Big News!! Would You Like to Be Featured on Our Website??

Hello Friends!

Big news!! We just made a new page on this website entitled “What Do Readers Say?” (http://acryfromegypt.com/what-do-readers-say/) We want to know what you as readers thought about my book, “A Cry From Egypt”! Would you like to be featured on my website and on this page? You can! It’s really easy and fun! Send an email to me at: hope(@)hopefulstories.com.

I know we have a lot of new readers coming up since A Cry From Egypt has been added to Tapestry of Grace’s First Year as a Primary Read Aloud and is one of the books recommended for Cornerstone Curriculum’s new The Grand Story ancient history curriculum. We’d love to hear from you!

Let me know what you or your children liked about “A Cry From Egypt”! You can write up a review, have your kids write up a review, talk about a favorite part or favorite character. You can send me pictures of your kids reading the book, acting out the book, drawing pictures of characters, doing different projects inspired by the book, or send on other resources that would complete the book well! We’ll even accept videos! I can’t wait to see what you all say!

 

Encouraging Parents – Post #3

“My Story Doesn’t Bring Glory to God”

Earlier in this series of posts, I mentioned that I spoke at a homeschool conference in May and shared some scripture verses about doing everything – including writing – for the glory of God. After my session, I was down at the Great Waters Press booth selling my book and talking to some amazing young writers. One young lady came up to me. She said her name was Sarah, and she was really shy. I could tell she was almost scared to talk to me, but yet she wanted to talk to me so desperately. She told me that she didn’t have a network of people who helped her with her writing, and she really wanted to tell me about some of her ideas for books. I tried to be as warm and welcoming as I could and help put this young lady at ease. Sarah started telling me about her idea, and I felt my heart sink. Sarah obviously had talent, but she was writing a ghost story. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to crush her hopes and dreams, but I knew that I couldn’t remain silent in this area. Sarah finished telling me her idea, but before I could say anything, she told me this:

“But, as I was listening to your talk and those Bible verses, I realized that my story doesn’t bring glory to God. So, I decided that I wasn’t going to work on that story any more, and instead, I have an idea for a girl who’s going to public school who has a really hard time, but in the end learns about God and ministers to kids in her school. What do you think?”

What did I think? I was ecstatic! The Word of God had pierced this young homeschooler’s heart. One day I hope this book will be on shelves in bookstores everywhere because it would have such a big appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike. While I could tell that it was hard for Sarah to lay down her ghost story, she was still excited for the future and what God has in store for her. In the end, I know that she will feel more fulfilled and joyful and be more in love with Christ than ever before because of her decision.

Meet “Acenith”!!

Hello All!

Meet one of my closest friends and accountability partners, Lindy Meeker! Lindy Meeker is playing “Acenith” in the radio drama, Jarah’s Egyptian friend who lives in Rameses.

Lindy is an amazing and beautiful young lady. Her heart is devoted wholly to seeking God and His plan for her life. Lindy is a constant source of encouragement and support to me. She always points me back towards Christ and His word. Lindy helped me edit my first book, and has provided great insight for what I have of book 2! She is also an amazing actress. I met Lindy briefly at a homeschool conference almost six years ago, and then got to know her that Winter when we were in a play together. Our paths crossed for years, but we began to get closer after we both graduated high school and found out how much we had in common! She is such a blessing to me, and I know you’ll be blessed by listening to her in the role of “Acenith”!

Lindy Meeker as our “Acenith”!

Lindy was homeschooled all through school, and graduated in 2010. She attended Ellerslie Leadership Training, an intensive discipleship program in Colorado, during the Fall of 2011. Now she is working as a part time nanny for a precious two year old girl, and loves being “Miss Lindy”! She has been a part of Christian Youth Theatre for 7 years, as an actor, class assistant, stage director, and is now assistant directing. Lindy enjoys singing, acting, playing piano, laughing, being with family, and Christ-centered conversations with wonderful friends! Although she has a few ideas, she doesn’t know right now what her near future holds. She is trusting that God will make the next steps clear in His perfect timing! This is what Lindy says about playing her character:

“I learned a lot from playing Acenith, not necessarily from the character herself, but certainly through the process of bringing her to life! God faithfully helped me see that I could never do it in my own strength. I’ve never even tried to scream like that before! As I prayed, God enabled me to trust Him to do it through me. He always gives us grace for what He calls us to do. If something is challenging, it gives me an even greater opportunity to rely on Him, and to know in the end that is was only by His grace that it happened! “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

My Book is Coming to Life! :-)

Hello All!

It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that we have decided to start recording my book and turning it into an audio drama! Trailers and promos are first on the list of production, but maybe one day it will actually be completely finished and you can listen to my book as dramatized and acted by my friends and family members!

We’ve had several recording days and have made many wonderful and amazing memories. I’ve pulled people from my family, church, and local Christian acting group to play the parts in my book. We are very far away from having anything listenable, but over the next months you will be seeing sneak-peaks of behind the scenes footage, get some previews of the recorded audio, see lots of pictures, and get to meet the cast and crew! :-)

Please be in prayer for us. A lot of this is super intense. Though I’ve done some acting coaching in my time, I was not completely prepared for this task. It’s a completely new medium of acting to me! And the editing and recording process is a very long one. It will take a lot of work, perseverance, and prayers from you all in order to have some finished products.

Thank you for your prayers and support! I can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on with you all!

Here’s the first picture for you all! This is part of our recording set-up. I’m working with our “Jarah,” played by one of my dear friends Tori MacDonald. Can’t wait to show you all the rest! :-)

 

Week 18, Conclusion: “Titles”

Well, since no one emailed me questions this week, I found something else to talk about, instead! This question was asked of me at the NCHE conference in May:

“How did you come up with the title for your book? Also, should you do chapter titles or not?”

So, here’s my answer. :-)

Actually, to start off with, I picked a different title for my first book. My original idea was “God Will Deliver Us,” because that was what all the characters were begging and praying throughout the course of the book. My publishers didn’t really like the name, though. It was very catching, and it didn’t reveal anything about the nature of the book. After a lot of discussion, we decided on “A Cry From Egypt.” It let prospective buyers know that the book was placed in Egypt, and it made people wonder what happened in the pages.

I’ve had a very hard time picking a title for my second book, which covers the crossing of the Red Sea and goes all the way to Mt. Sinai. I thought about “Following the Cloud,” but that sounded cheesy. We came up with “A Nightmare at Sinai,” and “Trial at Sinai.” But “A Nightmare” sounded too scary. I didn’t want parents with young children to be scared off from reading my book. “Trial” made me think of a court session with a judge in a big white wig with a gavel. So I didn’t like that one.

Then my dad and I were talking about my book and the themes in my book. We were also discussing how so many people today say that God in the Old Testament is completely different than the God of the New Testament. That is so not true! God is just as merciful and loving in the Old Testament as in the New Testament. The Israelites are just humans who failed, as we all do, to listen to God’s instructions. And that is even more obvious in the Old Testament! Even at Mt. Sinai, God could’ve killed all of the Israelites right there! Instead, He was merciful. So that gave us the idea for our book two title: “Mercy at Sinai.”

So, tips for coming up with a good book title:
1. Make sure it makes people who read it ask a question. It should grab their attention immediately. Book titles will make or break a book!
2. Keep it short. Try not to use more than eight words. Generally speaking, titles should be between two and six words.
3. Pick something that hints at the main theme of your story.
4. Even picking a quote or line for your story might work!
5. If you’re stuck, have some people read it and give you suggestions. It’s ok if you don’t have a title until the very end, by the way. If you don’t know what your theme is, you don’t necessarily need a title.

If you’re wondering whether or not to give your book chapter titles, here’s some thoughts.

If you’re writing for younger children and teens, book titles help them keep track of where they are and keep them engaged. If you’re writing for older teens or adults, chapter titles aren’t really necessary. However, they can be very fun to write! If you’re going to write chapter titles, make sure you do it right! Don’t give away major events. Don’t write out a summary of the entire chapter. Give us a little snapshot of something. Some of my chapter titles are as follows:

Rameses
Jarah’s Question
What Happened at the Nile River
Frogs?
Thank You
A Hardened Heart
Trapped in the Darkness
Back in the Palace

They either summarize events, ask questions, or make you want to keep reading. :-) Do NOT write chapter titles if you write them like G.A. Henty. For example: “A Captive.” Me: “NO! I didn’t want to know that he got captured!” OR…… “Marie Arrested” or “Escape.” Me: “Well thanks for ruining the whole book!” Do not write chapter titles like that. Or like this:

“Chapter Six: When Harry Goes on a Wolf Hunt to Find the Great Wolf and Ends up Getting Injured.” Don’t give away the whole chapter like that, either. :-)

Thank you all for reading my blog series! I hope that I’ve been able to help you and encourage you along your own writing journey. I will continue to update my writing blog with new events and happenings with my first book and second book, and other writing tips and news. Thank you so much! Happy writing!

Week 17, Step 17: “The Summary…..” :-)

And now we come to the closing of our blog post series. I’m going to summarize the points I’ve made through this series right here so that you all can look back at them and see if there’s anything you missed or that you want to look at in more detail.

But before I summarize that, there is one point I would like to make.

I know that I have a variety of people reading these posts. I’ve heard from people as young as thirteen and as old as retired adults. This point is mostly geared towards young, single people.

I know a lot of you unmarried people are busy with school, family life, serving Jesus, spending time with friends, etc. Some of you probably really like writing but think, “I don’t have time to write. I like it, but I only work on it sparingly because I don’t have time. I’ll work on it when I’m older.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but life doesn’t become easier as you get older. Really, it gets much harder – AND busier! These single years before you’re married and staying at home with your children or working full-time is the BEST time to focus on your writing and see where God leads. Don’t put it off! Do it right now! Don’t wait until it’s too late. If God really is calling you to write, make it a priority and do it! I promise that you will regret it later.

Now, the summary…. :-)

Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain… No, that would take too long. Let me sum up.” :-)

1. Always write for God’s glory, putting His sacrifice and His desires above money, status, or fame.
2. When trying to get an idea, spend lots of time in prayer. Rely first and foremost on God’s inspiration. Remember to ask your family and friends for help, ideas, and other inspirations.
3. Find at least one writing buddy to keep you accountable and make you finish writing.
4. When starting your book or story, limit all detail. Introduce people and events slowly. Have a very, very grabbing opening that will force people to buy your book and read it!
5. The first sentences are crucial to catching the attention of your reader. Make them grip the reader!
6. Make sure you write a complete first draft. It is very important to God to finish what you’ve begun and to make sure all of your thoughts are tied together.
7. When it comes to firming up your plot-line, write out your main character(s) journey and make sure their are dips when your characters have conflict and ultimately a climax and resolution.
8. Remember to have the moral to your story be one that honors God. The main character also needs to have a spiritual journey where they learn to become more Christ-like in some way, shape, or form.
9. When you’re writing the middle, persevere! It will get better. Get your writing buddies to help you. Skip around in the story if you have to.
10. Make your climax huge and suspenseful! Keep the resolution short, or even have NO resolution if you’re writing a series of books.
11. As you start to revise, find people who know what they’re doing to help you and work with you to accomplish your goals.
12. Make you have readers, editors, copy-editors, and possibly a professional editor. They are invaluable!
13. Avoid pride as much as possible. Be teachable. Learn from others.
14. But don’t be too humble! Don’t fear man more than you fear God.
15. Pay about what publishing route you need to take. Where is God leading you?
16. For short stories, limit your use of characters. Make them all unique and different. All of the same rules apply, but condensed! :-)
17. Remember that Jesus is the one who gave us the gift of writing. He deserves all the praise we can give Him!

So there you go! That’s the summary of my blog post series! Please email me any questions you have that I might not have answered in the series. I’d love to hear from you!

Next week will be the Q&A week to wrap everything up. Please email me at hope@hopefulstories.com if you have a question that you want answered!

Happy Writing! :-)

Week 16, Step 16: “The World of Short Stories”

I’m sure some of you who have been following these blog posts are writing short stories.  Some of you are probably more entitled to write a blog post about short stories than I am! :-) I’m actually not very good at writing short stories. I’ve done a few, but I’ve only been happy with one of them. (By the way, that story should be released in just a few weeks to the world! I’ll be posting it here.) So I’m just going to give you some tips. And if there’s something I’ve missed, please feel free to comment and tell me – and everyone else! – what to do to make our writing better.

In some ways, writing a short story is way easier. Your plot line and build-up to the climax is a LOT shorter. There’s less details to worry about because it usually doesn’t cover a very long time. But there are some things that will help guide you along this process.

1. First of all, use very minimal characters. The less time you spend introducing people, the better. That means that having huge families or big nations is probably not a good idea. The ideal number would be between 3 and 12 people. There are 5 main types of characters in your story. Having one of each of them makes for a great short story.
The Protagonist: The hero or heroine, the one on the journey
The Antagonist: The villain OR the idea or fear or thought that is trying to stop the hero from accomplishing their goals/dreams
The Mentor: The one leading, guiding, and/or protecting the hero
The Side-Kick: The one who supports your character and helps them and goes through all the struggles with him/her
The Comic Relief: The character who could act as a side-kick or an assistant to the villain who provides some good laughs or less suspenseful moments
The Romantic Interest: This one is actually not completely necessary, but almost every single GREAT story in the world has some small amount of romance in it. However, there are many EXCELLENT stories without romance. Take the Chronicles of Narnia, for example! But adding a hint of romance to your story, especially if it’s done Biblical, is not a bad thing.

All you need are those five or six characters to have a good story. And some of them can even overlap! The comedic character and your side-kick can be combined into one. Your side-kick and romance character can be combined into one. There are several options and combinations. Many children’s books only have two or three main characters. But really, you don’t need a ton of characters to have a really good story.

2. Figure out your plot and how each of the characters fit into it and when. Use the same plot-outline that you would use for a big book, but make it a lot shorter. Make sure there’s still a grabbing opening, a struggle, a climax, and a short resolution.

3. In the beginning, don’t introduce everyone at once. Introduce the main character, then slowly add everyone else. Don’t overwhelm us with a ton of facts. All the necessary information should be given in just a few sentences or paragraphs. Make sure you have an opening that will really grab the audience!

4. For short stories in particular, you don’t really need to say much about your characters, the surroundings, etc. The less that can be explained, the shorter and more compact your story is, and the more exciting it will be because you’ll be using more dialogue. Readers LOVE dialogue. They can picture so much more using dialogue than whatever long descriptive paragraphs you can write in your story. And sometimes for short stories, when every single word counts, description can get in the way and take up unnecessary space.

So, to summarize….
1. Short stories are very similar to tiny itty bitty novels. Most of what we’ve talked about in the other blog posts apply in a condensed form.
2. Limit your characters! Pick them carefully and make sure they fit the character-types that we’ve discussed.
3. Remember to have really short introductions and an intense or mysterious opening!
4. Don’t put in much description at all. Let the dialogue be your description.
5. Spend time writing out a plot-line that works before you write out the short story. Make it compact and very plot-driven instead of character driven.

That’s it! Don’t forget to email me at hope@hopefulstories.com to ask me any questions that I haven’t answered! Week 18 is going to be our last and final week and our Q & A week! Thank you for reading!

Suggested Homework:

For those of you writing short stories, put into action the points listed above.

For those you who are NOT writing a short story, try it! Pick a character that’s in your novel and write a short story about them. It’s good experience, and you can possibly use it to publicize your book when you get ready to publish it!

Week 15, Step 15: “Publishing: Which Route To Take?”

So, about publishing. This is every writer’s goal and dream. It’s the end of a long, hard, but rewarding race. But, it can also be very, very overwhelming.

What I’m going to tell you today is what I’ve learned from my publishers and other writers about the publishing process. I’m going to lay out three different paths that you can take and tell you the pros and cons of each. Then you can chose for yourself which path meets your goals. Decide what’s important for you in a publisher/publishing house and then go from there. Hopefully what I’m telling you today will help narrow down your options and get you heading in the right direction. 

Self Publishing

There are many advantages to the self-publishing route, but there are also several things that you need to seriously consider before you think you can do this all on your own. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros: You can keep your copyright of your book, meaning that you have complete control and everything looks the way you want it to look. There are many places where you can now self-publish very easily and order books on demand instead of having tons of books sitting around your house. Websites like Lulu and Xlibris provide easy ways to make this happen. There are many other websites out there that provide similar services. All you have to do is search “publishing your own book” on google, and there you go!

Cons: You have to do a ton of work. You also have to do all of your own marketing. It’s hard to get into major book stores – or any book stores for that matter – without a recommendation. It generally won’t look as professional if you do it all by yourself, which means it won’t sell as much. It’s also more expensive to print books on demand instead of printing large bulk orders because they charge way more per book.

Small Publishers

Believe it or not, there are a lot of small publishing houses out there that will do a decent job with marketing and getting your book professional-looking and ready to sell! Here’s a link to a database I found by simply googling “small publishing houses.”

http://www.pw.org/small_presses?perpage=*

Pros: Generally with small publishing houses, you have a more personal relationship. You can be very involved in your book and not feel like you have no access to your publishers. They help with some marketing so you don’t have to do it all yourself. If keeping your copyright is important to you, your best bet is to probably go to a small publishing house. You still get to be the “face” of the book and get to do all the important, yet fun and time-consuming stuff while still interacting with your audience. Royalty fees will usually be a slightly bigger percentage when going with smaller publishing houses.

Cons: They won’t have as big of a reach as some bigger publishing houses, so your book might not get too far to start off with. It also requires more work from you than just handing your book off to some big publisher, but you get more control.

Big Publishers

Pros: They do a lot of the work for you. They will get your book out on the market and get it selling. They look professional and they know their stuff!

Cons: Getting into a big publisher can take years, especially if you’re a new writer. You have to fill out tons of query letters and know published authors to help you work up the ladder. And once you do work up the ladder, sometimes your book just gets dropped by the wayside. If you give your copyright to the publishing house, you’re basically trapped with them and not able to do anything at all. Most big publishing houses take your copyright from you, though there are some publishing houses that I’ve heard of (Bethany Publishing House for example) that won’t take your copyright. For some publishing houses, if they take your copyright they will give you a date and time when your book should be out. Be aware that you can lose a lot by giving up your copyright. You’ll lose control and the ability to do things in your timing. But… you might also have a bigger reach in the long-run. Also, you only get a very, very small percentage of royalties compared to self-publishing or even publishing with small companies. I’ve heard as little as 5% of the money made on a book goes back to the writer.

My Search and My Experience 

So what was my search and my experience?

Well, at the beginning, my dad had a contact with LifeWay and I was talking to them about the possibility of publishing my book. But I was still open and exploring other options, particularly Bethany Publishing House. I began to put query letters together and realized that I really needed an endorsement from some published authors or well-known writers. I asked Hal and Melanie Young of Great Waters Press to read my book to see if they could recommend it. They did. They not only loved my book, but they asked me if I would consider publishing with them!

After a lot of prayer, God made it clear that I was supposed to publish “A Cry From Egypt” with Great Waters Press, which is a smaller publishing house with a huge opportunity for personal ministry. That’s what I wanted. It’s been a lot of work, but it has been so rewarding! I’ve kept my copyright. I’ve been able to advertise my book and really be in charge of what happens to it and making it turn out the way I wanted it. But my publishers have given me a ton of great advice on marketing and publishing a book and have worked hard to get my name and the name of my book out into the homeschooling community and beyond. I have an incredibly dedicated team behind me making all of this stuff happen! I really don’t care that I might not get as much money as I would with a big publishing company. I know that my publishers care about the message of my book and getting it out to the world. That’s what really matters — sharing God’s message with everyone we meet and everyone who reads our work, not the money. It has truly been an amazing journey.

So there you have it! Please remember to email me any questions you may have that I’m not addressing at hope@hopefulstories.com. We’re almost to week 18, which is questions and answers week! So please don’t hesitate to send those questions in! :-)

Suggested Homework:

Now is when you need to be finishing up the first or second drafts of your story! Start putting what you’ve learned into action. Don’t worry about publishers now, but do think about which route sounds appealing to you and pray through where God wants you to be.

Week 14, Step 14: “Is There Such A Thing As Being Too Humble?”

Actually… Yes there is.

Let me explain.

Last week we talked about pride. We talked about how pride is the root of all evil and how it can cause so many issues in the lives of Christians, young people, and writers. But here’s something I did that is almost just as bad. After I realized how prideful I was, I almost became too humble. You’re probably thinking, “How is that even possible?” Oh it’s possible! Let me show you.

If you’re a perfectionist (like me) then you can sometimes take things to the opposite extreme. For example, when I realized that I was being prideful and overly critical of others and what they were saying about my story, I started to buy every little comment they gave me to make my writing better. I started catering to what everyone said and became fearful of man instead of fearing God. Thank goodness none of my editors pointed me away from Christ. But there were things that were suggested that would’ve taken away from the story.
I was a part of a writing group for several years. Everyone else in the group was writing fantasy that was geared towards older teens and young adults. Their writing was awesome, suspenseful, gripping, and very action-packed. Then…. There was my book. “A Cry From Egypt” is geared more towards 8-16 year olds, though I’ve had 4 and 5 year olds all the way up to college students and adults like it! But my friends who were fantasy writers didn’t really love to read my story because it wasn’t as exhilarating and exciting as all the other stories that were being passed around in our circles. They read it and enjoyed it and helped me work through it. But they kept saying it needed to be more suspenseful. I started to worry that my book was too bland and that people wouldn’t enjoy it.

However…

When I brought my worries to my dad he told me, “Look, your stuff is exciting. It’s right from God’s word. That is what makes it exciting. Not the fact that there are people about to die in every chapter. Not about how action-packed it is. Not how much you can relate to different characters or put them in near-death situations. It’s about God’s word and His story. If you add any more action and mystery you will be taking away from God’s word and the message that people need to learn through the ten plagues.”

And boy was he right! I’m so thankful that I listened to him and stayed as close to the Biblical account as I could. Now, I did add some suspense and adventure and excitement. After all, what’s a good book without some moments where you’re holding your breath and dying to know what’s happening next? But action isn’t the main theme of my story. God is. And the funny thing is, lots of people who have reviewed my book now that it’s published thought there was almost too much violence and action in it! Good thing I didn’t add any more! :-)

I also had two editors who I loved very much give me some very radical suggestions. They suggested that I combine “The Promised Land Series” into one giant book. They also suggested that I cut out some character entirely from the story. Wow. That was pretty wild! But these were people I trusted and who knew me and who knew my goals for the story. So, I prayed. I tried to use what little wisdom God had given me. And I talked with my dad. My dad and I agreed that we shouldn’t turn my series of four books into one giant book. But we did realize that the characters my editors mentioned were in the way. However, I couldn’t just get rid of them. I had to think long and hard, but I was able to minimize their importance in the story so that I can pull them out when I need them, but they weren’t distracting from the story any more. If I had taken their suggestions hook, line, and sinker, there would be no book entitled “A Cry From Egypt”! But if I didn’t listen, the book “A Cry From Egypt” wouldn’t be as good as it is today, by God’s grace. :-)

So to summarize what we’ve said over the last two weeks and give you your homework….

1. Be humble! Be a listener and be teachable in all of life, not just your writing.
2. Pray for wisdom and use discernment when evaluating feedback.
3. Fear God rather than man.
4. Remember that other people are prideful, too, and they will want to write your story for you.
5. Listen carefully to suggestions you receive for radical changes (my dad and I just talked about some big changes for book 2!). You don’t always have to take them, but be prayerful and think it through and find the root or source of the big problem in your writing.

Happy Writing! Be sure to email me any questions you have that I haven’t answered so far in the series! It’s only 4 more weeks until the final blog post! Come back next week to learn about the different publishing routes you could take as a budding author!

Week 12, Step 12: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Editors and Readers”

Now that you’re revising, it’s time to have a good talk about the people that will be helping you complete this writing journey. There are three different groups of people that I want to talk about today. They are professional editors, editors, and readers. I will tell you what I’ve learned through my writing process about each group and suggestions as to who you should approach. So, let’s get started!

Professional Editors: 

The Good: These are people who edit books either part-time or full-time for as a career. They are obviously very skilled and will cover your manuscript with red ink and suggestions as to how to make your story better. Some of the best professional editors won’t even accept your whole book at once. They will read part of it to see if it’s even worth their time to edit it. They are also a trusted voice and can help get you in to different publishing agencies or publishing houses.

The Bad: While professional editors are amazing at what they do, they do not know you personally. They don’t know your voice and what you’re trying to accomplish through your story. Let me give you an example. A friend of mine had a wonderful story that they were working on. It was really, really good. Of course, there were always little things to correct, but my friend was doing a great job. They got a professional editor interested in their story and sent it in for review. In no time at all the editor’s notes came back. There were a lot of notes, and he had a lot of good things to say to my friend. However, the editor corrected the book based on how he, the editor, would write the book, not as the way my friend would write the book. My friend started to revise the story, but they’ve had trouble writing ever since because the editor had taken away my friend’s voice. Don’t let that happen.

The Ugly: Professional editors can be really, really expensive.

Suggestions: I don’t think you have to get a professional editor (I’ll finish explaining why later on). But if you do decide to get a professional editor, make sure you find one that specializes in your genre. Also, make sure you don’t take all of their comments and suggestions hook, line, and sinker. Always keep your voice!

Editors:

The Good: Editors are the people that we’ve been talking about the whole time. They’re your tutors, writing friends, parents, movie and book critics, English majors or teachers, and others that are in your life. These people know you and know what you want to accomplish through your story. They can provide advice and criticism while not rewriting your story in a negative way or changing your goals.

The Bad: The bad thing is that these people do know you. You’re probably thinking, “Now wait a second… You just said that it’s a good thing that these people know me!” And I did. But… Sometimes your editors who know you might not be ready or willing to be brutally honest and tell you what you’re doing wrong and what needs to change. Make sure you tell everyone who reads your story, “Tear it up. I don’t care. I need to know what I’m doing wrong. Please, be brutally honest. I can take it.” And when they are brutally honest, accept it and don’t get defensive.

The Ugly: Be careful that you don’t have too many editors at once. You’ll have too many conflicting voices. Pick a few people at a time to read your story, then edit it according to their suggestions before you pass it on to others.

Suggestions: I never got a professional editor, only the normal editors. And they were great! I didn’t have to compromise my voice. I could have a personal relationship with them all and get help for other ideas just when I needed it. They were almost as good, if not better, than a professional editor. These are the people I go to all the time, no matter what.

Readers:

The Good: Readers are awesome. Readers are people that read your story, cheer you on, and tell you their thoughts about your book. I had a lot of readers over the course of my seven years of writing “A Cry From Egypt.” I got many kids, boys and girls, from the ages of eight to eighteen to read my book and tell me if they liked it. Many parents read it, too, to make sure it was something that their whole family would benefit from and enjoy. Generally speaking, all of the feedback I got was good. Some people gave me suggestions for changes, but it was nothing big. My readers really inspired me to keep writing. It was just so much fun to actually discuss my book with people who had actually read it and loved it! It also really helps with word-of-mouth recommendations. If they liked the book, then they’re bound to tell other people about it. And when they tell other people about, more people are going to buy your book!

The Bad: Don’t get too many readers, just like you don’t need too many editors. Readers can become a little obnoxious (thankfully, I never really had obnoxious readers… :-) ) because they can keep demanding to read more of your story or start crossing into the editor role. Don’t let that happen!

The Ugly: There really isn’t ugly about readers! They’re just amazing! :-)

Suggestions: Get people in your targeted age range (my targeted age range is 7-18 year olds) to read your book as it gets closer to being done. Not only will it fuel you with inspiration and excitement, but you’ll get feedback about whether or not your story is worth being published.

Copy Editing:

I only had one “professional editor” right at the end of the publishing process. This professional editor was really a “copy editor,” meaning that they didn’t check the story for content so much as they checked for typos, grammatical errors, overused words and sentences, and lack of flow in the story. Feel free to get as many copy editors as you want! I’m still catching minor things in my book before it goes to the “official” printing that need to be changed, and we had so many people read it! Ah well. Live and learn. :-)
So… There are my suggestions! I also want to let you know that, with me or with any other author or editor, you don’t have to take all of our suggestions as law. There isn’t a set method that will work for every single person. As always, it requires a lot of prayer and seeking the Lord for His wisdom, not the wisdom of others. God puts people into our lives to sharpen us as iron sharpening iron. There will be people who God will bring into your lives to make your story better and to refine it and to refine you. But seek Him to know what His will is for you and for your story. Seek Him first above everyone and anyone else.

Happy Writing! Check back next week for the 13th installment which will address what will keep you from becoming a published author.

Suggested Homework: 
1. Find your editors and your readers. Give them a date that your story will be ready for them to read so that they can keep you accountable. Tell them to be blatantly honest with you, and get ready for an exciting new step in your journey!

2. Try saying the phase “edited it” 5 times fast. I bet you can’t do it. :-)