Iny, Miny, Miney, Moe…An Agent–or Not!

By Carole Brown

So you think you want an agent?

A writer is just that a writer. But he/she can, and many times are more than that.

  • Marketer. Sometimes a writer will find they’re very good at marketing. Learning what works and what doesn’t takes determination, attention, and perseverance.
  • Publisher. So you’re cheap. Or detail oriented. Or savvy with computer programs. Whatever. Many times writers find publishing your work is easier, better for you–timewise and moneywise–than working with an established publisher.

So do you need an agent? Here’s a few thoughts to help you make a decision:


  • Literary agents have excellent industry contacts and most times good working relationships with editors and publishers.The level of trust between them gives them the confidence to work together comfortably. A really good agent can improve your chances of being published. Remember: publication is not guaranteed.
  • They know editors and publishers and that makes it easier to contact them. Editors and Publishers many times refuse to accept submissions unless agent-sent.
  • Agents have experience in the industry that enables them to negotiate favorable contracts and deals that won’t cheat you out of your royalties. They know their way around author-y contracts.
  • If need be and problems arise, they act as mediators between authors and publishing houses, softening constructive criticism, negotiating when contract problems interfere, and guarding that you aren’t robbed of your rights, regarding international publication and film rights.

Literary agent cons

  • Your literary agent will take between 10-15% of your royalties, depending on where in the world you are. If you go it alone, all the royalties will be yours.
  • You’ll have to wait twice as long before your book is published, this is because you first have to find a literary agent, who will make you jump through some hoops before sending your book to a publishing house, which will make you jump through some more hoops.
  • Again, if you are knowledgeable, you can “do the work” yourself
  • There’s always the risk of unreliable agents who will stiff you for work undone, for tasks unneeded and/or for small, meaningless tasks.

So, do you need an agent? That’s up to you. Just be sure to do your homework. Decide what your writing journey is and follow that journey. You’ll be glad you did.

March is read a book month! (But then, I think all months are “read a book” month!) Why not try a super fun and interesting new book?

With Music in their Hearts is a WWII spy book that is filled with music, teasing, romance and suspense!

One reader has this to say about this book:

With Music In Their Hearts is a mystery romance. This is the most adorable mystery ever! Emma Jaine is a strong character and I really like her. Not only does she run a boarding house, but she also takes care of her father and two younger sisters. She’s a spunky and pretty woman, and a few men at the boarding house are attracted to her.

Tyrell is a good-looking man and absolutely adorable when he teases and flirts with Emma Jaine. He is a reverend, a minister of a nearby church, but at the same time he’s an undercover agent for the government. His flirtations with Emma are appropriate for a minister and you can see the attraction between the two. I love the mystery that goes along with the romance. Romance and mystery make a book so much fun to read.

How Big is YOUR Fish?

by Carole Brown

“My Fish was this big. Honest!”

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead,
either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.
Benjamin Franklin
What kind of mundane life do you live?
One that flows along with no huge rocks to steer around?
One that avoids any shallows where your boat may get stuck?
Or the rapids where’s there’s a danger around every bend?
Or do you seek every day to find another reason to explore the excitement of living?
Do you gather good and bad things in your life
and those around you as fodder for your writing?
Is life too tame for you?
Do you run toward new adventures with arms wide open?
How big is YOUR fish?
Are all your aims and actions geared toward
what you believe is the right direction–for you?
Can you honestly say you’re doing things worth writing about?

3 Ways to Organize Your Research

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

All successful authors need to do research while blank sheet in a typewriterplanning their novels. Those in specialty genres such as medical or legal suspense or historical have even more research to do. Sometimes the amount of information needed becomes daunting. If you don’t organize your research, you could use valuable time hunting for a note you wrote on a post-it note or napkin instead of writing. Here are three tips for effectively organizing your research so you can find it when you need it.

Make a system for organizing your research that works for you. There are two computer programs that act like filing cabinets for your information. MS OneNote is my favorite and comes with most MS Office packages. One great feature on OneNote is that you can print any page from the internet directly to a file in your OneNote. Apple’s Evernote work similarly although I haven’t used it. The best part is both programs are free. If you are old school and like to have paper files, keep all of your research filed in a drawer of your filing cabinet.

Vintage desctop letter backgroundKeep accurate notes on your research. Even sources that aren’t on the internet should be recorded. Note the book or magazine, author, and page number as well as they information you’ve gleaned so you can refer back to it at any time. There is another important reason to keep accurate records. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and you may need to prove your research and facts to an editor who doesn’t know the history.

Keep research organized in categories. Keeping your research organized in categories will help you find what you need when you need it. Here are some suggestions for historical research categories.

  • Location
  • Slang
  • Inventions
  • Timeline of Events
  • Culture
  • Household
  • Fashion

Lack of Proofreading (Hilarious) Fiascos

By Carole Brown

Hilarious Titles: Doesn’t Anyone Proofread anymore? We all read hilarious topics that make the wrong kind of sense. And it is hard to catch everything–especially on deadlines! But these “take the cake” on hilarity. Enjoy, and remember some writer, somewhere made these mistakes, and take a lesson. Proofread. Then again. Smile.

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter 
(Wow; he’s miraculous!)

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says 
(Da,do you really think so?)

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers 
(Now that’s taking things a bit far!) 

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over 
(Uh, what was that?) 

miner-2 free

Miners Refuse to Work after Death 
(No-good-for-nothing, lazy men!) 

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant 
(See if that works any better than a fair trial!) 

War Dims Hope for Peace 
(I can see where it might have that effect!) 

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile 
(Ya think?)
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures 
(Who would have thought!) 

Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide 
(They may be on to something!) 

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges 
(You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?) 

lightening-2 free
Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge 
(He probably IS the battery charge!) 
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group 
(Weren’t they fat enough?) 

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft 
(That’s what he gets for eating those beans!) 

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks 
(Do they taste like chicken?) 

Local High School; Dropouts Cut in Half 
(Chainsaw Massacre all over again!) 
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors 
(Boy, are those are some tall doctors!)

Five Back to School Tips for the Should-Be Ardent Writer

by Carole Brownschool-bus free

Okay, Okay. I KNOW some of us don’t have children in school anymore. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the end of summer and soon-to-be Autumn season! So I compiled a few thoughts of how to breathe new enthusiasm into your writing work. Let me know what you think and if you have any other thoughts of how you renew your writing energy.


magnifying-glass focus free

1. Focus.

Make a general list of what you want to accomplish this season. 



2.  Go over–re-read–your unfinished manuscripts.

Some questiokeyboard-freens you need to think about before beginning your reading session: A) Do you have a deadline–either from your publisher or a
self-made one? If so, begin with that work as a priority. B) If A. isn’t a matter to be concerned with, then move on to: Is there one that will take more time for research? One that just doesn’t feel is the right time to work on it? Which one gives you a tug of interest?

brainstorm free


3.  Brainstorm.

Yes, I believe in having one or two special people that you can toss ideas at, OR that they can toss ideas back at you. It’s not so much that you’ll use their ideas. But they can help get the creative juices flowing again, and you can always adjust their ideas–if they are possibilities–to fit your story plot line. I’m almost always rejuvenated by brainstorming with my two best writing buddies. 🙂


4.  Take some nnotes2-freeotes.

Yeah, you’re pantster (maybe). I know. I am too (mostly). But it doesn’t EVER hurt to jot down some ideas of where you want to go (even if you change them later), some plot ideas of what could happen, how you want your protagonist to react or what good and bad quirks your antagonist has,  etc. You may use them, or not, you may change them, but they’re a start, and that’s what you need.


5.  Finalhappy2 freely, enjoy!

Set reasonable daily goals. Turn off your inner editor (as much as possible, and if you can’t, keep that editor under control! Lol). Realize that this is what you WANT to do, so proceed at YOUR own decision-making speed. Re-read a scene or chapter at the start of each writing session to get you going–then write. Don’t worry about whether it needs editing or that you might delete it later. Take a break when you need one or feel brain dead or discouraged. Remember, this is something you love, that you want to do, that you feel compelled to do, so don’t let anything discourage you. Do whatever you need to do to keep inspired. 

Hoping these thoughts encourage you to press on with a renewed writing vigor for the approaching Autumn season. More thoughts on this later . . .

What do you do to keep inspired?



Writer’s Conference: Six Things You’ll Need for Your Editor’s Appointment.

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

blank sheet in a typewriterIt’s that time of year again. The ACFW Conference is this week, and other writing conferences are set next month. I, like many of my writer friends, am prepared for the dreaded editor/agent appointment. Most writers will tell you the only thing you need to bring to a writer’s conference is a One Sheet. Don’t believe them. The one sheet is only the start of what you’ll need if you want to be prepared for the editor who is interested in seeing more. These six things should be at the tip of every writer’s fingers at any time during a conference.

One Sheet: One sheets are nice for editor and agents because they only have one sheet to take on the plane home. But I suspect that most One Sheets are disposed of unless the agent was unduly impressed with the writer. Still they’re nice to have because they do have all the information you need to make your pitch.

First Five Pages: If the agent or editor looks interested, it’s nice to mention that you have the first five pages of your novel if they’d like to look at it. This may be what gets you over the edge for the editor to request more.

Organize Puzzle Shows Arranging, Managing Or Organizing.

Author Page: This is a One Sheet with the purpose of telling about the author. If you’ve had anything published or have any other information an agent would be interested in knowing about, this would be the sheet to present.

Synopsis or Summary: It’s very unlikely you’ll get to this point. If the agent is interested after the One Sheet and the First Five Pages, he’ll tell you to send him the rest. But my motto is be prepared.

One Sheets, First Five Pages, and Synopsis of other projects: You’ve decided to pitch that historical you wrote about the Civil War, and the agent says she’s not interested in anything from that time period. What she’s really looking for is something having to do with the War of 1812. You wrote a War of 1812 era novel five years ago, but at the time, nobody wanted it. If you have available information on every book you’ve written, you can change your pitch to another novel without missing a beat.

Business Cards: You won’t really need these for your appointment, but they’re fun to hand out to friends you meet at the conference. Besides, it never hurts to be prepared. You can get nice looking business cards at Vistaprint.

Of course you don’t want to carry a filing cabinet or a big briefcase to the meeting, so here’s some ways to organize you’re information.

Accordion File: These are very portable and have files for each project.

Folders: You could purchase an oversized folder for each project and carry them in a folder binder.

Conference Notebook: This is my favorite idea for carrying everything you need. This link  will tell you how to make your own Conference Notebook.

One more thing, when you go to make your pitch, start by taking a deep breath and exhaling. Then treat the editor/agent like a real person, and ask her how the conference has been going. I’m not even above carrying around some chocolate for bribes. Whatever you do, remember to have fun. Your writing career does not depend on this one appointment. When you realize that, it will be easier to pitch your story.

Welcome to Julie Ardini

Tell us a little bit of how you were called, or began writing. Happenstance? A clear call? A chosen career? profile
I was always writing, even scribbling on blank paper before I knew how to read. I was the girl on the bus sharing daily chapters of what would best be described as a YA romance, but not a very good one. That fact, that I wasn’t the best, and teachers told me so, kept me from taking that path for decades. I worked in publicity related things and would have been happy doing that forever.

It was in 2006 I felt the “stirring of the pen.” I was a Christian by then and He had done an amazing work in my life. I used to be paralyzed by fear of what people thought of me. Once I felt free from that, I knew I had to write for Him. I started a blog and sharing short stories on FaithWriters. It wasn’t even a year and one of my stories was placed in an anthology. When I received an invitation to the book launch, I couldn’t believe it. I was invited as one of the authors.

I kept with the anthologies but in 2010 I took an idea I’d had years before and made it my NaNoWriMo project. That story, through a lot of twists and turns, is now Entrusted: Surrendering the Past.
Wow, that was a nice surprise, Julie! What is the message(s) in the book you’re promoting today? Do you like a definite spiritual theme or do you keep it less obvious as you write? Can you give us a very brief scene (paragraph) as an example?
My Surrendering Time Series tackles the past, present and future and how surrender can play a part in each season. Entangled is about surrendering the past. The heroine, Carla Rowling, is a single mom who has been given the resources to make her dream career come true. The gift is so overwhelming to her that she struggles with feeling unworthy. She still punishes herself for the way she became a teen mom, and her choices bring consequences to everyone around her.

I like having a definite theme. All my writing will have a surrender theme. I believe freedom comes through surrender, but it has to be through Christ. That’s crucial for me to write.

This scene from Entangled is one example of the aftermath Carla causes when she refuses to receive Christ’s forgiveness for her past:

Our voices seem to break together, but it’s the only unity we have between us. Since Noah’s accident at school, I’ve never felt more fear. Not even when Wayne left. “Can you forgive me?”

He unlocks his truck and opens the door for me, something that only triggers more of my tears. “I need some space Carla.”                                                                                                                                
Okay. At least he’s speaking to me.                                                                                                                   
“Right. Did you want to meet up after the shower?”

He starts the vehicle. “I don’t think so.”

I nearly double over from the pain I feel. “You wanted to talk. Is it too late?”

It’s another long pause before I barely hear his reply. “Please give me some space. It’s the very least you could do.”                                                                                                                                          

Surrender to God is so important. What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it? J                                                                                     I love Entangled because it keeps characters from Entrusted, yet adds new friends from Carla’s cosmetology school. It explores real struggles we can all relate to in a setting I want all readers to fall in love with, the Adirondack Mountains.

You’ve convinced me! Give us three items about yourself: hobbies, loves, fun or weird habits, food/snack kicks you like, what would you be if not a writer–that sort of thing.

  1. I am originally from Upstate NY, so that’s where a lot of my work is based.
  2. My tagline is “Encouraging you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. So, my snack kicks always involve chocolate! Milk chocolate is my favorite, with almonds.
  3. I love mentoring. I’ve encouraged young women of all ages for decades. Teenagers are an important part of Entangled, and I loved including them in my writing. I’m more comfortable around young people than people my own age.

Isn’t that funny how sometimes we relate to certain age groups? Lastly, share an incident when you’ve been very happy/excited or very disappointed/depressed during and because of your writing career? How were you able to get past the bad and move on to the good?                                                                                                                                          It was actually during writing/revising Entangled. In the question about loving the book, that is only recent. Writing Entangled was very difficult. The words would not come. The revising was so hard that I scrapped thousands of words and started over. It was so arduous that at one point I quietly decided I’d finish and pray it was okay, but throw everything into Engaged. In my mind if Entangled was so hard to write, no one would like it, so I’d redeem it all with Engaged.

I now understand the message for Entangled was so strong and life-changing, if readers receive that message, that the true defeated one didn’t want Entangled written. I prayed so hard while I was working to release it. I had a team of women praying for me, as they do over all my writing. I believe it was those prayers that helped me see the truth. Now that Entangled is out, I’m receiving feedback that it is as good as or better than Entrusted. That readers didn’t even know they needed healing until God showed them while reading. I am blown away by what God has already done.

How marvelous God’s handiwork in your writing! So glad you kept after it!

BOOK BLURB:                                                                                                                                      EntangledFinal

“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.”

Carla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son’s father is back in their lives.

Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He’s the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will’s ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He’s bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.

Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?



Entangled: Surrenddering the Past, Book #2 (can be read as a stand alone)                                 Amazon Print and Kindle

Entrusted: Surrendering the Present, Book #1:                                                                           Amazon Print and Kindle


ABOUT JULIE:                                                                                                                                       Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.

Snapchat: @juliearduini
Monthly Newsletter:
Weekly Sunday’s Surrender and Chocolate:
Surrendered Scribe Media Promotions: (Book release info sent as needed)

Readers, thrilled that Julie joined us today. Do comment if you’d like and let Julie know you’d love a chance to read her book too!

Thanks for joining me today, Julie!