Guest Author Donna Schlachter – 3 Keys to Unlocking the Doors to Getting Published

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today, I want to welcome author Donna Schlachter to Word Sharpeners.  Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and  under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

3 Keys to Unlocking the Doors to Getting Published

By Donna Schlachter

Do you sometimes feel, in trying to get your book published, that you’re rattling at one locked door after another? Perhaps you’re struggling to find an agent, or maybe you’ve been submitting directly to publishers and gotten nothing except rejections. Or worse, silence.

It’s okay. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there. And we understand that while we trust God to open doors that nobody else can close, and to close doors that we aren’t to go through, we also know that when the door is open, we have to walk through. God won’t drag us kicking and screaming. He’s too much of a gentleman for that.

So what are we to do? Following are three things to focus on as you go through this process of unlocking the doors to publication:

  1. Pray. Seriously. Seek the Lord as to His direction for you. Perhaps He has a better plan for you right now. Maybe He’s holding back on publication because He knows that’s not the best thing for you. I believe He delayed my publication path because He knew that I am an all-or-nothing kind of person: if I got a contract, life in our household would have to stop while I pursued and completed that project. And He had more important things for us to do during that time, including leadership in an international ministry.
  2. Pause. If you’re anything like me, publication has been a main focus for your books, and anything else is second-best. I had to take a step back and ask myself why I wanted to publish a book. Was it to see my name on the cover? To show somebody I had what it took to be a writer? For fame and money? My first book, a devotional, was done as a work-for-hire project and my name wasn’t on the cover. It was in teensy-weensy little print on the inside. Talk about humbling. But this experience made me step back and ask why I wanted to publish. Which brings me to number three.
  3. Praise. Yes, you read that right. Praise God for the gift He’s given you to string together words into stories that touch lives. Praise Him that He is writing the most important story in you right now, long before the written word gets on to the page. Praise Him that He would choose you to be the first person to hear this story. And Praise Him for using you to reach a lost world.

I truly believe that when we put our writing in the proper place in our lives—never above God, never above our spouse or family—then He will honor this calling to write and will reward our obedience. Your publishing path might be traditional or independent; it might be paper or digital; it might be full-time or part-time, but the important thing is that your path leads you—and others—to know more intimately the God of Words. He is the Word, and He has placed that Word in you to give to others.

So go ahead, unlock some doors. You have the keys you need.

You can find Donna online at these locations:

Echoes of the Heart

A mail order bride who isn’t who she says she is; a crippled station master who believes no woman would want him. Can they find love on the Pony Express, or are they doomed to being alone forever?

The Pony Express Romance Collection

9 novellas in 1 tell the tale of love, romance, and deep longings set along the Pony Express trail. Can our heroines find the love they are looking for? Or will the Wild West keep them from their deepest desire?

 

My 10 Favorite Movies From the 1940s

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

The 1940s is one of my favorite eras to write about. My new novel, Alice’s Notions, is set in 1946, and I loved inserting pop culture and movies into the story. Some of the best movies ever made were made in the 1940s. It was hard to narrow down my favorites but here they are: my top 10 favorite movies from the 1940s.

10. I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

Director: Howard Hawks

Starring Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan

In this comedy, Cary Grant plays a French navel officer married to a WAC American officer. He has to qualify as a “war bride” to get permission to sail to America with his new wife.

9. The Three Godfathers (1948)

Director: John Ford

Starring John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz, Harry Carey Jr.

In my opinion, this is the best John Wayne western ever made. Three outlaws rob a bank, but as their trying to escape from the law through a harsh desert, they come upon a woman and her newborn child. They have to decide how much they’re willing to risk to save the baby.

8. Double Indemnity (1944)

Director: Billy Wilder

Starring Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson, and Barbara Stanwick

In this movie, Fred MacMurray plays an insurance agent who lets himself be talked into murder by a beautiful woman he’s attracted to. MacMurray and Robinson’s friendship adds the element to this movie that makes it truly great.

7. The Clock (1945)

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Fred Zinnemann

Starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker

This movie which came out on the tail end of the war, puts wartime romance into perspective with the times. Everything has to be sped up as a GI on leave and a girl fall in love. In two days, he will return to the war.

6. Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Director: George Sidney

Starring Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra

Two sailors on leave have romances and dance and sing through New York City. The dancing is awesome. Gene Kelley dances with Mickey Mouse in the first live scene with animation.

5. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Director: Tay Garnett

Starring Lana Turner and John Garfield

A couple having an affair try to get away with murder when they kill her husband, but then they have to live with the consequences of their actions.

4. Key Largo (1948)

Director: John Huston

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, and Lionel Barrymore

In this post WW2 movie, during a hurricane, gangsters invade a hotel. Bogart has to decide if he wants to get involved. This movie shows the heroism and conflicted emotions of World War 2 vets after the war.

3. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey

In this Alfred Hitchcock thriller, everyone is excited when Uncle Charlie comes homes, but his niece finds out he might not be the wonderful man everyone thinks he is. This is one of the better early Hitchcock movies.

9. Casablanca (1942)

Director: Micheal Curtiz

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

No 1940s movie list would be complete without this classic. As America is forced into the war, this movie comes out about a reluctant American barkeeper in Casablanca who resists getting involved in the resistance movement as the Nazis take over. As he says, “I don’t stick my neck out for nobody.”

10. To Have and Have Not (1944)

Director: Howard Hawks

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

As their real life romance is beginning, Bogart and Bacall are electrifying on screen in this WW2 movie about a sailor deciding if he should get involved in the French Resistance. You just can’t take your eyes off of them.

Miracle of 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Holiday Affair would definitely be on the list if I were including Christmas movies. The 1940s was a banner decade for classic Christmas movies.

So how about you? Are there any favorites on your list I didn’t include?

Alice’s Notions

In this quaint mountain town, things aren’t always what they seem.

One reviewer said, “AMAZING! What started out as a young war widow returning to her small hometown from New York City to open a fabric shop turned into a very suspense filled, thrill ride! I couldn’t read fast enough! It is a book that once you start, you won’t be able to put it down.
Amazing writing by Tamera Lynn Kraft! I can’t wait to read what she writes next!”

 

Guest Author June Foster Talks About 9 Things to Do when You’re Bored

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

June Foster’s is our guest author today.

I’m Bored by June Foster

I’m bored.

The message on the teenager’s shirt at Walmart glared at me. Why did it seem so offensive? I had to think a while then it dawned on me.

Life is a gift. When we’re young, we don’t realize how fleeting it really is. The Bible says we are like grass. We flourish like a flower of the field. Then the wind blows over it, and it is gone. Young or old. We don’t know when our last day will be. We don’t have time to be bored!

Boredom is telling God we don’t appreciate the day He made. He gave us today to enjoy. It’s a glorious opportunity, filled with chances to live for Him and do wondrous things.

Okay, then. Like what?

Maybe you live a mundane life with very little happening. Or you’re so consumed with “doing and going” that you don’t have time to think about or serve God. Maybe you believe you are only one person and can’t make a difference. Or your life is so routine, and nothing ever happens. Or your sphere of influence is limited. Or you don’t have any friends. Or you live in a small town with little opportunity. I could go on.

Don’t believe it. Instead of sitting around being bored, ask God how you can serve, how you can impact your community—rural or metropolitan, ghetto or suburban. You might be surprised what He’ll drop into your life.

Here are some suggestions.

  1. Become the best cookie maker you can and take the sweets to a women’s shelter or orphanage.
  2. Memorize twenty verses from the Bible and say each daily. Look for ways to incorporate those verses in your life.
  3. If a teen, do one thing every day to help your mother or father.
  4. Buy a pack of greeting cards from the dollar store and send out one a day to people who need encouragement.
  5. Go jogging in your neighborhood and pray for people you see or meet along the way.
  6. Form a literary group. Read and discuss a classic such as Pilgrim’s Progress.
  7. God has an infinite number of projects for you. Do something for the glory of His Kingdom instead of sitting around being bored.
  8. Oh yeah, one more thing. Turn off the TV.
  9. You don’t have time to be bored.

Misty Hallow

When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.

Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.

Joel Greenfield, son is a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.

When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.

 

10 Ways to Spring Clean and Still Keep your Sanity

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Spring is almost here. If you’re anything like me, you’d rather enjoy the nice weather than be cooped up in the house doing heavy cleaning. But it’s something that needs to be done. Here’s some of the things I’ve tried to keep it from devouring my life and my time outdoors.

1. Make a plan. Spring cleaning goes better if you make a plan of attack. Write out a list of what you need to do and the order you’ll do it in. This link will take you to a site to help you make a plan for cleaning and organizing your home.

2. Start at the front door. The easiest way to Spring clean is to start at the front door where company sees and move from room to room until you’re finished.

3. Have three bins or boxes marked Put Away, Give Away, Store, and a trash can for throwing things away. It will be much easier than having to stop to put things where they belong.

4. Avoid distractions. Let family and friends know this is the time you’ll be Spring cleaning. Turn off your phone, and don’t answer the door. And don’t turn on the television or check FaceBook or you’ll whittle away the whole day.

5. Turn on some loud music. It’s much easier for me to clean when I’m jamming to my favorite music.

6. Get family to help. After all, they live there too. Decide on a week for your family to help you. Then give them each a list to complete in that week.

7. Have a yard sale. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something if you have a yard sale at the end of your project. It will empty the house of clutter and fill your pockets with spending money.

8. Make plans for meals. Use your crockpot or order pizza. You won’t feel like cooking after a day of cleaning.

9. Spread it out. There’s no law you have to do all your cleaning in the Spring. Decide on a room to clean every month. Or download the My Home Routines app or use the app online at this link.

10. Hire help. I’m serious. It costs an average of $25-$50 an hour for a housecleaner to come in and do your heavy cleaning. For $200, you could get everything done but the organizing and be free to enjoy your life. If you can afford it, isn’t it worth cutting your budget somewhere else and spending the $200?

Now that you’re done inside, enjoy the beautiful weather.

 

 

So They Hate Your Book?

by Carole BrownDislike hate deny free

I remember the first “three star, bad” review I received. Devastation. Hurt. Disappointment. Bewilderment. Anger. 

How could they? 

Yet, someone had and did “hate” my book. I wanted to cry, to have my friends and fellow-authors sympathize with me, to share it with everyone how someone could hate my beloved, debut book. 

The advice I got from my friends? 

  • We all get those.
  • Three stars isn’t that bad
  • Get over it.

And, yes, they loved me. But I needed to grow up as an author. So, my advice to you today is, when you get a poor review:

Take a Step Back

  • Give yourself time to relax and distance yourself from your book and a bad review
  • If you can, work on a different manuscript, or at least, re-read your own book with fresh eyes.
  • Only then re-read the review

Evaluate

  • Once you’ve re-read the negative review, can you glean anything worthwhile from it?
  • Are there fixable errors, weak spots and/or possible things you neglected to include?
  • Can you see that the reviewer is honestly trying to give advice (even if a bit harshly or insensitively hurtful)?
  • If it’s obviously a “troll” review, forget about it and ignore.

Understanddislike child free

  • That some reviewers don’t know the proper way to review
  • That some reviewers consider “three stars” as a high rating. I received one “three star” rating, which had me raising my brows, but the review was filled with praise for the book. I learned that the three stars meant it rated highly with the reviewer. 
  • Just because the reader bought/received the wrong genre, that doesn’t make it a “bad” book, and reviewing it harshly for that reason is not the proper way to review. Personal preferences and wrong genres are not good reasons for poor reviews. Writing issues, weak research, and a lack of proper editing are.
  • That most, if not all, authors receive poor reviews. There are many reasons for them. Study, if you wish, the reason for yours and act accordingly. Meaning, ignore it and toughen up. If a person is planning to stay in the writing business, you’ll probably get more–many more–of those. Either quit reading them or put on your tough armor and get through it–unscathed! 

Move on

  • Too many negative reviews raise a concern: Did I write a “bad” book? It never hurts to re-evaluate your book. As stated above, make sure the edits are crystal-fine, that your research is impeccably correct, plot lines in order, etc. Never underminReviewer feedback writing freee your work with sloppy writing. 
  • Learn that when asking for an honest review, be sure the people you request from are interested in your mystery/suspense (romance, sci-fi, etc). If reviewers love your genre, you’re more apt to get favorable reviews.
  • When you find those individuals, ask for honest feedback. When you send arc copies, ask for a timeline and where and when the reader will be able to post reviews. 
  • Look ahead to your next manuscript. Plot, edit and write. Keep learning as you go. Stay humble and willing to accept suggestions from readers. Find the best critique partners you can; ones that will do you the favor of being gentle, but honest, who loves your work, and is able to see the “holes” you might overlook. When you find that person(s), be sure to show thankfulness. They’re hard to come by!

Remember

  • Move past any useless negativity and use the constructive criticism to improve.
  • Never respond to negative reviews.
  • Never quit writing.

Have you ever received poor reviews? How did you respond? Were you able to move past the disappointment? 

Happy Writing!

Mystery Lovers, Beware!

by Carole Brown

mobile-home free

We love to travel and have done so since we’ve been married. From Washington state to Texas, from Alabama to Maine, we’ve gone traveling for business and for fun.

If you ask the Dentons, who love to travel, their vacation spots always seem to land them in mysteries. Now that’s an interesting thought and experience, but the Dentons take it in stride. Considering their love of fishing, buying new shoes and reading mystery books, it’s easily understood how they can get involved in any mystery that pops up at their newest vacation spots.

So far they’ve solved the Mystery of the Dead Motorcyclist in Tennessee (Hog Insane) and in New Mexico (Bat Crazy), they eventually found who was behind the Vampire Bats supposedly inhabitiFrontng a new cave.

(By the way, someday I’ll explain how I came up with these crazy, insane titles. Lol)

Now in Colorado, they’re helping long time friends Jeremy Meadows, who owns and runs a ski resort with his Down’s Syndrome sister Daffodil, discover the people who are tricking her and ruining their well-laid plans for the resort. And what do ducks have to do with the story anyway?

Can they succeed in finding the evil doer? Readers can find out in the third book of this delightful series: Daffy’s Duck, coming late 2017.

 

Check out the first two books in this series here:

Hog Insane:  Amazon.

Bat Crazy:  Amazon

Happy Reading!!

Top 10 Movies for Easter

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Sunday is Palm Sunday and starts Holy Week. It’s a good time to pull out your Easter movies.

10. The Robe

1953

Director: Henry Koster

Starring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons

This movie takes some liberties with the story, like the Romans crucifying Jesus without the Jews having anything to do with it and the disciples rescuing another Christian and having a good old fashion sword fight. Sometimes the discrepancies are laughable. That being said, it’s a great movie to watch and doesn’t change the essence of the Gospel. It’s also a touching love story. The line I remember most was when Richard Burton with his wide eyes glaring said. “Were you there?” It gave me the creeps.

9. Ben Hur

1959

Director: William Wyler Starring Charlton Heston

Who can forget Charlton Heston in the chariot race?

8. The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John

2003 Director Phillip Saville

Starring Christopher Plummer and Henry Ian Cusick

It follows the words in the Bible. Good, but not as good as Matthew.

7. The Greatest Story Ever Told

1965

Director: George Stevens Starring Max Von Sydow

Great movie about Christ’s life if you can get past the music every time Jesus appears.

6. Jesus of Nazareth

1977 Director: Franco Zeffirelli

Starring Robert Powell

This miniseries on the life of Jesus impacted me greatly even though Jesus looked a bit too Heavenly and his eyes were the wrong color.

5. The Visual Bible: The Gospel of Matthew

1993

Director: Regardt Von Den Bergh

Starring Richard Kiley, Bruce Marchiano, and Gerrit Schoonhoven

This is my all time favorite portrayal of the person of Jesus.

4. Risen

2016

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth

This is a unique telling of the story of the resurrection of Christ through the eyes of a Roman soldier who is an unbeliever and sent to find Christ’s body.

3. Son of God

2014 Director: Christopher Spencer

Starring Dioga Morgada, Amber Rose Ravah, Sebastian Knapp

Read my review of this movie at this link.

2. Ben Hur

2016

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro

This is an awesome movie. I was surprised that it was so much better than the original even without Charlton Heston My favorite kind of Easter story is one where Jesus is not the main character, but the main character is forever changed because of His encounter with Jesus. This checks all those boxes.

1. The Passion of the Christ

2004

Director: Mel Gibson

Starring James Caviezel

When I watch this movie, I feel like I’m watching the real event. It chokes me up every time. From the first moment of the film, I felt the anointing.