but keep the font size to 12 point. Again, resist the temptation to use a fancier font (AND NO CAPS or italics!!!). If an editor or agent can’t read it easily, you’ve just wasted all that effort and a chance to make a great first impression.

Use a bold form of that body font for your name and contact information. That’s critical information, which needs to be easily found and read. Keep it with your bio and make sure it’s complete. If you have an agent, that’s important to include as well.

If you have sub-titles or taglines, use either a larger and bold form of your body copy font, or choose another font that compliments your title font. Be sure not to clash here. This is when your can either make or break your one sheet. If it’s too busy, the eye will naturally resist reading. That’s the last thing you want happening when you pitch your story.

If you’re a camera aficionado, feel free to use your own pictures. Otherwise, there are a multitude of image sources available online. Even Microsoft has a site for images and clip art. Another option is to use stock photos. Most sights involve fees and some are free as long as you follow their guidelines. Check these out:

  • StockXchange (
    This is a wonderful site to find free images. The photos are clearly marked as to what the photographer’s requirements are. Most are free to use as long as you’re not reselling the image or using it to create a logo. Some photographers ask for notification of use, which can be done easily through the site and some may ask that you give them credit for the photo (either placing their name by the picture or an aterix at the bottom of the page with a “photo by…” credit line.)
  • MorgueFile (
    Like StockXchange, this is another fee free site. Again, follow the guidelines and respect the photographers’ rights.
  • iStock Photo (
    iStock is usually my first choice for images for my clients. Using a prepurchase credit system, these images range anywhere from one or two credits to five or ten. Some run more if they’re detailed and/or high resolution, or are illustrations. You prepurchase blocks of credit, which works out to about a $1.50 a credit. Less if you buy larger quantities. Again, there are some usage guidelines, similar to StockXchange.

Book Series One Sheets
If you want your one sheet to promote a book series, consider creating a two-sided one sheet. You can use your series title as your main header, then treat your book titles like subheads, even using a smaller version of the same font you used for the main header. Include a brief description of each book to go with the titles and put your bio on the back. This will keep your page looking uncluttered and easy to read.

Simplicity is always a good rule of thumb. Find an image you like best and use it to set off your story title and synopsis. Make sure your bio picture is fairly current and as professional looking as possible. Try not to crop yourself out of a last year’s blurry family photo. Use colors sparingly, especially if you’re using color photography. A busy page will deflect, not invite.

Keep it clean, keep it organized, keep it simple, and keep it professional. Remember, this is your chance to start off with a great first impression of your professionalism and your story.

You can check out my website for some samples of one-sheets. And feel free to leave any questions. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at business cards and continuity in your materials. See you tomorrow!

Remember, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias. Ciao!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Part One: Who Are You?

The ACFW Conference is just weeks away, so I know many of you are wondering what you need or even where to start. Over the next four days, I’ll be posting some basics to help you get prepared. We’ll talk about identifying your genre or brand, one sheets, business cards, and how to apply this later on to your website, blogs, and future promotions.

So let’s start at the beginning. Who are you? Every path needs a starting point and creating marketing materials start with two things:

What am I selling?
Who am I selling it to?

Now to apply this to writing, start with your product. Your stories are your product, whether you’re published or unpublished (or pre-published, if you prefer). Start by identifying if you’re “genre specific” or “niche specific.”

Genre specific identifies what kind of stories you write. Suspense, YA, historicals, etc. Even if your story is a combination of genres, decide which is the stronger element to identify your book. In the long run, this helps agents and editors to identify and place your product. Where will it fit, and how will they market it?

If your story has more to do with a culture (Camy Tang’s Sushi Series), a hobby (Rebeca Seitz Scrapbooker’s Series), or ministry (Palmer and Chapman’s The Four Seasons of a Marriage Series), then your story is niche specific and serves a very unique demographic.

And it’s possible your stories could be both genre and niche specific, which can be even more appealing. Now don’t sweat this too much. It’s not an exact science, and if you’re just starting on your writing journey, keep it simple.

Once you’ve made this distinction, identify your market. Now I’m going to take the word “market” and use the word “mood” for my purposes here. The idea is to create materials that will portray what your story is about and clearly show that to the editor and/or agent you plan to pitch to. This is crucial to how you create your one sheets and business cards, and for published authors for your bookmarks and newsletters.

If your story is what you’d describe as a suspense or thriller, you don’t want to put cute little flowers and use bright colors on your one sheet. And if that’s your genre, you don’t want a business card that looks more like something a chick-lit writer would have. This all boils down to imagery and first impressions. This is an opportunity to communicate clearly who you are AND what you’re selling.

Tomorrow, I’ll cover more specific ideas for designing one sheets. I’ll also have some resource links for free and affordable royalty free photographs to help create that mood we’re talking about as well as communicate your story.

Feel free to leave questions in the comment section. See you tomorrow!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias, one of my favorite writing books! Leave a comment each day for more chances to win.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tomorrow We Die by Shawn Grady

This week, the 
Christian Fiction Blog Allianc 
is introducing 
Tomorrow We Die
 Bethany House (July 1, 2010)
Shawn Grady

Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. He is the author of the novels Through the Fire & Tomorrow We Die.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University as a Theology undergrad before shifting direction to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.

Chase the Angel of Death and You Might Catch Him
Jonathan Trestle is a paramedic who's spent the week a few steps behind the angel of death. When he responds to a call about a man sprawled on a downtown sidewalk, Trestle isn't about to lose another victim. CPR revives the man long enough for him to hand Trestle a crumpled piece of paper and say, "Give this to Martin," before being taken to the hospital.

The note is a series of dashes and haphazard scribbles. Trestle tries to follow up with the patient later, but at the ICU he learns the man awoke, pulled out his IVs, and vanished, leaving only a single key behind. With the simple decision to honor a dying man's last wish, Jonathan tracks the key to a nearby motel where he finds the man again--this time not just dead but murdered. Unwilling to just let it drop, Jonathan is plunged into a mystery that soon threatens not only his dreams for the future but maybe even his life. He must race for the truth before the Angel of Death comes calling for him.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Tomorrow We Die, go to HERE.

Dineen here: Shawn Grady is a fantastic author. His first book, Through the Fire, is an awesome read. I'm almost halfway through Tomorrow We Die (special thanks to Bethany House for the reviewer copy) and am loving it as much as Grady's first book. His stories are unique and his characters original. And I love a story that holds together well from start to finish. Definitely a book worth reading and an author worth following.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Announcing the INSPYs: the Bloggers' Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature

July 2, 2010-Organizers announced the creation of a new book award today. The announcement of the INSPY awards coordinated with the launch of the INSPYs website,

The innovative award is designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today. The INSPYs were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith. To find these works, the INSPYs net is cast wide, accepting nominations of books aimed at the Christian bookstore market as well as those from the general market.

The INSPYs are the brainchild of Amy Riley, of My Friend Amy, creator Book Blogger Appreciation Week. "We feel nothing compares to excellent faith-driven fiction, but it can be difficult to weed through the multitude of books published each year in both the Christian marketplace and the general market to find the best ones," Riley said.

Another factor that sets the INSPY awards apart is that it's organized and will be judged by bloggers with considerable experience and knowledge of books published in both the general market and the CBA market.

Award organizers are seeking book nominations in the following genres: Historical Fiction; Amish Fiction; Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction; General and Literary Fiction; Romance and Romantic Suspense; Speculative Fiction; Creative nonfiction; and Young Adult Fiction. The deadline to nominate a book is July 31.

In addition to book nominations, judges for each genre are also being sought this month. Another way to help is to spread the word ? blog about the INSPYs, tell your friends.

The winners of the first-ever INSPY awards will be announced December 13.

The advisory committee consists of Amy Riley of My Friend Amy, Carrie Kitzmiller of Books and Movies, Deborah of Books, Movies & Chinese Food, Hannah Nielsen of Word Lily, and Rel Mollet of Relz Reviewz.

To stay informed, subscribe to the site:

Contact: Hannah Nielsen,