Friday, August 10, 2018

Crafting a Great Hero - Part 1 Atticus Finch

by Elva Cobb Martin



Who doesn't like a great hero?

Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird fame is one hero I love. I don't know whether my fascination is more with the character Harper Lee created or  for the actor who played his part in the movie, Gregory Peck. Who doesn't know and love Gregory Peck? Okay, spoken like a grandmother.

For those, hopefully few, of you who are unfamiliar with this great novel, it is the story of a small town lawyer (Atticus) who defends a black man accused of rape of a white woman back in Depression days long before the civil rights movement. The setting is a 1930's southern town but the book was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize. It has become a classic of American literature.
One reviewer says "To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely-read book dealing with racism in America and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism. Atticus serves as moral hero and a model of integrity for lawyers everywhere."


Let's take a look at hero Atticus, and I give credit to a blog by Brett and Kate McKay who also see great manly lessons in this character. What can we learn from this character to help us  construct an unforgettable hero for our novels?


1) A real hero lives with integrity every day.

In Maycomb County, Atticus was known as a man who was "the same in his house as he is on the public streets." He did not have one set of morals for business and one for family or one for different days of the week. He tells his young daughter, Scout, "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."


2) The most important form of courage is moral courage.

Atticus certainly possessed physical courage. When Tom was in jail, he sat outside all night reading and faced down an angry mob intent on lynching the prisoner. And he also faced down and shot a rabid dog threatening the town.

But his moral courage was amazing. When Scout asked him why he continued to press on with a case he most likely would lose, he answered,"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is not a reason for us not to try to win."

3) A real hero does the job no one else wants to do.

Atticus is assigned to be Tom Robinson's public defender by a judge. He earns the townspeople's anger in his determination to really defend the accused, honorably and fairly, to the best of his abilities. He does the job that other people are unwilling or afraid to do. After facing the town's taunts and threats for his defense of Tom Robinson, Atticus is once more elected to the state legislature--unanimously.

4) A real hero lives with cool dignity. . .

After the trial the real villain, who was father of the girl, threatened Atticus's life, grossly insulted him, and spat in his face. Atticus simply took out a handkerchief and wiped his face prompting the attacker to ask: "Too proud to fight, you nigger-loving bastard?"

"No, too old," Atticus replied before putting his hands in his pocket and walking away.

At one point in the story, Jem and Scout feel disappointed in their father who at 50 doesn't seem to know how to do anything "cool." But they change their minds when Atticus takes down a rabid dog with a single bullet and they learn their father is known as the "deadest shot in Maycomb County."


I crafted my romantic suspense hero in Summer of Deception, Luke Barrett, after this type of hero. Luke fought in the Middle East and lost an eye. He is a widower, his wife was killed in an auto accident and he battles bitterness. He has a young daughter he is trying to rear while managing his Charleston Tea Plantation. In the course of the story he demonstrates his integrity and his physical, moral, and intellectual courage in various cool ways before he finds a happy ending with the summer nanny heroine, Rachel.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have a characteristic of your fave hero to add to our list? I would love to hear it and may include it in Part 2 of this series on Constructing a Hero. I'll be taking a look at another favorite fictional hero. Please share this blog by clicking on the icons below.

Blessings,
Elva 


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
        Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI



Thursday, May 31, 2018

Time to Write - the Gift You Give Yourself


by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Most writers I know are part of a conflicted group. 

We’re driven to write—spending time composing poetry, writing books, researching articles. We doodle titles, character names, and plot ideas on scraps of paper. All the while feeling guilty about the time we spend pursuing our dream. I call it writer's guilt.
Everyone of us has felt the tug of war deep inside. it’s all part and parcel when you work at home. 

I’ve fought the battle for years—sometimes more successfully than others. And the craziest thing is the guilt is pretty much self imposed. My family is frequently more supportive of my writing time than I am. So this Christmas I'm gifting myself with freedom from guilt and time to write.

Time to Write

Years ago I made a conscious decision to give myself permission to make writing a priority. I gave myself the gift of time to write. Sometimes it would have been easier to avoid the blank page and not risk the failure. But I refused to cave into the fear.

Has it been worth it?

You bet it has! Not only have I gotten farther along with my goals and dreams, but it’s given me a self-confidence I didn’t expect. The more I make writing a priority, the better I get at it. Then the more success I have, which leads to the courage to push myself and reach for the stars.

Here are the steps I took to set aside time for writing:

1. Come up with a schedule and keep regular, consistent hours. Notice I said regular hours—not normal ones. For years I wrote with young children. That meant writing in the afternoons and after they were in bed. Just because you’re working odd hours doesn’t mean you can’t have a schedule.

2. Respect your dream. If your best friend, or child had a dream you’d encourage them to pursue it. Give yourself the same support that you’d give someone else. Trust me, you’re worth it!

3. Be consistent. If you’re not accepting calls from your mother-in-law because you’re working, don’t spend the afternoon on the phone with your best friend. Stay focused on your writing. This is even more critical if your time is at a premium.

4. Recruit a support team. Instead of adversaries, enlist your friends and family to help you reach your writing goals. Communicate those goals, clearly and frequently. Ask for their help to reach them. After all, what mother doesn’t want to help her baby succeed!

5. Share your victories. Let those that help you share in the joy of goals accomplished and milestones reached.

What do you do to make your writing time a priority? What interruptions do you struggle with the most? Share your thoughts and we’ll all support each other.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

13 Truths About Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson



13 Truths about being a writer.
Choosing to stand up and be identified as a writer can be a scary thing. The road is rarely a straight path to publication. These are some things that I hope will help you stay the course as you continue on your own writing journey
13 Truths About Being a Writer

1. It’s an eternal struggle between you and the blank page. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get a whole lot easier. The doubts still crowd your mind, and fear still whispers in your ear no matter how long you’re in this business.

2. Talent without persistence is worthless. So much of what we need to know to be successful, no matter what our goals, can be learned.

3. You’re stronger than you think. If I had known when I started, the hard work and emotional toll getting to this point would take. I would have quite because I would never have dreamed I could do it.

You can't plot a course always expecting to be
the exception to the rule.
4. You can’t plot a course always expecting to be the exception to the rule. Things generally happen in a certain way, over a certain time-frame. As believers we know that God can step in at any time and turn things upside down. But expecting that to always happen just isn’t reasonable. We need to do the work and celebrate when the exceptions do occur.

5. Quitting is the only path to failure. I’ve found writing success, but a lot of it has come simply because I refused to give up.

6. God is the One who directs my path—and yours. I can (and will continue) to make plans—but I stay flexible. I would never have even dreamed of the opportunities God has given me.

7. There’s a big difference between goals and dreams. They both have their place in the writer’s life, but a goal is something who’s outcome I can influence. A dream is something I wish would happen. It’s the difference between having the goal of getting a book published or having a best seller. I can achieve the first by hard work, but the second is ultimately up to God.

8. Detours aren’t the same thing as roadblocks. My path to publication has zigged and zagged so many times it looks like the path Mother Goose’s Crooked Old Man left behind. But more frequently than not, those detours ended up getting me further ahead, faster.

9. Change is the industry standard in publishing. It’s not possible to base your path on what has gone before. Technology is moving too fast. We either embrace the challenge or we fall by the wayside.

10. Generosity will always get you farther than selfishness. I have never once regretted putting someone else before me. I’d even go so far as to say that I’ve build my career (or at least my platform) by promoting others.

Your reputation is worth solid gold.
11. Your reputation is worth solid gold, but it’s not something I can buy. I can only achieve it and keep it by guarding it. I always try to communicate honestly and above all, keep my word.

12. The joy is in the journey. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve gotten to experience have been the high points, not the achievements.

13. Publication isn’t the sole definition of writing success. Touching someone’s life through the words I pen, whether it’s on a blog or a book or an article, is way more important than a book contract.
These are just a few of the things I wish I’d known when I started. I think my expectations would have been more realistic and the heartbreak a little less frequent. Although it could be that someone did, and I just wasn’t paying attention. 

What about you? 

Has writing taught you anything important about yourself and/or about life? Share your thoughts below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What to Wear at a Writers Conference

Today I’m going to continue my series on getting ready for a writers conference. One of the most asked questions I get is about appropriate attire. Below is my opinion—you’ll find others who disagree—but it’s always worked well for me.

First let me say this, you’ll see a little bit of everything when comes to what people wear at writing conferences. But, and this is important, just because you see someone wearing it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate.

I always treat a writing conference like a job interview—and really that’s what it is. You are meeting people who are deciding on whether or not to invest in you and your work. It may be a small investment—like an article; or a large investment—like a book contract.

Here are the guidelines I use when I plan my conference wardrobe.
  • Business casual always works. For women, slacks, casual skirts, nicer jeans or capris. For men, slacks, nice jeans, polo’s, even some t-shirts if not sloppy. Suits are definitely NOT required. I like my style to look effortless and timeless.
  • Keep it comfortable, for shoes at least. I don’t know about you, but I can’t concentrate when my feet hurt. I try to avoid athletic shoes because of their ultra casual nature, but I would choose them if they were the only ones I could be comfortable in.
  • Dress in layers. No matter what the temperature outside—inside is always a roll of the dice. Some rooms will be hot, some cold. So I always try to top an outfit with a light sweater or jacket, and usually a scarf.
  • Leave the perfume (men, this means cologne) at home. I know lots of folks who get headaches from or are allergic to different strong scents—and their definition of strong isn't always the same as mine. Some conferences, like ACFW, bill themselves as perfume free. 

And although this isn’t actually a piece of clothing, you’ll need to choose something to carry. Men and women need something to tote their laptops, notebooks, handouts, business cards, etc. Pick something with a wide strap, because it can get heavy by the end of the day and don’t forget to pack extra pens, tissues and breath mints!

Now it’s your turn—how do you plan your wardrobe for a conference? Also, my next post will be about how to organize all your paper paraphernalia in one conference notebook.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Get Organized for a Writers Conference

For those who’ve known me for any length of time are aware that organization isn’t my strong suit—at least not in the conventional meaning. My desk is covered in stacks of paper and the walls of my office are papered with rainbow hued sticky notes. It’s a system that works for me—but I quickly discovered it didn’t translate when I went on the road.
So I found another way to keep myself on track when I’m away from the office and my conference notebook was born.
It’s really pretty funny. The moment people see my notebook they immediately assume I’m this ultra-organized whiz. Actually, the opposite is true and my notebook is just a last ditch effort at self-preservation. Another thing I’ve noticed is that this notebook works well no matter what your natural bent toward organization.
The primary idea for this notebook is that it contains everything I need at a writers conference so I don’t have to dig through bags or be constantly returning to my room for something I’ve forgotten.
So let’s get to it!
First, I choose a one and a half inch three ring binder. Mine is green because green is my favorite color. I make sure there’s a sleeve on the front cover to slide a cover into because it hold my contact information if I should lay it down and leave it somewhere.
Next, in the front I have a small zippered pouch with a couple of pens and some paper clips. I can also slide in a small lipstick, some band-aids and tissues.
After that, I have a neat insert that holds several different size and colors of sticky notes.
Then, I add 4 pages of clear business card holders. I use the kind that are the size of a full page, so I have plenty of room to add business cards. I keep the first three empty and use them to store business cards I get from others. The last page is full of my personal business cards, so I always have plenty to hand out. (Don’t know what to include on a business card? I posted a blog on that here.)
The next part is divided into sections with tabs. Each project I’m pitching has a section. Here’s what would go into a section.
  • A clear plastic sleeve containing my one sheet for that project. (Don’t know what a one sheet is? Click here for a post on one sheets).
  • An outline for the project—if it’s non-fiction.
  • A synopsis for the project—if it’s fiction.
  • A sample of my writing for the project. This can either be a couple of sample devotions (for a devotional book) or the first couple of chapters in a book (fiction or non-fiction).

I have several copies of my one sheet, outline, synopsis and sample—just in case the person I’m showing it to wants to keep it or mark it up with suggestions.
Finally, after the section for projects I stock the back of the notebook with notebook paper and extra clear plastic sleeves and tabs.
Extras, you can include in your notebook might be a bio sheet, a list of topics if you're a speaker or even a list of articles you might want to pitch. The nice thing about this kind of notebook is you can personalize it to fit your needs.

With this notebook, no matter where I run into an editor or agent, I’m always prepared. I literally have everything at my fingertips. During a conference I NEVER go anywhere without my notebook.
So what have you found to help keep you on track while at a conference? We’d love to learn from your experiences too.
Just don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Scoop on the Dreaded Fifteen Minute Appointment

I've had several people ask me what to expect when they have a fifteen minute appointment with an industry professional. Many even wonder if they should take advantage of an appointment. My answer?
ABSOLUTELY. Even if you don’t have something to pitch, an editor, agent or even well known author can give you valuable insights to help you focus your career goals.
Let me give you some idea of why professionals agree to be part of the faculty.
They want to help you. By and large, those on the faculty at writers conferences are there because they have a heart for helping new writers. They know what it’s like to sit on your side of the table. Others have helped them achieve their goals and now they want to give back by helping someone else.
They’re looking for new writers. The market is constantly changing and there is always room for new writers. Recently I had someone ask me why a publisher is looking for new writers if the book market is shrinking.
  • First, it’s not shrinking—it’s changing.
  • Second, writers come and go.
  • Third, every choir needs more than one voice for each section. It’s the blend that makes the music beautiful.

Now, onto who you should speak with at a conference.
Editor (for books or magazines)—these professionals are a good choice for two reasons.
  • One—you have a project that fits their line and want to pitch it.
  • Two—they know the market and can give you an idea of their opinion about where it’s headed.
  • Three—they can give you input on an idea you have.
  • Four—they can give you career advice.

Agent—these are good for the same reasons above.
  • One—you have a project that fits who they rep.
  • Two—they know the market and can give you an idea of their opinion about where it’s headed.
  • Three—they can also give you input on an idea you have.
  • Four—they can give you career advice.

Published Writer—these professionals can do a lot of the same things. They can also:
  • Commiserate about challenges you’re facing as a writer.
  • Give you advice on where a particular project might fit or who in the industry might be looking for something similar.
  • Give you encouragement.

You’ll sometimes find other industry folks at a conference, such as marketing professionals, speakers, publicists, etc.
I encourage you to make your appointments and try not to be nervous. They are there to help, not tear you down. And a lot of good things can come from those appointments—way beyond career stuff. I’ve made friends, gotten validation that I’m not really crazy and had the opportunity to be prayed for and to pray for others.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any questions or, if you’ve been to a writers conference, any advice?
And . . . don’t forget to join the conversation!

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

You as the Main Character—Every Writer Needs a Bio

We've been discussing how to get prepared for a writers conference
here and
and today I want to talk about your personal bio. 

Every writer and speaker needs a bio, whether or not you're attending a conference.

Actually, you need three.
  • A small one, 25-50 words
  • A medium length one, approximately two paragraphs
  • A full page one, in depth
Many times this written bio is the first introduction someone in this business (think editor or event coordinator) or a consumer (reader or attendee) will have of you. This, with your message, can mean the difference between making the sale or not.

Your bio should reflect, through words, exactly who you are. It should boil down the essence of your personality. It should always be written in third person, as if you were talking about someone else.

A bio must be
  • Relevant
It must give you
  • Personality
  • Credibility
Below are some (not all) of the instances where a bio will be necessary.
·         Cover letter (to an editor, agent or event coordinator)
·         Book Proposal
·         Query Letter
·         Your website
·          Inside your book or on the jacket
·         Publicity for a personal appearance 
·         In a publication (web or print) after an article

It’s important that you have control over your bio. Which means planning now. It will, in effect, be a part of your personal brand. It gives you credibility, whether you are speaking or writing. As such it should contain only things pertaining to your credibility and identity. For example, if you’re not speaking on sales, it isn’t important to mention your job 15 years ago as an outside sales person. Think relevant when you’re composing your bio.

So now it's your turn - do you have a bio? What are some tips and questions you have to writing one?
Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.